Sony's best Dolby Atmos soundbars will be even better for PS5 and Xbox Series X after free gaming upgrade

The Sony HT-A7000 Soundbar underneath a Sony TV.
(Image credit: Future)

Sony has announced that it is finally rolling out a planned firmware update for two of its soundbars, the HT-A5000 and HT-A7000, that will add VRR and ALLM support for PS5 and Xbox Series X. This is great news – in our Sony HT-A7000 review, we rated that soundbar highly.

Variable refresh rate (VRR) and auto low latency mode (ALLM) are two features that are supported by the next-gen consoles to make games more responsive. VRR aims to reduce lag and judder so everything always looks smooth even during graphically intensive moments, while ALLM tells the TV to switch to its gaming mode, for the best response times. This means turning off some of the TV’s processing. 

Since the release of the HT-A7000 and HT-A5000 in 2021 and 2022 respectively, they’ve been able to pass through 4K video at 120Hz, a feature unique to them at the time of their release. This enabled gamers to connect their consoles to the HDMI input on the soundbar itself but still get the higher refresh rate that is often sought after for the best gaming experience on their TV. 

This new update sounds like a nice bonus feature, but what does it mean for gamers?

Analysis: the ultimate soundbars for gaming?

On a lot of TVs nowadays with HDMI 2.1 ports for 4K 120Hz, VRR and ALLM, you only get two of them, including on the Sony XR X90K and Sony A80L. One of these will be the eARC port, which is what you’ll use for one of the best soundbars. That only leaves one for your PS5 or Xbox Series X, but with a lot of exclusives on either console and the PS5 being easier to get hold of now, plenty of people will have both consoles, and not enough HDMI ports to play them both at their maximum quality, with 4K 120Hz and VRR.

The HDMI passthrough in the Sony HT-A5000 and HT-A7000 means you can plug the second console into the soundbar and still get the optimum performance – you don’t lose one of your precious HDMI 2.1 ports just because you wanted bigger sound. 

As mentioned before, the soundbars deliver Dolby Atmos. Until recently, this was only available in games on the Xbox Series X, but has now been announced in new PS5 beta software so that you can finally get 3D sound in games from the best Dolby Atmos soundbars, too

This gives gamers an even more immersive experience, and now coupling these with the VRR and ALLM updates means you just have more flexibility from your TV..

Adding even more gaming friendly features to two already critically lauded soundbars is a great step, and means these are arguably the best additions to one of the best gaming TVs

James Davidson
TV Hardware Staff Writer, Home Entertainment

 James is the TV Hardware Staff Writer at TechRadar. Before joining the team, he worked at a major UK based AV retailer selling TV and audio equipment, where he was either telling customers the difference between OLED and QLED or being wowed by watching a PS5 run on the LG 65G2. When not writing about the latest TV tech, James can be found gaming, reading, watching rugby or coming up with another idea for a novel.