Sony has announced its latest soundbar, the HT-S2000. Slim and compact (31.5 x 2.5 x 5 inches, W x H), the soundbar has a basic black exterior and is the company’s first product to work with Home Entertainment Connect, a new app that guides users through the initial settings and can be used to control volume, select sound modes, and more.
The HT-S2000 costs $499 (around £415/AU$735), and the Sonos Beam (2nd Gen)which we named on our list as the best small soundbar with Dolby Atmos best soundbar. Will the new Sony replace the Beam (2nd Gen) on our list? Let’s see what it has.
The HT-S2000 is a 3.1 model with left, right and center speakers and dual built-in subwoofers. The five-channel amplifier has a total power of 250 watts. Supporting Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, Sony’s Vertical Surround Engine and S-Force PRO Front Surround Virtual Processing are used to deliver immersive audio from a 3.1 channel column.
The HT-S2000’s built-in new sound upmixer enables it to deliver 3-D surround sound from regular 5.1-channel and stereo content. In Sony’s words, it does this through an algorithm that “extracts individual sound objects based on their positioning and redistributes them, resulting in three-dimensional surround sound.”
Ports on the HT-S2000 are limited to a single HDMI eARC (same as Sonos Beam). Music streaming is via Bluetooth, and there’s a USB port for plugging in a storage device with music files.
Also similar to the Sonos Beam, the HT-S2000 can be expanded to create a full surround sound system by adding Sony’s optional wireless rear speakers (SA-RS3S) and wireless subwoofers (SA-SW5 / SA-SW3). When used with a compatible Sony Bravia XR TV (like the new XL90 series models), the soundbar settings will appear on the device’s Quick Settings menu, allowing you to control it with your TV remote.
Analysis: Does the DTS:X edge of the new Sony soundbar make it a better Sonos Beam?
A complaint some users have about the Sonos Beam (2nd Gen) and Arc soundbars is that there is no built-in decoding for the lossless DTS:X and DTS-HD Master Audio formats. Instead, when playing a movie with a DTS soundtrack, you have to rely on the lossy version of DTS.
With built-in Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support, the new Sony HT-S2000 appears to have an edge over the Sonos Beam (2nd Gen), which also offers immersive audio for the same price and no upward-firing speakers Audio is soundtracked through virtual processing.
However, transferring a DTS:X bitstream to a Sony soundbar is not as easy as you might think. Once your TV’s HDMI eARC port is connected to Sony’s single HDMI port, it must support DTS:X passthrough in order to route audio tracks in that format from a connected Blu-ray Disc player to the HT-S2000. Some TVs are capable of this (Sony makes some of them), but certainly not all.
So if you happen to have a compatible TV, the HT-S2000 seems to have an advantage over the Beam (2nd Gen) when it comes to DTS:X. But looking at the specs of Sony’s new soundbar, Bluetooth appears to be the only way to stream music, and while convenient, it’s not the best option for listening to music. The Sonos Beam (2nd Gen) lets you play lossless music over Wi-Fi, and it and many other soundbars let you stream music wirelessly using protocols like AirPlay.
Does that in itself put Sony’s new soundbar at a disadvantage? Not quite, since most people primarily use soundbars to watch movies and TV shows. Listening to music is definitely a secondary use case, and Bluetooth is good enough to get the job done in most cases.
We’re looking forward to hearing how Sony’s new 3.1-channel Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundbar will sound with movies and music streamed via Bluetooth, and we may get a chance to experience it when Sony finally announces a shipping date Check out the HT-S200.