Monday, November 29, 2021

Sony HT-G700 Soundbar- Futureproof with Wireless Subwoofer, Dolby Atmos, 4K HDR Pass-through: Detailed Review

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Sound
Features
Value for Money
The 400 Watt Sony HT-G700 3.1 channel Soundbar with wireless subwoofer delivers superior movie and music performance against less pricey soundbars and is recommended considering it delivers 4K HDR passthrough and passable Dolby Atmos experience.

Verdict

The 400 Watt (pear power) Sony HT-G700 3.1 Soundbar with wireless subwoofer comes with Bluetooth 5.0 and HDMI eARC. The build quality is superior.

Sony’s marketing strategy is to showcase it as future-proof, easy to setup with wireless soundbar and packed with Sony’s surround technology.

The Soundbar’s music performance is much better as compared to entry level soundbars. Movies dialogue experience is enhanced due to its dedicated centre channel speaker. The surround experience is partially delivered with front and side placed objects appearing more accurate as compared to back and overhead objects. 

The soundbar does have some misses like no room correction, no wi-fi and no in-built music streaming support. 

The Sony HT-G700 delivers superior performance as compared to less pricey soundbars and is a recommended upgrade if you are seeking clutter-free installation without having to install surround / rear speakers, 4K HDR passthrough and passable Dolby Atmos experience. 

  • Wireless subwoofer
  • Great for Dialogues
  • HDMI eARC for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X
  • 4K HDR pass-through
  • Bass level adjustment

  • No virtual assistant or music streaming apps support
  • No 3.5mm AUX IN
  • No wifi at this price point
  • No room correction

Introduction

The Sony HT-G700 is a 3.1 channel soundbar with wireless subwoofer launched in July 2020. It is one of the soundbars in the Sony lineup supporting Dolby Atmos & DTS:X. At nearly Rs. 40,000 online price, it is targeted as a premium soundbar for those seeking high quality sound from a compact and hassle-free setup. Sony HT-X8500 is another less expensive Dolby Atmos enabled soundbar. Motorola MT160DSB is another soundbar with wireless subwoofer.

Sony HT-G700 Soundbar

Sony is serious about its soundbar lineup and is making efforts to iron out bugs that come up occasionally. Sony has issued a firmware update in Dec.2020 for Sony HT-G700 Soundbar as well (find details towards the end of this blog).

Sony HT-S350 Soundbar is another great entry level offering with 2.1 channels, 320 watts and wireless subwoofer.

Why Should You Buy Sony HT-G700 Soundbar

You should buy the Sony HT-G700 Soundbar because-

  • It’s simple and clutter-free to install with left, centre, right channels in a convenient soundbar and a wireless subwoofer 
  • It’s future-proof with 4K HDR passthrough and Dolby Atmos through eARC

What Is In The Box

  • Soundbar (1)
  • Subwoofer (1)
  • Remote Control (1)
  • Batteries for remote (2)
  • HDMI Cable (1)
  • AC Power Cord (2) 
  • Startup Guide (1)
  • Operating Instructions Manual (1)
  • Warranty Card (1)

No Optical cable has been provided. No screws for wall mounting have been provided.

Key Features and First Looks

Soundbar

The soundbar unit of Sony HT-G700 is fairly long at 980 mm and much deeper as compared to other soundbars. The soundbar unit of Sony HT-S20R is 760mm long in comparison. It has an elegant black metal mesh grille wrapping around its side and top. The body is black and made of high quality plastic. The plastic body has been given a faux leather textured feel which is soft and nice to touch. The Sony  HT-G700 is a Made-in-China unit. 

Sony HT-G700 Soundbar

LED brightness level can also be changed to allow for undisturbed watching.

The soundbar has three drivers for left, centre and right channel sound. Each driver is able to deliver 100 watts peak power output. All the three drivers are front firing. In comparison, the Bose Solo 5 soundbar is 700mm long with 2 speakers.

Sony HT-G700 soundbar
Courtesy: Sony

The top has a touch console featuring POWER ON, INPUT SELECT, BLUETOOTH, VOLUME+ and VOLUME – buttons. 

Sony HT-G700 Soundbar

The back of the Sony HT-G700 Soundbar has an AC input port. There is also an infrared (IR) repeater port that transmits the remote signal of TV remote control to TV and is used when HDMI CEC is activated.

At the back, placed in a recess, are the input terminals for TV OPTICAL IN, HDMI IN and HDMI ARC/eARC OUT. A USB port is provided but only for software updates, not playback. 

Sony HT-G700 Soundbar

A small LED display screen has been provided behind the mesh grille.

Thick rubber pads for slip-free usage have been given at the bottom.

Two standard screw holes have been provided at the back for wall mounting.

