Big televisions are getting a lot more affordable and the specs are continuously improving at the same time. You can buy a decent 4K HDR television for less than Rs. 30,000 today and increasing its budget to around Rs. 1,00,000 will get you an excellent television with performance that could cost a lot more just a few years ago. However, while picture quality continues to improve thanks to better panels and HDR standards such as Dolby Vision, an often overlooked aspect of television is sound.
The focus on the screen and design of televisions means that speakers are often placed at the bottom of modern TVs and are often dull, muted or completely inappropriate for the viewing experience. Fortunately, the solution is quite simple – use a separate audio system, such as a multi-speaker home theater setup or a soundbar. Many buyers now prefer the latter, due to the obvious ease of setup and convenience in terms of required space.
If you have a decent television and are looking for a soundbar, then the product I’m reviewing today might be of interest. The Sony HT-G700 is a 3.1-channel soundbar with a dedicated discrete subwoofer and support for 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos pass-through. Priced at Rs. At 47,990, the HT-G700 looks great on paper, but how does it perform? Find out in our review.
Sony HT-G700 Design and Specifications
I believe that minimalism works best when it comes to soundbar design, and Sony has nailed it with the HT-G700. There’s nothing fancy to distract you from what you’re watching; after all, the point of a soundbar system is to be heard, not seen. The main speaker and subwoofer are matte black with metal grills covering the speaker drivers and simple Sony logos on top of each unit.
The 3.1-channel Sony HT-G700 has three speaker drivers – left, right and center – in the main speaker unit. The wireless subwoofer features a single low-cost driver. Sony’s rated power output for both units together is 400W, and the sales package also includes a remote control, an HDMI cable, and power cables for both units. Sony’s Vertical Surround Engine is said to simulate the sound of a 7.1.2-channel speaker system, and Dolby up to Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound formats are also supported on the HT-G700.
The Sony HT-G700’s head unit is just under 1m long, about the same length as a 50-inch television. You can place it on a table or mount it on the wall just below the television if you prefer. The subwoofer is bulky, and you’ll need a good amount of floor space near the TV to position it. Of course, you’ll need two plug points to power the main speaker unit and the subwoofer separately.
Usefully, the soundbar has a screen, and even more usefully, it’s just plain monochrome text shining through the front grille of the main speaker unit. It’s large enough to be read from about 10 to 12 feet away, yet small and opaque enough to not be distracting. When the HT-G700 is turned on, it will tell you which input source is in use. It also indicates volume adjustments on the main unit and subwoofer, as well as other adjustments and settings that you can adjust using the remote control.
The top of the main speaker unit has touch controls for power, source selection and volume, while the wireless subwoofer has a small light that lets you know if it’s in use or on standby. There are two buttons on the back of the subwoofer for power and for connecting it to the main unit, but I didn’t need to use them during my time with the HT-G700.
The subwoofer connects automatically and wirelessly to the main speaker unit when both are on, and automatically goes into standby mode when the speaker is turned off. This gave me a little flexibility in positioning the subwoofer and naturally reduced the number of exposed wires. That ease of use is just as appealing as the minimalist style.
The Sony HT-G700 soundbar remote is small and light, and you can adjust everything possible with just a tap or two. In addition to the basics (power, source selection, and volume), there are separate knobs for subwoofer volume; quick access to standard, movie, music and auto sound modes; a dimmer for the screen; and a few other buttons that I didn’t need to access often. You need two AAA batteries to power the remote, which are included in the sales package.
Connectivity on the Sony HT-G700 is suitable for use with most modern televisions and other source devices. There are separate HDMI input and output ports, with the output supporting HDMI ARC and eARC, as well as HDMI CEC. Ultra-HD pass-through supports up to standard Dolby Vision HDR at 60 fps. There is also an optical audio input port (Toslink) and Bluetooth 5 for wireless connectivity with support for both SBC and AAC codecs.
Sony HT-G700 Performance
The Sony HT-G700 soundbar is certainly well equipped and looks impressive on paper, but the most important aspect of any audio product is, of course, performance. The soundbar works in this department. With good tuning, loud capable sound, and ease of use, the HT-G700 is a pretty impressive option for the price.
