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What Hi-Fi?
What Hi-Fi?
Ainsley Walker

Sony's new flagship Dolby Atmos soundbar aims to outdo the mighty HT-A7000

Sony Bravia Theatre Bar 9 with HT-A7000.

Sony has announced a range of new home cinema products along with its new Bravia TVs, including two soundbars: the Bravia Theatre Bar 9 and Theatre Bar 8.

These models enter Sony’s lineup as the brand’s top soundbar options, with the Bar 9 representing the new ‘flagship’ model while the Bar 8 is labelled as the ‘premium’ model. 

They will be replacing the HT-A7000 and HT-A5000 models respectively. Both of these models impressed us, the A5000 earned a solid four-star review while the A7000 took home the full five stars and a 2023 Award for Product of the Year. Based on this, we hope for big things from Sony’s latest offerings.

The Theatre Bar 9 features 13 speakers in total: four X-Balanced woofers across the front of the bar, four passive radiators on the surface of the bar (which are said to provide good bass performance paired with woofers), two beam tweeters, a 'side' X-balanced speaker on each end of the bar, and two up-firing X-balanced speakers. The Bar 9 has a 36 per cent more compact design than the A7000. It sports a minimalist look and should be easy to integrate visually into most set-ups. 

Moving on to the Bravia Theatre Bar 8 which contains 11 speakers in total, including four X-balanced woofers. It also houses up-firing drivers and side speakers like the Bar 9 for immersive audio playback. Its design is less wide and deep than previous models, reducing size by 30 per cent compared with the A5000.

Both new soundbars support 360 spatial sound mapping and can be paired with rear surround speakers (SA-R5S and SA-R3S) and subwoofers (SA-SW5 and SA-SW3), to create the effect of extra phantom speakers. These additional speakers are all continuing models that Sony is not replacing just yet.

Bar 9 and Bar 8 both support Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, and support for IMAX enhanced is said to be coming later in the year as well. Acoustic Centre Sync on the new Bravia TVs has been upgraded to improve the integration of the TV and the soundbar. This improvement is said to synchronise the two components better than before, providing a more natural, accurate sound location. 

Alongside these two new bars, Sony also announced the new Theatre U, a replacement for the SRS-NS7 Wireless Neckband Speaker. It’s a curious device, designed to provide localised sound without the restrictions of headphones, though our experience with the NS7 was mixed. 

Sony’s new TV and home cinema products, including the Theatre Quad, can all be controlled using the Bravia Connect app. Here you’ll find detailed settings and content playback options, including Sound Field Optimisation which is said to be more accurate than previous versions and aims to tune any Theatre products to perform at their best in your listening environment.

The new Sony Theatre Bar 9 costs £1400 / $1400, while the Theatre Bar 8 is priced at £1000 / $1000. Both are available to pre-order now.


Our expert picks for the best soundbars available right now

Also check out Sony's new Bravia Theatre Quad wireless Dolby Atmos speaker system

And here's all the news on the 2024 Sony TV range

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