Both Sony and Sonos have developed fantastic lines of soundbars, these two latest additions again showing what both companies are capable of in terms of bringing surround sound in the most discreet packaging possible.
For those that live in the fast lane, here is a quick walk-through of both products: the Sony HT-G700 is the cheaper option at $498, with an external subwoofer it has more weight and punch and is easier to connect with both HDMI, optical and Bluetooth. It lacks any streaming functionality but as a no-nonsense bar is extremely good at the price.
On the other hand, the Sonos Beam Gen 2 lacks connections with only an HDMI ARC and is more pricey at $519, however, it delivers a far more detailed and subtler sound, allowing for the depth to come through. While lacking connections it has the streaming capability and has one of the slickest apps on the market with optional rear speakers and subwoofer for a more encompassing surround sound.
For a visual breakdown of both units check out these overviews by ABT Electronics.
First off let’s compare features:
The HT-G700 has a 3.0 speaker configuration lacking any form of an internal subwoofer, however, this unit does come with a wireless subwoofer counterpart to give more power than any all-in-one could achieve.
When it comes to connectivity for your other devices the Sony goes all out. Bluetooth, HDMI in and out (one of which is ARC) and optical connection allows you to connect to any device you could want. Bluetooth also allows for wireless connection to those TVs that support it.
Despite its 3.0 config the HT-G700 does both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X allowing for a more immersive surround sound with additional height information.
Sonos Beam Gen 2
Sonos’ latest version of the Beam had a lot to live up to and while its connectivity hasn’t changed much it is just as impressive as its predecessor. With just a single HDMI arc connection to the back, the unit remains minimal as possible, though it does come with an optical adaptor in the box for those TVs without HDMI ARC.
Sadly the list ends there for connections, but what the Sonos makes up for in additional features. Sporting tv remote sync, Apple AirPlay, touch controls, and being voice-enabled. The Beam allows for a multitude of ways to be controlled.
One huge feature is the Sonos app that allows for extremely easy set-up, it also gives the user the power to group the Beam with any other Sonos devices in the home. This also allows for the Beam to have both a sub and rear speakers added wirelessly.
The big difference between the Gen 1 and Gen 2 is the addition of Dolby Atmos, without any extra upwards firing speakers the Beam retains its tiny footprint and sleek top, though lacks DTS:X.
Now for the most important part, the sound:
The longer profile of the Sony and its wireless subwoofer gives it great separation of sound and buckets of power and grunt without the bass affecting the rest of the sound. While the sound is big and impressive it does lack some subtly. For action, it’s a fantastic sounding soundbar that really provides the power to make you feel the explosions the protagonist is in the middle of.
Switch to a scene with some emotive background music playing softly and the HT-G700 struggles to bring through the subtly and really becomes a little flat. Same as when you play any music, the higher frequencies are overpowered by the mid-range and lower frequencies.
The bar does come with some presets for different uses focusing more on dialogue or music and there are definitely noticeable changes to reflect this but it just boosts certain ranges of frequency and drops any form of balance the bar was going for.
Despite any misgivings, the HT-G700 still provides a good surround sound effect with its decoding for both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, while more expensive bars do it better, for the price it is undeniable the presence it provides.
The beam takes almost an opposite approach to its sound. With no wireless sub as standard, the Beam has highly focused on providing a balanced sound as possible, detailed high end, full rich mid-range, and a low bass extension. While the Beam doesn’t hit has hard on the bottom end, the quality of the bass is tight and expressive and gives no indication of an inflated sound.
Though the power of the bass isn’t the same, the detail of its full range of frequency provides a very emotive sound that lacks no depth, lending it versatility from action to suspense. Balance is important when it comes to any sound to avoid being over-detailed and fatiguing to listen to or under-detailed and making you strain for sounds you’re missing.
It is disappointing that the Sonos Beam Gen 2 doesn’t support DTS:X but that does nothing to prevent its effectiveness with its Dolby Atmos, excellent projection and dynamics leave you feeling immersed in any scene with tidbits of sound popping up here, there, and everywhere to leave you feeling in the middle of anything you watch.
The Final Verdict
Both bars provide a great sound for the price and will certainly be a huge upgrade over any native tv sound that doesn’t have its own dedicated soundbar built-in. While the HT-G700 has great connectivity and provides a room filling and room-shaking sound, it does lack the subtly that would make it truly versatile. Limitations of no steaming hurts the sound further by only being able to play music via apps built into your tv of choice or Bluetooth connection. The Sonos feels like a mirror image of the Sony, great sound quality and added bonus of streaming for music gives versatility as both a soundbar and a music speaker. Though it is hampered by its connections, it’s a small price to pay for the sound it provides. Plus, the ability to add rear surrounds and a sub remove the disparity of power between it and the Sony, while at a price.
Overall I would have to go with the Sonos Beam Gen 2. The balance of sound quality makes it stand above the Sony HT-G700, any disparities in bass performance I could live with for the tight lean bass the beam provides. While the lack of DTS:X is a pain with no plans to be added down the road it isn’t a deal-breaker with anything that is available with DTS:X having Dolby Atmos almost by default. The small footprint and sleek looks of the Beam with its touch controls are icing on the top, not to mention Sonos’ app makes it a dream for set-up, annoying for those who want to do it without an internet connection.
Essentially it comes down to brawn vs brain and this is an occasion where the brawn and enjoyment of the Sony HT-G700 just aren’t enough to compete with the eloquent sound provided by the Sonos Beam Gen 2, a nice steady step of improvement on its already fantastically renowned predecessor.