Surround sound is passé – 360-degree audio is what you want
Review in two minutes
There are two types of home theatre users: those who are happy with soundbars or those who want to experience a cinema-like experience using multiple speakers.
Soundbars have been closer to providing a cinematic experience over the years, especially those that include upward firing speakers, rear speakers, and a subwoofer. All of these components deliver an immersive sound that is suitable for most people.
For dedicated home theater enthusiasts, however, this won’t suffice. That’s why the Sony HT-9 comes in.
The HT-A9 set of four speakers communicates wirelessly with each other via a small box slightly larger than the Apple TV. The box can be attached to your TV’s eARC port and supports wireless standards like Bluetooth, AirPlay, and Google Cast. This allows you to enjoy audio from your TV as well as your phone, tablet, and other devices.
The beauty of the HT-9 speaker system is its ability to adapt to your space. The internal microphones in each speaker allow you to feel like you are at the center and center of the sound dome.
Each speaker has an up-firing speaker and a soft dome tweeter. There is also a wide directivity (woofer) and two microphones. The HT-A9 speakers can be combined to bounce sound off walls and ceilings. Twelve additional “phantom speakers” can also be created for a 360-degree sound system.
This limits the types of rooms that the HT-A9 is able to be used in optimally. However, if you have a TV room with low ceilings or domed ceilings, the unit will still perform admirably.
The HT-A9 was tested with a variety of movies and devices. Dolby Atmos works well and we were impressed with the app integrations into the Apple TV and Xbox Series X. The Xbox provided the best Atmos experience. We were also impressed by Apple Music, Spatial audio, and the Apple TV Plus apps.
Sony doesn’t include a subwoofer in the HT-9 setup. Anyone who is serious about audio will have to spend more money for one of two wireless subwoofers.
There is no dedicated center channel. However, a 3.5mm cable can be connected to a new Sony TV. This will allow your TV to function as a central channel. Although it is a simple solution, it can be used by anyone who wants it.
Sony HT-A9 release date and price
The HT-A9 was announced by Sony earlier this year, along with the high-end soundbar HT-7999 in July. However, it has just recently been put on sale. The HT-A9 Home Theater System is priced at $1,799.99 / AU$2,499 / AED7999
Only one color is available, which is light grey. Although the HT-A9 is not equipped with a subwoofer and comes in only one color, Sony offers two wireless options for it: the SASW3 for $399 / PSP449 / AU$599 or the SASW5 at $699 / PSC699 / AU4899.
- Mounted on walls, a bit bulky
- The base unit is small and easily concealed.
- The speakers can be wireless but require a power supply.
The Sony HT-99 includes four wireless speakers and a base unit. This connects to your TV and wirelessly communicates with the speakers. The base unit is 150mm by 150mm in size and features two HDMI ports at the back. It also has power, Ethernet and 3.5mm ports to connect to older Sony TVs. The unit also has a USB port, but it is used only for servicing.
Each speaker measures 313mm x160mm (HxW) and has a rounded front with a flat back that can be mounted on walls. The four speakers can communicate wirelessly with the base but must be powered up and connected directly to an outlet.
The speakers will look better if they are placed on a table or stand rather than mounted to a wall. You’ll also have wires that run from them to the outlet. You’ll also find them heavier and bulkier so you might want to mount them on a wall. The HT-A9 is only available in light gray, even though it seems like black is the preferred color for most audiophiles.
- You can connect them by using the eARC port on you TV.
- It is very easy to set up.
- The remote control that is included in the package may not be universal.
The HT-A9 can be connected to your TV via an HDMI cable and powered up by four speakers. Each speaker plays a test tone that is picked up by the microphones of the other speakers, which allows them to determine their relative positions.
These speakers do not need to be in the same place. They can also be positioned at different heights. The sound levels can be automatically adjusted by learning the positions of all the speakers around you to provide the best sound experience.
Each speaker has an up-firing speaker and a soft dome tweeter. There are also two microphones. The HT-A9 can create 12 “phantom” speakers, which Sony calls a 360-degree sound system.
