Sony just announced two new high-end home theater audio systems, both of which have HDMI 2.1 pass-through ports that fully support features such as 8K video, 4K gaming at 120Hz, Dolby Vision HDR, eARC and more.
The first is the HT-A7000 Dolby Atmos 7.1.2 channel soundbar. Priced at $1,299.99, the soundbar has two HDMI 2.1 inputs, so theoretically you could run both a PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X in this thing and play each console to its full potential.
Positioned as Sony’s latest flagship soundbar, the A7000 features two upward-firing speakers for Atmos, two beam tweeters and five front speakers for a wider surround. There’s a built-in dual subwoofer, but if you need deeper bass you can pay extra for a standalone sub; Sony sells a 300-watt wireless subwoofer for $699.99 or a 200-watt unit for $399.99. The company also sells wireless trailing bezels for $349.99.
We’re still in the early days of future-proof HDMI 2.1 soundbars, but they’re starting to appear: Klipsch just announced a similar Atmos bar, the Cinema 1200. It also has two HDMI inputs, although the $1,699 price is a bundled one. subwoofer and surrounds.
As has become relatively common for premium soundbars, Sony’s A7000 can tune itself to a room’s acoustics, using a microphone on the remote to “measure the height and width of a room” and optimize the sound profile. It supports 360 Reality Audio, High-Resolution Audio and is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Chromecast, Spotify Connect and Apple AirPlay 2.
The second, more expensive new audio system is called the HT-A9 and consists of four wireless speakers and a control box that is comparable in size to an Apple TV. Sony says you can place the four cylinder-shaped speakers just about anywhere in a room, and the sound field optimization will take their position into account when tuning the audio performance. (The back of each speaker is flat for easy mounting.)
With this, the company is also adding what it calls “360 spatial sound card technology,” which supposedly can “create up to twelve ‘phantom’ speakers from just four speakers by synthesizing sound waves based on positional information.” That sounds like big claims, but at $1,799.99, I’d hope Sony could live up to some of that sound field trickery.
Each speaker is just over 12 inches tall. The A9 only has one HDMI input instead of the two on the soundbar, but the control box also has an Ethernet connection and an auxiliary port that allows compatible Sony TVs to act as the center channel. That should provide excellent voice clarity.
One drawback is that each speaker needs its own outlet – just like the switch box – so you’re looking at a total of five outlets. Since this system relies so much on wireless, I’m also curious about any latency or audio sync issues that might occur while gaming. Sony told me it’s never encountered such issues before, but it’s something I want to make sure of. The A9 is clearly intended for people who don’t feel like having wires (other than the power cords) in their home theater surround setup.
Both the HT-A7000 and HT-A9 will ship sometime between September and October, according to Sony.