Sony HT-A3000 Soundbar Review—A Compact Soundbar for all Spaces

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Setting up a functional home office space/guest bedroom has been a never-ending journey. I was sure I wanted to add a 42" OLED TV to sit beside my computer to serve as a second display (when needed) and as entertainment, but a big uncertainty was finding a sound system to work with it. The room is small, and I wasn’t going to build out a true sound system, so a soundbar became the go-to option. I eventually landed on the Sony HT-A5000, which is admittedly a bit large for the TV and desk it sits on. However, this was before the HT-A3000 hit the market. This new soundbar seemed like a better fit for the small space and small TV.

Sony HT-A3000 250W 3.1-Channel Dolby Atmos Soundbar
Sony HT-A3000 250W 3.1-Channel Dolby Atmos Soundbar

At a Glance

KEY FEATURES COMPETITION
3.1 Channel Soundbar Sonos Beam (Gen 2)
360 Spatial Sound Mapping with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X Support Samsung HW-Q60B
Sound Field Optimization Bose® Smart Soundbar™ 300
Smart Features Sony HT-A5000
Expandable System  

PERKS

+ Sounds great, with clear dialogue
+ Small size is very convenient
+ Auto-optimization works well
+ Dolby Atmos/surround is respectable
+ Expandable with optional rears and subwoofer

DRAWBACKS

- No HDMI passthrough
- Subwoofer is pricey add-on
- Missing upward-firing drivers of higher-end models
- Premium model = premium price

First Look

The A3000 is a sleek soundbar. Sony’s equipment is classically stylish and in a home theater setup, the nondescript black box sits below a screen and just fades into the background so you can enjoy the entertainment. A subtle display on the front gives you all the basic info you need, such as input and volume.

Setup is also very simple. The soundbar walks you through getting connected to Wi-Fi and will update and prompt you to optimize the sound field. I highly recommend doing the optimization if only to experience the demo that shows off the full capabilities of the virtual surround system. It was impressive, considering the size. I currently have a Sony HT-A5000—the next step up from the A3000—and while the A3000 doesn’t quite hit the same height, the virtual surround experience was remarkable.

I paired the soundbar with a BRAVIA XR A90K 42" OLED TV, which is a near-perfect size match for the A3000, so at first glance, everything looked good.

BRAVIA XR A90K 42" OLED TV
BRAVIA XR A90K 42" OLED TV

Performance

For the size of the A3000, the audio is great. Dialogue comes through clearly and it has great range. Anyone dealing with a TV’s built-in speakers will see this as a huge upgrade. It is a 3.1 channel soundbar, which I think is the bare minimum for anyone looking to upgrade their sound setup.

The sound filled my room very well and is an almost perfect fit for the space.

Support for Dolby Atmos and other formats is good, but it doesn’t have the same virtual surround capabilities of larger soundbars with more channels (such as the HT-A5000 I currently have). In Sony’s demo of the 360 experience, the soundbar did a shockingly good job, though it is missing height.

The bass is okay but is lacking the punch of systems with a dedicated subwoofer. There is the option of adding a sub and rear speakers later, although I would then start to question the price of the entire system compared to more traditional setups. If you want the full setup, it might make more sense to consider alternatives to soundbars.

The A3000 features a decent selection of connectivity options, including AirPlay 2 and Chromecast for streaming from your devices. Also, for those who still rely on it, there is an optical input, as well.

Using the HDMI eARC port is the way to go here, although it doesn’t have any passthrough so it will take up the HDMI spot on your TV. On TVs with only two HDMI 2.1 ports, of which one is the ARC port like the Sony 42" OLED I have, you will lose a top-spec input. As someone with an Xbox Series X and PS5 connected, this was a serious downside.

However, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are available if you want them.

Overall operation is decent—nothing that puts it over the top compared to other options, but nothing that is a problem. The included remote is fine.

System Expansion

Sony provided the SA-SW3 Subwoofer and SA-RS3S Rear Speakers for this review to ensure the complete experience. I must say I was legitimately impressed by the ease of setup, and that is because there almost wasn’t any setup to speak of.

Sony SA-SW3 6.3" 200W Wireless Subwoofer
Sony SA-SW3 6.3" 200W Wireless Subwoofer
Sony SA-RS3S Wireless Rear Speakers
Sony SA-RS3S Wireless Rear Speakers

I unboxed the sub and rears and plugged them into power and by the time I got around to picking up the remote, they were all connected and functioning. I had only to follow the prompt already on the screen for automatically mapping the space and speakers.

The remote included with the soundbar has independent controls for the sub volume and rear volume, which is very helpful. There isn’t too much to do beyond that. The assumption is that you will rely on Sony’s optimizations. I found it worked well and while some might prefer more control, I would argue that they would be better served by another type of home entertainment setup.

As for results, the subwoofer elevates the experience and gives you that low end that other soundbars never truly deliver. But the A3000 is smaller and its punch, even with two built-in subs, is less powerful than some full-size options. If your space permits the use of a subwoofer without bothering the neighbors, it is an easy recommendation, although, if you are in a space where a sub isn’t welcome, then its absence in the box could be seen as a win.

The rears are another story. They help create a more immersive feeling, but only if you have the media to support it. On top of that, I occasionally had issues with the audio dropping out or being choppy—no doubt due to interference with the wireless signal. My space isn’t too filled, but there is a PS5 and a Mac mini in the room (not exactly an unusual setup), so I was surprised to experience any interference. More research is needed to sort this out.

Regardless, dropouts are perhaps the worst thing that can happen while in the middle of watching a movie and completely takes you out of the experience. Since not all media takes full advantage of the rear speakers, the experience is subtle, and since I had issues with reliability, I don’t think they are a worthwhile upgrade.

Wireless home theater tech still seems to have some kinks to work out. I am sure it has to do with being in a room with other electronics, but smart homes are becoming the norm for anyone looking at this set.

Conclusion

Sony made a great compact soundbar that still delivers a premium audio experience. The small size and limited 3.1-channel configuration restrict its capabilities compared to larger, more expensive systems. But it benefits greatly from the addition of an optional dedicated subwoofer and fortunately, system expansion is incredibly easy. However, when you start investing in all the extra parts, it might make more sense to move beyond the soundbar. I should also mention that 360 Spatial Sound Mapping requires either SA-RS3S or SA-RS5 rears to work. However, Sound Field Optimization does not require additional pieces.

I think the A3000 is a perfect solution for small spaces, especially when paired with smaller TVs—such as the 42" and 48" models that have recently appeared—and features like Bravia Integration, which includes Acoustic Center Sync and Bravia Quick Settings. The sound is, thankfully, more premium, although at an extra cost. If you want simplicity and solid sound for a small space, the Sony HT-A3000 may do the job.

Does the A3000 sound like a fit for your home setup? Let us know in the Comments section, below.

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