Sony’s HT-A3000 does virtual Dolby Atmos right, for those who can handle the value

Sony’s HT-A3000 does virtual Dolby Atmos right, for those who can handle the value

MSRP $700.00

“A Swiss-army knife of a soundbar that actually does all of it.”


  • Great movie and music sound
  • Excellent on-screen settings
  • Airplay, Chromecast
  • Highly expandable
  • Convincing virtual Dolby Atmos


  • Expensive for virtual Atmos
  • No HDMI input
  • No EQ settings

Sony’s A-Series of Dolby Atmos home theater soundbars and speakers are impressive, but in addition they cost rather a lot, with prices that begin at $1,000. That’s what makes its latest model so interesting. At $700, the HT-A3000 hardly qualifies as low-cost, however it’s still essentially the most reasonably priced approach to buy a premium Sony soundbar.

And it’s indeed premium, usher in lots of the features that make the A-Series ($1,000 HT-A5000, $1,300 HT-A7000,  $1,800 HT-A9) a family to be reckoned with. With AirPlay, Chromecast, hi-res audio, expandability, and advanced compatibility with Sony’s Bravia XR TVs, there’s little these soundbars can’t do.

But bringing the value all the way down to $700 means making cuts in a couple of areas, most notably the dearth of any up-firing drivers to assist deliver Dolby Atmos’ signature height-effect sounds.

So what exactly are these compromises, do they affect the enjoyment of TV and movie content, and if that’s the case, are you higher off with the competition? Let’s get into it.

What’s within the box?

Sony HT-A3000 box contents.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Together with the HT-A3000 (which, from here on in I’ll simply call the A3000), you get an HDMI cable, an influence cable, a distant with two AAA batteries, a 3.5mm analog cable for sending center channel sound to a compatible Sony TV, a fast start guide, wall-mounting template, and a full user manual, which is sweet to see — many corporations are making folks head online for that documentation. It’s all packaged with big Styrofoam blocks, so chances are you’ll not have the option to completely recycle the fabric depending on where you reside.


Sony HT-A3000 seen from the right side.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Sony is the king of the black plastic box. And while that seems like a dis, it’s not. Soundbars, unless they’re artistic endeavors unto themselves, are higher heard, not seen, so the A3000’s all-matte-black plastic and dark grey metal grille are only high quality with me. When the lights go down, this thing disappears, just because it should.

At 37 inches long and only a hair over 2.5 inches tall, it should fit just high quality in front of any TV from 32 inches and up. In case your TV happens to have very low feet and the soundbar obscures its infrared (IR) receiver, the A3000 is provided with its own IR repeaters, so that you likely won’t have to try this thing where you hold your distant way up high to manage the TV.

Sony HT-A3000 OLED display.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

You’ll find a couple of touch controls on the highest surface for power, volume, input selection, Bluetooth on/off, and a music service shortcut key that might be used to leap straight into Spotify for those who want.

Behind that metal grille is a small OLED text display that shows you all the status info you wish from the present input, to volume level, to audio formats, for those who need them. I kinda wish Sony had made it a couple of characters wider — lots of the messages require text scrolling, which I discover a hassle. But as these displays go, it’s fairly easy to read and you may dim it or turn it off entirely if it bothers you.

Setup, controls, and connections

Sony HT-A3000 connection ports.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Getting the A3000 arrange is de facto easy, mostly because you actually only have one option straight out of the box: plug the included HDMI cable into the HDMI ARC/eARC port in your TV, plug the opposite end into A3000’s only HDMI port, turn your TV on, then turn the soundbar on. Even for those who don’t undergo the remaining of the arrange steps, you’re now good to go for TV sound.

But I strongly recommend that you simply do proceed. Sony is one in all the few soundbar corporations that takes full advantage of the incontrovertible fact that an HDMI connection might be used to send a video signal back to a TV, and it uses that signal to offer you a full on-screen menu system for the A3000.

It initially walks you thru the painless strategy of getting connected to Wi-Fi (sorry wired network junkies, there’s no ethernet port) and once that’s done you may decide to enable Chromecast built-in and/or Amazon Alexa compatibility. These functions might be used for music streaming in addition to voice commands, but they’re each optional.

Apple’s AirPlay 2, then again, gets enabled as soon as you’re connected to Wi-Fi, making it a cinch to stream audio to the soundbar from any Apple device.

In case your TV doesn’t support HDMI ARC/eARC, you may still connect using an optical cable, but you’ll need to produce your individual, and also you won’t have the option to get Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, or any of the high-bandwidth surround sound audio formats like Dolby TrueHD.

The HT-A3000 does virtual Atmos higher than any soundbar I’ve heard to date.

Ordinarily, you might get around such a limitation by connecting a Dolby Atmos or DTS:X source like a streaming device or Blu-ray player to the soundbar’s HDMI input, (and just use the HDMI output to send the video to your TV) however the A3000 doesn’t have an HDMI input. In case you need one, you’ll should cough up the additional $300 and buy the HT-A5000.

