If you’re looking to build the home cinema system of your dreams, Sony may just have the answer, having announced the new flagship HT-A7000 soundbar, as well as a wireless speaker setup, called the HT-A9 Home Theater System.
For those that want to envelop themselves in sound, the HT-A9 system could be a worthy investment. Comprising four wireless speakers and a control box that plugs into your TV’s HDMI port, Sony says that the Home Theater System will allow you to feel sound from “every direction and distance”, thanks to the company’s 360 Spatial Sound Mapping and Sound Field Optimization technologies.
Sound Field Optimization uses the dual microphones built into each speaker to measure their height and position in your room. Then, 360 Spatial Sound Mapping creates up to 12 of what Sony calls “phantom speakers”, by synthesizing the sound waves based on their position – and this should deliver a really immersive sound experience. There’s also support for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Sony’s 360 Reality Audio, so you’re pretty much covered when it comes to spatial audio technologies.
Each individual speaker is capable of providing 360-degree spatial audio, too, and feature rectangular speaker units to make the most of the diaphragm area for “richer bass and sound pressure”.
When you’re not watching films, you can use the HT-A9 Home Theater System to play music, with support for hi-res audio, and the DSEE Extreme upscaling technology we first saw from the Sony WH-1000XM4 (AKA the best headphones you can buy in 2021).
Sony says that the system supports voice activation, and works with both Google Assistant and Alexa, so you can add it to your existing speaker group. Unsurprisingly, it will probably work best with Sony Bravia TVs, with support for Acoustic Center Sync, which should ensure that what you’re hearing and what you’re seeing on screen matches up perfectly. And, with support for 8K HDR, 4K 120fps passthrough, and Dolby Vision, your content should look impeccable whether you’re gaming or watching movies.
Low on space?
Not everyone has the room for a four-speaker setup – if that’s you, then the Sony HT-A7000 soundbar might be a better option. This 7.1.2-channel soundbar comes with two upfiring speakers for overhead sound, two beam tweeters, five front speakers, and a built-in dual subwoofer to bring the bass.
And, with Sony’s Vertical Surround Engine, you can use the soundbar to experience Dolby Atmos and DTS:X content. Connectivity comes courtesy of HDMI eARC, USB, optical and analogue ports.
Like the HT-A9 Home Theater System, the new soundbar supports hi-res audio, 360-Reality Audio, DSEE Extreme, and voice control via Alexa or Google Assistant.
If you want to go all out, you can combine the soundbar with optional subwoofers and rear speakers – Sony even has a compact subwoofer option so that it doesn’t take over your entire living room.
How much will it all cost?
As you may have guessed, all that audio tech doesn’t come cheap. The HT-A9 Home Theater System will cost $1,799.99 (about £1,300 / AU$2,400), though you are getting four speakers and a control box for your money.
The HT-A7000 soundbar comes in at $1,299 / AU$1,699 (about £950), which is far pricier than the best soundbar you can buy in 2021, the Sonos Arc ($799 / £799 / AU$1,399). If you do want to combine it with the SA-SW5 subwoofer and SA-RS3S rear speakers, they’ll cost you $699 / AU$999 (about £500) and $349 / AU$649 (about £250), respectively – though the more compact SW-SW3 subwoofer is cheaper at $399 / AU$599 (about £290).
So, it would be cheaper to buy the Home Theater System rather than the soundbar plus subwoofer and rear speakers, but either way, you’re looking at a hefty investment. Still, if you want to build a home cinema system without the annoyance of cables or complicated setups, that price might be worth it.
The new devices will be available to buy in the US in September / October – global pricing and availability is yet to be confirmed.
- Read our Sonos Arc review
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Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.