Sony HT-A9 evaluate: All-in-one wi-fi {surround} sound that works

Sony’s $1,800 HT-A9 house theater system finds a satisfying center floor between the ease-of-use supplied by a soundbar and the immersive audio expertise created by a real multi-speaker {surround} speaker array.

Sony makes use of a mapping expertise it calls 360 Spatial Sound to research your room format and create the phantasm of 12 phantom audio system that may persuade listeners that sound is coming from overhead and from digital middle and aspect audio system. Customers can take pleasure in streaming and bodily media that embody both Dolby Atmos or DTS:X sound mixes.

Listeners who’ve skilled less-than-impressive outcomes from soundbars promising a “digital 5.1” surround-sound expertise may need their doubts moving into, however Sony has completely solved this problem and delivered a system that successfully delivers an immersive expertise that doesn’t rely on as many audio system, wires, and in-ceiling set up hassles.

effect of the sony ht a9 speaker system Sony

Sony’s HT-A9 speaker system creates a really immersive listening expertise, however you’ll want to complement it with one in all Sony’s subwoofers.

The HT-A9 includes a transmitter field that connects to your tv and 4 audio system that join wirelessly to the transmitter through Wi-Fi. Sony affords an optionally available subwoofer—select between Sony’s $400 SA-SW3 200-watt or its $700 SA-SW5 300-watt fashions. We examined with and with out the SA-SW5 and concluded that the subwoofer is an nearly important addition to the system.

After every week of utilizing the HT-A9 system with the subwoofer, I switched again to a Focal Dimension soundbar and subwoofer only for some perspective. The Dimension is an impressive soundbar however there’s simply no means it may match Sony’s immersive listening and viewing expertise.

ht a9 speaker and back of ht a9 control box Sony

The rear panel of Sony’s HT-A9 management field (left) and an uncovered illustration of one of many system’s 4 matching audio system (to not scale).

Whenever you add in the price of the subwoofer, Sony’s asking for a $2,500 dedication for an optimum house theater expertise. For that value, you get a versatile setup that may simply observe once you transfer home and an expertise that’s nearer to the one supplied by an elaborate speaker array than what you’ll get from even one of the best soundbars.

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Establishing the Sony HT-A9

One of the vital spectacular methods within the HT-A9 bag is its capability to adapt to speaker placement. If you happen to can prepare your audio system in an ideal rectangle with every speaker at an similar peak, the mapping expertise reads the room and tunes every speaker to its location. I arrange the system with a few totally different rear speaker placements and total efficiency didn’t undergo when the rear audio system had been at totally different heights and never aligned with the entrance audio system.

sony sa sw5 300 watt subwoofer Sony

Including Sony’s 300-watt SA-SW5 subwoofer to your HT-A9 Residence Theater System will add $700 to your invoice, however you must take into account a subwoofer an integral part.

Every speaker is labeled left or proper and entrance or rear for simple placement (RL, FL, RR, FR) and every requires its personal energy twine plugged into an outlet.

Prepare the audio system, plug within the transmitter field to an eARC or ARC HDMI port in your TV and adopted the guided on-screen setup utilizing the included distant. Setup for the 4 included audio system was seamless and the audio tuning course of doubles as a powerful demo for the sound discipline created by the mix of actual and phantom audio system.

The SW5 subwoofer didn’t join as routinely because the others but it surely was a easy course of to enter the superior settings and add the sub to the array. It’s a minor problem, but when Sony tweaked the setup course of to ask if a subwoofer is getting used earlier than having the HT-A9 scan for it because it concurrently scans for the 4 included audio system would elevate the setup expertise to close perfection.

Some customers have reported points with audio dropouts. I examined the HT-A9 with a Google WiFi Mesh Router system. Throughout setup, all the person Google router nodes appeared on the Sony setup display, however every confirmed the similar SSID. There was no option to know which node was closest to the Sony transmitter. After experiencing dropouts, I checked the community settings and located that I used to be getting low sign power and was probably linked to a router node in a unique a part of the home.

