Sony HT-AX7 Review (4.2 CH Portable Theater System)

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Sony HT-AX7

Product Name: Sony HT-AX7

Product Description: 4.2 CH Portable Theater System

  • Design - 9.2/10
  • Movies Performance - 9/10
  • Music Performance - 8.2/10
  • Inputs and Features - 8.8/10
  • Price / Quality - 8.8/10


Reviewed at $499.00


  • A portable home theater
  • Good surround performance
  • Very simple to setup and use
  • Flexible design


  • Average music performance
  • Rear speakers battery could be better
  • Rear speakers can be knocked off the main base
  • Price a bit high

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If there is one thing Sony is known for, this surely is their innovative products. From the time they invented the Walkman this brand had it in their DNA to create new products like nothing before, and this applies to this very day. So in our Sony HT-AX7 review today we are going to test another unique product they recently brought to the market.

Sony HT-AX7 Review (4.2 CH Portable Theater System) | Home Media Entertainment

Since we started Home Media Entertainment it has never been so hard to classify a single product like the Sony HT-AX7. And this happens because this system tries to be something that we had never seen before. It is not a soundbar and it is not a portable speaker. But it is clear what Sony was aiming for when they designed this. They wanted to create a home theater system that you can take everywhere.

But before we dive deeper into its design and capabilities lets see real quick what we have in our hands. Although Sony does not directly mention it, the HT-AX7 is basically a 4.2 channels portable home theater system. It consists of the main unit along with two rear speakers that are completely wireless. The system uses Sony’s 360 Spatial Sound Mapping technology and comes with Bluetooth connectivity.

What we have here is a really intriguing design. With the HT-AX7 you can see your favorite blockbuster movie in your smartphone or tablet and still enjoy cinematic surround sound, no matter where you are. But can the HT-AX7 recreate the immersion of a full blown surround system? This is what we are going to find out here today.

Specifications and Features



The HT-AX7 is the first of its kind. So there are no other products that we can compare it with. Sony really put a lot of thought into its design and the overall unit looks sturdy and well constructed.

With its main principle being its portability, Sony tried to scale down its dimensions as much as possible. We measured the unit just 12.04″ x 3.81″ x 4.84″ (306 x 97 x 123 mm). And considering its weight is just 3.09 lb (1.4 kg), around 2kg with the rear speakers attached, you can easily carry this around in a bag without much effort.

Many of you may think that its height may be a bit too much to be used as a soundbar. And this is true, at 3.81″ height is a bit on the high side for a soundbar. But still it is not so much to be prohibiting with a bit of planning.


We admit that the HT-AX7 is a really nice piece of audio device. It’s simple, yet feels advanced considering its intended use. Sony used a fabric to cover the HT-AX7 all around. It feels of good quality and suits the rest of the chassis.

At the top you will find some built-in buttons along with the two charging terminals for the rear speakers. We liked that these terminals are designed is such a way that you do not need to place the speakers in a specific angle. They will charge no matter how you place them. Showing how much thought Sony put into this thing.

Although there is a back side to the unit, Sony made it look exactly like the front. So it looks seamless from all angles. At the back we do get a couple of ports, but more on these in our dedicated section.

Sony HT-AX7 Review (4.2 CH Portable Theater System) | Home Media Entertainment

Colors & Quality of Materials

The Sony HT-AX7 comes in a single color, a dual grey combination. There does not seem to be any other colors available which is unfortunate. This design could do better with a few more options to choose from.

As for its overall quality, this is definitely a Sony product. The plastic used feels of good quality. And the whole construction feels sturdy and nicely put together. We didn’t notice any defects on other manufacturing problems.

Display Type

Usually when we are talking about soundbars a full display screen is a must in our books. But this device definitely goes outside the ordinary requirements. So not having one is not a big deal as the HT-AX7 surely has limited functions to show you on a screen. And honestly it is not needed here.

The only visual indicator you will see is a couple of LED lights under each rear speaker resting place. This will light up when you place each rear speaker for charging, accompanied by a characteristic sound.

These LED lights also act as rear speakers status indicators in order to give you a hint on their function when they rest on the main unit.

