With a 'binge-watch' culture at its peak and people hooked to high-definition TVs, laptops, even smartphones, the need for immersive audio is only obvious — sub-par sound quality mars the experience of watching your favourite series or movie.
If you are a binge-watcher looking your kind of audio device, the Sony HT-X8500 soundbar with Dolby Atmos, launched in May this year, might help clear the morass. With a slew of worthy features, this soundbar easily outdoes the others in its price segment.
Priced at Rs 29,990, the 2.1-channel soundbar has a built-in subwoofer in the middle centre with two wide-range drivers at both ends. What’s more, it also offers Dolby Atmos, DTS X, and virtual 7.1.2-channel surround sound. This lightweight but sturdy soundbar has a metal covering on its front and can be easily mounted on a wall.
Built with design intricacies in mind, the soundbar also sports touch-based controls and indicator lights on top for Bluetooth, TV, HDMI, Vertical Surround, Atmos, and DTS X. These complement the overall structure and lift the looks.
But what amazes you the most are Dolby Atmos sound and Vertical Surround Engine, which help deliver an immersive sound experience. I was happy to have drawn the attention of several people at a boring get-together at home by just playing a recent Netflix original on this device. With dim lights and high volume, it felt like a mini theatre.
I liked the clean set-up as I could finally avoid the clutter of wires and simply connect the soundbar to my TV, phone or tablet using Bluetooth. There also are other connectivity options, such as an optical input, HDMI input and also the HDMI pass-through.
You can easily switch among sound modes by pressing dedicated buttons on the remote controller. I was particularly interested in checking if the subwoofer would live up to my expectations. And, much to my delight, it did: The bass was punchy and strong, and it did not tamper with the vocal quality.
The surround sound was rich and minor sound detailing could be observed even by veteran sound fanatics, as the soundbar’s virtual 7.1.2-channel output projects it well. But there, of course, is some room for improvement. I streamed some concerts by Coldplay, Kings of Leon, Green Day and others, and found the bass line with the thumping of double bass enthralling. The in-built subwoofer does away with the need for a separate one.
Adding to the delight is the vertical surround that simply is a game-changer and makes audio-listening on the Sony HT-X8500 soundbar an immersive experience. I could feel the revving up of the engine, the various sounds in the woods, a splash of water, and screeching of a tyre. I usually find the bass overshadowing the vocals, especially in case of movies, and it gets difficult to hear dialogues. But I did not find any such problem here; the tuning has been done well.
Overall, the Sony HT-X8500 soundbar seems to race past competition in its price segment, thanks to its many game-changing features.