The Sony HT-ST5000 is an upmarket soundbar and it justifies the price tag it comes with. This model from Sony appeared in 2017 first with an impressive sound and a price tag albeit on the higher side. The soundbar market has become crowded since then but let’s review the Sony HT-ST5000 soundbar here. This is the first soundbar from Sony that comes with a Dolby Atmos support. You can call this device a beast. It stretches 1180 mm in width and has a wireless sub. The instrument comes with engineering that is more Stereophile than like TV audio. It offers great finishing though which justifies its extravagant price tag.
When you look at the HT-ST5000, at first it appears a bit overdressed. It looks as if it is a 2.1 package but Sony has described it as 7.1.2 package. There is a long list of features available with the Sony instrument. Apart from the Dolby Atmos and DTS: X decoding you can get High-Resolution audio support with a built-in Chromecast functionality, Bluetooth, and a dual-band Wi-Fi. Is there a downside to all this? Yes, you have to pay for all the razzmatazz. The soundbar comes at a whopping price tag of $1500. It is really expensive but for that money, you are getting a high-quality product. For cheaper ones you can check our comparison for soundbars under $200.
The quality of the build offered by Sony HT-ST500 is great and there is no arguing that. The soundbar has a fabric grille but it appears better when it is uncovered. The reason behind that is that the drivers are beautiful. You get two coaxial and matching speakers on either side with high frequency and gold-rimmed tweeters. There is a coaxial driver having mid-range cones which will handle the center channel. The slight difference results in a bit of a timber mismatch but it is not very distinct when you are listening to a mix of TV channels.
The presence of Dolby Atmos is evident at the top of the soundbar. Behind the fixed metal grilles there are two Dolby-enabled speakers which are up firing for the Atmos and height-oriented audios.
AVR like features
Dissimilar to the lesser quality soundbars the Sony HT-ST5000 offers its users a full AVR functionality. You get four HDMI ports three of which are for input, and one is for ARC output. All of them are HDCP 2.2 ready and can be used for different 4K sources such as Xbox One X, UHD player, Amazon Fire 4K, etc. They have to be configured before they are paired. You need to choose Enhanced option over Standard for supporting 4K 60p and 4:4:4 or progressively lower video setting.
You get many additional display options and all of them are best in the Auto mode. There is a USB port located on the right side of the bar for handy playback of local files. You also get an optical digital audio input and also a stereo mini-jack for HT-ST5000. There is an Ethernet LAN port available that ensures wired networking but you can have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi as well with the former having NFC pairing. The LDAC headroom extension is proprietary from Sony.
There is a clear display window available which reveals volume and input selection. There is a selection of on-body control available which provides for those that don’t like IR remote control. It is pretty easy to drive the soundbar as it comes with a tilted interface which lists the input options plus there are connected home network devices available. So, there is nothing there which will alienate the non-techs.
The paired subwoofer is placed on the plinth and is quite stylish than compared to all LFE boom boxes. The forward-facing grille comes with a good-looking matte lid and there are drivers which fire downwards. Sub connects with the bar automatically while doing the setup and the LED confirms that the link is active.
When in full flight the ST-HT5000 sounds great. It develops a high and wide soundstage and its spatial placement is superb. There is an 800W power output available which indicates that the system isn’t short of dynamics and slam and is hard-hitting indeed. If you are listening to War Boys their gutty roar will vibrate your couch.
The ST-HT5000 is not all muscle though as you can also find musical finesse here. The LPCM 96kHz 24-bit ensures that the vocal performance of the soundbar is naturalistic and can be rich and rounded. The sound presentation is almost 3D. However, don’t expect the ST-HT5000 to produce a pronounced Atmos overhead steerage. This bar features a range of drivers and it doesn’t develop the audio canopy convincingly.
In the end, the sound experience will depend a lot on your room and the distance you are placed from the soundbar and around 1.5 meters from the bar will be ideal. The soundstage comes across more like stereophonic than atmospheric. Another facet of the soundbar that is impressive is the bass response.
The previous soundbar models from Sony were a lot more docile for their good but not ST-HT5000. It can sound seismic and when the dragons of Games of Thrones grumble if will have a deep and frightening effect. There is a wireless subwoofer which provides a sound from 31.5 Hz to 50 Hz. The soundbar itself goes to about 100Hz.
There is a Dolby surround mode available which can be brilliant while identifying the element of 5.1 mixes and it will be distributing highly. It is particularly good for live events and concerts when there is a sense of ambiance required. The soundbar is a competent streamer and DLNA compliant. It will recognize the NAS devices and the Twonky server. There is audio file support which covers all the lossy formats along with 24-bit 96 kHz DSD and FLAC. The soundbar also comes with the precision to handle classics such as Mozart as well. You can use as many MP3s as you like and there is a way of restoring the quality in the compressed audios as well.
This is a no-compromise device from Sony for the listeners looking to achieve great movie audio and music experience. It is a superbly finished product and has a soundstage which is high and wide. The provision for integrated Chromecast capabilities is welcome. The overhead audio effects are not consistent on the flip side but overall the Sony HT-ST5000 justifies its price tag. If you’re looking for something cheaper, check this article and this one.
For other models from Sony, check out our Sony HT-S350 Review.