Sony HT-AX7 Review (4.2 CH Portable Theater System) | Home Media Entertainment

Internal Hardware

Next we will talk a bit about the internal hardware of the Sony HT-AX7. Although Sony hasn’t revealed a lot of information here. But nevertheless here is what we were able to gather from further investigation and inspection.

Configuration & Power Distribution

Sony does not mention any specific channels configuration for this unit. But from what we can see the system uses a 4.2 channels configuration of unknown power rating.

Channels Analysis

The main unit is using two X-Balanced speakers facing forward along with two passive radiators looking sideways. The passive radiators are usually used to enhance a unit’s low end output. But we are not expecting to get much out of them anyway.

Along with the main unit, each of the rear speakers houses a single woofer. Thus we get a total of 6 channels in what is basically a 4.2 channels setup (if you consider the passive radiators as separate channels).

There are no up-firing speakers in this one so do not expect to get any Dolby Atmos action here. Everything is purely in ear level with this one.

Sony HT-AX7 Review (4.2 CH Portable Theater System) | Home Media Entertainment


Physical Ports

With this being a portable device Sony thought that they should keep the physical connections to an absolute minimum. And so what we get is a single USB-C port that you can use to plug-in the main unit in order to charge it when its battery runs low.

There is also a USB Type-A but this is available in certain models only. And these are the ones with the PLAY ONLY (USB) port available. With this port you can plug an external storage device and listen to music that way.

Wireless capabilities

The main means of communication with the device is Bluetooth and the HT-AX7 comes with Bluetooth v5.2. Unfortunately the only codecs supported are SBC and AAC. You will not find anything more advanced like aptX or even Sony’s own LDAC.

The unit does not offer any online functionality so WiFi was not necessary and is missing completely.

Control Options

Next we will be looking at the ways you can control this device.


Sony wanted to keep things as simple as possible. So they decided to take the remote out of the design. The less components you need to handle the better, right?

Built-in Controls

As any similar portable device, there are a few built-in buttons available. These are for Bluetooth, a multi-purpose button for playback controls, volume controls and sound field selector.

Sony HT-AX7 Review (4.2 CH Portable Theater System) | Home Media Entertainment

Mobile App

Since there is no remote for you to use your only real option is your mobile device. After all you are definitely going to have one around. As the main purpose of this unit is to be used in parallel with a mobile device.

And the app you need to have is Sony’s Home Entertainment Connect app. The app is really simple and easy to use so you don’t need to be an audio expert to get your bearings. After connecting the app to the HT-AX7 you are presented to the main screen which gives you the option to choose between the sound modes with a main volume control below.

You also have the ability to change the bass and rear levels individually if you find any of them lacking or being overwhelming. At the bottom end there is a settings options that includes Bluetooth and system settings along with update and some tutorial/help options.

The app is another area that is evident how simple Sony wanted to keep everything with this system. You are not going to find any complex EQ settings of calibration features. This is a device designed with pure simplicity in mind.

Extra Features and Services

If you are expecting to find a lot of extra functions as we usually do with soundbars prepared to be disappointed. The HT-AX7 can do the absolute basics so there is nothing more to it.

The only feature we can talk about is its ability to playback audio files from the USB Type-A. But as we mentioned above this is not standard for all units. But rather only for those that include the PLAY ONLY port.

From the USB port the device can playback WAV, MP3 and WMA files so its list of files is extremely limited. There is no High Resolution Audio support either.

Sony HT-AX7 Review (4.2 CH Portable Theater System) | Home Media Entertainment

Audio Formats & technologies

Now, this part is really important. If you are looking to find what audio formats this device supports you most probably are not going to find any. And there is a reason for that.

The Sony HT-AX7 is basically a Bluetooth device. This means that it gets simple stereo audio from the source, either it be a mobile device or a TV. Then the system uses Sony’s 360 Spatial Sound Mapping technology to up-mix it to all its available channels.

So in essence what you hear is not true surround sound. The surround immersion stems from Sony’s processing of the stereo signal which tries to separate the different audio sources and output them from the available channels.

