In this review we look at the soundbar Sony HT-ST5000. The device offers support for Dolby Atmos and also has network capabilities. In addition, you can also stream media from your smartphone or tablet via Chromecast built-in.
Sony HT-ST5000 – design
The Sony HT-ST5000 is a very wide soundbar, which is especially suitable for televisions of 55-inch or larger. The soundbar is 1.18 meters wide and therefore needs some space (but that’s probably not a problem if you already have such a big TV at home). The design is angular and modern and the front can be removed if you prefer to look at the drivers. On both sides we find a tweeter, for the higher tones, while in the middle we see a third tweeter. There are two midrange drivers in between.
On the top we also find two speakers, behind a metal grid, which take on the tasks related to Dolby Atmos and surround sound. The wireless subwoofer, with cheaper soundbars often not the best, is, rightly, completely premium. This time no cheap materials, but a stylish design with a large surface made of fabric on the front. The case looks and feels premium and has a driver that puts sound directly forward. There is also a driver that sends the sound down.
On the back we find all the easily accessible connections, which you can read more about later in this review. There are also a number of buttons for direct operation of the soundbar. You can use it to switch the bar on and off, switch inputs, activate bluetooth, select a music service and, of course, adjust the volume. Basically all the basic things you would expect. For the other possibilities you have to rely on the unfortunately somewhat bare and small remote control, but you can also use your own remote.
Furthermore, the Sony HT-ST5000 has a handy screen on the front, as we often encounter on soundbars of the manufacturer. On that screen you can read all sorts of useful information. Like the current input or when you control the volume. But you can also find out the source of the music or set things like the sound field. If the light of the LED screen is too bright for the evening, you can always choose to adjust that light a bit softer. As always a nice addition to the experience.
Sony HT-ST5000 – specifications
You would almost think that Sony is delivering an AV receiver with the Sony HT-ST5000. This is evident from the large number of connections and the network possibilities of the extensive soundbar. For example, there is the Music Service (music service) where you can use various services. Unfortunately, that is only Spotify and Chromecast Built-in (formerly Google Cast). Of course it is not a true receiver (there is no microphone available), but you can set things like the distance to the ceiling and more manually.
On the rear we find four hdmi connections. One of those connections supports ARC , while they all offer support for hdcp 2.0 and 4k and hdr sources. In addition, there is an optical audio connection, a stereo minijack and an ethernet connection. Via the Wi-Fi connection it is possible to use Miracast and the NAS or computer in the network. Furthermore, there is support for bluetooth, nfc and Sony’s own ldac protocol. Finally, we also find a USB port on the right-hand side.
Sony HT-ST5000 installation
Unlike an AV receiver, the Sony HT-ST5000 is suitable for direct plug-and-pay. In principle, you do not have to go into the settings immediately to get everything out of the soundbar. When you plug in the plug and connect the soundbar (via HDMI or the optical cable) you can immediately start listening. Whether that is just for the TV, a game console, Blu-ray player or bluetooth device, that does not matter much. Sony has put a lot of effort into the use of the soundbar.
The supplied, large subwoofer is also automatically linked to the soundbar. All you have to do is put both products down and plug the plugs into the socket. When you turn on the soundbar, the Sony HT-ST5000 will automatically start the pairing process. A child can do the laundry. If you are looking for deeper settings, you can connect the bar to the TV (via hdmi 2, with hdmi-arc, on the soundbar), giving you access to network and sound settings.
Sony HT-ST5000 – use
Many high-end models run over from functions and sometimes that can bring a jungle of possibilities. We can fortunately conclude that this is not the case with the HT-ST5000. This is of course not Sony’s first soundbar and that is noticeable. Setting up and using the product is incredibly smooth. Not only because of the character of plug-and-play, but also because the interface is so well-organized and you can immediately find what you need. The remote control is fortunately enough for that.
But the same remote control is just as basic in our opinion. You get a premium product, but you do not notice that on the remote control. This is the same remote that Sony also provides with the cheaper soundbars. In itself it is not a wrong remote control (because you can do everything with it), but we still miss some buttons that are now presented under a collective name. If you want to change sound field quickly, you have to press the appropriate button several times.
If you then pass by, you have to make that same round again to arrive at the destination again. The same applies to the button for music services. These are the same problems as with the cheaper soundbars from Sony. For the rest, all buttons for the various functions are present, so that is fine. We hope, however, that next time Sony will give the remote control as much love as the soundbar and the wireless subwoofer, because this is not very premium.
This is how you play music via Chromecast Built-in (Google Cast)
Playing music via Chromecast Built-in, from a smart device to a suitable speaker, is very simple. If you have completed the installation process and Google Home indicates that the speaker is ready, you can start immediately. The screenshots below are made with Google Play Music, but in principle it works for all Cast apps. In the picture you see a Cast icon (in the middle, at the bottom). Tap it once. Then you choose the speaker you want to cast to. That’s it! At the bottom you now see that the speaker is connected.
Sony HT-ST5000 – audio quality
The Sony HT-ST5000 is capable of sending an overwhelming sound into the room. The sound is almost comparable to a subtle surround system. The subwoofer also delivers sublime work, with a bass sound that you can almost feel under your skin. It does not really matter how big your room is, the soundbar is able to fill that room with a warm, but especially wide sound field that you say to you. Especially listening to music in the stereo mode, many music lovers have to give goose bumps, the tones sound so pure.
The real lover may still be using bookshelf speakers to listen to music in stereo, but this soundbar is almost equal to that sound. In any case, it is better than many a soundbar with a wireless subwoofer, but that is also possible for that price. The device has different modes for the sound: standard, Clear Audio +, film, music, games, sports, speech and 3D sound. On almost all fronts the soundbar manages to score well, except on a front where it really counts – precisely because it is Sony’s first.
In the field of Dolby Atmos and 3D audio, the Sony HT-ST5000 is not completely convincing. You can clearly hear that the soundbar can move the sound through the room, so that many sound effects in films, series and games come into their own. But it also happens that the soundbar misplaces the sound and that is noticeable during busy films or games in which sound is important. Things that happen next to you sometimes seem to be behind you, or vice versa, and that is quite distracting in your adventure, for example, during stealth games.
So stay especially in the settings to adjust things until the sound is to your liking. Fortunately, the Sony HT-ST5000 offers a lot of possibilities, so you can undoubtedly create a sound field that you like. At the end of the day, the soundbar can provide a nice ambiance while listening to a concert or football match, for example. The soundbar also displays a lot of detail in the sound and Sony shows that dynamics are important. And it does not matter how loud the sound is.
Sony HT-ST5000 – conclusion
Are you looking for a 2.1 system where you do not have to compromise, then we can wholeheartedly recommend the Sony HT-ST5000. This system offers an overwhelming sound experience with enormous depth and dynamic features. It does not matter how hard you put the soundbar, it goes well and tightly with the sound. Moreover, the device is easy to use and has the same plug-and-play character as the cheaper soundbars of the moment. The soundbar also has the same remote control.
The Sony HT-ST5000 is without a doubt a sensational audio system. Not only because of that pure sound reproduction, but also because of the many connection possibilities – whether that is via hdmi (with support for 4k, high-res audio and hdr) or the network. That Chromecast Built-in is a handy and nice bonus on the whole. Unfortunately, the soundbar does not quite convince with its Dolby Atmos sound effects, but a lot of those problems can be eliminated by just popping in the accessible settings.