Sony HT-X8500 Soundbar Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Jul 27, 2020 at 09:04 am
Sony HT-X8500 Picture
7.0
Mixed Usage
7.9
Dialogue/TV Shows
6.5
Music
6.7
Movies
Channels
2.1

The Sony HT-X8500 soundbar is a 2.1 setup from 2019. It has a subwoofer integrated into its design, which not only helps to save space but helps add more bass to its sound as it's only a standalone bar. On the downside, it still has a lot of trouble reproducing low-bass and it has a very boxy sound to it. Vocals and dialogue sound clear and accurate, though, which is good for soap operas or audiobooks. Movie buffs can also enjoy their favorite movies with this bar as it supports Atmos, although it has to downmix this content into stereo to play it.

Our Verdict

7.0 Mixed Usage

The Sony HT-X8500 is alright for mixed use. It has a boxy sound profile that lacks low-bass, which doesn't do many favors for your favorite albums or movies. That being said, there are a few EQ presets available to help you find a sound that better suits your audio needs. It also supports Atmos, and it's able to reproduce fairly clear and accurate voices, which is good for podcasts or audiobooks. It can get fairly loud, but while it should be okay for everyday use, it probably won't be loud enough for a house party.

Pros
  • Can play Atmos and DTS content.
  • EQ presets plus bass adjustment feature available.
Cons
  • No room correction feature.
  • Lacks low-bass.
7.9 Dialogue/TV Shows

The Sony HT-X8500 is good for dialogue and TV shows. While it has a boxy sound profile, it can still produce fairly clear and accurate voices. It also can get loud enough to fill a large room, and there's a dialogue enhancement feature available that may further improve vocal clarity. It has a night mode, which can help level the volume of different sources, and just like most Sony soundbars, you can stream your favorite podcasts to it via Bluetooth.

Pros
  • Dialogue enhancement and night mode feature available.
  • Bluetooth compatible.
Cons
  • No room correction feature.
6.5 Music

The Sony HT-X8500 is just acceptable for music. It has a very boxy sound profile that's lacking in low-bass. If you don't like this sound, the bar has a few EQ presets available, so you can find a setting that better suits your preferences. Still, it has a mediocre soundstage, and while it can get loud enough for everyday use, it probably won't be loud enough for use during a house party.

Pros
  • EQ presets plus bass adjustment feature available.
Cons
  • Always-on surround sound feature.
  • No room correction feature.
  • Lacks low-bass.
6.7 Movies

The Sony HT-X8500 is okay for movies. While its boxy sound profile may help to bring out some of the intensity of explosions in action flicks, some listeners may find it too bass-heavy. Luckily, there are a few EQ presets available plus bass adjustment so you can find the best sound for your needs. This bar also supports Dolby Atmos, but it has to downmix this content into stereo to play it.

Pros
  • Can play Atmos and DTS content.
  • EQ presets plus bass adjustment feature available.
Cons
  • Always-on surround sound feature.
  • No room correction feature.
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • 7.0 Mixed Usage
  • 7.9 Dialogue/TV Shows
  • 6.5 Music
  • 6.7 Movies
  1. Update 9/21/2020: The Dynamics tests have been reconducted due to a value input bug.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The Sony HT-X8500 2.1ch is a soundbar from Sony's 2019 lineup. It has an integrated subwoofer and an always-on surround sound mode. Unlike many other 2.1 setups, such as the Yamaha YAS-209, it can play Atmos and DTS content, although it has to downmix it into stereo to play it. The Sony HT-X8500's main competitors are the Sony HT-X9000F, the Bose Solo 5, and the Sony HT-S200F.

Design
Design
Style - Bar

The Sony HT-X8500 soundbar is a black and fairly plain-looking soundbar. It has a metal grille on its front face and its top face is covered in faux-leather. The bar is otherwise made of plastic. As the subwoofer is integrated into the bar, there are two ports found on each side of the soundbar.

Design
Style - Subwoofer

The subwoofer is integrated into the bar.

Design
Style - Satellites

There are no satellites in this soundbar setup.

Design
Dimensions - Bar
Bar Width 34.9" (88.7 cm)
Bar Height 2.5" (6.3 cm)
Bar Depth 3.9" (9.8 cm)

The Sony HT-X8500 is fairly long and you may have problems fitting it between the legs of most 55" TVs. Still, it's not very tall, so it most likely won't block your screen, unless your TV sits flush to the table.