As you can understand when it comes to precision having an up-mixer do this kind of work will not always be as accurate as a true surround mix. And we saw this during our tests that we will talk about shortly.

Sound Management

In terms of sound management things are as simple as they get. You only have a couple of options in the app. And these are for bass and rear level volume.

There are no EQ settings, no treble control and no individual channels calibration. Especially the last one is a bit problematic considering the fact that you can place the rear speakers in different distances from your sitting position. As a result you will either get uneven rear activity or you will be forced to sit at a place that will allow you to place them at equal distances.

Sony HT-AX7 Review (4.2 CH Portable Theater System) | Home Media Entertainment

Sound Modes

In the app there are two modes you can use and these are Voice and Night modes. Both are obvious what they do so we do not need to explain these any further.

The most important feature here is the Sound field. This basically enables the Sony 360 Spatial Sound mapping up-mixer. When you have this turned off both the main unit and the rear speakers playback the same sound. This can be great if you want to create a musical ambient atmosphere. Or if you want to place each speaker in different rooms.

But if you want some cinematic magic then the Sound Field option should be turned on. When enabled the HT-AX7 will try to separate the sounds to the different channels available simulating a real surround environment.

Auto Calibration System

Having separate rear channels would make you think that Sony would include some short of audio calibration system that would enable the unit to adapt to different rooms and adjust accordingly.

Unfortunately there is no such system available. So in essence what you hear is what you get, no matter where you are or how you place the rear speakers.

Although we do get that Sony aimed for simplicity, this surely hinders the system’s ability to produce better surround sound.

Sony HT-AX7 Review (4.2 CH Portable Theater System) | Home Media Entertainment

Flexible Design

The way the HT-AX7 is designed surely offers certain flexibility. You can either have the rear speakers attached to the main unit and use the system as a music speaker. Or you can place the rear speakers across the room and use all three sources to create a lovely ambient music environment. You also have the option to place the rear speakers in different rooms for a more multi-room ecosystem. And lastly you can use the three speakers in a more triangle design when you want to watch a movie.

From the above you understand that the HT-AX7 was created in such a way that it can adapt to different situations. It can be a really ideal design if you are looking for a system that can fulfill multiple needs.

Battery Life

One of the main aspects of any portable device is its battery life. Sony claims you can get up to 30 hours from full charge and 2.5 hours from just a 10 minute charging. But this is only for the main unit as the rear speakers can last only 4 hours straight.

These numbers are a bit optimistic from what we saw but not totally unrealistic. It really depends on how loud you like to use it so battery life can vary a lot. The main unit will last you long enough to finish any kind of movie or even a season of your favorite TV series. But the rear speakers will need to be constantly re-charged which will take away some of the 30 hours that the main unit can last.

Overall battery life is not bad. If the rear speakers could last a bit longer without the need to re-charge them we would be ecstatic. But as they are right now they are just ok.

Sony HT-AX7 Review (4.2 CH Portable Theater System) | Home Media Entertainment

Initial Setup

Installing the App

The first thing you should do when getting started is download the Home Entertainment Connect app. As you will do all the handling of the HT-AX7 through that. After installation you will have to go through a series of steps to connect the HT-AX7 to your mobile device.

Further Steps & Calibration

The process is fairly simple and the step-by-step guide is clear. After you pair the device with your smartphone or tablet you are all set. It’s that simple! It literally took us no more than a minute to go through all the steps.

Once in the main menu you can change a few settings, but again everything is kept relatively simple. As the amount of settings you can fiddle with are very few, as we mentioned in the app section above.

Sony HT-AX7 Review (4.2 CH Portable Theater System) | Home Media Entertainment

Movies and TV

Next is our real content tests. And for this review we tried a couple of streaming movies with Greyhound being the one and Avatar being the other. Both films we streamed through our Samsung Galaxy S21 5G smartphone.

We tried to follow Sony’s directions here, so we placed the two rear speakers behind us at equal distances. This way we created a more or less immersion bubble for the best possible performance of Sony’s 360 Spatial Mapping technology.