Wireless Subwoofer

The Sony HT-G700 Soundbar’s subwoofer is a wireless unit with a nice textured surface. It pairs via bluetooth with the soundbar unit. It has a 16mm front firing driver unit behind a metal mesh grille that delivers 100 Watts of power.

Sony HT-G700 Soundbar

The subwoofer is front ported with a large glossy black port. This subwoofer is deeper as compared to Sony HT-S20R’s subwoofer.

The subwoofer’s back has a screwed-on plastic plate.

A small LED indicator has been provided to display pairing information. 

At the back are AC IN socket, a POWER button and a PAIR button.

Remote is very functional and extremely pleasant to hold with thoughtful features. More of it later.

Installation and Wiring

The soundbar unit can be placed on the TV cabinet in front of your TV. The soundbar’s 64mm height will not obstruct TVs and its IR Repeater feature comes handy if the soundbar does obstruct TV’s IR receiver. 

Sony HT-G700 Soundbar

Alternatively you can hang it on the wall using 2 nos. 4 mm dia screws with minimum 30mm length (not provided).  Larger dia screws will not fit in the slots provided.

The wireless subwoofer can be placed anywhere in your room and near an AC wall socket.

Sony HT-G700 Soundbar

Connect the soundbar and the subwoofer to AC power wall sockets using the power cables (provided). Switch them on. The subwoofer will automatically pair up with the soundbar and the subwoofer LED will turn GREEN. 

To manually connect the subwoofer, press MENU on the remote, scroll to SPEAKER and press ENTER, scroll to select LINK and press ENTER. LINK flashes on the soundbar display. Now Press LINK at the back of the subwoofer. LED changes from AMBER to GREEN and pairing is complete.

Connecting with TV

To enjoy audio of the highest quality (Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD, etc), make sure to connect your TV as explained here. 

Sony HT-G700 Soundbar
Courtesy: Sony’s Instruction Manual

TV with ARC/eARC: Connect the HDMI ARC/eARC IN of the TV to HDMI eARC OUT of the soundbar using High Speed / Ultra High Speed HDMI cable. The HDMI cable will carry video to TV and audio to the Soundbar. No other connection is required. Enable HDMI control on TV to get sound from the Soundbar.

TV without ARC: Connect HDMI IN of TV with HDMI ARC/eARC OUT of soundbar using HDMI cable (provided) to carry the video to TV. Additionally, connect OPTICAL OUT of TV to OPTICAL IN of the soundbar using optical cable (not provided) to carry audio. 

For details of formats and connections, refer to the table given at the end of this review.

Connecting with Other Devices

 To enjoy audio of highest possible quality (Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD, etc) when connecting to Blu-ray player or STB (set top box), disconnect the device from TV and connect it to the HDMI IN of the Soundbar.

Sony HT-G700 Soundbar
Courtesy: Sony’s Instruction Manual

IR (Infrared) Repeater Function

This is a thoughtful feature though it may not be put to use on most installations. This feature is available on Sony HT-X8500 Soundbar but not on Sony HT-S20R. If the soundbar is obstructing the remote control sensor of the TV, press MENU, scroll to SYSTEM and press ENTER, scroll to IR REPEATER and press ENTER, select ON.

This will allow you to control the TV with the TV remote control. The Soundbar’s IR sensor will take in the TV remote’s signals and relay them onto the TV’s IR sensor through the IR port at the rear of the Soundbar.

How to Enjoy Dolby Atmos on Sony HT-G700 Soundbar

To enjoy Dolby Atmos over your Dolby Atmos enabled soundbar-

  1. You should have Dolby Atmos content: Best quality content is an Atmos movie played through a UHD player. Least quality Atmos content are the movies (Atmos enabled) played through streaming services like Netflix
  2. Your TV should be capable of supporting Dolby Atmos: your TV should either be able to process Dolby TrueHD or Dolby Digital Plus. If your TV has HDMI eARC, it should be able to do either of the two. Difference is that Dolby Digital Plus is the lossy version while Dolby TrueHD is lossless 
  3. Your HDMI cable should be able to support Dolby Atmos: Premium High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet that supports minimum 18 Gbps

If any of the above is missing, forget about getting a true Dolby Atmos experience on your setup. The Soundbar may not be the one to pin the blame on if you are not able to enjoy Dolby Atmos in your system.

