Sony has announced its latest soundbar, the HT-S2000. A slim and compact (31.5 x 2.5 x 5 inches, W x HXD) model with a standard black look, the soundbar is the company’s first to work with Home Entertainment Connect, a new app that guides users through the first installation leads and can be used to control volume, select sound modes and more.
At $499 (about £415 / AU$735) the HT-S2000 is priced the same as the Sonos Beam (Gen 2)a model that we rank as the best small soundbar with Dolby Atmos on our list of the best sound bars. Will the new Sony supplant the Beam (Gen 2) on our list? Let’s see what it has.
The HT-S2000 is a 3.1 model with left, right and center speakers plus dual built-in subwoofers. A five-channel amplifier delivers a total of 250 watts. Both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X are supported, using Sony’s Vertical Surround Engine and S-Force PRO Front Surround virtual processing to deliver immersive audio from the 3.1 channel bar.
Thanks to a new sound-up mixer built into the HT-S2000, it can deliver 3D surround from regular 5.1 channel and stereo content. In Sony’s words, it does this through an algorithm that “extracts individual sound objects depending on their localization and remaps them, resulting in three-dimensional surround sound.”
Ports on the HT-S2000 are limited to a single HDMI eARC (same as the Sonos Beam). Music streaming is done via Bluetooth, and there’s also a USB port for connecting storage devices loaded 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 subwoofer (SA-SW5 / SA-SW3) . And when used with a compatible Sony Bravia XR TV, the soundbar settings appear in the quick settings menu of the set, allowing you to control it using the TV’s remote control.
Analysis: Does the new Sony soundbar’s DTS:X advantage make it a better Sonos Beam?
One complaint some users have about the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) and Arc soundbars is that there is no built-in decoding for the lossless DTS:X and DTS-HD Master Audio formats. Instead, you are forced to rely on the lossy version of DTS when playing movies with DTS soundtracks.
With built-in Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support, the new Sony HT-S2000 seems to have an advantage over the Sonos Beam (Gen 2), which costs the same and also delivers immersive audio soundtracks via virtual processing without upward-firing speakers .
However, getting DTS:X bitstreams to the Sony soundbar won’t be as easy as you might think. If the TV’s HDMI eARC port is connected to Sony’s single HDMI port, it must support DTS:X pass-through to route soundtracks in that format from a connected Blu-ray player to the HT-S2000. There are TVs that can do this (Sony makes a few), but certainly not all.
So if you happen to have a compatible TV, the HT-S2000 seems to have an advantage over the Beam (Gen 2) when it comes to DTS:X. But looking at Sony’s specs for its new soundbar, it seems Bluetooth is the only way to stream music, and while useful, that’s not exactly the best option for listening to music. The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) lets you stream lossless music over Wi-Fi, and this and many other soundbars let you cast it wirelessly using a protocol like AirPlay.
Does that in itself put Sony’s new soundbar at a disadvantage? Not exactly, since most people primarily use their soundbars to watch movies and TV shows. Listening to music is certainly a secondary use case, and in most situations Bluetooth will be enough to get the job done.
How good Sony’s new 3.1 channel Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundbar sounds with movies and also with music streamed via Bluetooth is something we look forward to, and maybe something we’ll do when Sony finally makes a ship date for the HT-S200.