6
This content is rated TV-MA, and is for viewers 18 years or older. Are you of age?
Sorry, you are not old enough to view this content.

First Look: A stunning sound bar but not quite for audiophiles

About Video Transcript

First Look: A stunning sound bar but not quite for audiophiles

3:43 /

The Sony HT-ST7 is a visually stunning and well-featured sound bar, but it doesn't sound as good as you'd expect at its sky-high price.

Hey, I'm Matthew Moskovciak from CNET, and today, we're taking a look at the Sony HT-ST7. This is a premium-priced sound bar system that's selling for $1300. That's a lot of money for a sound bar, but you feel like you're getting your money's worth with the design. It looks and feels like a serious piece of equipment with a brushed metal cabinet and a hefty 17-pound weight. It's also a sizable unit at over 42 inches long and over 5 inches high and that height means it might end up blocking your TV's remote sensor if you place it on the tabletop. Luckily, Sony has included the ability to add IR blasters to the back which is a nice work around to the problem, although you do end up with more wire clutter. Hidden behind the speaker grille is a front-panel display that gives you useful feedback when adjusting the volume and selecting inputs. The speaker grille itself is also removable, letting you expose the drivers for a more in-your-face style. There are nine total drivers driven by seven discrete amplifiers, and the low end is handled by a 100-watt wireless subwoofer, which sports a 7-inch driver and a passive radiator. The included remote is a little unusual. It has a sticklike shape with angled triangular buttons that are pretty easy to navigate by feel. Slide the bottom down and you get even more controls, including the ability to tweak the subwoofer level right on the remote. Around the back of the bar are the ports, most importantly three HDMI inputs. While most sound bars rely on your TV to switch between devices, Sony gives you the option to connect your devices directly to the sound bar, which means it can receive full high-resolution soundtracks like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. The HT-ST7 also has built-in bluetooth with the ability to pair with NFC. Upping the convenience factor even further is the Sony's Bluetooth standby functionality, letting you wake up the sound bar simply by connecting via Bluetooth. Altogether, it makes the HT-ST7 great for casual, instant-gratification listening, although some audio fidelity is lost with Bluetooth compression. It is surprising that Sony doesn't include AirPlay on the system which doesn't suffer the same loss of audio fidelity. For this much money, it feels like you should get both. The big question with the sound bar this expensive is how it performs. And while the HT-ST7 does some things remarkably well, the sound quality wasn't as impressive as you'd want on the $1300 system. We had resident audiophile, Steve Guttenberg, give the system a listen and he was most impressed with the sense of space that Sony could create. Especially with movies, it can sound much bigger than the sound bar itself with soundstage accuracy that isn't common on sound bars. On the other hand, the Sony doesn't have quite the same powerful impact as some other systems, with both the less expensive Harman Kardon SB 16 and the JBL SB400 delivering a more visual experience. And on music, it sounded thinner than you'd expect, especially given the price. It's not that the Sony sounds bad, but overall, it doesn't sound dramatically better than less expensive solutions. So, altogether, there's no denying that Sony has set a new standard with the HT-ST7's style. So, it's worth considering if you've been searching for a great looking sound bar with good sound quality and are willing to pay for it. But if you're more concerned with sound quality or value, the HT-ST7 just doesn't offer enough performance to justify its sky-high price. I'm Matthew Moskovciak and this is the Sony HT-ST7.

New releases

2015 Alfa Romeo 4C: Anatomy of a mini supercar (CNET On Cars, Episode 60)
18:39 February 27, 2015
Alfa's undistilled little 4C isn't quite like anything else on the market, a look at the little-known bible that rules all cars in...
Play video
2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250
4:07 February 27, 2015
Can Mercedes-Benz convince Americans its tri-star logo belongs on a compact SUV?
Play video
SousVant can sous vide très bien
2:22 February 27, 2015
A fancy cooker with a pleasingly simple appearance, the SousVant makes cooking to temp easy.
Play video
Apple Watch may open cars, says CEO Tim Cook
2:59 February 27, 2015
Tim Cook says he wants the Apple Watch to replace your key fob. Also, we dive into the core problem of #TheDress debate and bid farewell...
Play video
Anova cooks up a smarter sous vide starting point
1:52 February 27, 2015
Better (and cheaper) than the original, the second-gen Anova dials in on sous vide supremacy.
Play video
Best new games for March 2015
2:30 February 27, 2015
What are the hottest new video game releases for March 2015? Jeff Bakalar runs down the most aniticipated games on the Xbox, PlayStation...
Play video
Apple features we don't want in a car
2:45 February 27, 2015
The five worst features Apple will probably include in their rumored Apple Car.
Play video
Skullcandy Hesh 2 Wireless: A $100 over-ear Bluetooth headphone that sounds decent
1:15 February 27, 2015
Skullcandy's Hesh 2 may not be a great wireless headphone, but it's a reasonably good value at $100.
Play video