There’s no denying the immersion that proper in-ceiling speakers can provide, but that doesn’t change the fact that they can be a hassle to install, let alone expensive.
Enter the new Sony HT-A5000 — a 5.1.2 channel soundbar that aims to bring the thrill of the cinema into your abode by simulating “vertical” audio. This spatial trickery is achieved using a combination of support for audio formats such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, along with specially designed front and up-firing speakers, with a sprinkle of Sony’s special signal processing thrown in for good measure.
Sony reckons this magical cocktail will replicate the realistic, multi-dimensional sound offered by dedicated in-ceiling speakers, further bolstered by the company’s S-Force PRO Front Surround. The latter makes use of the front X-Balanced Speaker Unit and dedicated sound field processing tech to virtually recreate a large and immersive horizontal sound field, with the aim of enveloping viewers in balanced, spacious sound, from all angles.
Setup shouldn’t be too difficult if Sony’s Sound Field Optimisation works as promised. Using built-in microphones to measure the height and width of a room (as well as determine the position of the optional sub and rear speakers), the system automatically adjusts itself to its surroundings, hopefully making the calibration process a breeze.
Component wise, the soundbar has a built-in dual sub, two up-firing speakers, and X-Balanced front-facing speakers. Throw in DSEE Extreme (a feature that uses Edge-AI to upscale compressed digital files in real time), support for 360 Reality Audio from services such as Amazon Music HD, Deezer, and Tidal, and you have what appears to be a one stop shop for people who want the experience of a whole-room setup, minus the faff and costs.
The Sony HT-A5000 will be available early next year for $900 / AU$1299 (about £800). Of course, that price puts it right up against the Sonos Arc, which also supports Dolby Atmos. We'll be ringside for the punch-up when these two bars meet.
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