Sony has announced its latest soundbar, the HT-S2000. Slim and compact (31.5 x 2.5 x 5 inches, W x H x D) with a basic black design, the soundbar is the first in the company to work with Home Entertainment Connect, a new app that guides users through the initial configuration and can be used to control volume, select sound modes, and more.
At $499 (around £415 / AU$735), the HT-S2000 costs the same as Sonos Beam (2nd Gen)a model we rate as the best small soundbar with Dolby Atmos on our list the best soundbars. Will the new Sony replace 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 and two built-in subwoofers. The five-channel amplifier delivers a total of 250 watts. Both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X are supported, and Sony’s Vertical Surround Engine and S-Force PRO Front Surround virtual audio processing deliver immersive 3.1-channel sound.
The new audio upmixer built into the HT-S2000 enables the delivery of 3D surround sound from regular 5.1 channel and stereo content. In Sony’s words, it does this using an algorithm that “isolates individual sound objects based on their location and re-allocates them, resulting in three-dimensional surround sound.”
Ports on the HT-S2000 are limited to one HDMI eARC (same as Sonos Beam). Music streaming is done via Bluetooth, and the USB port allows you to connect storage devices with music files.
Like the Sonos Beam, the HT-S2000 is expandable to create a full surround sound system by adding optional Sony wireless rear speakers (SA-RS3S) and a wireless subwoofer (SA-SW5/SA-SW3). When using a compatible Sony Bravia XR TV, such as the new XL90 Series models, the soundbar settings will appear in the system’s Quick Settings menu, allowing you to control it with your TV remote.
Analysis: Does the DTS:X advantage of Sony’s new soundbar make it a better Sonos Beam?
Some users complain about the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) and Arc soundbars 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 support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, the new Sony HT-S2000 seems to have an advantage over the Sonos Beam (Gen 2), which costs the same and without up-firing speakers, it also delivers immersive audio soundtracks through virtual processing.
However, transferring DTS:X bitstreams to a Sony soundbar won’t be as easy as you might think. When connecting the TV’s HDMI eARC port to a single Sony HDMI port, the TV will need to support DTS:X pass-through in order to pass DTS:X audio tracks from the connected Blu-ray player to the HT-S2000. There are TVs that can do this (some are made by Sony), but certainly not all.
So, if you have a compatible TV, the HT-S2000 seems to have an edge over the Beam (Gen 2) when it comes to DTS:X. But looking at Sony’s specs for the new soundbar, Bluetooth seems to be the only way to stream streaming music, and while it’s convenient, it’s not the best option for listening to music. Sonos Beam (Gen 2) allows you to stream lossless music over Wi-Fi, and many other soundbars also allow you to stream it wirelessly using a protocol like AirPlay.
Does that in itself put Sony’s new soundbar at a disadvantage? Not really, because most people use soundbars mainly for watching movies and TV shows. Listening to music is definitely a secondary use case, and in most situations Bluetooth will be enough to get the job done.
How well Sony’s new Dolby Atmos and DTS:X 3.1-channel soundbar sounds with movies as well as music streamed via Bluetooth is something we can’t wait to see, and something we may have a chance to do when Sony in will finally announce the shipping date for the HT-S200.