Sony’s Cheaper Dolby Atmos Soundbar Is Made for Small Spaces

Sony’s Cheaper Dolby Atmos Soundbar Is Made for Small Spaces
Image: Sony

Hot off the heels of the incredibly beefy HT-A7000, Sony’s back with yet another Dolby Atmos soundbar. And while the specs on these two speakers are pretty similar, the Sony AT-5000 is meant for smaller rooms and spaces. Oh, and it’s $US400 ($543) cheaper.

While the A7000 is a 7.1.2 channel soundbar, the A5000 is a 5.1.2 system, which means it has two fewer speakers built in. It also forgoes the 7000’s side beam tweeters for regular ol’ beam tweeters and sacrifices an HDMI 2.1 port. Otherwise, the specs are almost identical, with Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Sony’s 360 Reality Audio. The A5000 also has Sony’s auto-calibration tech, which is meant to optimise the sound for the room that you’re in. You also get support for 8K HDR, 4K at 120p, and Dolby Vision passthrough.

Like the A7000, it’s a buildable system that’s compatible with optional rear speakers and a subwoofer. They both also support Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa, as well as Chromecast. And it also supports Sony’s new feature that allows you to connect the soundbar directly to its Bravia TVs for an integrated UI.

So, what gives? It seems a tad odd that Sony would put out a cheaper soundbar that isn’t that much different from its flagship. When I asked Sony, the company pointed out one thing I’d missed. The A5000 is much more compact and weighs a whole 7 kg less. While the A7000 is 54 inches long and 9 inches tall, the A5000 is 37 inches long and 6 inches tall.

A peep at the HT-A5000's upfiring speakers (Image: Sony) A peep at the HT-A5000’s upfiring speakers (Image: Sony)

I’m currently testing the A7000, and let me tell you, this thing is a hefty boy. It barely fits on my TV stand (which holds my 55-inch LG TV just fine) and frankly blocks the bottom of the TV screen. And in my humble New York City bedroom? It’s the definition of overkill.

According to Sony, the A5000 is meant for folks in smaller homes or who plan to use it in a smaller entertainment room. And while it supports passthrough and 4K at 120p, its single HDMI 2.1 input doesn’t make it the best option if you want to get fancy with your setup. The A7000 is for those cavernous living rooms or for people who want to run their consoles, set-top boxes, and everything else through their soundbar. The A5000 is for city dwellers who don’t need their socks literally blown off their feet while watching an action film.

It makes sense in that context, but it still feels a bit like muddying the waters. At $US900 ($1,221), the A5000 is still pricey — especially since we’re beginning to see Dolby Atmos added to mid-range soundbars. However, getting a single-solution Atmos soundbar that can simulate height for under $US1,000 ($1,356) is still a good proposition. (The Sonos Arc is $US800 ($1,085), while the Vizio Elevate is an even $US1,000 ($1,356).)

The HT-A5000 will be available for order in “early fall” at authorised dealers. In the meantime, you can check out the full specs here.

Editor’s Note: Stay tuned for local Australian pricing and availability.