Sony knows precisely what sound quality is to their customers. With this in mind, Sony has committed to providing excellent sound quality with the latest technology. The SONY Z9F Soundbar is one of the most technologically advanced soundbars currently on the market.
If you are looking for an affordable soundbar that sounds great, the Sony Z9F is well worth considering. The SONY Z9F is very impressive in every way as a stand-alone soundbar, but does it have what it takes to compete with more expensive options?
Read the Sony Z9F soundbar review to know more detail about it before you go to buy it or not.
Pros & Cons
- Premium and durable appearance.
- There are many options for audio formats and connectivity.
- Great dialogue-handling soundbar
- Atmos content is challenging to handle due to the lack of speakers.
- There are no treble and bass adjustments, only EQ presets.
The Sony HTZ9F is the best Dolby Atmos soundbar. Atmos soundbars used front-firing drivers with integrated Dolby enabling high-firers to create immersive music. Examples include both the expensive but versatile Samsung HW-K950 and the LG SK10Y.
Because it is a 3.1 model, the HT-Z9F doesn’t require any physical up-firing drivers. Sony claims it has a soundfield similar to a 5.1.2 system. It’s quite a puzzle, even in an amorphous Atmos world. You might be asking yourself, How does the HTZ9F offer Dolby Atmos? It works almost as expected. It almost works.
The Sony HTZ9F, also known as the HTZF9 in the UK, is proof of the ease Atmos has become. It costs $899 or around PS665 / AU$1150.
Design and Setup
The Z9F’s design is clean and straightforward. The bar measures approximately a meter in width and has a removable grille that conceals three drivers.
Two HDMI inputs with ARC are available for rear connectivity. They can connect to 4K HDCP or Dolby Vision compatible devices. You can also connect via USB.
Bluetooth is compatible with Sony’s LDAC extension. Bluetooth headphones can also be paired to allow for private listening. Chromecast is integrated, and you can interact with Google Assistant.
Remember that the ZF9 has a 3.1 setup, and the partnering wireless subwoofer also has a forward-facing 16cm driver.
The HT-Z9F has a full-function remote and features touch controls for power, input selection, and volume. If you require one, there is an IR repeater.
You can upgrade the HT-Z9F with wireless rear speakers (Sony’s optional SA-Z9R) to make a physical 5.1 system. We were not provided with any, so we focused on the basic HTZ9F proposition.
It is easy to set up. Auto calibration is not available, but you should manually adjust the listening distance for both the subwoofer and soundbar. Onscreen orientation is provided by a clean Watch/Listen/Setup interface.
The good news is the HT-Z9F does indeed deliver an expanded soundfield via post-processing virtualization. This is just a ploy for the ears.
The sheer number of processing options available can make it confusing. The HT-Z9F’s heart is Sony’s Vertical sound engine, supplemented with the Vertical S-mixer. Dolby’s Atmos virtual processing is also included. This virtual processing does a similar job as Sony’s Vertical Sound Engine but with a more precise sweet spot.
The remote control features Vertical S prominently. This does not turn the Vertical Sound Engine on and off. It toggles the upmixer and should be used only for non-object-based and two-channel sound mixes.
The Vertical Sound Engine automatically switches on when the HT-Z9F is connected to a DTS:X or Dolby Atmos bitstream. The Vertical Sound Engine cannot be used if Dolby Atmos virtual processing is desired.
The Vertical Sound Engine, as we said, is quite impressive. It increases the soundstage’s size, allowing movie soundtracks to be heard in greater detail. However, you won’t feel any overhead travel.
The effect is dramatic, however.
The soundstage appears to sink when The shockwave submerges Lois from Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice. The soundstage sinks backward but muffles and sinks forward as the fight between Bats & Supes continues.
The compact subwoofer is very deep, which is reassuring. The subwoofer does the bulk of the heavy lifting since the soundbar doesn’t provide much more than 200Hz. The integration between the two is almost seamless, which is quite impressive.
Okja (Netflix) ‘s Dolby Atmos audio has layered depth. The animal liberation team liberates the super pig in an underground tunnel. There’s a pervasive feeling of echo and reverberation beyond the soundstage.
A strange mariachi track stands far from the action. Sub gives the heavy footsteps of the escaping porc as it thunders through the shopping center a convincing weight.
