Bring the cinema home with the best Dolby Atmos soundbar

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Do you want to be immersed in your movies? If you do, you might be interested in the Sony HT-Z9F, which in our opinion is the best Atmos Dolby soundbar for the money available today!!!!

If you reside in a small place or are looking to add to your man cave, there is no need to spend thousands on a full surround system. A soundbar is the best and easiest way to enhance the sound of your TV.

What is Dolby Atmos?

Dolby Atmos is a surround sound technology first used in movie theaters in 2012. The tech explanation is that it allows up to 128 separate audio tracks and in layman’s terms, this sound technology can bring an almost cinematic sound to your living room or man cave!

The amazing thing about Dolby Atmos is that each / all the audio tracks are assigned an audio channel and then they are rendered in real time. This means that you can achieve true surround sound which feels like you are completely immersed in the sound.

Movie directors are increasingly choosing Dolby Atmos for their soundtracks, so you can find a massive library of movies and other forms of content on Blu-ray Discs and also online from premium services.

The first feature film to utilize Dolby Atmos was Pixar’s “Brave“, and the first Blu-ray movie was “Transformers: Age of Extinction“. It’s not only movies though as video games are also using Dolby Atmos with ever-increasing regularity.

With soundbars, you get “room-filling” surround sound by just using a soundbar and subwoofer.

What is a soundbar?

The problem is that as TVs get thinner and thinner, the sound quality worsens as the speakers have to be so small! A soundbar is a fast and easy way to upgrade your crappy TV sound without investing in a complete home cinema setup.

A soundbar also doesn’t have intrusive cables or take up the space of a 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound system.
Soundbars can also stream music using Bluetooth and be paired wirelessly with a subwoofer to create a virtual surround soundstage.

With so many options available, it can be a minefield to choose the best Dolby Atmos soundbar for your needs so grab a coffee and choose from our fully researched list of the best DA soundbars that you can buy.

One thing we would like to point out is that soundbars are not designed to compete with 5.1 or 7.1 systems and you shouldn’t expect the same sound quality, but the latest Dolby Atmos soundbars are getting pretty darn close!

How to choose a soundbar?

The main consideration when choosing a soundbar is the connection type. If you choose a cheap soundbar, you might get it delivered only to find that you need an HDMI connection but the soundbar only features an optical one.

Another consideration is if you wish to stream music via Bluetooth, you must check that the soundbar supports it.

Soundbars have exploded in popularity due to their ease of use and amazing sound quality but with so many devices available at Amazon and other retailers, choosing one can be a daunting experience. That’s why we have made the whole process a lot easier and found the best Dolby Atmos soundbar you can buy!

Can you use any soundbar on any TV?

In short “yes”, as most home theater devices use HDMI, but that doesn’t mean you need HDMI ports on the soundbar. What many people do is connect all of their home theater gadgets to the TV, and then use the audio output of the TV to connect to the soundbar.

This means that when change inputs on your TV, you are also changing which audio is sent to the soundbar. This method does mean that you’re limited by your TV’s connectivity. If it’s really old with only a couple of HDMI ports, it’s best to buy a soundbar with more connectivity options.

How can I play music through a soundbar?

Don’t take up space in your living room/man-cave with another speaker because a soundbar will do the job just as well! The best soundbar for you will depend on the kind of music set-up you wish for and obviously how much cash you have to splash!

For those folks that want to play audio from such portable devices as a laptop, USB drive, MP3 player, smartphone, or tablet, you must check that the soundbar has 3.5mm, USB, or Bluetooth connectivity.
All three of these options offer an easy way to connect but Bluetooth is the best because you can listen to your favorite tunes wirelessly from Bluetooth-enabled smartphones, tablets, etc.

Many soundbars can also connect to your home wi-fi network and become part of your multi-room audio system. Check the tech specs for each device as they can differ.

The Best Dolby Atmos Soundbar is the Sony HT-Z9F

As one of the top producers of the best TVs on the planet and owner of the massive Columbia Music library, it’s no surprise that Sony is making the best soundbars in the market.

Sony’s last year’s model, the Dolby Atmos HT-ST5000, was and is a little too expensive compared to the Z9F but is an amazing soundbar. The HT-Z9F is a smaller version of the HT-ST5000 which features three 2.5-inch drivers and built-in psycho-acoustic processing to create an incredible sound stage.

This great value soundbar supports higher-end streaming and Hi-Res audio along with built-in Chromecast support and Spotify Connect. You can even use Google Assistant voice operations meaning that you can give voice commands through a smart speaker.