Sony’s Music Center companion app for iOS and Android will also be used to manage the A3000, but there isn’t much call to accomplish that. Almost every little thing you wish might be accessed via the included distant and the OLED display, or that improbable on-screen user interface. Still, it’s price noting that the app might be used to access any music you will have stored on a networked computer or harddisk and it could possibly control and link any and all compatible Sony wireless speakers chances are you’ll own — almost like a simplified Sonos system.

In case you occur to own a comparatively latest Sony Bravia XR TV, you may avail yourself of the included cable and connect the soundbar’s center channel output to your TV. I didn’t have one in all those TVs readily available for my testing, so I can’t say how well it really works, however the gist is that the TV’s internal speakers can act as a booster for on-screen sounds, especially dialog. It’s definitely price trying.

Finally, there’s a USB port for accessing music from storage devices. Again, I didn’t try it because I believe most of you’ll use the A3000’s streaming options, but Sony does provide excellent file format support. In case you can play it on a pc, you may probably play it on the A3000.

Just like the soundbar itself, the included distant is typical Sony fare — boxy and basic, but clearly labeled and well laid out. You’ll must familiarize yourself with a number of the button functions, and also you’ll need a light-weight source to see it for those who’re in a dimly lit room as there’s no backlighting.

Sound quality

Sony HT-A3000 close-up of left side, driver visible behind grille.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

There are a couple of scenarios to debate here, so let’s take them one after the other.

Movies and TV

For conventional two-channel stereo and even Dolby 5.1 content, the A3000 sounds great. Dialog quality really surprised me. The A3000 lacks dedicated tweeters but despite that — and even without using the available Voice mode for speech enhancement — I discovered dialog very clear and intelligible, which is the primary test any good soundbar must pass. Check!

The built-in dual subwoofers do an admirable job of providing low-end bass given the dimensions of this speaker, but keep your expectations measured. This isn’t feel-it-in-your-chest bass and the monstrous T-Rex footfalls from Jurassic World Dominion won’t cause your couch to vibrate, however it’s still powerful enough to offer high-octane movies real emotional impact. There’s a scene in Pacific Rim where the 2 principal characters are surprised by a sudden noise brought on by an approaching Kaiju (the movie’s monsters) and I even have to confess, my heart skipped a beat, too, despite the dearth of a dedicated subwoofer.

Sony HT-A3000 seen in front of a 65-inch TV.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

My other surprise was Dolby Atmos. I’m not going to let you know that a soundbar without dedicated up-firing drivers and a five-channel configuration can deliver the 3D immersion of Dolby Atmos in addition to one which does, however the A3000 sounds higher than every other I’ve tried to date.

When a soundbar doesn’t have discrete drivers for every channel, it has to virtualize them — a clever little bit of digital signal processing that simulates the presence of those missing channels. How well that works relies on plenty of complex aspects, but let’s just say it’s a difficult trick to tug off convincingly, and plenty of soundbars that try just can’t make it work.

However the A3000 is impressive. Close your eyes while listening to the soundtrack from Denis Villeneuve’s Dune and you may persuade yourself that the sound of flying ornithopters is coming at you from speakers which might be positioned well above the soundbar.

Sony 360 Reality Audio tracks were a pleasure, with a really real and immersive sound.

For Atmos and DTS:X content, that virtualization is automatic, but you may as well activate Sony’s Sound Field setting to get the same treatment for all your non-spatial audio content. It’s not as dramatic, however it makes shows like Amazon Prime’s The Boys far more entertaining.

Here’s the caveat to the A3000’s virtualization: It must be pretty loud to work. My totally unscientific fooling around with levels suggests to me that at about 30% volume or less, you’ll be hard-pressed to note much in the way in which of real immersion. But crank it up between 58% and 70% and now we’re talking. Your neighbors is probably not as keen on the result, however it’s the immersive sweet spot for this speaker.


Sony HT-A3000 top controls.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Music has all the time been a Sony strength and the A3000 does job with a wide range of genres. The sound is nicely balanced, but there’s a little bit of a hole within the midrange — it’s missing a number of the detail you get from a speaker that has a greater number of dedicated drivers. My guess is that in tuning the A3000 to do such an important job with movie/TV dialog (comprehensible on condition that this can be a soundbar), some compromises needed to be made along the way in which.

That underrepresented middle results in a rather colder sound, but that’s something your brain adjusts to pretty quickly. On the flip side, the clarity of the upper frequencies is great, if a bit sharp at louder volumes, so fans of vocal-heavy genres will find rather a lot to love. I sampled my favorite lossless tracks from Amazon Music, Tidal, and Apple Music and enjoyed every minute of it.

And while the general sound signature may not satisfy music purists, the A3000 brings quite a lot of impressive music features to the table that help to compensate.

