With all the impressive home theater system releases from Sony, it’s hard to identify which are good and worth the money. Their popular release, the Sony HT-A9, created a buzz for its unique design, but does it have Sony’s best features or is it another unit that’s overhyped and overpriced?
If you don’t want buyer’s remorse, here is our audio engineers’ thorough Sony HT-A9 review.
What We Like
What We Don't Like
Design and Build Quality
The first thing you’ll notice about these multiple speakers is that they’re big. They’re almost one foot tall, weighing over 6 pounds.
So, in this case, expect these TV speakers to not blend within your surroundings as they’re good on their own. The sleek and modern sound design of these speakers complements their plastic finish well.
Its base station is compact and easy to fit into your home theater system. Besides, its small display makes it easy to see key status information. You’ll see its internal microphones and four speakers.
However, due to their dedicated power inputs, you might have a hard time finding the appropriate mounts for these speakers packages. Since the design of the speakers makes them look better placed on a table or stand, we suggest not wall-mounting them.
Also, they’re bulkier and have electrical wires running through them, which is another reason you might want to put them on a stand. Sony’s HT-A9 is only available in the color light gray, which is what most media enthusiasts prefer.
Sony HT-A9 Features
Overview of Specs
|1 HDMI Input
|Apple Airplay 2
|Audio Formats Supported
|Dolby Dual Mono
|Dolby Digital Plus
|DTS HD High-Resolution Audio
|DTS HD Master Audio
|Control Hub: 5 x 15 x 15cm (HWD)
|Speakers: 31 x 16 x 14.8cm (HWD)
Sound Quality and Performance
We’ll start this Sony HT-A9 review by testing one of the most exciting aspects of the Sony A9 — its ability to reproduce music. When used with its Auto Sound preset and Immersive AE, which is Sony’s 7.1.4 sound mapping technology, the system was able to provide a magic bullet for any two-channel audio mix. We wouldn’t refer to it as a superior system for a soundbar-like setup, but it’s impressive nonetheless.
For audiophiles who are looking for a system that is neutral, this Sony system will deliver. It will deliver a smile-like curve to every aspect of your audio experience. The system’s signature sounds include slightly accentuated highs, balanced mids, and powerful bass.
The A9 or Sony’s Immersive AE keeps the music moving at all its volumes. Its ability to elevate two channels in a way that’s very rare in pseudo-surround systems is also a considerable advantage.
In addition to providing a balanced front and rear experience, Sony has also utilized the rears to create ambient cues. The result is an incredibly detailed soundstage that’s more spacious than anything currently available on the market.
This Sony A9 features a good center channel function. However, it’s one of those phantom speakers which doesn’t have a discrete center, making it difficult to accurately reproduce a phantom center.
This setup also doesn’t work well with certain voices, such as those originating from a more general area.
You can pair this setup with a compatible Bravia TV using the Acoustic Center Sync feature. This allows you to enjoy the audio from your Sony TV using its discrete center channel.
In our listening tests, this feature could anchor voices in a specific location in the audio stage, making them incredibly clear.
Additionally, the setup process seems to decrease the audio quality, as it doesn’t exceptionally provide the immersive audio experience that you’re looking for. So to maintain excellent sound quality, we suggest not utilizing your TV as the center channel.
The Sony HT-A9 is a good stereo frequency response device that comes with a Sound Field Optimization feature that can help you get the best possible audio from your home. This can be set up by connecting the device to your TV.
The Sony HT-A9 works well in “Standard Surround” mode, but it can’t reproduce the deep and robust sound of the low bass. In addition, it has a slightly muddier sound in the high bass, which can thin out the instruments used in the same setup. To customize its sound, you can set the level of the subwoofer.
We tested the Sony HT-A9 in “Standard Surround” mode. It produced a solid audio experience, and it filled the room with enough sound to provide a good listening experience. The device’s “Music” preset only played audio from the left and right speakers, and the channels seemed active.
The Sony HT-A9 is a good surround sound device. Its discrete setup makes it capable of accurately representing various audio objects in the sound image.