Design
Dimensions - Subwoofer
Sub Width N/A
Sub Height N/A
Sub Depth N/A

This soundbar doesn't have a separate subwoofer.

Design
Dimensions - Satellites
Sat Width N/A
Sat Height N/A
Sat Depth N/A

There are no satellites with this soundbar.

Design
Back - Bar
Bar Mounting Type
Universal (holes on back)

The back of this soundbar is very plain. There's an opening on the left side for the power cable and another one on the right side for the input ports. This bar also has universal holes on its back so you can wall-mount it.

Design
Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
N/A

The subwoofer is integrated into the bar.

Design
Back - Satellites
Sat Mounting Type
N/A

This setup doesn't have satellites.

7.0
Design
Build Quality

The Sony HT-X8500's build quality is decent. It's made from robust matte plastic and it has a metal grille to protect its speakers. The subwoofer is integrated into the bar as well, and it's also protected by the metal grille. Its ports are located on the sides of the soundbar.

Design
In The Box
HDMI Cable Length
5.0 ft (1.5 m)
Digital Optical Cable Length
N/A

  • Manuals
  • Remote
  • x2 AAA batteries for the remote
  • HDMI cable
  • AC cord
  • AC adapter

Sound
6.8
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response
ST Slope
-0.54
ST Std. Err.
3.23 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
61.7 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
17.0 kHz

The Sony HT-X8500 has a passable stereo frequency response. Even though it has an integrated subwoofer, it has trouble reproducing deep thump and rumble, and overall it sounds very boxy and a little dark. That being said, if you don't like the sound profile of the bar, there's several EQ presets available plus a bass adjustment feature which can help you find the right sound for your audio needs.

Sound
Stereo Raw Frequency Response
6.0
Sound
Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
1.99 dB

The Sony HT-X8500 has a mediocre stereo soundstage. It's about the size of the bar, and the bar doesn't do any tricks to widen the soundstage. It has a diffused focus, so objects sound like they're coming from more general areas rather than precise, accurate locations.

7.4
Sound
Stereo Dynamics
ST SPL @ Max Volume
92.6 dB SPL
ST DRC @ Max Volume
2.19 dB

Update 09/21/2020: We've discovered a value input bug that would cause the Dynamics box results to be slightly off. All soundbars reviewed since January 30th, 2020 have been updated.

The Sony HT-X8500 has decent stereo dynamics. While it should be loud enough for everyday use, it probably won't be loud enough for a large room or a crowded party. When pushed to max volume, there are some thumping and compression artifacts present.

7.5
Sound
Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
ST Weighted THD @ 80
0.57
ST Weighted THD @ Max Volume
1.32

The THD performance of this soundbar is good. At a normal listening volume, it produces clear and pure sound. When pushed to its max volume, there's a very small jump in THD across the range but it may not be audible to most, especially if you're listening to real-life content.

6.7
Sound
Center
C Localization
Phantom
C Slope
-0.81
C Std. Err.
3.14 dB
C SPL @ Max Volume
91.4 dB SPL
C Weighted THD @ 80
0.44
C Weighted THD @ Max Volume
1.27

The Sony HT-X8500 is a 2.1 setup, so it doesn't have a dedicated center speaker. Instead, it uses its left and right speakers to simulate a sound in the center, which sounds more diffused and less clear than a dedicated center speaker. That being said, its performance is still okay and although it has an uneven bass range, there isn't a lot of bass on the center channel anyway so voices sound fairly clean and accurate.

3.9
Sound
Surrounds
Sr Localization
Stereo (Downmix)
Rears
No
Sr Slope
-0.74
Sr Std. Err.
5.33 dB
Sr SPL @ Max Volume
89.5 dB SPL
Sr Weighted THD @ 80
0.52
Sr Weighted THD @ Max Volume
1.32

The Sony HT-X8500 soundbar has a poor surround performance. It's a 2.1 setup, so it downmixes surround content into stereo, which doesn't produce the most accurate or clear representation of surround objects. This doesn't sound very immersive either as these objects are also perceived as coming from in front, rather than from the sides or behind you.