The primary is its full suite of high-quality pathways. With each AirPlay 2 and Chromecast built-in, Apple and Android users can each stream lossless music (as much as 24-bit/96kHz within the case of Chromecast), but even the soundbar’s Bluetooth connection is healthier than what you’ll find on a lot of the competition, with the lossy, hi-res LDAC codec available for Android handsets.

The second is its support for the 2 leading spatial-audio-for-music formats: Dolby Atmos Music (via HDMI out of your TV) and Sony’s own 360 Reality Audio (360RA) via Chromecast. I wasn’t as impressed by Atmos Music on the A3000 as I even have been on other Atmos-capable systems (probably due to need for virtualization), but 360RA tracks were an actual pleasure — especially live recordings like David Gilmour’s 2016 Live at Pompeii. It could seem obvious that a Sony speaker is nice at reproducing a Sony format, but trust me — that isn’t all the time the case.

No EQ settings

There’s one drawback to sound on the A3000 and that’s its almost total lack of EQ settings. It’s an especially strange omission on a soundbar from Sony, and yet, it appears to be the approach the corporate has taken with its whole A-Series line. The HT-A5000 and A7000 are bereft of EQ adjustments, too, save for a couple of changes you may make to the Sound Field mode.

I suppose there’s an argument to be made in favor of simplicity, but I’m of the opinion that for those who pay this type of money for a house theater system, you need to have the option to tweak the sound here and there.

Expanding via wireless speakers

Top view of Sony SA-RS5 wireless surround speaker.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The important thing selling point (apart from their features and sound quality) of Sony’s A-Series soundbars is their versatility. All three bar-based systems (A3000, A5000, and A7000) might be enhanced with two sorts of wireless subwoofer ($400 SA-SW3, $700 SA-SW5) and two models of wireless surround speakers ($350 SA-RS3S, $600 SA-RS5).

I attempted the A3000 with the SA-SW3 sub and the SA-RS5 and, as you’d expect from a system that costs $1,600, it sounded pretty great. The addition of the SA-RS5 allowed the soundbar to employ Sony’s 360 Spatial Sound Mapping, which definitely improved the immersiveness of each TV and streaming music, together with the much needed height channels.The SA-SW3 finally added that missing rumble and boom.

Sony SA-RS5 wireless surround speaker.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

But, it’s not perfect. The issue is that whenever you use height drivers that reflect pontificate your ceiling (versus ceiling speakers that aim the sound directly downward), geometry is vital. Most individuals will have the option to seek out distance for getting the precise angles from a set of front, soundbar-mounted height drivers, however the rears are much trickier.

If, like me, you will have no room behind your principal seating area (perhaps because your couch is up against a wall), you’ll be hard-pressed to get the needed angles from the SA-RS5. They’re designed to be positioned behind you, not beside you.

So despite the fact that the SA-RS5 will indeed turn the A3000 right into a full-fledged Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 system, it’s no guarantee that you simply’ll get a full 5.1.2 experience.

The competition

Sony has all the time charged a premium price for its products, and customarily speaking, they justify those premiums with higher performance. But I’m not so sure that the A3000 could make that claim as easily because the A5000 or A7000.

Let’s quickly consider another choice. Though I haven’t personally tested it, you may buy the Samsung HW-Q700B for a similar price because the A3000.

It’s a 3.1.2 Dolby Atmos/DTS:X soundbar with up-firing front drivers and a dedicated wireless subwoofer. It supports AirPlay, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant, but not Chromecast. Nevertheless, it sports that missing HDMI input, and it’s also expandable with a set of wireless rear surrounds which have their very own up-firing drivers. If you will have a compatible Samsung TV, it performs the same function to Sony’s center-channel expansion, which Samsung calls Q-Symphony, plus, for those who only wish to use the soundbar for TV audio (not video passthrough), it has wireless Dolby Atmos.

And for an additional $100, you may get the Best Buy-exclusive HW-Q750B, which is actually the identical soundbar, but with the addition of hi-res audio, Chromecast built-in, and a set of wireless surround speakers for a full 5.1.2 system.

So the Sony HT-A3000 is something of a conundrum. As a Dolby Atmos soundbar, it performs beautifully for each TV and music playback, and it has a powerful variety of features, all of which work well and are easy to make use of due to Sony’s thoughtful and well-executed user interface.

But its lack of dedicated height drivers, no HDMI inputs, and comparatively high price (each for the soundbar in addition to its compatible expansion speakers) mean you’ll need to significantly consider if it meets your specific needs. In case you need a soundbar that offers you ultimate versatility for all of your audio listening, plus comprehensive smart home compatibility, and also you’re not the type of one who likes to get deep into EQ settings, I believe the A3000 is an important buy.

Nevertheless, $700 can go a great distance within the soundbar world, so for those who’re less curious about with the ability to connect your soundbar to voice assistants and streaming music services and just want an important Dolby Atmos soundbar for movies and TV content, you may definitely spend less and still get a wonderful sound system.

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