Those looking to purchase a soundbar with Dolby Atmos had a few really good options in 2017, with one of the best being the Sony HT-ST5000. While it offered everything that anyone could ever want in a Dolby Atmos soundbar, it was also expensive for some consumers. That’s why at CES 2018 Sony has launched a new range of Atmos soundbars that should be perfect for those who want the 3D audio experience but can’t afford the higher outlay.

The most notable additions to the new range are the HT-Z9F and the HT-X9000F. That’s because these are Dolby Atmos soundbars that lack the traditional 5.1.2 or 7.1.2 array, and instead boast a 2.1 (HT-X9000F) and 3.1 (HT-Z9F) setup. Some may raise their eyebrows at the possibility of a 2.1 or 3.1 Dolby Atmos soundbar, but Sony says that its ‘virtual surround engine’ can replicate the 3D audio effect that Atmos offers, without requiring the extra speakers.

This is the first time Dolby Atmos has been produced virtually rather than through additional speakers on a soundbar. It’s not completely unheard of, however. Dolby Atmos is virtually produced on headphones, meaning it should be more than possible on a soundbar.

While Dolby Atmos support is key with these new soundbars, content doesn’t necessarily have to be mixed in the format for users to experience an extra sound boost. That’s because the HT-Z9F includes a ‘Vertical S’ button that can provide virtual 3D sound for any content that is playing.

Both of these new Atmos speakers should go on sale later this spring, with a retail price set at £600 for the HT-Z9F and £450 for the HT-X9000F.

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