Sony doubles down on virtualized 3D audio with the HT-G700, a 3.1-channel soundbar that may ship immersive 3D audio utilizing not one, not two, however, three competing audio applied sciences.
Whereas it lacks the up-firing drivers that the majority Dolby Atmos- and DTS: X-enabled soundbars make use of for peak results, the HT-G700 simulates peak and encompass cues utilizing digital 3D options from Dolby, DTS, and Sony itself.
The HT-G700 makes for a formidable showcase for a way far virtualized 3D audio has come lately, but it additionally betrays its weaknesses, notably on the subject of Sony’s aggressive maybe too aggressive implementation.
The HT-G700’s $500 price ticket may sound attractive given its array of 3D audio performance, nevertheless, it’s additionally lacking one enormous characteristic: a Wi-Fi adapter.
Meaning most of the wi-fi capabilities we’ve come to anticipate from soundbars on this worth vary together with multi-room audio, Airplay 2 or Chromecast connectivity, direct help for streaming music companies, and voice assistant help are lacking.
An alternative for Sony’s 2.1-channel HT-X9000F, the HT-G700 arrives with extra energy than its predecessor (400 watts versus 300W for the X9000F), together with (in keeping with Sony) a wider candy spot, a bigger subwoofer, and a brand new “Immersive AE” (Audio Enhancement) mode that’s able to up mixing 5.1 and even stereo audio to virtualized 7.1.2 audio.
The Sony HT-G700 is a 3.1-channel soundbar, with a trio of 45 x 10mm oval-shaped cones in the principle unit for the left, proper, and middle channels (the “3” in “3.1”) and a wi-fi subwoofer with a 160mm cone for low-frequency results (the “.1”).
As a result of the HT-G700 lacks the wi-fi capabilities of Sony’s pricier soundbars, it may possibly be upgraded to a full-on 5.1-channel system utilizing a set of wi-fi encompass audio system; in different phrases, what you see (and listen to) is what you get.
The HT-G700 helps 3D object-based sound codecs equivalent to Dolby Atmos and DTS: X, nevertheless it doesn’t ship peak results with up-firing drivers that bounce pontificate your ceiling (which is itself a substitute for putting in the audio system in your ceiling).
As a substitute, it makes use of virtualization to trick your ears into pondering you’re listening to sound from above (to not point out from behind, or from the perimeters).
The soundbar truly helps three flavors of immersive 3D audio virtualization: Dolby Atoms with peak virtualization expertise, DTS Digital, and Sony’s aforementioned Immersive AE, which employs a pair of different Sony audio applied sciences Vertical Encompass Engine for peak cues, and S-Pressure Professional for the side-to-side encompass to up combine 5.1 and even 2.Zero audio to virtualized 7.1.2 sound.
Usually, digital 3D peak results lack the precision you’ll hear from these delivered by up-firing drivers (which, in flip, aren’t as exact as an in-ceiling audio system), they usually may also sound harsh and distractingly synthetic if they’re utilized too aggressively.
That mentioned, digital 3D sound presents a key profit over drivers that bounce pontificate the ceiling: its efficiency doesn’t depend upon the kind of ceiling you may have.
To wring the perfect sound out of up-firing drivers, Dolby recommends a flat ceiling between 7.5 and 14 toes peak, and vaulted ceilings merely gained do.
If the ceiling in your leisure room is simply too excessive, too low, or something aside from completely flat, the digital 3D sound is likely to be the best choice, shy of the precise in-ceiling audio system.
The Sony HT-G700’s primary soundbar unit measures 38.6 x 2.6 x 4.Four inches, making it considerably narrower than my 55-inch LG C9 OLED TV, with the soundbar barely grazing the underside fringe of the display screen from the vantage level of my lounge couch.
In the meantime, the 7.6 x 15.25 x 16-inch wi-fi subwoofer (which isn’t wi-fi, because it requires an influence twine) is about as huge and hulking as these that include competing soundbars.
The Sony HT-G700 takes solely minutes to arrange. You have got the choice of inserting it in the entrance of your TV or mounting it on a wall beneath your TV; wall mounting information is included, however no brackets or screws.
I skipped the mounting course and easily plunked the soundbar down at the entrance of my TV set.
When you’ve put the soundbar the place you need it, simply plug within the energy twine (there’s no outlet-blocking wall wart or energy brick, fortunately), then place and energy up the pre-paired wi-fi subwoofer, which ought to connect with the soundbar routinely (you may as well pair the subwoofer manually if one thing goes fallacious with auto-pairing).
As a result of the HT-G700 lacks community connectivity, you gained need to cope with including it to your property Wi-Fi community, a course of that (as I’ve discovered with different soundbars) may be surprisingly arduous.
Whereas its lack of Wi-Fi connectivity makes the HT-G700 a snap to arrange, it additionally signifies that the soundbar lacks a bevy of key options, together with multi-room audio, Airplay 2 and Chromecast audio casting, and the power to immediately connect with streaming audio companies equivalent to Spotify or Amazon Music.
You can also manage the HT-G700’s options or settings with a cellular app, nor with Alexa or Google Assistant voice instructions.
For a $500 soundbar, that’s rather a lot to surrender.