The audio from this device seems to come from all around instead of just from the front speakers. In our listening tests, the bar provided a very immersive experience. In short, you can expect a discrete surround sound setup.
The Sony HT-A9 is a superb stereo speaker with a wide-range soundstage. You can adjust it to create the ideal experience for your home theater system by considering the size of your room and the speakers’ placement.
Its focus is good, but there are audible holes in some parts due to a lack of a discrete center speaker.
This spatial audio speaker is a good stereo dynamics performer. It doesn’t volume much, which is ideal for smaller rooms or people looking for a more compact device. However, this sound bar doesn’t have a lot of compressions when you want to boost its volume.
When it comes to the Stereo THD (Total Harmonic Distortion), this Sony HT-A9 performs well enough.
Its low-end performance and pure, precise audio reproduction allow it to fall within the acceptable listening volume range.
However, there’s a subtle jump in the harmonic distortion when you increase the bar to a higher volume, though you can’t really notice it when playing actual content.
Audio Modes and Enhancements
The Sony HT-A9 is equipped with a variety of sound enhancement features. There are four speakers and EQ presets that you can choose from Auto Sound, Music, Standard Surround, and Cinema.
Also, its Immersive AE feature allows you to turn on or off the upward-firing drivers according to your preference.
However, this feature can’t be adjusted if you’re watching any Atmos content, as it’s set in the “On” position by default. You can change the level of the subwoofer, but you can’t adjust its volume. Unfortunately, the Sony doesn’t have a full graphic EQ – which will allow you to adjust the volume of the subwoofer.
Also, there’s a Sound Field Optimisation feature that you can use to correct the room acoustics of your TV. You can set this up by connecting the device to your TV.
Audio Formats Supported
The Sony HT-A9 has an impressive audio support format through the ARC. It can play various types of audio formats, such as Dolby Digital, and those found on streaming platforms like Spotify Connect  as well as Blu-rays.
It can also support eARC, which allows it to play back object-based setups and lossless audio like Dolby Atmos.
Full HDMI In Port
Through the Full HDMI ports, you can play back various audio formats, such as Dolby Vision and Dolby Digital, on this Sony A9 speaker. It also supports lossless and object-based formats like DTS: X and Dolby Atmos.
Unfortunately, you can’t playback the DTS and Dolby Digital formats via Optical.
Other audio formats you can play in this speaker system include Dolby TrueHD, LPCM, Dolby Mono, Dolby Plus, DTS 96/24, and other DTS series.
Inputs and Connectivity Options
The HT-A9 has various physical speakers inputs that you can connect from. One of these is a Full-HD In-port, which can be used as a hub for multiple devices. Another is an S-Center Out port, which allows you to connect to a compatible Bravia TV or Apple TV.
Also, this HT-A9 sound system features a high-quality passthrough that supports the Dolby Vision Passthrough. You can expect crisp and clear text on your screen while connected to your computer or TV.
Other connectivity options include HDMI cable ports with two HDMI ports for eARc and HDMI In.
Wireless Connectivity and Playback
You can stream music from your mobile devices using Bluetooth, Apple Airplay 2, and Wi-Fi wirelessly. However, our separate Sony HT-A9 reviews and tests have shown the sound would sometimes burst in and out while connected using Bluetooth and Apple Airplay 2.
You may not experience this issue at home since, for sure, you have a lot of wireless devices running at any time.
Furthermore, you can connect the Sony HT-A9’s satellites to a bar using its power cable plugged in on a standard power outlet.
Two buttons on the bottom of the satellites allow you to pair them. But what’s disappointing is that Sony A9 does not support the wireless connection of the subwoofer.
Unlike other speaker systems, the Sony A9 doesn’t have built-in voice assistant support. To use voice commands, you’ll need to pair them with a device that supports voice assistant functions. According to Sony, the device supports Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
Sony HT-A9 allows easy setup by connecting it to your TV using an HDMI cable. You can also power up the four speakers using an eARC port. Each of the four speakers will play test tones to determine their position relative to one another.
