This Sony Dolby Atmos soundbar is nearly half the price of the Sonos Arc

This could be the cheap Dolby Atmos soundbar to watch in 2020 – and there's a 5.1 true surround soundbar setup that's even cheaper!

Sony cheap Dolby Atmos soundbar
(Image credit: Sony)

Sony has released a new cheap Dolby Atmos soundbar, that uses digital virtualisation tech to direct the audio and "envelop" you in sound from the sides and above, despite having just three drivers and a subwoofer.

Like the soon-to-arrive Sonos Arc Dolby Atmos soundbar, the Sony HT-G700 aims to give you a something close to the experience of having speakers around you, but from just a single box that's easy to set up.

Unlike the Sonos Arc (or the Sharp HT-SBW800, which is another strong competitor), the Sony doesn't have any upward firing speaker, instead relying on Sony's audio processing prowess to make the sound appear to come from above you and to the sides.

It won't just do its thing on Dolby Atmos tracks, though – it'll also convert any soundtrack into the equivalent of a 7.1.2 Dolby Atmos mix, so everything should bigger and more immersive through it, assuming it works as promised (Sony's tech like this is usually really impressive, though).

The HT-G700 sounds similar to the Sony HT-X8500, which rides high in our list of the best soundbars, but that was just a 2.1 system, with the subwoofer integrated into the soundbar. The HT-G700 has a separate subwoofer for meatier bass, and has a central speaker in the soundbar as well as the stereo speakers, which will help to make speech clearer.

Sony cheap Dolby Atmos soundbar

(Image credit: Sony)

The HT-G700 costs £450/$599/AU$899 and it already available in the US and Australia (coming to UK during May), which is £350/$200/AU$500 cheaper than the Sonos Arc, which will cost £799/$799/AU$1,399.

Buy the Sony HT-G700 for $599

Now, we'd expect the Sonos Arc to sound better given the price difference and the fact that it has upward-firing speakers, so should give a more convincing feeling of height to your movies.

But for those without that kind of budget, if the Sony can get close to the same experience for under £500, it could be a great home cinema upgrade. The Sony also has a 4K HDR HDMI passthrough (unlike the Sonos), meaning that you won't lose an HDMI port by plugging it in.

How about a cheap regular surround bar?

That's not Sony's only new soundbar, though. There's also the Sony HT-S20R, which looks like it might be about to become the budget home cinema upgrade of choice.

For just £249 (US and AU price TBC), this includes a full 5.1 system in a tidy package that's easy to set up, and doesn't require anything extra like an AV receiver. The soundbar is three-channel, giving you the centre, left- and right-front speakers.

Cheap Sony surround sound

(Image credit: Sony)

A separate subwoofer provides the bass, while two small rear speaker give you the back-left and back-right channels, making 5.1 in total. The soundbar connects directly to your TV, and the other speakers have colour-coded cables to plug in.

The lack of wireless rear speakers and subwoofer is the only potential drawback here, but as long as you're happy tucking away some thin cables, there's no easier way to add true surround sound to your living room for this kind of price.

Buy the Sony HT-S20R for £249 from John Lewis

It's out now in the UK, and is due in the US soon.

• More of the best cheap soundbar deals

Matthew Bolton

Matt is T3's former AV and Smart Home Editor (UK), master of all things audiovisual, overseeing our TV, speakers and headphones coverage. He also covered smart home products and large appliances, as well as our toys and games articles. He's can explain both what Dolby Vision IQ is and why the Lego you're building doesn't fit together the way the instructions say, so is truly invaluable. Matt has worked for tech publications for over 10 years, in print and online, including running T3's print magazine and launching its most recent redesign. He's also contributed to a huge number of tech and gaming titles over the years. Say hello if you see him roaming the halls at CES, IFA or Toy Fair. Matt now works for our sister title TechRadar.