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Sony HT-ST5000 Soundbar Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Mar 11, 2020 at 12:00 pm
Sony HT-ST5000 Picture
Test Methodology v0.8
7.4
Mixed Usage
7.3
Dialogue/TV Shows
7.1
Music
7.5
Movies
Channels
7.1.2

The Sony HT-ST5000 is a decent 7.1.2 soundbar setup. It's very well-built and supports virtually all audio format options, including Dolby Atmos. Unlike most multi-channel soundbars, it doesn't come with dedicated surround speakers - all surround and Atmos channels are located directly within the bar. It doesn't have side-firing speakers, either - instead, it applies DSP-enabled virtual surround effects to its front-firing speakers. It sounds fairly well-balanced overall, with lots of thump and rumble, but lacks a bit of detail and clarity. It also tends to compress and distort noticeably at max volume. That said, it has a good stereo soundstage and its Atmos performance isn't bad, especially considering it only has up-firing speakers directly on the bar.

Our Verdict

7.4 Mixed Usage

The Sony HT-ST5000 is decent for mixed usage. It does alright with music, although it tends to compress at higher volumes and lacks a bit of detail. It’s a reasonable choice for watching the news or your favorite TV programs thanks to its dedicated center channel. It’s also satisfactory for movies since it can deliver lots of thump and rumble, but its surround performance isn’t the best.

See our Mixed Usage recommendations
7.3 Dialogue/TV Shows

The Sony HT-ST5000 is a reasonable choice for dialogue-heavy programs like TV shows. It has a balanced frequency response in the mid-range, which helps with the reproduction of vocals, and a discreet center channel to help dialogue sound more natural. Some might find voices lack a bit detail, but some might prefer this since it can help take the edge off sharper sounds. The standard sound profile is designed to enhance speech for news and TV shows, which could be useful, but we didn't test it.

See our Dialogue/TV Shows recommendations
7.1 Music

The Sony HT-ST5000 is alright for music. It packs a lot of thump and rumble, which makes it suitable for bass-heavy genres like hip-hop and EDM. However, some might find it lacks a bit of detail and clarity, which makes it less ideal for classical or jazz. It also tends to compress and distort at higher volumes, which can be noticeable if you're throwing a party and crank it up to max volume. That said, it's okay at regular listening volumes and sounds well-balanced enough to be suitable for casual listening.

See our Music recommendations
7.5 Movies

The Sony HT-ST5000 is satisfactory for movies. It can help bring out the deep thump and rumble of action films and does alright at making dialogue easy-to-understand. Some might find it lacks a bit of detail and clarity, but this could help it sound smoother, which some may prefer. Its stereo soundstage is good and even the Atmos performance isn't bad. Unfortunately, it tends to compress and distort noticeably at higher volumes, which you might notice if you crank it up during an action-packed scene. However, at normal listening volumes, it shouldn't be too much of an issue.

  • 7.4 Mixed Usage
  • 7.3 Dialogue/TV Shows
  • 7.1 Music
  • 7.5 Movies
Pros
  • 7.1.2 channels in a compact, well-built design.
  • Lots of inputs, including eARC support.
  • Great amount of deep, rumbling bass.
Cons
  • Compresses and distorts noticeably at max volume.
  • Disappointing surround performance.
  • Few sound enhancement features.

Check Price

Black HT-ST50000
SEE PRICE
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Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The Sony HT-ST5000 is the company's high-end, flagship soundbar. It's their first soundbar to support Dolby Atmos and provides a more premium experience than the later-released mid-range Atmos model, the HT-Z9F. Though the ST5000 was released in 2017, it's still Sony's top-of-the-line model and is up against more recent releases like the Samsung HW-Q90R or the Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar.

Design
Design
Style - Bar

The Sony HT-ST5000 is a stylish soundbar. It has a large metal grill that you can detach to display the speakers inside. The bar itself is rather wide and heavy but looks and feels very premium overall.

Design
Style - Subwoofer

The subwoofer shares the same premium design as the soundbar. It's set on a riser, which gives it a unique look. It's quite wide, but shouldn't look out-of-place in your home theater set-up.

Design
Style - Satellites

The Sony HT-ST5000 doesn't come with satellite speakers.

