Soundbar

Sony HT-ST7 Sound Bar

ARTICLE INDEX

Design and Setup of the Sony HT-ST7 Sound Bar

The HT-ST7 is a very large and sturdy sound bar compared to everything I've used in the past. Roughly the same width as my 50" plasma TV, it is a sleek, intimidating package. The HT-ST7 consists of a main sound bar and a matching wireless subwoofer.

The bar itself has a black aluminum exterior that houses nine individual drivers. There is a 20mm dome tweeter and a 65mm midrange/woofer for the left and right channels, and five additional 65mm drivers in the center of the speaker. These center drivers can be assigned to work center channel duties, supplement the left and right channels, or help with ambient effects. Their involvement depends on the source material and the selected sound mode.

The top of the bar is very simple, with only five controls that blend nicely into the finish. There is a blue fluorescent display on the front that indicates the input, volume and other statuses but goes dark after a few seconds. Unlike most sound bars, the HT-ST7 has a removable metal grill. I chose to leave it in place in order to keep curious kids from poking at the drivers.

The subwoofer packs a front-firing active driver and a down-firing passive radiator. The wireless connection is established with a set of modules, one for the bar and one for the subwoofer. Once the adapters are inserted they communicate flawlessly and automatically. The subwoofer top is finished in Sony's current Quartz finish, with similar angled lines as their Blu-ray players.

One area that sets the Sony apart is its selection of inputs and audio codec support. With sound bars, it seems that HDMI inputs have been relegated to the very cheap bars or the ones that cost $2,000 or more. The HT-ST7 features three HDMI inputs and an HDMI output that includes ARC functionality. Where most bars cannot, the Sony can decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HS Master Audio soundtracks. Taking advantage of this requires running all your devices through the bar and not the TV. HDMI switching should be automatic thanks to HDMI-CEC.

In addition to HDMI, there are analog and digital inputs, and an IR emitter. The HT-ST7 is tall at almost 5", and in testing it blocks the IR receiver of my Sony TV. The IR emitter solves this, relaying the IR input out to the affected device. An easy solution that more vendors should copy.

Setting up the HT-ST7 takes a good 5 minutes. The bar and sub connect wirelessly, and then you just need to connect your additional components. The space for connections is a bit tight so excessively large HDMI cables are not recommended. With no automated test tones or other calibration to be done, the HT-ST7 can be unboxed and working in under 30 minutes easily.