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Promising cinema-style sound from a single slimline soundbar, Sony’s HT-X8500 is an easy way to upgrade your home entertainment – and with £69 currently off the list price, it’s a great way to get into Dolby Atmos audio.
Dolby Atmos is used to cinemas to completely envelope the audience with sound. Ingeniously, this home version doesn’t require any additional physical speakers, instead it uses digital signal processing to create a similar sonic effect.
Why we love them
It won’t replicate your local multiplex, but it’s a big upgrade on regular TV sound.
The secret is Sony’s Vertical Sound Engine. We were sceptical, but gave the HT-X8500 an audition, and we were impressed with the width and height of the soundstage. Action movies sound exciting, while sports enjoy a live sense of ambiance.
The soundbar is at its best with Dolby Atmos content (there’s lots on Netflix), but works with regular 5.1 surround and even stereo.
The speaker plays loud but doesn’t distort – good news if you have problems discerning dialogue on some TV dramas.
Why it’s so handy
Just 89cm wide, the HT-X8500 is suitable for flatscreens between 49-55-inches, and slim enough to sit in front of most of them. It can also be wall-mounted.
Set up is plug and play, just connect an HDMI lead between the screen and the ‘bar. For optimum performance, you’ll need a TV with HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel), all modern sets have ARC, usually identified on an HDMI port on the rear. This sends the audio from TV streaming apps like Netflix and Amazon, as well as connected devices like games consoles or TV boxes, direct to the soundbar.
If you don’t have an HDMI with ARC, the HT-X8500 can also be connected via an optical digital lead from the TV (but this won’t carry Dolby Atmos sound).
When it comes to bang for buck, this Sony HT-X8500 deal is hard to beat.
What the reviews say:
With 83% of reviews giving the Sony HT-X8500 a four star or higher star rating, it seems plenty of film fans appreciate its big audio performance.
“ It can easily fill out the room with nice even and clear audio...”
“ Build quality and solidity is superb.”
“While it is not a replacement for a full 5.1 or 7.1 system, I feel it does an outstanding job!”
“Get it if you want a bar with bass and Atmos.”