Sony HT-A5000 Soundbar and Home Theatre System Review: Fairly Well Equipped


A good home theatre system can really enhance your entertainment setup, and there are various ways to put one together in your television room at home. While many might opt to mix-and-match individual components from different brands, others might prefer the simplicity and ease of setup that you can get with a single product set. Sony offers just that with its feature-filled A-series soundbars, which can be used with matching subwoofers and rear speakers. I’m reviewing one of the Sony HT-A5000 soundbar systems here.

Priced at around Rs. 1,72,000 for the package I’m reviewing here, but with packages starting at around Rs. 1,12,000 onwards in India, the Sony HT-A5000 soundbar is the brand’s mid-tier product in its A-series lineup of soundbars and speaker systems. With a 5.1.2-channel speaker setup for the soundbar and support for Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision passthrough, is the Sony HT-A5000 worth the price? Find out in this review.

sony ht a5000 review logo Sony

The up-firing speakers of the Sony HT-A5000 attempt to virtualise overhead speakers for compatible audio formats

 

Sony HT-A5000 system packages and pricing

While Sony states that the HT-A5000 is only being sold in packages in India starting at Rs. 1,11,980, the soundbar can be purchased on its own from Amazon for Rs. 85,990 at the time of writing this review. Different packages are available on Amazon as well, so depending on your requirements, you can find the setup and price point that suits you best.

Sony recommends the use of a dedicated subwoofer with the HT-A5000, with the company’s own package options including either the SA-SW3 (Rs. 1,11,980) or SA-SW5 subwoofer (Rs. 1,38,980). You can also add the optional SA-RS3S (Rs. 30,990) or SA-RS5 (Rs. 47,990) wireless rear speakers, if you like. For this review, I had the HT-A5000 paired with the SA-SW5 subwoofer and SA-RS5 rear speakers, with the total package priced at around Rs. 1,72,000. I have tested the various components both individually and together, to get a clear picture of how each of them work.

Sony HT-A5000 design and specifications

The Sony HT-A5000 is part of the same series as the Sony HT-A7000 (Review) and Sony HT-A3000, and is the positioned between them based on features, specifications, and pricing. This soundbar has a 5.1.2-channel configuration, with three front-firing speakers, two beam tweeters, a dual-channel subwoofer, and two up-firing speakers for overhead sound. The rated power output of the HT-A5000 is 450W.

Although not as impressive to look at as the more expensive HT-A7000, the Sony HT-A5000 is nearly as big and still quite a good-looking soundbar. There are no glossy or fabric elements on the speaker unit, but the textured black finish and metal grille do give it a modern and refined look. The bar unit weighs 6.1kg and lines up fairly evenly with a 55-inch television.

At the top of the HT-A5000 is a touch panel for the on-device controls, while the back has two cutouts for ports and sockets. The front of the speaker has a small monochrome display which shows the power status, volume, and active source.

sony ht a5000 review buttons Sony

Basic controls for the Sony HT-A5000 are on the soundbar itself, while more detailed controls are available on the remote

 

The Sony HT-A5000 comes with a useful remote that has plenty of controls, going far beyond the basic ones on the soundbar itself. IT lets you switch between various sound modes, control the volume of a connected subwoofer or rear speakers, and quickly switc between sources, over and above the basics of power, volume and playback controls. The sales package also includes a power cable for the HT-A5000, an HDMI cable, and batteries for the remote.

Sony HT-A5000 connectivity and features

For connectivity, the Sony HT-A5000 primarily relies on HDMI eARC, with separate input and output ports. It can handle display signal passthrough for up to 8K HDR, 4K 120Hz, or Dolby Vision content. There are also optical (TOSLINK) and USB Type-A ports, as well as an ‘S-Center Out’ socket which lets you use a compatible Bravia TV as a centre speaker.

Wireless connectivity on the Sony HT-A5000 uses Bluetooth 5 (with support for the SBC, AAC, and LDAC codecs) and Wi-Fi, which works with various services and protocols including Google Chromecast, Apple AirPlay, Spotify Connect, Google Assistant, and Amazon’s Alexa. There is also support for HDMI CEC, and the TV Wireless protocol which lets the soundbar connect wirelessly to compatible Sony Bravia TVs.

The Sony HT-A5000 supports various Dolby formats up to Atmos, DTS:X, and Sony’s own Vertical Surround Engine for overhead speaker virtualisation. All of this can usefully be controlled through a visual interface which can be accessed when the soundbar is connected to a TV through the HDMI port. The interface allows easy access to controls and connectivity options, and also lets the user set up the 360 Spatial Sound Mapping feature and any Wi-Fi-based services, among other things.

Sony SA-SW5 subwoofer and SA-RS5 rear speakers design and specifications

The Sony SA-SW5 subwoofer and SA-RS5 rear speakers are packaged separately, come with their own power cables, and are designed to visually match any of the A-series soundbars. These units are quite large, and you’ll need to ensure you have the space and ability to place them correctly. Usefully, the RS5 speakers have in-built batteries, and are rated to run for up to 10 hours on a single charge, which can come in handy if positioning is tricky and power outlets aren’t easily accessible.

sony sa rs5 rear speakers review main Sony

Sony sells the HT-A5000 in various packages that include subwoofers and optional rear speakers, such as the SA-RS5 wireless speakers

 

The subwoofer wasn’t too difficult for me to place, but the rear speakers were a bit more complicated due to needing a power socket and a secure place to put each of them behind my seating area. All additional units need to be positioned correctly near the main soundbar. Once set up and connected, they’ll power on and off and connect to the HT-A5000 automatically and reliably, based on the power status of the main soundbar. The pairing process is quite easy, and can be carried out through the visual interface for the HT-A5000.

