When it comes to speakers, you’ve got high-quality setups that stay in one place and battery-powered systems that sacrifice quality for portability. Sony’s latest design aims to split the difference. The HT-AX7 (named in Sony’s typical robot fashion) is three Bluetooth speakers in one with satellite drivers that pop off the main unit for instant surround sound powers.
TechAdvisor got to try the “portable theater system” out ahead of its European debut, declaring that the HT-AX7 was surprisingly capable outdoors and impressive indoors, where the “360 spatial sound mapping” feature could really shine. The setup looks kind of like a teddy bear head with the removable “ears” being the secondary satellite speakers. With just four active drivers — two in the main unit and one in each of the satellites — it can’t emulate a full 5.1 system, but initial hands-on impressions say the effect is convincing nonetheless. And, after all, you can’t throw a 5.1-speaker system in a tote bag. The battery lasts for 30 hours with a 2.5-hour boost available from just ten minutes on a charger.
The HT-AX7 can be connected to just about any Bluetooth device, but it’s primarily designed with phones, tablets, and laptops in mind. The spatial effects, primarily for games and movies, can be shut off if all you’re looking for is a Sonos-style multi-speaker system in a small package. But TechAdvisor pointed out a couple of potential pain points, too. There’s no HDMI or even a headphone jack connection for direct wired sound — it’s all Bluetooth all the time. And the price is $499/£499/€550, a premium for any Bluetooth speaker system and more expensive than the cheapest home theater setups, too. That said, Sony’s high-end gear tends to go on sale on a regular basis.
The HT-AX7 is scheduled for release in the UK next month with a worldwide release yet to be detailed. But since there’s a dollar price available, it’s a safe bet we’ll see it across the pond before too long.
Michael is a former graphic designer who's been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.