Sony’s new 3.1-channel Dolby Atmos soundbar is like a Sonos Beam but with DTS:X
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 basic black look, the soundbar is the company’s first to work with Home Entertainment Connect, a new app that guides users through initial setup and can be used to control volume, select sound modes, and more.
At $499 (around £415 / AU$735), the HT-S2000 is priced the same as the Sonos Beam (Gen 2)a model we rank as the best small soundbar with Dolby Atmos on our list of the best sound bars. Will the new Sony displace the Beam (Gen 2) on our list? Let’s see what it’s got.
The HT-S2000 is a 3.1 model with left, right, and center speakers plus dual built-in subwoofers. A five-channel amplifier delivers 250 watts total. Both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X are supported, with Sony’s Vertical Surround Engine and S-Force PRO Front Surround virtual processing used to deliver immersive audio from the 3.1-channel bar.
A new sound upmixer built into the HT-S2000 lets it deliver 3-D surround from regular 5.1 channel and stereo content. In Sony’s words, it does this via an algorithm that “extracts individual sound objects depending on their localization and reallocates 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 carried out via Bluetooth, and there’s also a USB port for plugging in storage devices loaded with music files.
Also similar to the Sonos Beam, the HT-S2000 can be expanded on 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, soundbar settings will appear on the set’s Quick Settings menu, letting you control it using the TV remote.
Analysis: Does the new Sony soundbar’s DTS:X advantage make it a better Sonos Beam?
A complaint some users have about the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) and Arc soundbars is that there’s no built-in decoding for the lossless DTS:X and DTS-HD Master Audio formats. Instead, you’re 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 would appear to have an advantage over the Sonos Beam (Gen 2), which costs the same and, with no up-firing speakers, also delivers immersive audio soundtracks via virtual processing.
However, getting DTS:X bitstreams to the Sony soundbar won’t be as easy as you might think. With the TV’s HDMI eARC port connected to the Sony’s single HDMI port, it will have to support DTS:X passthrough to route soundtracks in that format from a connected Blu-ray disc player through to the HT-S2000. There are TVs capable of doing this (Sony makes some of them), but certainly not all.
So, if you happen to have a compatible TV, the HT-S2000 would appear 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 appears that Bluetooth is the only way to stream music, and while convenient, that’s not exactly the best-quality option for music listening. The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) lets you stream lossless music over Wi-Fi, and it 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 use their soundbars primarily for watching movies and TV shows. Music listening is definitely a secondary use-case, and in most situations Bluetooth will be sufficient to get the job done.
Just how well 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 hearing, and something we may get a chance to do when Sony eventually announces a shipping date for the HT-S200.