On paper, the Sony HT-A7000 soundbar seems a potentially tough sell in today’s marketplace. After all, in its standard form it comprises just a single soundbar despite costing as much as rival premium soundbars from the likes of Samsung, LG and Philips that ship with external subwoofers and rear speakers.
It turns out, though, that the one-bar simplicity of its design is actually its star attraction. It proves just what you can do with a single bar solution if your audio engineering is clever enough, taking us back to original soundbar ‘basics’ while retaining the sort of exceptional sound quality we’ve come to expect from premium Sony home audio products.
The A7000 is fairly big and hefty by modern size zero soundbar standards - which is just fine by us, as it hints at lots of power and plenty of high-end components feeding into its healthy 7.1.2 channel count.
As you might expect given this many channels are in play, the A7000 supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding. Two of the channels are up-firing drivers built into the A7000’s attractively finished top edge, for delivering the height effects associated with object-based soundtracks.
All the drivers in the A7000 feature a new X-Balanced Speaker Unit design that Sony claims helps to both increase sound pressure (for better bass) and expand the area available for the speaker diaphragm. This quickly proves to be more than just marketing hype, as the A7000 produces depths of bass that are hard to comprehend with the absence of an external, dedicated subwoofer.
The soundbar’s immense raw power is also apparent in the enormous scale of the A7000’s sound. The soundbar pretty much vanishes as a physical entity, as the sound it makes spreads so far left, right and upwards that you just feel immersed in a world of sound rather than aware of the box that’s merely churning it out.
The A7000 sound stage isn’t just mind-bogglingly massive, though. It’s also exceptionally controlled, with every little detail sounding precisely placed in an Atmos or DTS:X mix. Impressively the up-firing drivers actually work well enough at bouncing their sound off your ceiling to create at least a sense of genuine overhead effects too, rather than just creating a sense of height like most soundbars do.
The A7000 delivers a further enthusiast finesse with the balance and tone of its detailing. There’s no harshness with even the most shrill and sharp trebles, and while even the smallest audio detail is reproduced, the soundbar always keeps the emphasis in the right place with unerring accuracy.
Dialogue is always totally convincing and immaculately contextualised, and sudden impact sounds consistently hit hard, rather than sounding swallowed or muffled as they can with less reactive, powerful soundbars.
The very deepest of bass sounds can come up a touch short on the A7000 versus soundbars that implement a large separate subwoofer, as well as causing very rare moments of mild distortion. Similarly, inevitably, the A7000 provides no real sense of sound coming from behind you, unlike rivals such as Samsung’s HW-Q950A and Philips Fidelio B97 that ship with wireless rear speakers.
Many people, though, want a soundbar precisely because it’s just a tidy, single-box solution without any need for anything else. Simplicity works. The Sony A7000 has a couple of other important tricks up its sleeve, too, that give it an edge over those rival systems we mentioned, namely beautifully powerful but also blissfully refined and gorgeously staged music playback, and support on its HDMI loopthrough for 4K/120Hz feeds from the latest games consoles.
If you really find yourself wanting that extra gear of bass or some surround sound action, optional SA-RS3S rears and SW3 or SW5 subwoofers are available. These extras are pretty expensive, though, with the rears costing £450 while the subs cost £450 or £800 respectively.
The A7000 carries a helpful display on its front edge to help you track volume levels, inputs and so on, and ships with a much appreciated Sound Field Optimisation system that uses built-in mics to optimise the soundbar’s sound to your specific room conditions.
The A7000 can be partnered with the speakers in Sony’s 2021 and on TVs for an even more detailed ‘wall of sound’ effect, and supports both Sony’s 360 Reality Audio playback from Deezer, Tidal and Amazon Music - as well as High Resolution Audio formats.
We’re struggling to think of any other single bar soundbar that combines as successfully as the Sony A7000 the power, detailing, throw and impact required to do massive film soundtracks justice with the refinement and musicality needed to do music justice. A truly inspired all-rounder.
Watching and lisatening notes
Blade Runner 2049, 4K Blu-ray
The A7000 goes deeper with the massive bass drops at the start of Blade Runner 2049 than almost every other single bar soundbar we’ve heard. Though systems with external soundbars can go deeper still.
The Skeleton Tree, CD - Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds
Packed with a dazzling mixture of electronic sounds, orchestration, wrought male and female vocals and an at times startlingly stark atmosphere, The Skeleton Tree is a great test disc as well as being an exceptional work of art.
No Time To Die, 4K Blu-ray
As well as being a fine send off for Daniel Craig as James Bond, No Time To Die enjoys an excellent 4K Blu-ray carries a fantastic Dolby Atmos soundtrack that’s handled superbly by the Sony A7000. Even when it comes to the disc’s numerous overhead effects.
You should buy a Sony HT-A7000 because there’s no other single unit soundbar out thereright now that does a better job of both bringing Dolby Atmos movie soundtracksto life and sounding gorgeous with your favourite songs. Plus you can expand itwith optional subwoofer and rear speakers in the unlikely event that the A7000isn’t enough for you in its one-box set up.