Front Soundstage

When you try a device for the first time, not knowing what to expect, it’s a really pleasant experience to see that such a system actually works. The HT-AX7 may not be the kind of system that will slap you in the face and punch you in the chest as a top of the line surround audio system will do. But surely it gives you this sense of being inside what we call the immersion bubble.

The main unit is obviously the one that takes care of the whole front soundstage and what we heard was actually good. You do get some extension and surely sound felt like originating further away than the physical limits of our Samsung smartphone.

A lot of panning effects were also audible as you could sense sound traveling from the front right to the front left and the opposite.

Sound quality was good with enough clarity and details at every moment without obviously reaching HiFi status. If you are very picky with audio quality you surely will hear a few stumbles here and there. But always remember this is sound coming from a Bluetooth connection. So expectations should be at check.

Sony HT-AX7 Review (4.2 CH Portable Theater System) | Home Media Entertainment


Dialog was distinct enough most of the time. But there were a few moments that we felt it drowned in all the action. We did try the available Voice mode and this really helped a lot to bring dialog forth.

But even without it, there were only a few moments when we thought that the dialog was in need of some extra boost.

Surround Sound

One aspect that is really important and can make or brake such a device is how it does with surround sound. After all this is supposed to be a home theater system…on the move. Does Sony’s 360 Spatial Sound mapping technology work? Well, yes…most of the time.

You see, what the device does is to actually take the stereo signal and with Sony’s up-mixer trying to recreate a surround performance by guessing where the sounds should come from.

And in our tests Sony’s technology works pretty well. We heard a lot of sound effects moving around in space. For example in Greyhound you can feel the cannon fire as the projectiles fly past the camera.

Sony’s up-mixer was really good but certainly not perfect. There were moments when the device could not understand exactly where to position a sound and this came out somewhat unrealistic. This didn’t happen a lot, so kudos to Sony for making this as good as possible. But there were a few occasions where the up-mixer could not accurately recreate the surround effects you may be expecting.

But overall we were really impressed here. Considering this is a stereo signal up-mixed to a full surround output through Bluetooth, we can say that you cannot ask for much more from the technology used.

Sony HT-AX7 Review (4.2 CH Portable Theater System) | Home Media Entertainment

Dolby Atmos

If you are expecting to get some short of Dolby Atmos magic out of this device you are going to be greatly disappointed. The HT-AX7 does not support Dolby Atmos so everything is strictly at ear level.


Although the unit does come with dual passive radiators we found the bass really lacking. Even setting the bass in the app at higher than the default setting you are not going to get much out of this device in terms of deep bass.

And to be honest this was more or less expected. Such a small device simply does not have the capabilities to push the low end much more than what you are going to get out of this one.

Maximum Volume

The device can get pretty loud but not as much as a good soundbar for example. And towards the upper levels you are going to hear some undesired compression. But this was not so much to be bothering. It just shows the limitations of the system. But during our time with it we didn’t feel the system lacked in maximum volume at any time.

Sony HT-AX7 Review (4.2 CH Portable Theater System) | Home Media Entertainment


The device offers two ways to stream music, through USB and through Bluetooth obviously. But since not all systems come with the USB port we opted for the main way which is through the Bluetooth connection.

Fidelity & Overall Quality

To be honest we felt less impressed with music than with movies. Not so much due to the quality of the output. But rather due to the fact that the HT-AX7 sounds like many other high quality Bluetooth speakers out there.

What really distinguishes this system from other speakers is its up-mixing technology. With music there is no such effect so its advantage greatly diminishes.

Music on this system had a slightly boxy feel to it. It was still adequate for the most part. But the limiting hardware was greatly showing here. The highs were not exciting at all and the bass was simply lacking overall. This resulted in performances having no soul and no excitement.

Don’t get us wrong. The system is not a disaster with music, not at all. It’s simply that when you listen what it can do with movies you would like to get a similar experience with music also. Alas you are not.

For a good quality Bluetooth speaker, the Sony HT-AX7 passes the test. But don’t get your hopes up of getting something out of the ordinary from this one.

Different Content

We went through various content and we didn’t notice much variation in its performance output. The system behaved in a similar manner across many different genres we tried.