5.9
Sound
Height (Atmos)
H Localization
Surround (Downmix)
H Slope
-0.17
H Std. Err.
5.82 dB
H SPL @ Max Volume
80.0 dB SPL
H Weighted THD @ 80
2.65
H Weighted THD @ Max Volume
0.60

Although this 2.1 setup uses Sony's Vertical Surround Engine to simulate an Atmos experience, it has to downmix the content into stereo to play it. However, it's not as immersive as soundbars with upward-firing speakers or dedicated satellites such as the LG SN11RG.

4.3
Sound
Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
No
Dialogue Enhancement
Yes
Auto-Volume/Night Mode
Yes
Subwoofer Level Adjustment
No
Bass Adjustment
Yes
Treble Adjustment
No
EQ
Presets
Surround Level Adjustment
No
Rear Level Adjustment
N/A
Height Level Adjustment
No
Virtual Surround
Yes

The Sony HT-X8500 has poor sound enhancement features. While it doesn't have a room correction feature, it has several EQ presets to help you find the best match for your audio needs. There's also a night mode available to help you balanced different volume levels. Its vertical surround feature also activates if the soundbar detects that Atmos or DTS-X content is playing.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Physical Inputs - Bar
Optical Audio In
1
HDMI ARC
1 (shared)
HDMI Out
1 (shared)
Full HDMI In
1
Analog Audio In 3.5mm (Aux)
No
USB for Files
No
Ethernet
No

This soundbar has limited connectivity options. While you can connect the bar to your TV and another device using its HDMI ARC or Full HDMI In ports, you won't be able to connect older devices to it using an AUX cable.

10
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - ARC
eARC
Yes
Dolby Atmos
Yes
Dolby Digital
Yes
Dolby Digital Plus
Yes
DTS
Yes
DTS:X (eARC only)
Yes
Dolby TrueHD (eARC only)
Yes
DTS-HD MA (eARC only)
Yes
5.1 PCM (eARC only)
Yes

Surprisingly, the Sony HT-X8500 soundbar has full ARC audio format support thanks to its HDMI ARC port. As it has eARC, it can also play object-based surround signals as well as lossless formats.

10
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Full HDMI In
Dolby Atmos
Yes
DTS:X
Yes
Dolby Digital
Yes
Dolby Digital Plus
Yes
DTS
Yes
Dolby TrueHD
Yes
DTS-HD MA
Yes
5.1 PCM
Yes

The Sony HT-X8500 has a full HDMI In port and it can support all common audio formats, same as its HDMI ARC port.

10
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Optical
Dolby Digital
Yes
DTS
Yes

The Sony HT-X8500 supports Dolby Digital as well as DTS content when using its Optical Audio In. You can find this content on streaming platforms as well as many Blu-ray discs.

6.0
Connectivity
Wireless Playback
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
No
Chromecast built-in
No
Apple AirPlay
No

The Sony HT-X9500 soundbar has mediocre wireless playback options. Like many other Sony soundbars such as the Sony HT-X9000F, you can only connect to it using Bluetooth, which is a little disappointing.

Connectivity
Other Input Specifications
4k @ 60 Hz Passthrough
Yes
4k @ 60 Hz @ 10 bit Passthrough
No
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 Passthrough
No
HDR10 Passthrough
Yes

This soundbar can pass a 4k signal between your device and the soundbar. However, it can't do so for 10-bit video signals or 4:4:4 when you're connected to a PC. Instead, it can only do a 30Hz passthrough. It supports HDR10 passthrough, which is nice if you have a Blu-ray player or you're playing on the latest generation of gaming consoles.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
N/A

The subwoofer is integrated into the bar.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
N/A

This setup doesn't have any satellites.

Additional Features
Additional Features
Interface
Display
No

The Sony HT-X8500 soundbar has a very simple interface. There's six lights that light up to tell you which setting you're on. If you're changing the volume, the lights also become a volume level, which is nice.

Additional Features
Bar Controls

This bar has very straightforward controls. From the top of the bar, you can control the power, input source, Bluetooth connectivity, and the volume level.

Additional Features
Remote
Universal Remote
No

The remote for the Sony HT-X8500 is similar-looking to the Sony HT-X9000F but it lacks music management controls like track skipping and play/pause. That being said, you can control everything else about the bar via the remote.