Sony does provide an identical soundbar with Wi-Fi capabilities: the $700 3.1-channel HTZ9F
Inputs and outputs
The Sony HT-G700 comes outfitted with a pair of HDMI ports: one is a typical HDMI enter, whereas the second is an HDMI ARC (quick for “audio return channel”) port that helps eARC, an “enhanced” model of eARC that permits for lossless audio codecs equivalent to Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Grasp Audio (you’ll be able to Along with the HDMI ports, there’s additionally a To slink optical digital enter, plus a USB port that’s just for putting in firmware updates.
The Sony HT-G700’s HDMI-ARC ports help eARC, the “enhanced” model of ARC that permits for lossless audio codecs equivalent to Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Grasp Audio.
The simplest option to join the HT-G700 to your TV is by way of the aforementioned HDMI ARC port, which lets you preserve your varied video sources related to your TV whereas sending audio to the soundbar over the included HDMI cable.
If one in all your video sources is a Blu-ray participant (both standalone or these which are constructed into PlayStation Four and Xbox One sport consoles), the HT-G700’s eARC help will allow you to take pleasure in lossless Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Grasp Audio soundtracks in all their glory offered your TV additionally helps eARC, that’s.
Another choice is to attach a video supply to the soundbar’s single HDMI enter after which joins the soundbar to the TV by way of the HDMI ARC port, which helps 4K HDR video pass-through.
The good thing about plugging a video supply immediately into the soundbar is that you simply be capable to hear lossless audio from a Blu-ray participant even when your TV doesn’t help eARC (which it probably doesn’t, except to procure it within the final 12 months or so).
The drawback, nevertheless, is that you simply need to bodily swap out HDMI cables if in case you have multiple video enter.
Built-in buttons, distant management
On the prime of the principle soundbar unit, you’ll discover touch-sensitive buttons for energy, enter choose, Bluetooth, and quantity up/down.
Peeking out from the black aluminum speaker grille is a five-character show that tells you (amongst different issues) the amount stage, the detected audio sign (Dolby Atmos, DTS: X, and so on.), which enter is chosen, and so forth.
It’s also possible to set the indicator to go darkish after a short interval, useful for slicing down on visible distractions.
The HT-G700’s lengthy, skinny, and non-backlit distant may be tough to make use of.
Whereas the big spherical quantity button is straightforward to search out at the hours of darkness (as is the jumbo-sized energy button within the top-right nook), good luck figuring out the opposite small, round buttons without turning a light-weight on.
A dozen of those identically formed buttons are organized in two columns of six buttons every, together with the mute button, the evening and voice modes, and the subwoofer stage buttons.
All of these sit beneath the amount rocker.
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Eight extra buttons, together with 4 for sound modes (equivalent to Cinema and Music), one which toggles Sony’s Immersive AE characteristic, one other that cycles the show, and one more for choosing the energetic enter, is above the amount rocker.
With its array of greater than a dozen buttons, the Sony HT-G700’s non-backlit distant may be tough to make use of at the hours of darkness.
To navigate the HT-G700’s settings menu, you’ll have to press the Menu button, which sits in the appropriate column of buttons beneath the amount rocker.
You press the Up and Down arrows within the left column to navigate the menu choices after which press the Enter button that’s under the Menu button to pick out a choice.
The Menu button is the one option to allow DTS Digital and Dolby’s digital 3D sound modes and to get to these menu choices, you’ll need to navigate two menu ranges deep, then step all the way down to the very backside of the second menu.
Digital 3D modes
The Sony HT-G700 presents a humiliation of riches so far as digital 3D audio engines are involved; certainly, in the event, you ever needed the chance to stack the digital 3D sound expertise of Dolby, DTS, and Sony towards one another, this versatile soundbar presents the proper alternative to taking action.
DTS Digital is probably going essentially the most acquainted of the three competing digital 3D modes. Following its debut in 2017, DTS Digital confirmed us simply how sensible digital 3D audio expertise may sound.
Dolby’s digital 3D expertise, generally known as Dolby Atoms peak virtualization, is just now making its approach onto soundbars (such because the upcoming TCL Alto 9+).
Then there’s Sony’s Immersive AE mode, which requires some explaining.
As I discussed earlier, Immersive AE is a mix of two Sony audio applied sciences: Vertical Encompass Engine, which provides peak results, and S-Pressure Professional for side-to-side encompass results.
These two applied sciences are utilized or not relying on the content material you’re listening to and the sound mode you’ve chosen.
Each Vertical Encompass Engine and S-Pressure Professional are auto-enabled and necessary every time you’re watching object-based Dolby Atmos or DTS:X content material (and assuming you aren’t utilizing the Dolby or DTS virtualizes), which means that urgent the Immersive AE button on the distant gained have any impact.
For those who’re watching 5.1- or 2.0-channel content material, urgent (for instance) the Cinema button and enabling the Immersive AE mode engages each the Vertical Encompass Engine and S-Pressure Professional; in the event, you disable Immersive AE in Cinema mode, the Vertical Encompass Engine is turned off, however S-Pressure Professional stays on.
Music mode behaves a bit in another way; whereas each Vertical Encompass Engine and S-Pressure Professional will (as with the Cinema mode) swap on in the event you allow the Immersive AE mode, they’ll each flip off in the event you toggle off the Immersive AE mode.