Sony HT-G700 soundbar review: don’t count on it for Dolby Atmos

by Kelvin
Sony HT-G700 soundbar review: don't count on it for Dolby Atmos

Advertised as Dolby Atmos compatible, Sony’s HT-G700 soundbar is only compatible with a logo. But its excellent quality / price ratio saves the day.

In 2020, Dolby Atmos is present in the technical sheet of many technological devices. There are even compatible phones, which can make you smile for physically spatialized sound technology in a room. In theory reserved for expensive configurations, Dolby Atmos is becoming standardized. As proof, Sony markets a sound bar under the bar of 400 euros capable of decoding the audio format supposed to add 3D effects.

  

Nevertheless, the Sony HT-G700 is not physically capable of reproducing Dolby Atmos: its configuration revolves around three flat speakers, supported by a wireless subwoofer. It seems more relevant to think that this sound bar is above all designed to improve listening compared to the often mediocre acoustic performances of televisions.

Sony HT-G700 sound bar

Source: Sony

Top discretion

Sony knows how to do it when it comes to products with elegant design, without any frills. The HT-G700 is a good representative of this philosophy, knowing that the engineers wanted to design a discreet sound bar. The result is contained dimensions (less than a meter wide, 6.4 centimeters high) and a welcome sobriety. The metal grille which protects the speakers is of excellent craftsmanship while the grained plastic reassures as to the solidity and the quality of manufacture. Note that Sony incorporates a small screen on the left to display essential information. It is rather convenient.

A discreet sound bar

It is just a shame that the multinational was not so careful with the subwoofer. Apparently, it is much less premium than the bar. Worse, the sometimes brilliant rendering of its facade contrasts with this idea of ​​discretion emanating from the sound bar. We forgive these deviations because it is wireless and, therefore, easier to place / hide in a room.

The observation is similar with regard to the remote control, which surprises with its small size and its not great finishes.

Sony HT-G700 soundbar review: don't count on it for Dolby Atmos

Sony HT-G700 Soundbar Remote Control

Source: Maxime Claudel for Numerama

A small HDMI input that changes everything

The Sony HT-G700 sound bar is set up in minutes. The easiest way is to connect your HDMI output to the HDMI ARC port of your TV. ARC, for Audio Return Channel, is a technology that transmits sound from the television to the bar, so that all devices connected – to the television – can benefit from its virtues.

Is your TV newer and has an eARC port? You will then be entitled to Dolby Atmos. Conversely, is your TV older and has no ARC port? You can always go through the HDMI input on the bar to connect a single device. It’s not much, but, for example, the Sonos Arc doesn’t even offer this opportunity. This HDMI input is also a godsend for those who have a TV that does not accept Dolby Atmos, but would still like to enjoy the audio format with their Xbox One X or their Apple TV. All they need to do is connect their device directly to the bar.

There’s even no need to pair the subwoofer, which automatically recognizes the soundbar when plugged in (it lights up on its own when a signal is sent). And since the HT-G700 does not have very advanced features in terms of remote audio playback (Bluetooth and that’s it), it does not require any application to be configured over an internet network. The other side of the coin is that it does not offer any calibration.

Dolby Atmos (and DTS: X)

The argument put forward by Sony is this famous compatibility with Dolby Atmos. The soundbar actually plays all formats – from 2ch LPCM (in optical) to DTS: X (in eARC), the less popular counterpart of Dolby Atmos. It will therefore have no trouble acclimating to the devices and content of today and tomorrow. Especially since its output and its HDMI input accept HDR signals without problem – Dolby Vision included.

Versatile, the sound bar has a host of modes: auto, cinema, standard, music, night, Immersive AE (which simulates in 7.1.2 rendering) … There is something to get lost on the remote control, however small. In fact, you sometimes have to grope a little between the different settings, until you find the one that is the most balanced. On this point, we take less risk by leaving in auto mode, which lets the bar choose what it thinks is the most suitable.

The HT-G700 does not include playing music over Wi-Fi. It is not upgradeable either, which means that it cannot be associated with satellite speakers in order to ‘stretch the sound show.

Sony HT-G700 soundbar review: don't count on it for Dolby Atmos

Sony HT-G700 sound bar

Source: Sony

The fake 7.1.2

As compatible as it is with 3D audio formats, the HT-G700 is clearly not equipped to meet their demands. From then on, we quickly see that the performance of the bar deceives the merchandise: our Atmos demos have remained very frontal, with no feeling of being immersed in a bubble where the effects would come from all over. As the speaker placement prefigures, the rendering remains very flat and struggles to stretch despite the algorithms touted by Sony. We will qualify this disappointment by recalling that it is difficult to ask for more from a product at this price, when a true Dolby Atmos and DTS: X configuration requires a significant investment and an ideal layout.

A real added value compared to the speakers of most televisions

Especially since forgetting these oversold promises, the HT-G700 is doing very well when it comes to accompanying films and series with the right amount of spirit and precision. The overall dynamics are appreciable and the dialogues are reproduced with clarity (thanks to the central speaker), without the need to activate the ad hoc mode. There is in any case a real added value compared to the speakers of most televisions, with performance certainly directives, but fair. The contribution of the subwoofer is palpable and allows you to build up power without fatigue in the moments that lend themselves to it.

In contrast, the HT-G700 is not very comfortable with music. If it pairs in a few seconds with a Bluetooth device, it offers a rendering that is sorely lacking in ventilation. Especially since the different modes are not all suitable: for example, Immersive AE distorts stereo. For the purest listening possible, it is better to engage the music mode and show indulgence.

The verdict

Sony HT-G700 sound bar // Source: Sony

8/10

We liked

  • Discreet design

  • Good value for money

  • HDMI input

We liked less

  • Atmos only on paper

  • Uncomfortable with music

  • We get lost in the fashions

On arrival, the Sony HT-G700 is not a good soundbar for Dolby Atmos and DTS: X content, far too sophisticated for its simple equipment. However, that does not mean that it is a bad soundbar: for an affordable price, it is possible to greatly improve the sound rendering of your films and series. We just have to forget the immersive potential of 3D or even surround effects. As a bonus, the Sony HT-G700 has a discreet design, which will help it blend in better with the surroundings, under a TV that needs a little help to do justice to the content it broadcasts. . For music, we recommend another product.