Sony X9000F: Dolby Atmos at a relatively affordable price
If you need Dolby Atmos support, but don't want to pay a lot more than you would for the Sonos Beam, then the Sony X9000F is a great option. Dolby Atmos soundbars don't get much less expensive than this, and if you're trying to build a system on a more modest budget, you'll get an Atmos experience, even if it's limited to 2.1 channels.
In addition to the soundbar itself, the Sony also comes with a wireless subwoofer. You can connect both to whatever TV or A/V receiver you use in your home theater setup.
What's great about Dolby Atmos
Atmos is a surround sound format developed by Dolby. Originally built for use in theaters, Atmos has since also been adapted for use in homes. The goal is to provide a detailed and immersive audio experience. Most systems utilize multiple components, including soundbars.
Whereas in traditional surround sound environments, sounds are held to specific channels, Dolby Atmos utilizes a concept called audio objects. Atmos allows sound designers to create these objects, specifying where a particular sound originates from, and to where it will move as the film plays. An Atmos system will recognize the objects and play them in a virtual 3D environment. These allow the sounds you hear from being set to a single channel.
Many Dolby Atmos-compatible soundbars achieve their effects through upward-firing speakers, whose sound bounces off your home's ceiling and down towards you. The other speakers in your system will fill out the rest of the audio environment. Just like standard surround sound, Atmos still utilizes channels, with audio objects placed on top of sounds that don't need the specificity that Atmos allows for.
The Sonos Beam is still great
If you don't want or need Dolby Atmos support, and really just want better audio from your TV, the Sonos Beam is still a great option. Not only will it provide great audio, it also features support for Amazon's Alexa assistant, letting you utilize Alexa skills (such as music playback) directly without any additional hardware.
The Sonos Beam also features support for AirPlay 2. This lets you connect the Beam to multiple other AirPlay 2 speakers around your home and play the same audio wherever you go in your house.
If you need Atmos
If you need Dolby Atmos support, less expensive setups are harder to come bay. This Atmos soundbar and subwoofer combo from Sony will get you started at about $100 north of the Sonos Beam.
If you don't
Still great, even without Dolby Atmos.
If you don't need Atmos, the Sonos Beam has great sound, along with useful features like built-in Alexa and support for Apple's AirPlay 2.
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