I’ve got a really big TV. It’s 65” and 4K and the picture is amazing. But the sound … the sound isn’t great. The bass is boomy and it’s hard getting the right mix of voices and ambient noise when I watch films. It needs help.

Enter the Sony HT-RT5, a system comprising a sound bar, surround speakers and a subwoofer. Overall, it delivers a 550W 5.1 channel experience.

The two surround speakers and subwoofer are wireless but still require power.
The two surround speakers and subwoofer are wireless but still require power.

Set-up was simple. The two surround speakers and subwoofer are wireless but still require power, so consider where you’re placing them to avoid cables snaking everywhere. Once in place, I recommend using the supplied microphone and doing the automated set-up. This alters the output of each speaker to optimise the sound for where you’re sitting.

All the physical connections are plugged into the back of the sound bar section. It has several options, including three HDMI inputs and one HDMI output/ARC, which is great as sound bars usually don’t have more than one input.

The ARC connection is useful for controlling the system using your TV remote. For example, increasing the volume on the TV increases the volume on the HT-RT5, turn the TV off and the system does the same. If you’re like me and have other devices connected to your TV via ARC, then they’ll also be able to control the HT-RT5. So my Apple TV remote can control the volume of the home theatre system.

The HT-RT5 also has wireless connections. It has built-in Bluetooth and WiFi, so you can use it like a regular Bluetooth speaker or get fancy and stream music over your home network.

The HT-RT5 has Spotify Connect and Google Cast. Spotify Connect allows you to play Spotify through the system from any device on your WiFi, the HT-RT5 even shows up as available when it’s in stand-by mode. Google Cast works in the same way as Chromecast but without the extra dongle; if you see the “cast” icon in an app, then you can stream it through the system.

If you download the Sony SongPal app, you can use it to connect the HT-RT5 to any other compatible Sony speakers and create a larger networked system over your WiFi.

The only downside is the WiFi connection on any device can suffer “gremlins” and the HT-RT5 is no exception. From music dropping out for no reason to songs repeating over and over. These were rare, but happened more often with Spotify Connect. I had no issue with the wired connection to my TV.

I watched a lot of movies, TV shows and games through the HT-RT5 and in all instances the sound was excellent. I did have to tweak the subwoofer levels (too high for movies, too low for music), but that’s to be expected. In general, it made my TV’s sound equal to its excellent picture.

Sony HT-RT5

Price: $1300
Sound bar dimensions (WxHxD): 108 x 5.6 x 12.8cm
Subwoofer dimensions (WxHxD): 19.1 x 38.3 x 38.6cm
Total system power output: 550W
HDMI Inputs: 3
HDMI Outputs: 1 (ARC)
Optical audio input: 1
Analogue audio input: 1
WiFi: yes
NFC: yes
Bluetooth: yes

First Looks are trials of new and interesting products from the perspective of our product experts. Our lab-based tests offer truly objective product comparisons. This home theatre system was loaned to the writer by Sony.

by Hadyn Green