Design
Dimensions - Bar
Bar Width 46.5" (118.0 cm)
Bar Height 3.2" (8.1 cm)
Bar Depth 5.6" (14.3 cm)

The Sony HT-ST5000 is a very large soundbar. It's not quite as wide as the Samsung HW-Q90R, but it's just as tall and is even a bit deeper. You'll need to consider where you'll be placing it since it's too big to fit between the legs of most 55" TVs. That said, you should be able to place it in front of your TV without blocking the screen, unless your TV sits directly on the table. You can also wall-mount this soundbar.

Design
Dimensions - Subwoofer
Sub Width 9.8" (25.0 cm)
Sub Height 15.9" (40.3 cm)
Sub Depth 16.7" (42.3 cm)

The subwoofer is wider than most we've seen but this shouldn't be much of an issue. Since it connects wirelessly to the soundbar, you can place it wherever you'd like, as long as you're within range of a power outlet.

Design
Dimensions - Satellites
Sat Width N/A
Sat Height N/A
Sat Depth N/A

The Sony HT-ST5000 doesn't come with satellite speakers.

Design
Back - Bar
Bar Mounting Type
Universal (holes on back)

The back of the Sony HT-ST5000 is where you'll find the control buttons as well as the different input options. The power cable is attached to the back of the bar. This soundbar is also wall-mountable.

Design
Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
Passive Radiator

Update 03/27/2020: We had incorrectly reported the sub as being ported but it uses a passive radiator instead. The review has been updated.

The back of the subwoofer has the power button as well as the wireless connection button to link it to the soundbar. The power cable is attached to the sub and there are ventilation holes that need to remain uncovered.

Design
Back - Satellites
Sat Mounting Type
N/A

This soundbar setup doesn't come with satellite speakers.

8.5
Design
Build Quality

The Sony HT-ST5000 is a remarkably well-built soundbar. It's made of both plastic and metal and all materials used in its build feels quite high-quality. The metal grill can detach if you want to expose the speakers beneath, which is nice. The subwoofer also has a very premium design, but the top tends to collect fingerprints and the fabric cover could be prone to tears.

Design
In The Box
HDMI Cable Length
5.0 ft (1.5 m)
Digital Optical Cable Length
N/A

  • 2x AAA batteries
  • HDMI cable
  • Remote
  • Manuals and mounting template

Sound
7.6
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response
ST Slope
-0.87
ST Std. Err.
3.37 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
32.7 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
18.8 kHz

The Sony HT-ST5000 has a good overall stereo frequency response. It has very well-extended bass and does a great job of delivering the deep thump and rumble that's essential to a good action movie or EDM track. The rest of the range is fairly well-balanced, reproducing voices and instruments quite well. There's a pronounced dip in low-treble which can help take the edge off particularly bright tracks or harsh sounds, but at the expense of detail and clarity.

Sound
Stereo Raw Frequency Response
7.5
Sound
Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
2.53 dB

The Sony ST5000 has a good stereo soundstage. The bar is quite wide and the soundstage is just slightly wider than the bar itself, which is good. It's well-focused, too, meaning sound objects can be located to pinpoint targets instead of feeling like they're coming from a more general, diffused area.

7.3
Sound
Stereo Dynamics
ST SPL @ Max Volume
94.4 dB SPL
ST DRC @ Max Volume
2.80 dB

This soundbar has decent stereo dynamics. It can get fairly loud, but not quite as loud as other high-end soundbars we've tested. Interestingly, it compresses less in the low-bass range, which is where most soundbars have a hard time - instead, it starts struggling in high-bass and continues to compress even at higher frequencies. This shouldn't be too much of a problem if you're just watching TV shows, but if you like to crank the volume during a good movie or at a party, you might hear some compression artifacts.

6.4
Sound
Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
ST Weighted THD @ 80
1.33
ST Weighted THD @ Max Volume
4.14

This soundbar has a rather high amount of total harmonic distortion, which is mediocre. At normal listening volumes, the amount of distortion is within decent limits, but you still might notice it in the bass range. It becomes even more noticeable at higher volumes, however. This happens especially in the high-mid and treble ranges, where vocals can start to sound distorted at max volume.

8.8
Sound
Center
C Localization
Discrete
C Slope
-0.16
C Std. Err.
2.84 dB
C SPL @ Max Volume
90.4 dB SPL
C Weighted THD @ 80
0.76
C Weighted THD @ Max Volume
5.53

The Sony HT-ST5000 has excellent center channel performance. Thanks to its 7.1.2-channel setup, it has a dedicated center speaker. This helps dialogue and voices sound more natural, especially with surround content like movies or video games. The sharp dip in low treble can make things sound a bit dull, however.

