Sony just announced its new, extremely expensive HT-A9 sound system and HT-A7000 soundbar. Launching in September (or October) for $1,800 and $1,300, both products seem like fantastic solutions for audio-obsessed gamers or film buffs. However, the HT-A9 speakers are particularly interesting due to their bizarre functionality.
The HT-A9 is a four-speaker sound system without a dedicated subwoofer or soundbar. It’s intended for those who want a surround-sound experience without rearranging furniture—Sony says that the speakers use built-in mics to optimize their sound regardless of their location, and can map your room to create 12 “phantom” speakers.
Frankly, this is an odd thing to claim, though anyone with a Google Home Max or Apple HomePod knows that modern speakers can optimize themselves for unconventional environments. And even if the HT-A9 fail to synthesize “phantom” speakers, they have impressive specs. There’s Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support through 8K HDMI passthrough, high-res audio and 360 Reality Audio (a Sony technology) through streaming services, and support for the Chromecast, AirPlay, and Spotify Connect protocols. Google Assistant and Alexa also make an appearance, though HomeKit is missing.
The new HT-A7000 soundbar is a bit more conventional and affordable than the strange HT-A9 system. It’s a 7.1.2-channel system that emulates surround sound using a mix of up-firing speakers, beam tweeters, multiple front speakers, and a built-in dual subwoofer. And like the HT-A9, the HT-A7000 soundbar uses microphones to optimize itself to your living room.
Feature-wise, the HT-A7000 supports the same protocols as the HT-A9 system. That means Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, wireless streaming from music services, and voice control with Google Assistant or Alexa. Of course, you can add extra subwoofers or rear speakers to the mix for an even more immersive experience.
The HT-A9 sound system and HT-A7000 soundbar launch in September or October of 2021 (Sony hasn’t decided yet). They will cost $1,800 and $1,300 respectively, so now’s the time to start using a piggy bank.