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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
Mixed Usage
Dialogue/TV Shows

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

7.3 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. Itโ€™s a reasonable choice for watching the news or your favorite TV programs thanks to its dedicated center channel. Itโ€™s also satisfactory for movies since it can deliver lots of thump and rumble, but its surround performance isnโ€™t the best.

  • 7.1.2 channels in a compact, well-built design.
  • Lots of inputs, including eARC support.
  • Great amount of deep, rumbling bass.
  • Compresses and distorts noticeably at max volume.
  • Disappointing surround performance.
  • Few sound enhancement features.
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.

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.

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.

  • 7.3 Mixed Usage
  • 7.3 Dialogue/TV Shows
  • 7.1 Music
  • 7.5 Movies
  1. Update 9/22/2020: The Dynamics tests have been reconducted due to a value input bug.

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.

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.

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.

Style - Satellites

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

Back - Subwoofer
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.

Back - Satellites
Sat Mounting Type

This soundbar setup doesn't come with satellite speakers.

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.

In The Box
HDMI Cable Length
5.0 ft (1.5 m)
Digital Optical Cable Length

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

Stereo Frequency Response
ST Slope
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.

Stereo Raw Frequency Response
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.

Stereo Dynamics
ST SPL @ Max Volume
92.5 dB SPL
ST DRC @ Max Volume
2.35 dB

Update 09/21/2020: We've discovered a value input bug that would cause the Dynamics box results to be slightly off. All soundbars reviewed since January 30th, 2020 have been updated.

This soundbar has decent stereo dynamics. It can get fairly loud, but not quite as loud as other high-end soundbars we've tested such as the LG SN11RG. 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.

Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
ST Weighted THD @ 80
ST Weighted THD @ Max Volume

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.

C Localization
C Slope
C Std. Err.
2.84 dB
C SPL @ Max Volume
90.4 dB SPL
C Weighted THD @ 80
C Weighted THD @ Max Volume

The Sony 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.

Sr Localization
Phantom (Front Firing, Bar)
Sr Slope
Sr Std. Err.
3.87 dB
Sr SPL @ Max Volume
92.8 dB SPL
Sr Weighted THD @ 80
Sr Weighted THD @ Max Volume

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.

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

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.

Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
Dialogue Enhancement
Auto-Volume/Night Mode
Subwoofer Level Adjustment
Bass Adjustment
Treble Adjustment
Surround Level Adjustment
Rear Level Adjustment
Height Level Adjustment
Virtual Surround

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Audio Format Support - Full HDMI In
Dolby Atmos
Dolby Digital
Dolby Digital Plus
Dolby TrueHD
5.1 PCM

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.

Audio Format Support - Optical
Dolby Digital

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

Wireless Playback
Chromecast built-in
Apple AirPlay

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.

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

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 - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless

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

Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless

This soundbar doesn't come with satellite speakers.

Additional Features
Additional Features

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
Universal Remote

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 Name Sony Music Center
iOS Yes
Android Yes
Acts as the Remote
Limited Support
Controls Soundbar's Settings
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
HDMI CEC (TV Remote Control)

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

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.

Sony HT-Z9F

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

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.


The LG SN11RG is a better performing soundbar overall than the Sony HT-ST5000. The LG is a 7.1.4 setup with satellites that help to improve its surround experience. It's slightly better balanced, its max volume has less thumping and compression artifacts, and since it can also use its satellites to help with its height performance, your movie and music audio sounds a bit more immersive. It also has a lot of sound enhancement features, which is nice if you like to tweak your sound experience. On the other side, the Sony is a 7.1.2 setup, so it doesn't have satellites. It feels slightly better built though, and it has an AUX input, so you can play audio from older devices. It also has three Full HDMI In inputs, which is nice if your bar is a hub for different devices.

Samsung HW-Q80R

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.

Samsung HW-Q900T

The Sony HT-ST5000 and the Samsung HW-Q900T are both premium, versatile 7.1.2 setups, and depending on your listening habits, you may prefer one over the other. The Samsung has a better-balanced default sound profile and more sound customization options including a graphic EQ. It gets louder than the Sony, and it has less distortion at max volume. However, the Sony is better-built, comes with more connectivity options, and is compatible with Chromecast built-in. Also, the Sony has a better-balanced sound profile when playing Atmos and surround content.

Samsung HW-Q70R

The Samsung HW-Q70R and the Sony HT-ST5000 are similarly performing soundbars with different channel configurations. While the Sony offers more connectivity options and has better surround and Atmos performance, the Samsung does a slightly better job reproducing sound overall and is more versatile in use.

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