Sony HT-A5000

MSRP $1,000.00

“With each sound format and connection possibility we may need, the Sony HT-A5000 rocks.”

Professionals

  • 8K-ready HDMI enter
  • Wonderful film and music sound
  • Simple on-screen setup
  • Tons of connection choices
  • Hello-res, Sony 360RA, and DTS:X

Cons

  • No EQ changes
  • Some settings are buried
  • Poor integration of music companies

On the increased finish of the soundbar market, you’ll discover nice Dolby Atmos-compatible fashions just like the $899 Sonos Arc, the $899 Bose Sensible Soundbar 900, and LG’s $1,000 SP9YA. And now you possibly can add Sony’s $1,000 HT-A5000 to that checklist. Questioning the way it compares to the opposite fashions — and to Sony’s flagship $1,300 HT-A7000? Let’s test it out.

Large and fundamental

Sony HT-A5000.Simon Cohen / Digital Traits

When it comes to design the HT-A5000 (which we’ll merely name the A5000) isn’t a lot to have a look at. Absent are the glass prime and fabric-wrapped audio system grilles of the HT-A7000, changed as a substitute with a easy textured black plastic physique and gray steel speaker grilles. It gained’t win any magnificence pageants, however that’s a very good factor. Personally, I believe that soundbars shouldn’t name any consideration to themselves visually, as a result of that may detract from their main goal — to boost the sound coming out of your TV, which is the place your eyes must be centered.

Extra vital although, is the scale. At 47.75 inches large and a pair of.75 inches tall, the A5000 shouldn’t have any drawback discovering a house in entrance of any however the smallest of TVs. Sony even claims that its Bravia TVs can accommodate the A5000 between their movable legs, however I don’t advocate doing that — any soundbar with up-firing audio system must be positioned as far ahead as attainable, to present these drivers each alternative to intention sound at your ceiling, unimpeded.

The HDMI enter can deal with 8K, Dolby Imaginative and prescient, and 4K at 120Hz, making it as future-proofed as it may be.

Sony additionally offers every part you could possibly presumably want proper within the field: Soundbar, wall-mount {hardware}, HDMI and optical cables, a distant management, and an analog patch twine for connecting a appropriate Bravia TV. Sure — if you happen to’re the fortunate proprietor of considered one of Sony’s 2020 or 2021 Bravia TVs, you should utilize that twine to hijack the TV’s built-in audio system and have them improve the soundbar’s heart channel audio. Sadly, with out a type of TVs available, I didn’t check this characteristic.

HDMI in, HDMI out, and 8K

Sony HT-A5000 input ports.Simon Cohen / Digital Traits

Some soundbar corporations (ahem, Sonos, Bose) assume {that a} single HDMI ARC/eARC port must be sufficient for anybody. I don’t agree — and, fortunately, neither does Sony. The A5000 has each a devoted HDMI enter and an HDMI ARC/eARC enter/output. Higher but, the HDMI enter can passthrough 8K, Dolby Imaginative and prescient, and 4K at 120Hz alerts to your TV, making it as future-proofed as it may be. There’s additionally an optical port in case your TV doesn’t do HDMI ARC, however the A5000 drops the A7000’s analog enter.

In the case of the methods you possibly can wirelessly hook up with a speaker, the A5000 has all of them lined.

Why does an HDMI enter matter? Aside from changing the HDMI enter in your TV you needed to sacrifice for the soundbar’s connection, it provides these of us with older TVs the power to attach Blu-ray gamers or streaming media units on to the soundbar. This will get across the inherent sound-quality limitations of HDMI ARC connections imposed by TVs that don’t have HDMI eARC. There’s fairly a bit to unpack there, so as a substitute of filling up house on this evaluate with the total clarification, please try our guides to HDMI ARC/eARC and Dolby Atmos. In case you care about getting the absolute best audio high quality, you’ll thank me.

These ports are packed very tightly right into a small recess on the again of the A5000, which makes them tough to make use of, however so long as you don’t must entry them so much, it shouldn’t trigger you an excessive amount of ache.

On-screen setup

Sony HT-A7000 Dolby Atmos soundbar on-screen system message.Simon Cohen / Digital Traits

Talking of HDMI, the A5000 repeats considered one of my favourite options of the HT-A7000 — the on-screen setup course of and menus. Not that utilizing a smartphone app to arrange a speaker is difficult, however having the ability to use your TV’s display whilst you sit back in your couch, distant in hand, is means higher.

From the preliminary connection to getting the A5000 onto your Wi-Fi community, to the zippy auto-room calibration process, Sony makes it simple and — dare I say it — enjoyable. And at any time, you possibly can select to press the house button on the distant and navigate the soundbar’s menus on the display, which is far more handy than studying from the small scrolling digital show behind the speaker grille or pulling out your telephone.