5.8
Sound
Surrounds
Sr Localization
Phantom (Front Firing, Bar)
Rears
No
Sr Slope
-0.94
Sr Std. Err.
3.87 dB
Sr SPL @ Max Volume
92.8 dB SPL
Sr Weighted THD @ 80
1.30
Sr Weighted THD @ Max Volume
3.50

The Sony HT-ST5000 has disappointing surround performance. This soundbar doesn't come with discreet surround speakers, nor does it even have side-firing speakers - it applies DSP-enabled virtual surround effects to its front-firing speakers. While it's not bad, it doesn't make objects in the surround image sound as clear and natural as the Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2Ch does with discreet surround speakers.

6.0
Sound
Height (Atmos)
H Localization
Phantom (Up Firing, Bar)
H Slope
-0.89
H Std. Err.
3.88 dB
H SPL @ Max Volume
78.3 dB SPL
H Weighted THD @ 80
2.25
H Weighted THD @ Max Volume
1.00

The Sony ST5000 has passable height performance with Atmos content thanks to the up-firing speakers on the bar. However, the localization of objects is diffused, especially since it doesn't come with surround speakers that could up-fire as well. Discreet down-firing speakers will sound much more natural and life-like, but considering what the Sony's working with here, its Atmos performance still isn't bad.

5.9
Sound
Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
No
Dialogue Enhancement
Yes
Auto-Volume/Night Mode
Yes
Subwoofer Level Adjustment
Yes
Bass Adjustment
No
Treble Adjustment
No
EQ
Presets
Surround Level Adjustment
No
Rear Level Adjustment
N/A
Height Level Adjustment
No
Virtual Surround
Yes

The Sony HT-ST500 has a passable number of enhancement features. Unfortunately, it has only a few EQ presets, instead of a full parametric EQ like the Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar, especially since you can't even adjust the bass/treble amounts at all. On the upside, you can specify the height of your room in the soundbar's home settings to tailor the Atmos performance to your listening environment. Note that, like most Sony soundbars, it uses the company's "S-Force PRO Front Surround" technology, which is a virtual surround effect that can't be disabled.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Physical Inputs - Bar
Optical Audio In
1
HDMI ARC
1 (shared)
HDMI Out
1 (shared)
Full HDMI In
3
Analog Audio In 3.5mm (Aux)
1
USB for Files
1
Ethernet
1

Thanks to the great number of input options the Sony HT-ST5000 provides, it can serve as a hub between your TV and the various multimedia devices you might have at home, like a game console, or Blu-ray player. You can also play files directly from a USB key, plug in an older MP3 player or iPod via the audio jack, or even stream music from your smartphone with a tap using NFC.

10
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - ARC
eARC
Yes
Dolby Atmos
Yes
Dolby Digital
Yes
Dolby Digital Plus
Yes
DTS
Yes
DTS:X (eARC only)
Yes
Dolby TrueHD (eARC only)
Yes
DTS-HD MA (eARC only)
Yes
5.1 PCM (eARC only)
Yes

Over HDMI ARC, the Sony ST5000 supports all standard surround formats. It can play object-based surround signals and lossless formats over eARC as well, which is great if your TV also supports eARC.

10
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Full HDMI In
Dolby Atmos
Yes
DTS:X
Yes
Dolby Digital
Yes
Dolby Digital Plus
Yes
DTS
Yes
Dolby TrueHD
Yes
DTS-HD MA
Yes
5.1 PCM
Yes

All three full HDMI-In ports on this soundbar will support all audio formats, from object-based surround sound formats like DTS:X or Dolby Atmos to lossless formats like PCM 5.1, DTS-HD MA, or Dolby TrueHD.

10
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Optical
Dolby Digital
Yes
DTS
Yes

By connecting this soundbar via optical, you can enjoy streaming or watching Blu-ray movies in either Dolby Digital or DTS surround sound.

9.0
Connectivity
Wireless Playback
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
Yes
Chromecast built-in
Yes
Apple AirPlay
No

The Sony HT-ST5000 has lots of wireless playback options for you to stream music from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. If you have an iPhone, you won't be able to seamlessly send music to play via AirPlay, unfortunately, but you can easily cast with most devices via Chromecast.

