Dolby Atmos is the last word in encompass sound correct now – however until you’ve got obtained some critical house for all of the audio system, you are solely in a position to expertise it at your native multiplex.

That will not be true for for much longer, as Sony has managed to squeeze the Atmos results right into a single soundbar.

The Z9F would possibly solely have three small audio system aimed straight at your face, however some intelligent virtualisation is meant so as to add the impression of additional top to your film nights.

We listened in to 1 at CES in Las Vegas, to see if digital Atmos is all its cracked as much as be, or if Sony is simply residing in some sort of digital madness.


After giving us a non-Atmos reference level with a barely-disguised Bose SoundTouch 300, Sony plonked down instantly in entrance of the Z9F and slapped on a scene from the 4K remaster of Blade Runner.

The impact was spectacular, with the broader soundstage giving the rain extra presence. When a looter jumped on Deckard’s automotive, there was an simple sense of the noise coming from above, slightly than instantly in entrance. When a police cruiser flew in direction of the display, you could possibly virtually image the object-based audio following the on-screen motion.

Generally talking, the Z9F sounded detailed and clear, with loads of bass from the bundled wi-fi subwoofer. Unfortunately we did not get to listen to the system with the optionally available set of rear audio system put in, although. While the additional top from digital Atmos was spectacular, you continue to do not get any actual sense of sound coming from behind you.

Of course, Atmos content material is not precisely plentiful proper now, so you may need to faux it till you make it. Pressing the “Vertical S.” button on the distant up-mixes no matter you are listening to to a digital 7.1.2 combine, including top to TV and video games. 

We heard the Z9F do its factor with an Ed Sheeran monitor, and it undeniably created a wider soundstage, with extra outlined devices. However, we thought expensive outdated Ed’s vocals had been narrower with the digital setting switched on. Stereo music will most likely sound greatest with the mode turned off.


As you’d count on from an Atmos-friendly soundbar, the Z9F is absolutely prepped for 2018. It’s completely satisfied to go 4K, HDR and Dolby Vision indicators out of your 4K Blu-ray participant to your TV, and with two HDMI inputs beneath, you could possibly additionally hook up a video games console.

An IR repeater means it will not block your distant management, though for those who’ve obtained a contemporary Sony telly you will not have to fret: the bar itself is designed to suit completely round Sony’s angular TV stands.

There’s a USB port for enjoying audio recordsdata instantly from a reminiscence stick, together with high-resolution help, and it comes with Bluetooth for direct streaming from a smartphone. Spotify Connect and Chromecast help full the set.

Google Assistant help is probably extra thrilling, letting you management playback along with your voice as a substitute of the distant management. The soundbar is not listening out for you, although, so you may want a suitable sensible speaker to bark orders at.


Soundbars are all about compromise: you purchase one as a result of you do not have room for a full encompass sound setup, and also you count on a narrower audio expertise because of this. With certainly one of these plugged into your telly field, it will not really feel such as you’re actually compromising in any respect.

Sony’s digital model of Atmos won’t be fairly as convincing as the actual factor, however it actually expands the expertise in movies and music, making a extra immersive soundstage without having a shedload of additional audio system. Delivering that via three small soundbar drivers is sort of spectacular, and the built-in sensible options are all wecome additions to any residence cinema setup.

We’d wish to strive one out with our personal take a look at footage, and examine and distinction with an precise Atmos setup earlier than delivering a closing verdict, however hopefully that will not be too lengthy: the Z9F is happening sale within the subsequent few months.