Connections galore

Sony HT-A5000 on-screen display.Simon Cohen / Digital Traits

I’ve obtained handy it to Sony. In the case of the methods you possibly can wirelessly hook up with a speaker, the A5000 has all of them lined. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, AirPlay 2, Chromecast — choose your favourite. Even the Bluetooth connection, which on many soundbars is barely an afterthought, is spectacular, with help for Sony’s LDAC codec so you possibly can stream from an Android telephone on the highest stage of high quality. You may also use LDAC for a high-quality wi-fi hyperlink to a appropriate Bravia TV, must you wish to go utterly cable-free.

Due to distinctive help for high-quality wi-fi streaming, music typically sounds superior.

These choices imply that no matter which telephone you personal, or which music streaming service you subscribe to, you’ll be capable to get essentially the most out of the A5000’s capabilities. And given the rising help for lossless and hi-res audio from Apple Music, Amazon Music, Tidal, and others, these advantages are not theoretical edge circumstances.

Cleverly, Sony provides you the power to modify the Bluetooth operate from obtain to transmit (once more with LDAC help) so you should utilize any set of wi-fi headphones or earbuds for personal listening.

Nice for music, even higher for films

Sony HT-A5000.Simon Cohen / Digital Traits

OK, right down to enterprise: How does this factor sound? Fairly rattling good. In case you persist with the A5000’s fundamental mode (conserving the Sound Subject operate turned off), you get completely clear and balanced stereo sound. It’s best for sitcoms, information broadcasts, and comedy specials — mainly any time you wish to deal with dialog. On this mode, even with the subwoofer set to max, bass stays mild, offering simply sufficient low-end to present voices added depth and a few weight to the background soundtrack.

It’s additionally the popular mode for listening to two-channel stereo music, particularly if you happen to’re a purist who desires to maintain further digital processing to a minimal. And due to the soundbar’s distinctive help for high-quality wi-fi streaming, music typically sounds superior.

The one disadvantage is that if you happen to don’t like the best way Sony has tuned the A5000, there’s not a lot you are able to do about it. I dinged Sony for the shortage of any EQ changes on its expensive A7000 and I’m going to do it once more for the A5000. It’s a wierd selection for an organization that gives in depth EQ choices for its wi-fi headphones and earbuds.

Dolby Atmos films had been all rendered with that key ingredient — sounds that appears to come back from throughout you.

When you have a Tidal HiFi or Amazon Music subscription, you owe it to your self to check out tracks mastered utilizing Sony’s 360 Actuality Audio (360RA) format, which the A5000 helps. Merely put, 360RA makes an attempt to imitate the sound of an indoor reside efficiency by profiting from encompass sound know-how to present the music an open, ethereal feeling. As with Dolby Atmos Music, some tracks profit from this greater than others. Pink Floyd’s Studying To Fly, as an illustration, felt prefer it was made for 360RA, whereas John Mayer’s I Guess I Simply Really feel Like appeared to lose one thing within the transition.

However even when songs don’t essentially profit from 360RA, typically the format itself is preferable whenever you’re within the temper for a extra ambient sound — say when entertaining a bunch of visitors. I discover it’s simpler to hold on a dialog when the music isn’t being directed at you, as conventional stereo tends to do. For now, 360RA solely works over a Wi-Fi Chromecast connection from a telephone or pill, so that you gained’t be capable to management it through Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

The one disadvantage to the A5000’s musical prowess is the shortage of music service integration into the Sony Music Heart app. The app lists lots of the hottest companies (Apple Music, Amazon Music, Tidal, Spotify, Deezer, and so forth.), however tapping on these simply pushes you out to the service’s app in your telephone (assuming you will have it put in). Not like Sonos, there’s no option to entry search, handle favorites or playlists, or another music service characteristic. You possibly can, nonetheless, use the app to manage multiroom audio if you happen to personal different appropriate Sony audio system.

Sony HT-A5000.Simon Cohen / Digital Traits

You don’t purchase a $1,000 Dolby Atmos soundbar for stereo sound. You wish to be blown away by totally immersive 3D soundtracks that convey energy, pleasure, and emotion, and for that it is advisable to have interaction Sound Subject mode. Doing so instantly expands the soundstage from a reasonably slender and forward-facing affair to at least one that spreads across the room.

The A5000’s built-in subwoofer is surprisingly highly effective. For smaller rooms, it’s most likely all you want.

Sound Subject mode isn’t one taste of 3D, it’s three — Sony’s personal Vertical Encompass Engine, Dolby’s virtualized speaker mode, and DTS Digital:X — and every has its personal distinct sound signature. Sony’s model pulls again on low frequencies in favor of making a tall, large, and deep presentation that emphasizes readability. Dolby, alternatively, pushes the built-in subwoofer to its limits for a thunderous sound, however it may possibly introduce undesirable distortion and sometimes muddies the midrange and excessive frequencies. DTS Digital:X is someplace in between, however not in a Goldilocks means. It’s extra of a compromise than that.