Additional Features
App
App Name N/A
iOS No
Android No
Acts as the Remote
No
Controls Soundbar's Settings
No
Casts Device Files
No

The Sony HT-X8500 soundbar doesn't have a companion app.

Additional Features
Other Features
Power Saving
Standby
HDMI CEC (TV Remote Control)
Yes

This soundbar enters a standby mode after 20 minutes of inactivity. It supports CEC too, so you can use your TV remote to control the soundbar, which is nice.

Compared to other soundbars

The Sony HT-X8500 soundbar is a 2.1 setup. Just like the Sony HT-S200F, it has a subwoofer integrated into it, but it's similarly unable to reproduce a thumpy low bass. However, what makes this bar stand out is that it supports Atmos and DTS content, which is fairly uncommon in 2.1 channel setups. Other than that, it's an otherwise pretty ordinary-performing soundbar overall and doesn't stand out amongst its competitors, especially when compared to other 2.1 setups like the Yamaha YAS-408 or the Samsung HW-T550. Check out our recommendations for the best Dolby Atmos soundbars, the best soundbars with subwoofer, and the best soundbars under $200.

Sonos Beam

The Sonos Beam and the Sony HT-X8500 are soundbars with different strengths. The Sonos is a 3.0 setup that's better built, has a discrete center channel that performs better than the Sony's phantom center, and it has a better stereo soundstage. You can also stream music to it using Wi-Fi or Apple AirPlay. Conversely, even though the Sony's height channel performance is sub-par, it supports Atmos, which is rare for a 2.1 setup. The Sony also has EQ presets, and it has an HDMI Out as well as a Full HDMI In port, which is nice.

Bose Solo 5

The Sony HT-X8500 is a slightly better soundbar than the Bose Solo 5. While both soundbars have similarly balanced stereo frequency responses and soundstages, the Sony supports Atmos, which is a little surprising for a 2.1 setup. It also has EQ presets, one HDMI ARC and one Full HDMI In port, and its Optical Audio In supports both DTS and Dolby Digital too. However, the Bose is much smaller, which is great if you don't have a lot of room, and it's slightly better built.

Sony HT-X9000F

The Sony HT-X8500 and the Sony HT-X9000F are similarly performing soundbars. While both soundbars can play Atmos content, the HT-X8500 has a better height performance. It has a bit better-balanced center channel, even though it doesn't have a dedicated center channel either. Although it can't get as loud as the HT-X9000F, it also can reach its max volume with less thumping and compression artifacts. Conversely, the Sony HT-X9000F feels slightly better built, and it has a standalone subwoofer. It also has both an Analog Audio In port as well as a USB input.

Bose TV Speaker

The Sony HT-X8500 is a 2.1 setup that's better for movies than the 2.0 setup Bose TV Speaker. Even though it doesn't get much louder than the Bose, the Sony has significantly better stereo dynamics. Its surround performance is better and it supports Atmos, which is great if you watch a lot of movies. The Sony also has EQ presets, its HDMI ARC and HDMI IN ports support all common audio formats, and it supports DTS via Optical. It even supports eARC. However, the Bose feels better built, its sound profile is better balanced and neutral, and it's more compact in size overall, which some users may prefer.

Sony HT-S200F

The Sony HT-X8500 is a slightly better performing soundbar overall than the Sony HT-S200F. While both soundbars have similarly decent build qualities, the HT-X8500 supports Atmos, even though it has to downmix this content into stereo in order to play it. It also has a Full HDMI In port, and it can do HDR10 passthrough as well as 4k @ 60Hz passthrough too. However, the HT-S200F is smaller, so it's able to fit in between the legs of a 55" TV. It can also reach its max volume with less thumping and compression artifacts.

Vmai 2.1 Channel Sound Bar

The Sony HT-X8500 is a better overall soundbar than the Vmai 2.1 Channel Sound Bar. Unlike the Vmai, the Sony has a phantom center channel, and it supports Atmos and surround content. Thanks to its auto volume feature, it has more sound customization options than the Vmai. It also has more robust connectivity options. While the Vmai only supports PCM 2.0 over its HDMI ARC and Optical ports, the Sony has full audio format support through both ports, making it better-suited for watching movies. The Sony also has an HDMI In port, which the Vmai lacks.

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