The SA-SW5 subwoofer has a rated output of 300W and therefore significantly increases the overall power of the package, while the SA-RS5 rear speakers have a rated output of 180W (90W each). Each of the devices requires a separate connection to a power outlet, but as mentioned, they pair with the HT-A5000 master device wirelessly, which handles connections with all other devices such as your TV and media sources.

Sony HT-A5000 performance

The three soundbars in Sony’s A-series lineup in India are primarily differentiated by their driver configurations, and as a factor of that, their rated power output. The Sony HT-A5000 is the middle product in the lineup, offering a bit less than the HT-A7000 on the whole, but a fair bit more than the lower-priced HT-A3000. In my opinion, this makes the HT-A5000 the most practical of the three in the lineup, and it is particularly well suited to pairing with premium 55-inch or 65-inch televisions.

sony ht a5000 review ports Sony

Primary connectivity for the Sony HT-A5000 is through HDMI ARC/eARC, but other options including Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are also present

 

The HT-A5000 is also particularly well suited to the typical urban living room, and arguably looks more in place in such a setting than the HT-A7000 and other premium home theatre setups from specialist loudspeaker brands. This also carries through to its ease of use and the lack of tweaking necessary to get the best out of it. It never felt too loud, powerful or overbearing in my home, and it should be able to adapt to both larger and smaller spaces, in my opinion, thanks to its mid-tier 5.1.2-channel configuration and power output.

Ease of use, and the fact that I didn’t have to do much setup, make the Sony HT-A5000 a lot less complicated than the HT-A7000. I rarely needed to adjust the levels of the SA-SW5 subwoofer and SA-RS5 rear speakers after the initial calibration and setup, or even switch sound formats or modes to enhance voice and dialogue quality; the Sony HT-A5000 pretty much just worked as it was.

That said, to get the best out of the Sony HT-A5000, you do need to use it with the right equipment; audio format support is a big factor in the performance of the soundbar system. I had the Sony HT-A5000 connected to an Apple TV 4K (3rd Gen), with content passing through the soundbar to the television, thus allowing for up to Dolby Atmos support when available.

Watching the iconic ‘Beard After Hours’ episode of Ted Lasso on Apple TV+, Dolby Atmos made everything sound considerably better. Sound coming from the rear speakers was particularly well tuned and refined, and the trippy nightclub scene at the end of the episode also managed to put the overhead channels of the HT-A5000 to good use, creating a very audible virtualisation effect. There was sound coming from all directions, but it never felt too much or too jumbled up; the entire track was cohesive and all components played rather well together.

sony ht a5000 review formats Sony

Various formats up to Dolby Atmos are supported on the Sony HT-A5000, along with Dolby Vision and 8K passthrough for video content

 

Overhead virtualisation naturally needs the right kind of content. However, most of the time, I was watching TV shows and movies available in 5.1-channel audio, such as Andor and Rogue One on Disney+ Hotstar, 1899 on Netflix, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (both movies) on Amazon Prime Video. For these, the soundbar relied on Sony’s Vertical Surround Engine and 360 Spatial Sound mapping to virtualise the 5.1-channel audio signal to work effectively with the additional channels in the setup.

This worked effectively, and the sound from the Sony HT-A5000, SA-SW5, and SA-RS5 was remarkably consistent across formats and content types, at moderate to high volume levels. While I did also try the Dolby Audio and DTS:X modes, these didn’t have as much of an effect on the HT-A5000 as on the larger and more expensive HT-A7000 soundbar.

Taking the rear speakers and subwoofer out of the equation naturally takes a significant bite out of the overall sound, but the HT-A5000 on its own is obviously still significantly better than what even a high-end television will deliver through its built-in speakers. The soundbar delivers a wide, spacious sound stage, much more loudness, and a level of clarity and definition that adds value to your viewing experience.

I would recommend having a subwoofer though; the built-in subwoofers on the HT-A5000 are nowhere near as good as the SA-SW3 or SA-SW5. That said, the SW5 does seem a bit too powerful for this soundbar, and I had to turn its volume down a fair bit to ensure the levels matched on the setup as a whole.

On the other hand, the SA-RS5 rear speakers match quite well with the HT-A5000. I found them ideal with the volume maxed out. These rear speakers delivered only a small portion of the overall sound and were never too loud, instead relying on their positioning to enhance the listening experience.

On the HT-A5000, I did need to occasionally adjust the volume for comfort, but fortunately I didn’t experience any sudden or forced volume spikes. Moderate volume levels were ideal in most situations and with most types of content, but this pair can get quite loud if needed without much distortion or awkwardness in the sound.

The soundbar system worked particularly well for action sequences and soundtracks, but was fairly capable even with soft or dialogue-based content such as stand-up comedy specials. It was even pretty good for listening to music, with decent sound quality both from Bluetooth and Wi-Fi-based sources.

Verdict

The Sony HT-A5000 is undoubtedly quite expensive and would be ideally matched with a premium television. However, despite its lesser configuration as compared to the Sony HT-A7000 soundbar, I found the HT-A5000 better suited to the typical living room. It’s a lot easier to use, the specifications fit in with most viewing needs, and the soundbar works well with Sony’s range of matching components. Good format support and adaptability further add to its overall appeal, making this an all-round performer.

All of this said, the Sony HT-A5000 on its own feels a bit underwhelming, and is best used as part of a package that includes a dedicated subwoofer and preferably rear speakers as well. It’s worth the purchase if you’re looking for a premium home entertainment speaker system that is easy to set up and use.


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