Despite attempts to turn them into keyboard-less laptops, tablets remain primarily media consumption devices for most users. Sony’s new HT-AX7 Bluetooth speaker promises to expand on that use by transforming your tablet into a portable home theatre with a pair of detachable satellite speakers.
One of the sacrifices made so that tablets can become thinner, lighter, and easier to travel with is that their tightly packed interiors don’t leave much room inside for large speakers. Your tablet can probably still fill a room with sound, but crank the volume and you’ll find the quality of its speakers severely lacking, with overdriven highs and nonexistent lows.
The easiest way to fix that is by using a pair of headphones, which can even provide a convincing surround sound experience, or for those who don’t want to shut out the rest of the world while watching something, pairing a tablet with a Bluetooth speaker. That’s the solution Sony is endorsing with its new HT-AX7, but instead of using clever acoustical tricks, like bouncing sound around a room to create a more immersive listening experience, the speaker has a pair of smaller satellite speakers that can be placed on either side of the user at arm’s length to create a basic surround sound setup.
If you’re a home theatre enthusiast, however, you’ll want to keep your expectations of the HT-AX7 on the low side. The main unit, which charges the satellites through a magnetic connection, features a pair of speakers and a pair of passive radiators to help add some extra oomph to bass frequencies, while each satellite unit features a single upward-firing driver. Given a Bluetooth connection can only share an audio stream in stereo, the HT-AX7 activates Sony’s 360 Spatial Sound Mapping technology when the satellite speakers are detached, which simulates a larger sound stage with additional virtual speakers, while also directing certain sounds to the satellites so there’s a better sense of audio coming from different places.
With a $US499 price tag, the Sony HT-AX7 is definitely not a more affordable home theatre solution than the competition. For that price you can get a solid surround sound setup with a soundbar, a dedicated subwoofer, and satellite speakers that will take advantage of a proper multi-channel audio stream. With a promised 30 hours of battery life on a single charge (depending on how loud you have it cranked) the Sony HT-AX7 is first and foremost a portable solution for those looking to improve the sound from a tablet, a phone, or even portable projectors that are becoming more and more popular as replacements for TVs. But unlike a lightweight tablet, we can’t imagine trying to find room for this in a carry-on bag the next time we travel.
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