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Exclusive: Sony to focus on mid-range Dolby-enabled soundbars in India

Sony HT-X8500
(Image credit: Sony)
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Content consumption and home entertainment have become inseparable from our lives over the last year. To reach the masses and find growth in this space, Sony will be expanding its Dolby-enabled soundbar lineup in India with more offerings in the mid-range and premium segments.

In a conversation with TechRadar India, Ashim Mathur, Senior Regional Manager, Emerging Markets, Dolby Laboratories and Mani Balan, Product Manager, Audio Business at Sony India shed light on how the two brands collaborated in the past to “revolutionalize the audio experience for their consumers” and talked about their future plans — including affordable soundbars, the Indian home entertainment market and more.

Sony is targeting a 50% growth in the soundbar segment, with 100% growth specifically in the premium soundbar segment. It hopes to achieve this growth in India by expanding its portfolio with new mid-range and premium offerings as well as improving its reach in tier 2 and tier 3 markets with entry-level products.

With the pandemic confining people to their houses and home entertainment on the rise, Balan believes Indians are now understanding the importance of good audio in an exhaustive entertainment experience. “The fact that immersive cinema experience cannot be achieved without a good audio add-in is sinking in now in the minds of the consumer. Pandemic-induced situations like no theatre visits for a year and release of new movies on the OTT platforms were the key drivers for this realization.”

The segment has been growing by 20% over the last few years consistently, but there is a transition from 5.1 channel speaker systems to modern soundbars with lesser wiring.

A survey (opens in new tab) conducted by Dolby with Wakefield research revealed that 94% of consumers in India are willing to pay more for a premium subscription for enhanced video and audio quality, whereas 96% of them will upgrade their entertainment equipment in the span of the next 6 months, explained Mathur. 

Balan concurred, saying “Due to lockdown, the demand for audio and video products witnessed a big spike in 2020. With restrictions on outdoor entertainment activities like cinema theatres and mall visits, people invested in good soundbars and televisions to enhance their cinematic experience”.

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Sony HT-X8500 soundbar with Dolby Atmos (opens in new tab)

Rs 29,990 on Amazon (opens in new tab) and Flipkart (opens in new tab)

“Along with our premium offerings, we are also focusing on the mid-segment to bring technology to the masses. The fact that our Dolby Atmos soundbars are available at a price point of less than Rs 30,000 is a reflection of the same”, says Sony’s Balan.

However, being the price-sensitive market that India is, both companies had to come up with unique solutions for the consumers to highlight the importance of good audio. Dolby created explainer videos for customer demos on Dolby technology. Through a recently built Dolby Brand Store on Amazon India and Flipkart, Dolby aims to further drive education and awareness for Dolby experiences on Sony soundbars. In the offline stores, Sony created special soundbar zones where consumers can experience Dolby Atmos before making their purchase decision.

To further amplify the content, service and device story, the two brands collaborated in the first of its kind tripartite engagement with different OTT platforms for cross-amplification and for creating education and awareness on Dolby enabled content that can be best enjoyed with a Sony soundbar for an incredible immersive audio experience.

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Aakash Jhaveri
Aakash Jhaveri

Aakash is the engine that keeps TechRadar India running, using his experience and ideas to help consumers get to the right products via reviews, buying guides and explainers. Apart from phones, computers and cameras, he is obsessed with electric vehicles.