Traditionally, soundbars have been a sort of halfway point between your TV’s built-in speakers and the massive sound that comes from a dedicated surround sound system. In recent years, soundbars have gotten much better, and Onkyo’s latest, the SBT-A500 Network Surround Soundbar, serves as proof of just how far soundbars have come.
While they take up less space than a surround sound system, soundbars can still have a significant profile, which is something Onkyo is looking to change with the SBT-A500. The soundbar features a low 53mm profile, and actually uses a separate A/V Center to connect to your TV and various devices, so only a single multichannel audio cable runs to it, keeping clutter to a minimum.
The SBT-A500 features four HDMI inputs. A single 4K/60p connects to your TV, complete with Audio Return Channel, so even broadcast TV signals can be processed and enhanced by the soundbar. The wireless subwoofer helps to further keep clutter and the general overall footprint to a minimum.
In addition to saving space and keeping your cables safely hidden away, the SBT-A500 supports the latest in object-based surround sound — Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. For DTS:X soundtracks, dialogue volume can be adjusted separately, meaning you won’t have to worry about waking the neighbors just so you can clearly hear what everyone is saying. Dolby Audio Surround Enhanced technology is built-in, creating virtual rear speakers and providing sound much closer to a traditional surround sound setup.
The soundbar features dual-band Wi-Fi, as well as both DTS Play-Fi and FireConnect for wireless multiroom audio, with the Onkyo Controller app seamlessly tying the two technologies together. AirPlay and Spotify Connect are supported, but if you’d rather connect via a more traditional route, Bluetooth connectivity is also included. While it isn’t included out of the box, Chromecast built-in is expected to be added in a future firmware update.
So far, we have no information on when the SBT-A500 will be released or how much it will cost, but we’ll certainly be keeping an eye out.
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