As televisions get thinner, what gets compromised is sound. For many, the sound quality is an afterthought, with picture quality holding the highest of importance.
However, for those that want to really take advantage of the latest Netflix, Amazon Prime and other streaming services’ fantastic content, it’s worth investing in some external speakers.
While the standard 5.1 setup (one centre speaker, one subwoofer, two front speakers and two rear satellite speakers) might be challenging for some rooms due to size, a soundbar and subwoofer can do the job in most cases, really giving you a semi-theatrical experience in the room of your choosing.
Enter the all-new Sony HT-G700 soundbar with wireless subwoofer. I had the opportunity to test this for a month and while I haven’t been able to compare it to every soundbar on the market, I’ll use my own Bose Soundbar 700 as a reference point, which is a pretty good standard of measurement in my opinion.
First, let’s talk about design and size. Sony’s soundbar has a very none descript look to it. Black in colour, matte finishing to it with a speaker grill on the front. No buttons on the outside, it’s just a black slab of speaker glory.
There are pros and cons to this design. The pros are that it disappears within your setup. The cons are the lack of buttons and the basic looks won’t be an aesthetic masterpiece if you’re pairing it with one of the newest and thinnest TVs on the market.
One interesting design choice is Sony embedded a small digital display behind the speaker grill on the front of the speaker. You won’t see this until you turn it on and navigate the menu system. While it’s great that there is some sort of display unlike the Bose Soundbar which has nothing, I would have preferred a more interactive display to select sound profiles, update firmware etc., without the need for a controller, but more on that later.
In terms of size, it’s the same length as the Bose Soundbar 700 but slightly thinner. Perfect for a television 55 inches and above. Now, in terms of the subwoofer, this is where you see a better design language to it.
Gloss piano black material on the front that really makes the subwoofer look classy and distinctive, and if you have it visible for others to see, it will get some positive comments.
The soundbar relies on its dedicated remote controller for initial setup and specific commands like menu selections, firmware updates. But if just volume control is what you are more concerned about, that you can control it from the TV controller itself, depending on how you set up your system.
One of the challenges I initially faced was navigating the menu system. It felt like how I would control my digital alarm clock when I was a kid, make a mistake or scroll pass a selection on accident, and you need to go through all the settings to get to the selection you wanted. Also, because the display is small you need to wait and see words scroll from right to left to see what it is you are selecting. Let’s call this a “retro menu” for the sake of this review, but luckily, I didn’t need to use it that much otherwise it would become increasingly frustrating.
Besides that, the setup with the soundbar pairing to the wireless subwoofer was easy to understand and I was up and running in a few minutes.
Oh, and one more thing, for the unit I received, there was no instruction manual inside the box so I was left to Google and YouTube to figure out what is what. I hope the retail units do include this but if not, the online manuals are available.
So now let’s get to what most people want to know, how do the soundbar and subwoofer sound?
In short, the soundbar and Subwoofer sound great! The filled my bedroom with more than enough volume and the sound quality was well balanced. The bass from the subwoofer never felt like it was overpowering the content I was watching, just adding to the experience of the content I was watching.
There are a number of sound profiles one can choose: Cinema Mode, Music Mode, Voice Mode and Night Mode. They all work well with night mode, optimal if you are someone like me that likes to fall asleep watching TV. Volume is low but voices are very clear.
While Sony is touting this fantastic experience with the HT-G700, simulating a 7.1.2 channel surround sound feel to your TV shows and movies, I didn’t get that much of a surround experience that made me go WOW, but I can say the soundstage felt larger than my bedroom and the quality was good. Very comparable to the Bose Soundbar 700 from my side by side tests.
Having said that, not all content is equal and the type of audio you will get out of your speaker system is highly dependent on the content you are streaming or watching. For my setup, I connected the soundbar via HDMI to the TV, and I watched content from Netflix, Disney+, Amazon and YouTube from Android TV.
The spoken word is handled very well with the soundbar, actors and presenters were clear, nice warmth to the voices, and I didn’t feel I needed to constantly tweak profiles to find the right setup. I think most users will more than satisfied with the settings out of the box. For the more discerning, you can tweak the settings to your satisfaction to get the most out of the speakers.
Music is also handled very well. There’s solid midrange sound that has the bass when you need it, and if you like listening to music with real instruments, you will be able to hear those subtleties that one loved to point out in their favourite tracks.
The Sony HT-G700 is a good system, especially for the price. It’s a definite improvement over television speakers and the added tech will make your room feel much larger than it is while providing you with a great, well-balanced sound that makes watching content, playing games and more a very enjoyable experience.
Is it better than others out there in the market at this price? Hard to say as sound is a personal preference, but I found the sound quality quite comparable to the Bose at a much more affordable price.
More information about the Sony HT-G700 (S$899) and purchase options are available on Sony’s website.
Written by Bobby Tonelli