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I repeated the community setup till the Sony linked with a node that delivered a 100-percent sign after which moved the node a couple of inches away from the HT-A9 audio system. All connection and dropout points disappeared; the system has been rock-solid since.

sony ht a9 speakers deployed Sony

Sony’s HT-A9 Residence Theater System doesn’t rely on audio system being positioned equal distances from one another, and even on the similar peak.

Sony HT-A9 audio system and transmitter

The person audio system are designed in order that they’ll go flat in opposition to a wall in the event you room format requires that. Every includes a 19mm front-facing tweeter with a full ranger-balanced driver. There’s additionally an upfiring driver that bounces pontificate the ceiling to create the total Dolby Atmos/DTS:X impact.

The HT-A9 transmitter is designed as a bridge, so it’s straightforward to make use of with a 4K UHD participant or a gaming system. Plug your system into the HDMI-in port on the again of the HT-A9 and use the identical HDMI enter in your tv for each the HT-A9 menu and your film or gaming content material. In one other nod to preserving the setup clear and easy, there’s a sticker blocking the HDMI enter on the transmitter, so customers who aren’t particularly wanting to make use of this perform don’t get caught up questioning what they’re purported to plug into that port.

The system helps 8K HDR, 4K video at 120fps, and Dolby Imaginative and prescient, so this method must be able to assist house theater improvements for fairly a couple of years to come back.

sony ht a9 remote control James Barber / IDG

The Sony HT-A9 Residence Theater System comes with an excellent distant management.

The film and music expertise with the Sony HT-A9

The system was extremely spectacular when viewing John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum on 4K Extremely HD Blu-ray disc. Blended in Dolby Atmos, the movie’s sound design is sort of on a par with its best-in-class struggle choreography. The Sony HT-A9 recreated the flying bullets, rain, wind, and whizzing knives in a remarkably immersive trend, creating a greater listening expertise than you’ll have present in a lot of the theaters that confirmed the movie upon launch. Most soundbars simply don’t have the flexibility to generate an audio discipline that may evaluate to the peak and depth created by the HT-A9.

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Sony’s 360 Actuality Audio creates an immersive audio expertise for customers who play suitable tracks from Amazon Music HD, TIDAL, nugs.web, or Deezer. The impact is pronounced and your expertise will depend on how you are feeling about listening to music which will or could not have been recorded or conceived for a surround-sound format. If you happen to’re a fan of the method, Sony completely delivers the expertise.

The HT-A9 system additionally contains the DSEE Excessive expertise that guarantees to upscale lower-resolution audio recordsdata to one thing that extra intently resembles high-res. It’s the identical tech featured in Sony’s well-regarded WH-1000XM4 noise-canceling wi-fi headphones and, once more, its effectiveness is tied to how you are feeling about algorithms filling within the blanks. For me, the method positively works as marketed.

sony ht a9 control box rear panel Sony

The management field of Sony’s HT-A9 Residence Theater Speaker System contains an HDMI enter, and HDMI output with ARC/eARC, and a particular output that may faucet the audio system in suitable Sony Bravia TVs for the middle channel.

Customers can stream any music service they like through Chromecast, Apple AirPlay 2, or Spotify Join. It’s additionally designed to work with each Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa in the event you’re in search of a voice-command possibility.

If you happen to personal a suitable Sony Bravia tv—I don’t—the HT-A9 system comes with an audio cable that may be connected to the TV for what they name Acoustic Middle Sync. This characteristic is designed to make use of the tv’s audio system for use as a middle channel. The system does such a great job of with center-channel audio by itself that it’s laborious to think about the tv audio system making an enormous distinction for customers, however anybody with a suitable TV ought to at the least test it out.

Backside line on the Sony HT-A9: Wonderful

The Sony HT-A9 house theater system at the moment occupies a singular slot someplace between a high-end soundbar and a full {surround} speaker system. Skilled audio fanatics have all encountered units that promised to launch thrilling new applied sciences however did not ship an expertise that labored for listeners as a sensible, day-to-day possibility.

Sony has most positively cracked the code. This audio system with digital speaker expertise has arrived as a totally mature product that’s able to compete with any house theater possibility at the moment available on the market.

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