I've tried the Sony HT-AX7 – it's the best personal sound system yet

If you want brilliant personal audio experience, this is the product for you

The Sony HT-AX7 in grey on a wooden table
(Image credit: Future / Sam Cross)

Whether you're an audiophile, a film buff or a party hound, a good sound system is really worthwhile. It can transform your experience, offering a more immersive soundscape to get lost in. Some may opt for a decent soundbar. Others may grab a pair of the best wireless earphones.

But each of those has limitations. Soundbars are good, but can feel a little one-dimensional. Modern earbuds are great, but they can also be isolating. Enter the new Sony HT-AX7. 

This sleek, stylish device is perhaps best imagined as a hybrid of both. The base acts like a soundbar, with detachable speakers that can sit either side of your head for 360° spatial audio.

The results are spectacular. I had the opportunity to test the device at an exclusive event in London, ahead of the release. There, the device was used to display music and film content. The results are magnificent.

Listening to live audio recordings, the sound separation is fantastic. Think of it like Spatial Audio turned up to 11. The separation between different band members and the audience noise is fantastic. It's the closest experience I've had to being at a live show, without actually being there.

Movies are equally good. The raw sound quality itself is probably on par with the top soundbars, but the immersion is far greater. Watching clips with a lot of different sonic layers is a completely different experience. Audio seems to move around you as the camera pans, placing you right at the centre of the action.

The Sony HT-AX7 in grey on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future / Sam Cross)

What's more, there's no need to use specific media to make use of it. The HT-AX7 uses a process of upscaling to convert the stereo audio streamed in via Bluetooth up to a 360° output. It's really impressive, and never seems to leave audio sounding odd, like some Spatial Audio systems can.

While both of these setups showcased the potential of the system, I think it could really thrive in two other arenas. The first is for live sports. I can imagine watching football would be incredible, with the stadium atmosphere enveloping the world around you.

I also think it would work brilliantly with a VR headset. If you could setup the headset itself to showcase content, with the audio system handled by the HT-AX7, you'd be on course for one of the most immersive experiences you can get.

That's not all, either. Turn the Sound Field effect off, and the three speakers will all play the same audio. That's great for parties, where you can split up the three speakers around your room to get greater coverage. Okay, I'm not sure I'd buy it purely for this – the 360° experience is really where this device shines – but it's a handy second use.

One potential drawback is that it's really designed as a personal device. When in the 360° audio mode, users place the two detachable speakers behind their head, to complete the immersion. If you're sat with someone else, you do lose some of the effect. It's still pretty good, but not perfect.

You'll be able to pick up a Sony HT-AX7 for £499 in the UK. Users in the USA will pay $499.99. That's a fair chunk of change, but if you want the best audio experience possible, it's a worthwhile price to pay.

Sam Cross
Staff Writer

Online news writer at T3.com, Sam has five years of experience in online and print journalism, with work featured in publications like Metro and Last Word on Sports. After years writing about music and football, Sam now turns his hand to bringing you news about new phones, smart home products, smart watches, laptops and TVs. Sam is a longtime fan and user of Apple products, including iPhones, MacBooks and Apple Watches.He’s also T3’s resident football expert, bringing you everything you need to know about the big games, including how to watch them. In his spare time, Sam is a keen guitarist, watch lover and (very) amateur golfer.