Sony Theatre Bar 9 vs Sony HT-A7000: what are the differences?

Sony Theatre Bar 9
(Image credit: Sony)

Alongside its latest TV lineup, Sony has announced a new range of home cinema products – including a new top-of-the-line Dolby Atmos soundbar.

The latest bar, the Bravia Theatre Bar 9, is a direct replacement for the HT-A7000, to which we gave a five-star review and a 2023 Award for Product of the Year. Can it compete with such a strong predecessor? 

Of course, we plan to get Sony's latest soundbar in our testing room for a full rundown so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, let's take a look at some of the key similarities and differences between the new and former flagship Sony soundbars.

Sony Theatre Bar 9 vs Sony HT-A7000: price

Sony’s HT-A7000’s soundbar cost roughly £1300 / $1300 / AU$1699 when it launched at the end of 2021 and is currently priced around the same price. It has, however, seen its price fall to between £999-1099 on occasion, so keep an eye out for any future discounts, especially now a new flagship Sony bar to replace it has been announced...

The new Sony Theatre 9 Bar is available for pre-order at £1400 / $1400. Considering the slightly higher price tag, we hope the new Theatre Bar 9 can match, if not surpass, the quality offered by the A7000 model, but only time will tell. 

Sony Theatre Bar 9 vs Sony HT-A7000: design

Sony Bravia Theatre Bar 9 with HT-A7000

Sony Bravia Theatre Bar 9 with HT-A7000 (Image credit: Future)

Sony’s HT-A7000 is a heavy soundbar, weighing in at 8.7kg. It’s also longer than most bars – even the Sonos Arc – measuring 130cm in width and 140mm in depth. 

The bar packs 11 drivers: two up-firing speakers, two beam tweeters, five front-facing drivers, and a built-in dual subwoofer into its chassis. It's quite a blocky design, with a shiny panel on its surface which detracts a little from the overall aesthetic.

The Theatre Bar 9 weighs notably less, weighing 5.5kg. The bar measures 130cm in width, like the A7000. However, it only measures 113mm in depth and has a 36 per cent more compact design overall when compared with its predecessor. It sports a sleeker, more minimalist look and could be easier to match visually with most set-ups or furniture.

The Theatre Bar 9 features 13 speakers, including four X-Balanced woofers across the front of the bar which do most of the work. There are also four passive radiators on the surface of the bar (which are said to provide good bass performance paired with the woofers), two beam tweeters, a 'side' X-balanced speaker on each end of the bar, and two up-firing X-balanced speakers. 

Due to their size, both bars are better suited to TVs measuring 55 inches and up. The Theatre Bar 9 should sit nicely under most TVs, especially the new Bravia 8 and Bravia 9, and the continuing A95L, which can all be raised on their legs to create some additional space.

Sony Theatre Bar 9 vs Sony HT-A7000: features


HT-A7000 (Image credit: Sony)

Sony’s HT-A7000 bar supports Dolby Atmos and features built-in microphones for use in ‘Sound Field Optimization’ which adapts and optimises the sound to your listening space. It can also measure the position of any additional speakers, such as optional surrounds, and adjust balance if the speakers are not precisely placed. 

The HT-A7000 features two HDMI 2.1 pass-through sockets capable of handling 8K 60Hz and 4K 120Hz refresh rates, as well as Dolby Vision HDR. There is also one HDMI port designated for eARC connections. When this bar launched, we noted that the absence of certain gaming features was an issue, however, thanks to updates since launch the bar now supports VRR and ALLM.

The Bar 9 also supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, and IMAX Enhanced is said to be coming later in the year. We know that Sony's new Theatre Bar 9 will support 360 Spatial Sound Mapping technology, which uses the bar's built-in Atmos capabilities to create the effect of multiple phantom speakers playing around the room. It can also be paired with continuing Sony models of rear surround speakers (SA-R5S and SA-R3S) and subwoofers (SA-SW5 and SA-SW3), to create this effect. 

Both soundbars offer Bluetooth connectivity, with the A7000 supporting Bluetooth 5.0 whereas the Theatre Bar 9 supports 5.2. They also support Sony’s Acoustic Centre Sync, which allows compatible Bravia TVs to become part of the soundbar’s centre channel. This feature is said to have been upgraded with the Theatre Bar 9 to improve the integration of the TV and the soundbar. Sony also says users get better synchronisation of the two components than before, providing a more natural, accurate sound location.

Sony Theatre Bar 9 vs Sony HT-A7000: sound

Sony HT-A7000 Soundbar

(Image credit: Sony)

We gave the Sony HT-A7000 a glowing five-star review and awarded Product of the Year at our 2023 Awards, so we think highly of the soundbar. 

The HT-A7000 provides a convincing sense of height and precision, creating a wide soundstage with plenty of forward projection. Sony combined careful driver placement and psychoacoustic techniques to enhance the width and height of the sound the bar creates. 

The bar’s wide-space beam tweeters are especially impressive. These tweeters are so effective at creating a great sense of space around the listener that, during testing, we had to check that there weren't actually speakers off to our sides

The A7000 features an integrated sub which impressed us with a taut, controlled and powerful performance. At the time of testing, we had not heard this level of bass performance from a single soundbar outside of pricier options. 

The new Theatre Bar 9 does not have the same kind of sub built in, however, it does feature four passive radiators which Sony says pair well with the main woofers to provide a good bass response. It contains more drivers than the A7000 but this does not guarantee a better sound. 

When we get the Theatre Bar 9 into our test room for a full review, we will determine how the design changes between models impact the sound and overall performance.

Sony Theatre Bar 9 vs Sony HT-A7000: early verdict

Sony's HT-A7000 has set a very high standard for the company and its follow-up flagship soundbars.

As a direct replacement with a slightly higher price tag, the Theatre Bar 9 has some big shoes to fill and will need to get a lot right to outdo its five-star, Award-winning predecessor. That price tag isn't small either, with many other top Dolby Atmos soundbars, such as the Sonos Arc, available for much less. 

We can't wait to get the Theatre Bar 9 in our test rooms, and hopefully we can hear it in action up against the A7000 soon.


Read our full Sony HT-A7000 review

Best Dolby Atmos soundbars 2023: budget to premium home cinema sound

More info on the new Sony Bravia Theatre 9 and Theatre 8 soundbars

Staff Writer

Ainsley Walker is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi?. He studied music journalism at university before working in a variety of roles including as a freelance journalist and teacher. Growing up in a family of hi-fi enthusiasts, this naturally influenced his interest in the topic. Outside of work, Ainsley can be found producing music, tinkering with retro tech, or cheering on Luton Town.