Sony HT-X8500 Soundbar Page 2

Bass response was measured down to 50Hz. While this isn't enough to rearrange your spleen, it's enough for a pleasing rumble. Sometimes its boom gets a little heavy handed, and there's not much scope for adjustment, but for movies it's on the right side of boisterous.

One upshot of Vertical Sound processing is that there's a definite sweetspot. Sonic imaging is more precise when you sit square-on. Sit offside and you'll not pick up some of the steerage.

Dour disaster epic Everest (Blu-ray, Dolby Atmos) is a real blast. When the big storm hits, howling wind whips through the listening room, and icy rain sheets left and right. Immersion isn't just about height.

The DSP is also something of a leveller, in so much as there's not a great deal of difference between Atmos and Dolby TrueHD soundtracks. Both get the uncanny wraparound treatment.


When Matthew McConaughey and his team splash-land on the water planet in Interstellar, after traversing the Black Hole, it's a wonderfully engulfing experience. The HT-X8500's soundstage, as they air-break through the atmosphere, is coherently chaotic. The rattles in the cabin, and alarms mixing with the thunder of re-entry, conspire to make a truly cinematic cacophony.

This ability to handle difficult mixes is similarly showcased in X-Men: Days of Future Past (Blu-ray, DTS-HD 7.1). When the Sentinels attack our future mutants, the sound design is complex to say the least. An insistent adrenalised score, copious special effects, the sound of concrete splintering and sudden attacks; are all kept reasonably intelligible.

Differences between the soundbar's preset modes aren't vast, but I did feel Music and Cinema created the right impression. The Game preset has been fine-tuned with help from PlayStation developers, so by all means select this when you break out the joypad.

It's a decent performer with music, as long as you're not expecting a hi-res audio experience. Listening to Amazon Music HD via a Fire TV cube is thoroughly entertaining. Streaming over Bluetooth is equally satisfactory.

Entertaining Upgrade
When it comes to sheer bang for buck, the HT-X8500 is hard to beat. It's an Atmos bar that relies on DSP rather than physical drivers to create an immersive soundstage, yet sounds remarkably convincing.


It's nearest competitor is probably the Panasonic SC-HTB900, also compatible with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, but also without upfiring drivers. The Panasonic ships with a separate sub, reflected in its higher ticket price.

If you want cinematic sound without a blockbuster price tag, consider this a solidly entertaining upgrade for any 4K thin-screen.

HCC Verdict

Sony HT-X8500

Price: £350">

We say: This affordable all-in-one delivers fun cinematic sound without upfiring speakers or install complication. It's a rewarding upgrade for mid-range thin-screens.

Overall: 4.5/5


Drivers: 2 x mid/high drivers (size unspecified); 2 x woofers
Onboard Power (Claimed): 320W
Connections: 1 x HDMI input; 1 x HDMI output with eARC; 1 x optical digital audio input
Dolby Atmos/DTS:X: Yes/Yes
Separate Sub: No
Remote Control: Yes
Dimensions: 890(w) x 96(d) x 64(h)mm
Weight: 3.1kg

Features: Bluetooth v5.0; Dolby Atmos and DTS:X compatibility; HDMI CEC control; Dolby Vision passthrough; Auto Sound, Cinema, Music, Game, News, Sports and Standard sound presets; Vertical Sound Engine; Night Mode; Voice Mode; S-Master digital amplifier