What’s interesting is the speaker distance is not required to be placed equidistant from each other. You can put it at various heights to accommodate your preference. Learning the position of the other speakers automatically adjusts the sound levels to give you the best possible audio performance and sound experience.
The four speakers each have up-firing speakers with a soft dome tweeter, wide directivity, and two microphones. This setting allows Sony to create twelve of the so-called “phantom” speakers for a whole 360-degree audio experience.
Controls and Remote
The HT-A9 remote controls the audio features of a Sony bar. It comes with a similar design to other devices and speakers from Sony. You can also use the remote control to modify the EQ presets.
But physically, the HT-A9 bar has a power button on the control box. Each speaker has a power button as well as a pairing button.
And within the control box, you can see a small display displaying all the bar’s menu, input, and settings.
The Sony Music Center app also serves as a remote control for the device. You can use it to change the audio sources, play songs from another device, and set the sound settings. Sony also claims that an A/V sync feature can help with latency issues.
Take note that you can control the settings of your soundbar using the app, but you need to connect it to your TV to use Sound Field Optimization.
The Sony A9 features a standby mode that automatically sets when you’re not actively using it. In addition, it comes with an HDMI CEC port, allowing you to control certain features using your remote.
Price and Warranty
Sony has introduced the HT-A9 and the high-end HT-A7000 soundbar at the same time. If you were to check the former’s price range, it’s almost the same as the HT-A7000 model.
Considering its price, we can say that’s it really one of those premium-priced home theater system models. And, if we consider its powerful features, you’d agree that the price is justifiable.
If you’re on a budget, we don’t recommend this speaker system. But if you’re willing to spend its asking price plus the extra costs of buying subwoofers, it’s worth it.
You can achieve the sound experience you want, with some additional subs, of course, and expect quality performance. Like any other premium Sony soundbars, it is expensive, yes, but certainly impressive.
When it comes to customer guarantee, Sony offers a one-year limited warranty. There are terms and conditions, of course, and you can check on the user manual – included on its box packaging – or through Sony’s official website.
This Sony HT-A9 model is widely available in retail stores like Amazon, BestBuy, Walmart, eBay, and Sony’s official website.
Sony HT-A9 vs. Other Similar Soundbars in the Market
Sony’s HT-A7000 and the HT-A9 are premium soundbars that have very different designs. The former is a long-standing bar that you can use as a standalone device, while the latter is a small box that you can use as a multi-room setup.
The Sony HT-A7000 features a discrete center channel, while the HT-A9 has better Atmos, audio, and soundstage performances.
The Samsung HW-Q950A is a better alternative to the HT-A9. It features an 11.1.4 setup and a dedicated sub, which can produce a wider low bass. It also allows sound customization using the graphic EQ with better surround and center performances.
The Sony unit, on the other hand, is built with a better soundstage, and you can upgrade it with a dedicated sub for even better results.
Based on our team’s separate Sony HT-A9 reviews, Sonos Arc is better than this unit. In comparison, each has its own distinct setup.
If you want a more extended standalone soundbar, you can rely on the Sonos Arc. It stimulates extended low bass with an impressive center channel function.
Sony, on the other hand, features four satellite speakers – which reproduce an impressive soundstage function. But both setups are upgradeable, which means you can add subwoofers.
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Does HT-A9 need a subwoofer?
Yes, the HT-A9 will need a subwoofer, but it’s optional. The most compatible subwoofer we recommend for the HT-A9 is the SW5 subwoofer.
When was Sony HT-A9 released?
The Sony HT-A9 speaker was released in early July 2023. Sony introduced the HT-A9 as a multi-faceted audio system allowing you to experience sound from any distance.
Through its 360 Spatial Sound Mapping feature, you can enjoy a truly immersive and multi-dimensional experience.
Review Conclusion: Sony HT-A9
The Sony HT-A9 is a great home cinema kit that will allow you to enjoy high-quality audio without the need for a complete 7.1 surround sound system.
If positioned properly, the system can deliver the most enveloping and immersive sound. If you can afford it and you’re opting for a system that will deliver excellent results, then Sony HT-A9 is a perfect choice.