For the best possible performance you will need to connect the Sony HT-G700 to your television using HDMI as this allows the digital data signal to be efficiently transported from the screen or source device to the audio system. The digital optical connection is a more convenient option and worked well for encoding up to 5.1 channels, but there was an audible difference in sound quality when listening to content that used advanced audio formats such as Dolby Atmos.
One of the main advantages of using the optical input is that you can use the television’s built-in speakers or soundbar exclusively (by turning one off or the other) or use both simultaneously. For most of the television shows and movies I watched on streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hotstar – usually encoded in 5.1-channel audio – the differences in sound between optical and HDMI were non-existent.
Season 2 of The Boys was one of the first shows I watched with the Sony HT-G700 connected, and the soundbar definitely had an impact on the listening experience. The dialogue was crisper and cleaner, the background score was stronger, and the sound effects were stronger; particularly low-end sounds that took advantage of the large, capable subwoofer.
As mentioned, HDMI ARC is the best way to connect the Sony HT-G700 Soundbar to your TV as it allows for proper transmission of Dolby Atmos audio. Netflix now has extensive support for Dolby Atmos across much of its content, including Our Planet and Chef’s Table, which I used to test the soundbar. There was a difference to be heard with Atmos content, with a wider soundstage and virtualized vertical surround sound that sounded like it was coming from above.
While this doesn’t come close to a proper surround sound system or even a soundbar with rear speaker support like the Sony HT-Z9F, it definitely created a wider, more cinematic feel at the front. Natural sounds, like crashing waves in Our Planet, or the futuristic train sounds in Snowpiercer, sounded realistic and spacious and seemed to be coming from the right direction in relation to the screen. Even David Attenborough’s captivating voice sounded a little sharper and centered on the Sony HT-G700, with Dolby Atmos in play.
While the main speaker unit is decent, I couldn’t help but feel that the subwoofer was a little too powerful in comparison. You can adjust the subwoofer’s volume to tone it down a bit, but the noise was often out of proportion to the sound from the soundbar’s main speaker, sounding a little too loud and boomy in my viewing room. Careful placement can fix this, but this is not always easy due to space constraints.
Sony’s Vertical Surround Engine isn’t new, but it doesn’t seem to have improved in any way since the last Sony soundbar I reviewed with it, the Sony HT-Z9F. This is said to simulate a virtual 7.1.2-channel speaker system, but in practice it’s done nothing more than awkwardly widen the soundstage to the point where it’s a little echoy and weird. Fortunately, this can be disabled and doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on Dolby sound formats.
While the sound is generally well-tuned and can be customized for movies or music via the remote, one issue I ran into with the Sony HT-G700 is the lack of uniformity in volume levels. While the soundbar can get quite loud, there was a noticeable difference in loudness at the same volume level depending on how busy the scene is.
The sound often went from too low or right to too loud, requiring me to keep one hand on the remote to quickly adjust the volume. This is a common problem with televisions, but it really shouldn’t arise when using a dedicated audio system like this one.
While not quite as impressive as a 2-channel or 2.1-channel stereo system, the Sony HT-G700 is surprisingly capable when it comes to music. Using both Bluetooth and wired connectivity through the television, I really enjoyed the sound of the HT-G700, offering an exciting and immersive listening experience. The subwoofer’s powerful capabilities go a long way in this case, offering some much-needed drive and attack, while the main speaker unit also covers full-range audio adequately.
While an affordable soundbar like the Mi Soundbar or the timeless JBL Cinema SB250 can be appealing if you have a smaller, more affordable television, a good TV needs the right audio system to match it. If you’ve got a fancy big-screen 4K TV that you’ve spent quite a bit of money on, a mid-range soundbar like the Sony HT-G700 will work just fine to boost your sound.
While the subwoofer is a little too boomy at times, the overall sound was immersive, lively, soulful, and cinematic in ways that put the built-in speakers common in most televisions to shame. Its minimalist design, ease of use, and flexibility allow the HT-G700 to work well with music, movies, and TV shows, making this soundbar worthy of consideration for pairing with your new TV.
How to find the best deals during online sales? We discuss this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or RSS, download the episode or simply hit the play button below.