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Sony’s HT-Z9F is the world's first 3.1-driver Atmos sound bar and it works great!

By Marcus Wong & Vijay Anand - on 11 Jan 2018, 8:30pm

Sony’s HT-Z9F is the world’s first 3.1ch Atmos sound bar

A premium sound bar from Sony, the HT-Z9F has been developed with support for movie lovers in mind. It supports both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X formats, and uses Sony’s Vertical Surround Engine technology to up mix two-channel stereo content to close to 7.1.2-channel quality. Get a virtual three-dimensional sound experience right in your living room even without Dolby Atmos/DTS:X content!

There's just 3 woofers on this sound bar, but that's all it needs to handle Dolby Atmos content or even up-mix stereo content to virtual surround sound using Sony's Vertical Surround Sound Engine tech.

What's really special is that Sony is able to deliver this 3D sound / Dolby Atmos experience while just using three front facing woofers. Why is using less woofers than usual a good thing? Conventional sound bars boasting Dolby Atmos experience utilize two or more additional woofers angled towards the ceiling to bounce audio off a hard ceiling to re-create the vertical audio height experience. However, not all homes have ideal conditions to help reproduce the same intended experience.

On the HT-Z9F, Sony's Vertical Surround Engine comes into play to cater to various kinds of homes, ceiling types, builds, etc., to re-create the vertical audio height required, without dedicated upward firing speakers or the ideal ceiling conditions.

We trialed the sound bar personally, and yes, Sony's Vertical Surround Engine works well enough to fool you thinking that the HT-Z9F has upward firing speakers when it doesn't.

We were treated to an audio showcase of the HT-Z9F's capability at CES 2018 and we can confirm that Sony's Vertical Surround Engine technology works just as well as other speakers with dedicated upward firing speakers. Now that's some clever audio algorithms that Sony has conjured up to make it all work seamlessly and not take the easy way out - that's a win-win situation for Sony and its customers.

With the use of Sony technologies, you get the full Atmos effect even with just a sound bar.

The HT-Z9F also supports 4K HDR and Dolby Vision so that the image feed is sent directly to the TV without any loss of quality. High-resolution audio formats are supported of course, and the sound bar also comes with DSEE HX, so all audio sent to it will be upscaled to the highest possible resolution for an optimal listening experience.

Plenty of connectivity options with this sound bar.

Wi-Fi connectivity means you can easily stream online music services to the HT-Z9F, and the sound bar itself comes with Chromecast support built-in.  Like many of the products released at CES this year, it also works with Google Assistant so you can enjoy a voice-operated music experience. Of course, the sound bar is also compatible with the Sony Music Center App, so you can use it for multi-room audio too.

Measuring just 100.0 × 6.4 × 9.9 cm, the HT-Z9F bar speaker will fit easily under any television. The subwoofer also measures just 19.0 x 38.2 x 38.6 cm, so the entire system will easily fit in with your existing decor.

The HT-Z9F will be available in selected Asia Pacific countries in May 2018, but price has yet to be announced for various markets. What we do know is that it will be priced at US$899 in the US market.

Find out more here.

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