Review of Sony HT-G700 Soundbar

Features

  1. HDMI eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel). Dolby Atmos and DTS:X are object based audio formats. HDMI eARC supports uncompressed high definition Dolby Atmos and DTS:X transmitted over single HDMI 2.1 cable. Full marks to Sony for offering the latest in movie transmission formats
  1. Simulated 7.1.2 surround sound out of a 3.1 channel Soundbar. It has advanced DSP (Digital Signal Processing) technology for overhead sound i.e. Vertical Surround Engine. It also claims immersive horizontal surround audio through S-Force Pro Front Surround. Both of these can be activated by the IMMERSIVE AE button on the remote (automatically selected if Dolby Atmos content is detected)
  1. 4K HDR 18 Gbps passthrough capabilities means the Soudbar can process all the latest digital formats like HDCP 2.2/ 2.3 Dolby Vision, HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma).
  1. Wireless subwoofer 
  1. Convenience of choosing sound modes using remote- Cinema, Music, Voice and Night
  1. Bluetooth v5.0 connectivity for upto 10 users
  1. Ability to control bass level using remote
  1. Control for HDMI (HDMI CEC)- explained below
  1. IR Repeater Function for seamless use of TV remote if the Soundbar blocks TV’s IR receiver

Sound: Basic

Sound level can go from 0 to 100. The sound is very loud but get distorted at max. volume level.

Subwoofer level can be independently controlled using the remote. Upto 12 subwoofer volume levels are available.  Punchy bass begins to get felt not before 38-40 volume level.

Sound: Movies

The Sony HT-G700 Soundbar was able to create a wide cinematic experience with accurate and natural sounding audio as compared to entry level soundbars. horizontal and vertical surround effects to some extent. But it could not deliver a truly enveloping sound stage. 

The dialogues are a definite improvement and sound closer to actual recording owing to its dedicated centre channel speaker. The centre channel is able to produce clear and accurate audio reproduction of dialogue from your favorite movies.

Stereo Soundstage in movies is satisfactory. Sounds of larger objects seem to generally move as per their presence on the screen for instance moving train.

Surround Experience: This soundbar does not offer surround performance. It’s a 3.1 setup hence it downmixes and plays surround content using its left and right speakers. As a result, the surround objects appearing from front and sides are represented very well but the objects from back and not are not precisely reproduced. Hence the immersive experience gets only partially delivered. 

Height (Atmos Experience): While the soundbar is capable of decoding Dolby Atmos, its ability to reproduce objects appearing from top is limited because it does not have top firing speaker setup. The height experience though is slightly better as compared to surround experience.

The closer you are to the soundbar, the better the surround works.The virtual surround sound effects are almost not perceivable for far off seating positions.

The movie sound is distortion free and clean and the Soundbar is able to reproduce frequencies much better as compared to your TV speakers. 

Immersive AE feature. Press the IMMERSIVE AE button on the remote to enjoy surround sound. If the soundbar is able to recognise Dolby Atmos content, the Immersive AE feature switches on automatically. The surround effect is much better if content has Dolby Atmos. On other non-Atmos content, the intended surround effect is not pronounced.

Overall, the Soundbar delivers a better movie watching experience as compared to entry level soundbars with nice and crisp dialogues, thumping bass and a partial surround experience which is adequate for front and side surround but lacking for back and top sounds.

How does it compare with a full 5.1 channel Motorola MT150-HT51?

Sound: Music

The stereo frequency response of the Soundbar is good. The bass level in however not audible in STANDARD mode at low volume. Bass starts to get punchy only when the volume increases to near-mid level. At near maximum volume of 100, the bass becomes unpleasant. The bass overpowers treble on most soundtracks. 

Stereo soundstage for music is satisfactory. The soundstage does not extend too much beyond the soundbar though. 

Stereo sound dynamics are good. The soundbar can play at very loud volumes and is easily able to fill mid to large sized room. At max volume, the soundbar loses composure and begins to thump. 

The vocals are refined and clean. Music listening is pleasant and distortion free even at mid to high volume level. The Sony HT-G700 Soundbar’s musical performance is better as compared to entry level Soundbars.

Overall the Soundbar delivers satisfactory and much better music performance as compared to entry-level soundbars. 

At this price point however, the Sony HT-G700 misses out on lack of ability to be able to play streaming music like Spotify directly through it because it does not have wi-fi.

Sound: Daily Usage

The Sony HT-G700 is more than adequate for daily TV listening, sports, and news. Voices are clear and audible at low volume as well. Its beauty lies in its ability to deliver clear and precise speech which is perfect for news and audio books.

NIGHT mode is very useful as it reduces sound dynamics and bass levels to ensure a quiet late night watching experience.

The Sony HT-G700 does not have any room correction feature and you have to make do with the EQ presets to help you match sound suiting your preferences.

Bluetooth

The Sony HT-G700 is equipped with Bluetooth v5.0 through which TV or mobile can be connected using the INPUT button on the remote as well as the BLUETOOTH button on the top of the soundbar unit.

Press and hold the BLUETOOTH button on the Soundbar for 2 seconds. The Soundbar goes into pairing mode and the BLUETOOTH LED flashes quickly. Pairing is completed by selecting “HT-G700” on mobile or tablet. The default password is “0000”. Once paired, the indicator on the bar speaker turns BLUE. 

