Sony has unveiled its next big Dolby Atmos soundbar system, and it will be surround-sound music the ears of gaming fans in particular, because it's equipped with HDMI 2.1 passthrough, meaning it supports 4K 120Hz and VRR.
The Sony HT-A5000 soundbar is a fully surround system, because it includes the front soundbar, plus two small wireless rear speakers, and a wireless subwoofer – like many of the best soundbars. It'll create a 5.1.2 final effect, with the soundbar housing the centre, left and right channels, plus upfiring speaker creating two height channels – then the rear speakers will handle the other two channels, and the subwoofer does its thing.
Set for a price of £800/$899, that's a pretty standard-value package, especially with its healthy 450W of speaker power. But US readers should get more excited than UK readers, because while it's aiming for release later this year in the States, the UK date is set as "2022".
There are lots of similar soundbars to this, but the HDMI 2.1 functionality makes it an especially tempting option. The reason is that so many affordable TVs with HDMI 2.1 ports only include one or two, and one may double up as the eARC port for connecting a soundbar. So if you connect a soundbar, you lose the use of that port for next-gen features.
However, this soundbar has an HDMI input that's also HDMI 2.1, which means you can still connect something with 4K 120Hz and VRR support (or even 8K) and see it on the TV at full quality – you don't lose the port.
On top of that, Sony makes great soundbars, with excellent spatial positioning, which makes this an exciting prospect. There are microphones built into this soundbar too, which will listen to the audio it plays and adjust the output to optimise it for your room.
If you use it with a compatible Sony TV, you'll also get the Acoustic Centre Sync feature, which basically makes your TV act as the centre speaker for dialogue, while the soundbar handles the rest of the mix, giving everything a bit more room to breath.
It's also good for playing music of Chromecast, Spotify Connect and AirPlay 2.