Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Sonos Arc gains new rival with cheaper Dolby Atmos soundbar from Sony

Less than a week ago, Sonos released its first Dolby Atmos soundbar, the Sonos Arc – and there's already a cheaper competitor ready to steal the audio brand's thunder. 

Sony has just announced its latest Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbar, which is nearly $200 / £450 cheaper than the Sonos Arc, which costs $799 / £799 / AU$1,399. 

The Sony HT-G700 comes with a recommend retail price of $599 / £450 – that works out at about AU$920, though we're still waiting on official Australian pricing. That's not a bad price at all for a Dolby Atmos soundbar, particularly from a trusted brand like Sony.

Sony says that the new 3.1 channel soundbar "couples powerful surround sound with clear dialogue so you can lose yourself completely in your favorite TV programs and movies". 

As well as Dolby Atmos, the HT-G700 supports DTS:X – a similar object-based audio codec that uses a slightly different speaker configuration to Atmos.

So, what's the catch?

Well, the Sony HT-G700 doesn't have any upward-firing tweeters, which means you don't get 'true' Dolby Atmos – for this, you'd need speakers on the top of the soundbar to fire audio at your ceiling so it can bounce back down to your ears. 

Instead, the new soundbar uses Sony's Vertical Surround Engine, a type of signal processing that creates the illusion of sound in a vertical plane. 

Still, virtual Dolby Atmos can still be pretty convincing, and it's usually cheaper than  buying a soundbar with actual up-firing speakers. Plus, you get a wireless subwoofer thrown in with this soundbar, which should provide a pretty powerful sound.

Sony says that you can enhance the sound further by selecting the 'Immersive AE' (Audio Enhancement) button, which allows the soundbar to upscale "even regular stereo audio to up to 7.1.2 surround sound". 

Sony soundbar

There's also a dedicated center speaker that's designed to enhance dialog – useful if you often struggle to hear mumbling actors – while Cinema, Music, Voice, and Night modes allow you to customize the sound depending on the setting. 

The HT-G700 isn't the only new soundbar announced by Sony – the company has also launched the HT-S20R, which it describes as an "affordable yet powerful 5.1 channel soundbar". 

At £250 (about $300 / AU$470), it's certainly at the lower end of the price scale –though it doesn't come with Dolby Atmos, virtual or otherwise. 

We're looking forward to testing both soundbars – after all, we loved the Sony HT-X8500 Soundbar, thanks to its fantastic value and brilliant use of virtual Dolby Atmos. Interested? You can check out the best prices for the HY-X8500 below:

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