Connectivity
Other Input Specifications
4k @ 60 Hz Passthrough
Yes
4k @ 60 Hz @ 10 bit Passthrough
Yes
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 Passthrough
Yes
HDR10 Passthrough
Yes

This soundbar is suitable for use with a gaming console or desktop PC since it can passthrough 4k content at 60Hz, even at chroma 4:4:4. By default, the standard settings will downscale 4k content but by activating "Enhanced Mode" in the home settings, you can allow 4k passthrough.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
Yes

The sub connects wirelessly to the bar, and only requires a power cable.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
N/A

This soundbar doesn't come with satellite speakers.

Additional Features
Additional Features
Interface
Display
Yes

The Sony HT-ST5000 has a screen behind the grill that's quite a bit larger than what most soundbars have. It shows all the inputs and settings you're on and is quite easy to read, especially since you can detach the grill for better visibility.

Additional Features
Bar Controls

The rear of this soundbar has physical buttons for power, Bluetooth, music services like Spotify, volume adjustment, and input selection. Even though the controls are at the back, they aren't particularly hard to reach. However, it can be difficult to know which button you're pressing.

Additional Features
Remote
Universal Remote
No

The Sony ST5000's remote is similar to the one that comes with other soundbars from this company. It's quite large, with lots of buttons, but it's still pretty easy to use. You can't use it as a universal remote to control all your products, but it will work with certain other Sony products.

Additional Features
App
App Name Sony Music Center
iOS Yes
Android Yes
Acts as the Remote
Limited Support
Controls Soundbar's Settings
All
Casts Device Files
Audio Files Only

This soundbar uses the Sony Music Center app. You can cast audio files to it over your Wi-Fi network or use your mobile device as a remote. However, there are certain settings you can only access with the physical remote that aren't available with the app.

Additional Features
Other Features
Power Saving
Standby
HDMI CEC (TV Remote Control)
Yes

This supports HDMI CEC over ARC, so you can use your TV's remote to perform basic tasks on your soundbar, like volume and input control. While it does have a standby mode, it's not enabled by default. You can activate Bluetooth standby, where the soundbar goes into power-saving mode when a Bluetooth device is disconnected, or HDMI standby, which saves power when a connected HDMI device is powered off.

Compared to other soundbars

The Sony HT-ST5000 is a decent Atmos-compatible soundbar that stands out from the competition by providing 7.1.2 channels of audio with just a soundbar and a subwoofer - no dedicated surround or rear speakers. The end result unfortunately doesn't quite live up to what other high-end models with discreet surround speakers can deliver, but it still performs alright overall, and could be worthwhile if you're tight on space but still want a premium experience. See also our recommendations for the best Dolby Atmos soundbars, the best soundbars for movies, and the best soundbars with a subwoofer.

Samsung HW-Q90R
SEE PRICE
B&H

The Samsung HW-Q90R is a much better soundbar 7.1 setup than the Sony HT-ST5000. The Samsung has a more neutral frequency response that makes it better suited to a wider range of music and film genres. Not only can it also get much louder, but it compresses and distorts less at max volume. Its surround performance is also better since it comes with rear speakers, but if you're tight on space you may prefer the more compact Sony setup.

Samsung HW-Q80R
SEE PRICE
B&H

The Samsung HW-Q80R is a better soundbar setup than the Sony HT-ST5000, even though it has fewer channels. It sounds better-balanced, has better Atmos performance, and has fewer issues with compression and distortion. That said, the Sony's surround performance is just as good, even though it doesn't come with dedicated rear speakers. So if you're tight on space, the Sony might be a better option.

Sony HT-Z9F
SEE PRICE
B&H

The Sony HT-Z9F is a better soundbar setup than the Sony HT-ST5000. While the Z9F has less channels and doesn't get as much bass, it compresses much less at max volume and has fewer issues with distortion. It also has a bit more detail and clarity in the treble range. If bass is what you're after, the ST5000 is the way to go, but the Z9F provides better value otherwise.

Bose Soundbar 700
SEE PRICE
B&H

The Bose Soundbar 700, by itself, doesn't perform as well as the Sony HT-ST5000 soundbar setup. Since the Sony comes with a subwoofer, it has a lot more bass than the Bose. It doesn't sound as clear and detailed, though, and has troubles with compression and distortion at max volume. However, the Bose lacks input options compared to the Sony, and doesn't support as many audio format options.

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