Either it be some electronic bits, classical tunes or Jazz echoes the system keeps almost the same profile during playback.

Sony HT-AX7 Review (4.2 CH Portable Theater System) | Home Media Entertainment

Compared to other Systems

We tried really hard to think some product that works in a similar way to the Sony HT-AX7 but we couldn’t find any.

This design seems to be a hybrid of many difference design concepts. We can definitely see some of Sony’s own DNA that we saw in their HT-A9. It has the compact size of the Roku Streambar. And surely uses the same detachable rear speakers philosophy we saw in the JBL Bar 1000 and JBL Bar 1300X.

But the Sony HT-AX7 is not a direct copy of any of the above. It seems that Sony wanted to create a portable surround system and in doing so they used some of the characteristics in the above mentioned products.

Final Thoughts

After spending some time with it, it is pretty obvious what Sony had in mind when creating this system. They wanted to create a portable device that can give you the thills of surround audio but with the simplicity of a Bluetooth speaker. And in that sense they did succeed.

The Sony HT-AX7 is the perfect device if you are on the move all the time but you don’t want to miss this surround magic when watching a movie. Or if you are at bed and you are bored to move over to your dedicated home theater room. Sony made this system as simple as possible. And its surround performance is really good considering what it has to work with.

As for its downsides, while overall battery life is good, the battery of the rear speakers is not. With only 4 hours you will find yourself recharging them pretty much all the time. Also music quality was not as impressive as with movies. The rear speakers can easily be knocked of the main unit. Some short of magnet keeping them in place would be nice. And lastly the price is a bit on the high side.

Finishing our Sony HT-AX7 review we can say that Sony did succeed in creating a portable theater system that indeed sounds good. This is not supposed to be neither a soundbar nor a full surround system so you should not treat it as such. But if you know its real purpose and what it is capable of it can offer some really great cinematic surround moments.

Sony HT-AX7 Review (4.2 CH Portable Theater System) | Home Media Entertainment

For more reviews you can check our dedicated Complete Home Cinema Speakers reviews list or even look at our Product Reviews Table where you can find the brand and specific product you are looking for.

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Sony HT-AX7 Specifications

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4 thoughts on “Sony HT-AX7 Review (4.2 CH Portable Theater System)”

  1. In an time where minimalism and “less is more” are the mantras of the day, how does the Sony HT-AX7 fit in? Are we witnessing a change of the home theater experience, or is this a swan song in the age of wireless earbuds and soundbars that promise the world in a sleek, unobtrusive package?

    It’s a conundrum, isn’t it? On one hand, the allure of crystal-clear, room-filling sound is undeniable. On the other, the search for simplicity and space-saving design is at the top spot of many consumers. So, where does the Sony HT-AX7 stand in all this?

    Would love to hear your take.

    • I think that the HT-AX7 does not signal the beginning of any change. It is a revolutionary design aimed for a market that is currently untapped. Nothing will replace the top quality of a dedicated surround system. Both of them will exist for different purposes. From our testing it was very clear that the HT-AX7 was not designed to replace your dedicated home theater system. It was meant to give you some of the same magic, even in a less refined way, when you move around outside a fixed place. And So one will definitely not cannibalize the other in terms of market focus.

  2. You mention that this is a product that Sony is going out on a limb in launching. You referred to the Walkman. That obviously was an unqualified success. Unlike the Betamax video recorder, which although technologically superior to the VHS system of its rivals could not compete in the long term because of issues such as cost and software availability.

    How do you feel this product’s lifespan will pan out? WIll it be Walkman or will it be Betamax?

    • Hey Simon. There is a big difference between the HT-AX7 and both Walkman and Betamax. Walkman and Betamax were meant to be widely accepted commercial products. The HT-AX7 on the other hand is a niche product, no matter how much success it finds in the market. It is not meant to be a system that will enter each and every house. So from the beginning its purpose is different.

      I think its success will really depend on if Sony manages to market it correctly. They have to be crystal clear of its capabilities and purpose. If they can get the message out and really focus on the market it is destined for then I think it has a really good chance of finding some moderate success.


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