Sony has unveiled its latest Dolby Atmos soundbar, the 3.1-channel HT-A3000. It's a more affordable alternative to the higher-end 5.1.2-channel A5000 and the flagship 7.1.2-channel A7000, albeit with a lot of the same tech included in those models. While this model doesn't have any upfiring speakers, it does virtualize the height channels using Virtual Surround Engine and S-Force Pro Front Surround tech. The device has a dedicated center speaker for dialogue and a dual subwoofer for bass tones. It also has 250W of output.
The A3000 doesn't come with rear speakers. However, it does support the 360 Spatial Sound Mapping tech found in the previous two models. You'll need to connect the soundbar to Sony's wireless rear speakers, like the SA-RS5 or SA-RS35, to use that option.
The Sound Field Optimization feature uses the built-in microphones to detect the relative height and position of the rear speakers and soundbar. Sony says 360 Spatial Sound Mapping will then be able to set up several "phantom speakers." It does this by synthesizing sound waves based on positional information from the soundbar and rear speakers.
In addition, there's an Acoustic Center Sync feature you can use with some compatible Bravia TVs. With this switched on, both the soundbar and the TV's speakers act as the center channel. The idea is to increase the sense of immersion — Sony says you'll hear dialogue from where a character is positioned in the scene. On top of that, there's support for 360 Reality Audio and DTS:X.
You can use Chromecast (which is built in), Spotify Connect and AirPlay 2 to play music from several streaming services. In addition, users can play audio wirelessly from other devices via WiFi or Bluetooth 5.0. The A3000 is compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa. It's possible to connect the soundbar to a speaker group through Google Home for whole-home audio playback. As for connecting the soundbar to your home theater setup, there are HDMI eARC, USB and optical in ports, as well as HDMI eARC and S-Center outputs.
The A3000 doesn't have as much power or as many channels as the A5000 or the A7000, but it won't leave you as light in the pocket. It costs $700, compared with $1,000 for the A5000 and $1,400 for the A7000. You can pre-order the latest model now from Amazon and other retailers.
Meanwhile, the SA-RS5 wireless rear speakers offer 180W of wider surround sound, Sony says. They have built-in batteries and upfiring speakers. Those are available now for $600. The company is also selling the SA-RS3S wireless rear speakers, which have 100W of output and cost $350.