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Soundbar More Than $499 – Sony HT-ST7

Sony’s $1,299-suggested HT-ST7 soundbar replaces an audio/video receiver and a traditional 7.1-speaker system with one component that serves as the hub of a home-theater system.

The 450-watt HT-ST7 incorporates three HDMI inputs to switch among game consoles, Blu-ray players and other HD video sources, and it passes through the video sources’ 24 fps/1080p, Ultra HD and 3D video content through an HDMI output to an HDMI-connected TV. The HDMI output features audio return channel so only one cable needs to be connected to the TV from the bar.

To deliver “true 7.1 surround sound,” the ST7’s 46-inch-wide chassis features 7.1 channels of amplification, nine drivers, and proprietary S-Force PRO Front Surround 3D technology to create a 7.1-channel soundfield without the need for seven separate in-room speakers.

For best surround performance, the satin-black ST7 incorporates lossless 7.1-channel dts-HD Master Audio and Dolby True HD surround decoders. The soundbar is also tuned by Academy Award-winning sound engineers at Sony Pictures Entertainment.

For music playback, the bar features stereo Bluetooth technology with AAC streaming over Bluetooth. NFC enables one-touch pairing of Bluetooth mobile devices. Other music sources can be connected and switched via optical and analog inputs. Compressed music is enhanced via the harmonic equalizer feature.

To improve speaker efficiency and enhance mid- and high-end detail and clarity, the speaker bar uses magnetic fluid to provide suspension and stability to voice coils. They replace dampers that create unwanted noise and distortion.

The bar’s drivers are powered by a 7×50-watt amp, and the wireless outboard subwoofer is driven by a 100-watt amp. The sub features a 6.5-inch front-firing subwoofer and downfiring passive radiator.

Thanks to the bar’s IR repeater system, IR commands from a TV’s remote will be picked up by the bar and passed through to the TV, ensuring TV commands are executed even if the bar blocks the TV’s IR receiver.

The soundbar system also features movie, music and “football” sound modes and a dialog adjustment to make voices clearer and louder.

The feature set is topped off with a faceted “Sense of Quartz” exterior design.