Dolby Virtualisation can be selected with the Vertical Height engine turned off to give the system a more convincing sense of surround sound. Dolby Atmos Amaze’s familiar trailer with its circling bird and subsequent thunder offers an exquisite sense of surround. It is impossible to get the Vertical Height Engine to achieve this sensation.
It is up to you to decide which one you prefer. The Vertical Height Engine is more appealing to a broader audience and, unlike Dolby processing, translates DTSX.
The HT-Z9F doesn’t just focus on movies. The HT-Z9F is compatible with High-Res FLAC192kHz 24bit and DSD. This makes it more interesting than you might think. Sony also offers DSEEHX plumping for low-res audio sources.
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The HT-F9 sounds excellent. The soundbar did a great job placing the different elements of Justice League’s Dolby Atmos soundtrack.
You can see where each of the alien wings is coming from as the parademons fly through the home of a family with vulnerable children. Although it can’t place the sound directly overhead, soundbars like Sony’s HT-ST5000 soundbars (around PS1000 more expensive) have dedicated upfiring drivers.
Although you can feel the height and width of this soundbar compared to similar-priced soundbars, the zooming heroes flying above seem to be coming from the top rather than directly above your head.
Tonal balance is handled very well. The midrange is clear, and the dialogue comes across clearly.
Sony’s processing modes upscaled the mix to reveal a remarkable amount of Thanator’s weight as he chases the marine through a forest. The creature’s pounding through the trees sounds powerful, and each pounce is a punchy one.
However, the sound can become messy during more significant battles, whether you are using Dolby Atmos (or a more traditional stereo mix). As the soundtrack mixes with rock crashing and monsters roaring, it can be more challenging to discern where the sounds are coming from.
We also want more subtlety in terms of dynamics. The small horns and whispering foliage that set the mood are not able to convey tension before the action begins. This leaves the scene feeling flat and lifeless.
The sheer volume difference is sufficient (the soundbar goes from quiet to loud smooth), but the small changes in the sonic intensity that cause your hair on your back to stand up could use some refinement.
Sony HT-Z9F vs. HT-CT800 Soundbar
Although I initially bought the HT-CT800 cheaper, I eventually returned it for the Z9F. The sound quality on the HTCT800 was decent, but it is much better with the upgraded model. This is due to the separate voice channel. High-resolution audio makes the sound clearer.
The design of the speakers can also make a difference in sound quality. The HT-CT800 speakers were placed at an unusual angle. The Z9F is directly facing you. The installer recommended that I not mount it on the wall because the soundbar would project behind my TV due to its rise.
Although I don’t know why Sony made the soundbar this way, my installer said it was the last model that featured this design. It was the reason I returned it.
Although there is a difference in the sound quality, the subwoofers for both models are nearly identical. You can adjust the subwoofer’s decibels with the Z9F. Both have excellent bass. You might have unhappy neighbors if you live in an apartment.
How can I connect my Sony HTZ9F to my TV?
- The HDMI cable is sold separately. Connect the other end to the HDMI IN port of your TV.
- Connect the other end of the TV-OUT port (ARC) to your soundbar.
- Connect an optical audio cable to the TV’s Optical Digital Audio to OPTICAL IN on the soundbar. This is essential to hear the TV audio.
Does the Sony Z9F soundbar support an eARC?
Yes, my soundbar can be used with eARC. Notable eARC compatible models are HT–ST5000, HT–X9000F, and HT–Z9F. To enable eARC, update the software to the most recent version.
Which sound bar works best with Sony TV?
The Sony HT-Z9F is the best soundbar for Sony TV. The HT-Z9F supports both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and is compatible with 4K. Wireless speakers at the rear allow for greater flexibility and variety in placement. They can also be used to create a more precise surround sound.
The SONY Z9F is one of the best sounding soundbars currently on the market, and it also features some impressive design features. It’s a soundbar worth considering for an affordable price. With that said, it’s not quite perfect, and it could use some improvement to reach its full potential.
So, don’t hesitate to go for it. Hooke Audio has created this Sony soundbar HT-Z9F review based on experience. It would help if you decided whether you are ready to sacrifice a bit of quality to have an amazing-sounding soundbar at a very affordable price.