Innovative technologies like Sony’s Acoustic Surface system (found on their A1E and A8F OLED TVs) have helped improved the typically lacking sound that comes out of today’s uber-slim displays. But for the most part, even the most casual viewer is going to want an auxiliary audio source, which is where soundbars come in, providing high-quality, multi-channel sound from a single device that’s designed to be inconspicuous and easy to hook up. The one ding against soundbars is that they’re not always the greatest at replicating the sound experience of a setup with, say, in-ceiling speakers. The Sony HT-Z9F Atmos soundbar aims to change that, as the world’s first 3.1 channel Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundbar.
Dolby Atmos is a surround sound technology that, among other things, includes a height element in its processing. So you’ll not only hear sounds coming from directly in front of you, but also in front and above you. A competing technology, DTS:X, offers a very similar sound experience. The Sony HT-Z9F is capable of both processes, and thanks to Sony’s Vertical Surround Engine, it can create all-encompassing 3D sound from whatever you’re watching—all through just the soundbar and included wireless subwoofer. That means that whether you’re watching a 4K Blu-ray with an embedded 7.1 audio track, or a TV program with a simple 2-channel audio signal, the Sony HT-Z9F will make them both sound equally immersive. To further the immersion, the HT-Z9F will be compatible with optional wireless surround speakers, to give the rear channels of your home theater that little extra oomph. The HT-Z9F will be near the top of the lineup of Sony soundbars, and will available this spring with a retail price of $899.99.