Sony has offered soundbars for years, but the company has mainly focused on entry-level (sub $300) and premium (over $900) models. With the new HT-G700, the company delivers a bar that sits solidly in the competitive mid-level budget category at under $600, ready to compete against one of the reigning soundbar champions, the new Sonos Arc.
The HT-G700 benefits from some technology trickle-down from the HT-Z9F that impressed me (review available here), including an improved version of Sony’s Vertical Surround Engine technology designed to expand the height of the image, now called Immersive Audio Enhancement (IAE). To hit a more attractive pricepoint, the G700 uses a different driver design, ditches Wi-Fi and Voice Assistant integration, as well as some sound modes and the OSD, and can’t support any rear speakers.
At just over 2.5-inches high, the G700 slides neatly under the new XBR65X950H display when on its tabletop stand, making it significantly less noticeable and not encroaching on the screen. (Of course, the bar can also be wall mounted with integrated keyholes.) The bar also has a built-in IR repeater if it blocks the TV’s sensor. In lieu of an OSD, the G700 has a single line display that is used for navigating its setup menu, showing volume level, and information about the incoming signal. I love that it displays Dolby Atmos (or DTS:X) when it is receiving those signals, letting customers know they are getting what they paid for.
Because I connected the G700 to an eARC-capable display, setup was as simple as plugging the bar and included wireless sub into power, connecting to the TV’s eARC capable output, and enabling eARC in the TV’s audio settings. Once done, the bar responded to the TV’s volume control. Unlike many soundbars — I’m looking at you Sonos Arc — the G700 also includes an HDMI input in case your display doesn’t support ARC/eARC, or you just prefer not to rely on the vagaries of HDMI audio. (It also has a Toslink optical if you prefer.) Bluetooth 5.0 is also on board for simple music streaming.
Beyond the DD+ audio from streaming services, I popped in a 4K Blu-ray to confirm the TV was indeed passing the lossless Dolby TrueHD audio signal and the bar was decoding Dolby Atmos. In all cases, the G700 improved the audio experience, delivering low-end the TV couldn’t hope to match, and supplying a far more cinematic experience, and the 400 watts of total power had no problem filling my room with sound, or sounding strained even as SPL levels exceeded 100 dB.
The subwoofer is a potent little powerhouse, producing surprisingly deep and cinematic bass, definitely adding a significant improvement over what any display is capable of producing. Sure, it didn’t deliver impact-tremor level bass, but it definitely let me feel all the exploding flak and deep explosion from the opening of Unbroken. Occasionally there was a bit of chestiness in certain male voices, but this was easily tamed by the convenient subwoofer +/- level adjustment on the remote.
The bar also delivers significantly more width, height, and space to the presentation, not quite placing sounds over my head, but definitely high up on the front wall and well out to the sides. I often felt like sounds were coming from the far left and right sides of my seating position, and well above the top of the display, providing tons of spaciousness and ambience to movies like Blade Runner 2049. Even more importantly, the bar does a solid job producing dialog; by far one of the biggest modern complaints. Sony provides a simple one-touch demo mode on the top of the bar that is great for showrooms. When engaged, the bar plays a series of sounds such as a steam train, carnival roller coaster, and fireworks that do a good job demonstrating the bar’s sonic expansiveness and low-end performance.
During my review, the subwoofer randomly unpaired from the bar a couple of times, but fortunately a simple power cycle on the sub restored operation. Also, when using the eARC connection, the bar takes a couple of seconds to sync up with the TV’s audio, meaning that when switching between programming in streaming services, or coming in and out of ads in Hulu, the first moments of sound were silent.
For customers looking for an affordable way to greatly improve their AV experience, the HT-G700 makes a great add-on, especially when paired with an eARC-capable display.
- Soundbar: 38 5/8 x 2 5/8 x 4 3/8-inches (WxHxD); 7.75-pounds
- Subwoofer: 7 5/8 x 15 1/4 x 16-inches (WxHxD); 16.6-pounds