Sony did not play this summer. After launch four new speakers in May, the company is now improving its home theater lineup with the HT-A9, a new modular system and the HT-A7000, an incredibly beefy Dolby Atmos soundbar. The kicker: They cost $ 1,800 and $ 1,300, respectively.
To be fair, the HT-A9 sports four wireless speakers that feature Sony’s 360 Spatial Sound Mapping (SSM) and a small Apple TV size control box. During a tap Orientation, Sony explained the idea behind the A9 is to appeal to people who want home theater but who are not preoccupied with sound bar or complicated layouts. You can pretty much see it in the design, which looks like it blends in more easily into your decor than the typical black speaker. The four speakers are identical in terms of specifications. Each has a dual microphone setup, X-balanced speaker drivers for enhanced bass and sound pressure and a new Wide Directivity Woofer. Sony claims that they can automatically calibrate to any room, which means they do not have to have a specific location to create an immersive experience. The company also says that the A9 is able to create a much wider sound field due to its SSM technology. In particular, Sony claims that the four speakers can create up to 12 “phantom” speakers, leading to an effect where it feels as if a sound is coming “outside the wall.”
The HT-A7000 is Sony’s new flagship soundbar, which replaces the ST-5000. Despite being a single soundbar, Sony says that this can serve as a 7.1.2 system, because it has two pull-up speakers to mimic overhead sound, two brilliant treble speakers, five front speakers and a built-in dual subwoofer. It also has the same auto-calibration feature as the A9 – the first for a Sony soundbar – and supports 360 Reality Audio.
One thing to note: With the A7000 you get simulated height. We found Sony’s simulated surround sound technology to be pretty good with its HT-G700 sound bar, but it will definitely not knock out ceiling speakers or have rear speakers. That said, the A7000 is a buildable system and you have the option to purchase compatible subwoofers and rear speakers overtime. Many home theater systems already come with a fixed set of speakers. It’s convenient, but can also be intimidating for anyone starting out. However, the optional speakers are also expensive. The $ 700 SA-SW5 is a wireless sub that focuses on bass with a 180 mm driver and passive radiator, while the $ 400 SA-SW3 has a more compact 160 mm driver. Meanwhile, $ 350 is SA-RS3 are 100W rear speakers that can also be mounted on the wall.
Both the A9 and A7000 support high-resolution formats, such as Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision and DTS: X, HDMI 2.1, eARC, and 8K and 4K at 120 frames per second. New this time is it both can also be used with Sony Bravia TVs (X95 or later). Basically, you can control settings from the TV itself, as well as turn your TV into the center channel via a 3.5 mm cable. In that scenario, the A7000 would focus on background noise, while the TV itself would handle things like dialogue. Both are also compatible with Google Assistant, Alexa, Spotify, Chromecast and, in a first, Apple AirPlay 2.
The HT-A9, HT-A7000, and optional subwoofers and backwards will be available sometime in September or October this year at authorized dealers.