The Sony HT-Z9F is our favorite Dolby Atmos soundbar for anyone with a 42″ to 55″ flat-screen TV. The unit is extremely compact and blends into any home effortlessly. It’s an awesome addition to any room regardless of ceiling height, furniture, and the room’s construction materials.

The Design

The soundbar dimensions are just 2.5 tall x 39 long x 3.5 inches deep and the device weighs just six pounds, this means it can be safely used with wall mounts as well as on units or tabletops.

Sony’s subwoofer and the optional SA-Z9R wireless speakers are also small in size but big on sound. They are both finished in matte black and look very cool without being overbearing. The subwoofer’s dimensions are 7 x 15 x 15 inches and it weighs 17 pounds.

The subwoofer’s job is to produce rich, stable deep tones which rattle the room when reproducing explosions or roaring car engines from Dolby Atmos soundtracks. Folks often place their subwoofer out of sight behind a sofa or under a table.

The subwoofer and surround speakers link wirelessly via Bluetooth so you can say goodbye to ugly wires, although each component still needs its own power cord. Sony has very kindly designed the whole package for ease of setup and use. Each of the components wirelessly links to the soundbar, when each one is turned on.

The Connectivity

The Z9F features two HDMI 2.0a / HDCP 2.2 inputs and one HDMI output on the rear of the unit. There is also a stereo analog input, a digital optical (Toslink) input, a port for Ethernet, and a USB capability so that you can play your digital music files from any of your storage devices.

On top of all that, the soundbar can connect wirelessly using Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi so users get access to a huge range of streaming services using the in-built Chromecast compatibility.

The remote control

The beating heart of the Sony HT-Z9F is the IR remote control. This unit features buttons for all of the source inputs and six sound modes (including Cinema, Game, Music, Sports, and Standard).

The controller is the usual candy bar shape and is very lightweight and comfy in the hand. The remote also has three sets of volume control buttons so you can lower/raise the sound levels from the surround speakers, soundbar speakers, and subwoofer.

The remote features a “Vertical S” button which allows you to activate Sony’s vertical surround effect. This allows audiophiles to enhance the psycho-acoustic surround sound effects for just about any soundtrack.

How smart is the Sony HT-Z9F?

The Sony is equipped to connect to any Wi-Fi network or Bluetooth Android mobile device to stream any of the numerous apps via Chromecast.

The soundbar also comes with Spotify Connect so owners can listen to the incredibly cool Spotify music streaming service (please note that this requires a paid subscription).

Users can also access and listen to streaming music stored on compatible devices when they are connected to a home network using their Android phone or tablet, PC, or Network Storage device.

How does it sound for movies?

Sony’s product development team stated that in developing the HT-Z9F most of their focus went on creating the best sound experience possible for movie viewing.

Their main goal was to improve the surround effects and use fewer speakers to create the sensation of overhead channels in all kinds of different rooms and spaces.

Sony’s Dolby Atmos technology sends sound out in a way that widens the soundstage and creates the illusion that sounds are emerging from areas that have no speakers, this is one of the reasons why this is our top-rated soundbar for 2018.

The Sony HT-Z9F provides the best sound for the money with wide and immersive sound. Listening to the rainfall on the Dolby Atmos demo disc, you can imagine an impending storm which is very impressive for the money.

One of the best things about the HT-Z9F’s sound quality is with direct dialog, it’s extremely clear and still easy to understand, even with loads of background noise and sound effects going on at the same time.
The three speakers do a great job of projecting the direction of each sound, with left and right channel sound effects seeming to come from four to five feet to the left or right of the screen.

Regarding the subwoofer’s sound capabilities, you can feel the literal vibration during fight scenes and large-scale action sequences in movies like the recent Blu-ray versions of Thor: Ragnarok and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

What about its music capability

The HT-Z9F renders music in its stride with the soundbar able to read many of the Hi-Rez Audio formats, including its own compression system which supports Bluetooth.

As we mentioned, the HT-Z9F was developed to focus on clear dialog, this means that vocals in musical pieces sound particularly crisp with clarity and depth.

To sum up

The Sony HT-Z9F isn’t and isn’t supposed to be a substitute for a top-of-the-line object-based audio theater system but it is the cheapest way to enjoy your favorite movies in Dolby Atmos.

Overall the sound quality is first class and makes listening to music and movies a whole lot better than with those tinny-sounding speakers in most new slim TVs.

The sleek and classy design means that it will suit just about any space and when you couple that fact with the price, we have no hesitation in recommending the Sony HT-Z9F as the best soundbar with Dolby Atmos you will find today.

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Sony Sound Bar Speaker HT-Z9F: 3.1ch Dolby Atmos/DTS:X TV Soundbar with WiFi...

Last update was on: March 24, 2023 10:50 pm

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