The HT-A9 supports Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa but it is only a output device. It can’t be spoken into using Hey Google and Alexa commands. To speak to it, you will need another Google Assistant or Alexa Speaker.
You can use the included 3.5mm cable to make your new Sony TV act as a central speaker for dialogue. This should have been done by Sony, as you will have two wires connecting to your TV.
HDMI CEC support means that you can use your TV’s or any other device’s remote control to adjust the audio levels of the HT-99. However, if you need to access certain options, such as voice enhancement, or select a specific mode, like movie or song, the remote for the HT-99 will be required.
It’s not a universal remote, which is the problem with this remote. The remote could not launch apps like Netflix or bring up the TV’s home screen using the HT-9’s remote. Instead, we had to use the remote control of the TV.
We recommend that all devices be connected directly to your TV. The second HDMI port on the HT-9 is not used unless you are looking to manage multiple remotes or manually switch inputs.
- All types of wireless technologies supported
- Great 360-degree sound experience with a loud and rich sound.
- While it is a great upgrade to a soundbar, it cannot replace a home-theater setup.
The Sony HT-9 supports nearly all audio and wireless technologies, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. It also supports hi-res audio and AirPlay. Both ports are HDMI 2.1 compatible and can support 4K/120 video. The one connected to your TV via eARC, while the other can receive input from a different source.
The eARC port connected the HT-9 to the Sony A9G OLED television. This brought all audio from TV back to the Sony A9G. This included audio from both the Apple TV 4K (and the Xbox Series X) that was directly connected to the TV via HDMI cables.
The HT-A9’s overall sound is powerful and clear. It easily filled our living room. The HT-A9 provides decent bass, but you will need a subwoofer if you want more.
We tried a wide range of apps from all three sources, and the Dolby app for Xbox series X was the most convincing. It not only offers Atmos demos but also clips taken from movies like 1917, which highlight the amazing surround sound system.
Dolby Atmos-powered Netflix movies can also be enhanced by Dolby Sound. A Midnight Sky is an excellent example with subtle effects that delight. Michael Bay’s 6 Underground is the perfect choice if you like loud noises.
It was great to be able to listen to Spatial Audio on Apple TV. Tracks like Bohemian Rhapsody added a new dimension to the listening experience. This is a great choice for parties, and it will certainly get the conversation started with your guests.
The HT-A9 provided a superior sound experience to any soundbar that we tested, even without a subwoofer. The HT-A9’s four speakers create a more immersive sound experience with phantom speakers.
We felt that the HT-9 would be an upgrade to a soundbar. But the larger question is whether it can replace a dedicated audio system with a receiver and Dolby Atmos speakers.
No. The immersive experience created by physical speakers on your ceilings and walls is unbeatable.
High-end audio systems can be very expensive and complicated to set up, with wiring and placements that go into your ceiling and walls. These systems are designed for the serious home theatre enthusiast who has a dedicated space to watch movies.
The Sony HT-A9 is a great listening device for those who don’t want to use messy wires or large receivers. This TV is a great choice for those who want a better sound experience. The HT-A9 is a good choice if you have a room of average size with normal ceilings.
Should I purchase the Sony HT-9?
It’s a good deal if…
Looking for seamless immersive audio?
The HT-A9’s four speakers produce immersive 360-degree audio that is compatible with everything from Apple Music spatial audio and Netflix Dolby Atmos.
You need support for all the most recent audio technologiesThe Sony AT-9 works with Dolby Atmos and DTS-X.
A full surround sound system is not necessary.
The Sony HT-A9 is a good compromise if you aren’t ready or don’t have the budget for a dedicated audio system with a large receiver, in-ceiling speakers and a dedicated amplifier.
It’s not worth the risk if…
You have an older TV which does not support eARC capabilities
You won’t have the ability to connect your TV to the basebox without eARC.
Your bedroom is slightly irregular
High ceilings or curved ceilings will prevent sound from bouncing properly and limiting the immersive experience.
Are you on a budget
The Sony HT-A9 is as good as it sounds. However, it’s quite expensive and doesn’t include a subwoofer. An entry-level HTIB setup can be had for less.