This year, every proverbial stop has been fully removed, with Sony announcing a host of new home theater products alongside more awesome TVs and a slew of shiny new headphones. Surround sound enthusiasts should be excited — there are three new soundbars, a pair of up-firing speakers, and an A/V receiver that all support Dolby Atmos — and those in the market for a new wireless party speaker or Blu-ray player should be satisfied as well.
Dolby Atmos Soundbars
Sony broke new ground by announcing the HT-Z9F, which will be the world’s first 3.1-channel Dolby Atmos soundbar, as well as another Atmos-enabled soundbar, the HT-X9000F. Both soundbars support Dolby Atmos and are equipped with Sony’s Vertical Surround Engine, a proprietary alternative to traditional up-firing speaker design or ceiling reflection. Both the HT-Z9F and the HT-X9000F are compatible with 4K, HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR, so image pass-through to televisions won’t result in loss of quality.
The HT-Z9F features Sony’s S-Force Pro Front Surround technology, which enhances surround sound imaging to improve immersion, and a special “Vertical S” button that upmixes 2-channel stereo content to 7.1.2-channel audio (if you’ve got that many speakers hooked up). The HT-Z9F is designed specifically to pair with Sony’s SA-Z9R rear speakers. The HT-Z9F also supports high-resolution audio playback, thanks to Sony’s HSEE DXtechnology. It can connect directly to Wi-Fi, and is compatible with Google Assistant (though it doesn’t have an onboard microphone). The HT-Z9F will retail for $900 beginning this spring.
The HT-X9000F, designed specifically to match the aesthetic of Sony’s X900F television line, features built-in Bluetooth connectivity (this will be added to the HT-Z9F via firmware updates), and will be available for $600 beginning this spring.
Sony also announced the HT-S200F soundbar, a compact, 2.1-channel bar that supports Dolby Audio — not Atmos, sadly — and Sony’s S-Force Pro Front Surround technology (as previously mentioned). The HT-S200F also offers a variety of connection options, including Bluetooth, HDMI ARC, and USB. The soundbar will be available this spring; Sony hasn’t released any pricing information as of yet.
SS-CSE Dolby Atmos Speakers
Adding to Sony’s already-robust CS speaker lineup — led by the SS-CS3 floorstanders and the SS-CS5 bookshelf speakers, which were introduced in 2014 — the Dolby Atmos-enabled SS-CSE speakers are compact. They’re intended to sit atop the CS3 or CS5 speakers and improve surround sound imaging thanks to their unique, angular design. Given their small stature, the SS-CSE can also easily be mounted to any wall and used as surround speakers. The SS-CSE will be available this spring from retailers including Best Buy and Amazon; pricing is not yet known.
UBP-X700 Blu-ray Player
Sony’s newest Blu-ray player, the 4K UHD UBP-X700, supports both HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR for maximum color detail and contrast. It’s also got built-in Wi-Fi so you can download your favorite streaming apps (Netflix, Hulu, etc.) and watch directly on the Blu-ray player. The UBP-X700 also supports playback for a diverse range of video and music file formats, including high-resolution codecs like DSD and FLAC. It will be available this month, though Sony hasn’t released any information about pricing or retail availability.
STR-DH A/V Receivers
Sony also announced three new A/V receivers: The STR-DH790 7.2-channel 4K HDR AV, the STR-DH590 5.2-channel 4K HDR AV, and the STR-DH190 2-channel. The headliner of the bunch is the STR-DH790, which (as the full name implies) supports 4K and HDR pass-through — both Dolby Vision and HDR10 signals will transmit with no loss — plus Dolby Atmos and DTS:X surround sound. The STR-DH90 also utilizes Advanced Digital Cinema Audio Calibration (DCAC) to “read the room” and adjust audio playback accordingly.
The STR-DH590 receiver also supports 4K and HDR passthrough (both Dolby Vision and HDR10), while the STR-DH190 features Bluetooth connectivity (and none of the other cool stuff). All three receivers will be available this spring via Amazon, Best Buy, and more; pricing is to be determined.
Extra Bass Wireless Speakers
Finally, Sony has announced three new wireless “party” speakers in its Extra Bass speaker line: The SRS-XB21, the SRS-XB31, and the SRS-XB41. Each speaker is outfitted with a cool light array (the XB41 and XB31 have multicolor line lights and strobe lights, while the XB21 has a single-color line light) and a “Party Boost” feature that responds to physical stimulation (read: poking the speaker) with sound effects and color changes.
Each speaker also utilizes Sony’s Live Sound mode, which leverages the speakers’ angled design to project audio into three-dimensional space. You can connect up to 100 (!) different SRS speakers together with synchronized playback for massive gatherings. Battery life ranges from 12 hours (SRS-XB21) to 24 hours (SRS-XB31 and SRS-XB41), depending upon usage, and the speakers are IP67-rated for water and dust resistance.
All three speakers will be available this spring; the SRS-XB21 will retail for $100, the SRS-XB31 will retail for $150, and the SRS-XB41 will cost $250.