The Soundbar can store total of 10 devices- upto 9 mobile devices and 1 TV. 

To get the best quality sound through Bluetooth, press AUTO SOUND on the remote and AAC codec will be turned on. This will work if the connected Bluetooth device supports AAC codec.

Sound output through Bluetooth is smooth and without issues. IMMERSIVE AE button on the remote can transform stereo sound into virtual surround. The sound becomes broader using this feature but do not expect sounds to appear to originate from above or behind you. The technology cannot replicate the effect of physical surround speakers.

Remote

The infrared remote is handy and very comfortable to hold. It is narrow yet longer and deeper than remotes of other soundbars. All available features can be controlled using the remote. 

Sony HT-G700 Soundbar

Bass level can be controlled using the SW +/- buttons. 

The remote features dedicated sound profile buttons for CINEMA, MUSIC and NIGHT. You can also choose STANDARD mode for flat audio response.

The remote lacks music playback functions like track forward-backward, play, pause. But this should be fine because there is no SD card, USB or AUX input.

Control for HDMI Function (HDMI CEC)

HDMI CEC (Consumer Electronic Control) allows HDMI devices to control each other. With this useful feature, you can have high level control of soundbar functions using the TV remote. Following features can be 

  • Power Off 
  • Audio Controls (volume +,-,mute)
  • eARC/ARC
  • One-Touch Play
  • HDMI Standby

This function is ON by default in the Soundbar. Check your TV/ Blu Ray player and switch it on through respective menues.

Sony HT-G700 Firmware Update (on 01-Dec-2020)

How to check the software version of Sony HT-G700 Soundbar. Make sure to connect the subwoofer to fetch the correct version. In order to check the current version, on the remote control, press MENU, select SYSTEM and press [ENTER], select VERSION and press [ENTER]. The current version scrolls on the display.

Version 1.052 made available on 01-Dec-2020, is a 1.8 MB file downloadable from the Sony website. It fixes the following issues- 

  • Fixes an issue where sound may not be output from the subwoofer when connected to a TV via Bluetooth
  • Fixes an issue where sound may not be output when connected to a TV
  • Fixes a PIN number request issue when performing Bluetooth pairing on a Windows computer

How to Update Firmware Version of Sony HT-G700 Soundbar

The update takes about 3-10 minutes. Download the software update in a FAT32 USB 2.0 drive. Insert the USB storage device containing the software update into the unit. First make sure the subwoofer is connected. 

On the remote, press MENU and select UPDATE by pressing the [ENTER] button. Select “START” by pressing the [ENTER] button.

The update %age is displayed on the screen and DONE appears when the update is completed.

Specifications of Sony HT-G700 Soundbar

FeaturesSpecifications
No. of SpeakersSoundbar: 3 active drivers (Driver Size: 45 mm x 100 mm)
Subwoofer: 1 active driver (Driver Size: 160 mm)
Power ConsumptionTotal: 65 W and 0.5 to 2.0 W on standby depending on whether HDMI & Bluetooth are connected
Soundbar: 45 W
Subwoofer: 20 W
Speaker Power Output (Rated)Soundbar: Front Left + Front Right: 60 Watt+60 Watt (at 4 ohms, 1 kHz, 1% THD)
Subwoofer: not specified
Speaker Power Output (Reference)Total: 400 Watt (Reference)
Soundbar: Front Left + Front Center + Front Right: 100 Watt+100 Watt + 100 Watt (at 4 ohms, 1 kHz)
Subwoofer: 100 Watt (at 4 ohms, 100 Hz)
SubwooferYes, External, Wireless
Input PortHDMI ARC, OPTICAL IN, USB (only for updates)
Output Port1 HDMI eARC
BluetoothYes, v5.0
FM RadioNo
DimensionsSoundbar: (Length x Depth x Height): 980 mm x 108 mm x 64 mm
Subwoofer: (Length x Depth x Height): 192 mm x 406 mm x 387 mm
WeightTotal: 11.0 kg
Soundbar: 3.5 kg
Subwoofer: 7.5 kg

Audio formats Supported by Sony HT-G700 Soundbar

FormatHDMIHDMI eARCHDMI ARCOPTICAL
LPCM 2 chYesYesYesYes
LPCM 5.1chYesYes
LPCM 7.1chYesYes
Dolby DigitalYesYesYesYes
Dolby TrueHDYesYes
Dolby Digital PlusYesYesYes
Dolby Atmos – Dolby TrueHDYesYes
Dolby Atmos – Dolby Digital PlusYesYesYes
DTSYesYesYesYes
DTS-ES Discrete 6.1, DTS-ES Matrix 6.1YesYesYesYes
DTS 96/24YesYesYesYes
DTS-HD High Resolution AudioYesYes
DTS-HD Master AudioYesYes
DTS-HD LBRYesYes
DTS:XYesYes

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