As a result of every of those 3D flavors sounds so totally different, they’ll all be good selections relying on what you’re taking part in. I discovered Sony’s model was best for native Dolby Atmos films and music. Avengers: Infinity Warfare, Mad Max: Fury Highway, and Ford v. Ferrari had been all rendered with that key Dolby Atmos ingredient — sounds that appear to come back from throughout you and transfer in sync with the on-screen motion. Questioning if you happen to’ll want considered one of Sony’s wi-fi subwoofers? They’d positively offer you higher low-frequency results, however the A5000’s built-in subwoofer is surprisingly highly effective. For smaller rooms, it’s most likely all you want.

I related a Protect TV to the HDMI enter and completely loved Dolby Atmos music tracks from Tidal like The Weeknd’s Save Your Tears and The Doorways’ basic, Riders On The Storm. Dolby Atmos Music can really feel lackluster at occasions, particularly when utilizing headphones, however the A5000 enables you to admire the rising format to its full potential.

Sony HT-A5000 built-in display.Simon Cohen / Digital Traits

However right here’s a tip: As with most Dolby Atmos soundbars, if you happen to really feel like one thing’s lacking — such as you’re not likely listening to an immersive combine — dive into the Superior audio settings and enhance the degrees for the peak and encompass channels. Sony’s calibration software program tends to take a conservative strategy that doesn’t all the time yield the most effective outcomes.

It’s positively value attempting out Dolby’s virtualized speaker mode and DTS Digital:X for all content material, whether or not it’s Atmos or not, however switching between these 3D variations isn’t a lot enjoyable. There’s no option to do it within the Sony Music Heart app, and no option to do it by urgent a preset button on the distant.

As an alternative, you must pause your film or music, hit the Dwelling button on the distant, after which navigate the on-screen menu to Setup > Superior Setting > Audio Settings > Sound Subject Settings. You possibly can then select a special 3D taste and return to your content material.

This won’t be so unhealthy if it was only a matter of discovering the one you want most, however given there’s no option to tweak their EQ, switching between them is your solely possibility if you happen to don’t love the best way considered one of them performs.

Past the bar

Sony HT-A5000 remote control.Simon Cohen / Digital Traits

As with most mid-to-high-end soundbars, you possibly can increase the A5000’s sonic chops by including your selection of two Sony wi-fi subwoofers (SA-SW5 or SA-SW3), and a set of wi-fi encompass satellites (SA-RS3S). Doing so doesn’t enhance the system’s top channel prowess, however it may possibly make an enormous distinction to the general stage of immersion. When you have the room in your house and in your price range, I extremely advocate these additions.

Our take

Sony’s HT-A5000 instructions a premium value, however it delivers a premium sound expertise for each music and film lovers.

Is there a greater various?

At this value, the HT-A5000 has a number of direct rivals and so they’re all wonderful in their very own means. Selecting amongst them actually comes right down to the options that matter to you. Right here’s what it’s best to know:

  • In case you’re an audiophile, the LG SP9YA is a robust contender as a result of, just like the A5000, it helps hi-res audio through Wi-Fi and USB. It additionally comes with its personal wi-fi subwoofer, making it extra satisfying for films proper out of the field. But it surely doesn’t help Bluetooth LDAC or Sony 360RA, and its hardwired energy twine may very well be a nuisance for some installations.
  • If you’d like simple and highly effective management over your music sources and multiroom audio, and wish some sensible dwelling extras, take into account the Sonos Arc or the Bose Sensible Soundbar 900. Neither have HDMI inputs, which reduces their flexibility, however that’s solely an issue if in case you have an older TV. Each can function sensible audio system along with your selection of Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
  • If you’d like a real dwelling theater system alternative for films and TV reveals, however multiroom audio isn’t as vital, the Vizio Elevate comes with a wi-fi subwoofer and encompass satellite tv for pc audio system, which often price additional.
  • Need even higher sound, however don’t wish to litter your room with extra audio system? For $300 extra, the Sony HT-A7000 is a much bigger and extra succesful speaker (with two HDMI inputs plus an analog enter) that’s completely value the additional funding.

How lengthy will it final?

Sony’s merchandise are very well-built and the HT-A5000 is not any exception. When you think about its 8K compatibility, it may very well be 10 years or extra earlier than you even want to consider upgrading. And even then, it will likely be a selection, not a requirement.

Do you have to purchase it?

Sure. The Sony HT-A5000 might be an incredible film and music improve for any TV room in the home.

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