Sony XH95/ X950H (KD-65XH9505) 4K LCD TV Review

Now with wider viewing angles

by Phil Hinton
SRP: £1,999.00

What is the Sony XH95?


The Sony XH95 is the company’s new flagship 4K LCD TV and includes support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, but this year it adds X-Wide Angle technology, sound positioning tweeter with bi-amping, X-Balanced speaker, Ambient Optimisation and a backlit remote control. 

Sony has also added easy connectivity to Apple devices using AirPlay 2 and HomeKit. The XH95 comes in 49-, 55-, 65-, 75- and 85-inch screen sizes, although many of the features only apply to the 55-inch screen size and above. We are reviewing the 65-inch version which retails for £1999 at the time of this review in October 2020.

The Sony XH95 uses the X1 Ultimate picture processor, which includes Object-based Super Resolution, Object-based HDR Remaster, Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR and Dual Database Processing. It also includes X-Motion Clarity which Sony claims is brighter, clearer and introduces more fluid motion which should improve sports viewing or other fast-moving videos.

Sony KD-65XH9505


There’s a direct Full-Array Local Dimming (FALD) LED backlight with around 63 local dimming zones and X-tended Dynamic Range PRO. The TRILUMINOS display also has X-Wide Angle technology on screen sizes of 55 inches and larger. This improves viewing angles from the VA panel to allow wider seating positions within your room. It appears that the film used has been updated for 2020 and the XH95, so we are expecting a better contrast performance than that of the ZF9 we tested a couple of years ago.

The XH95 has support for 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) with wide colour gamut (DCI-P3/Rec.2020) and high dynamic range (HDR10, Hybrid Log-Gamma and Dolby Vision). Sadly, Sony still doesn’t support the HDR10+ dynamic metadata format.

The XH9505 also includes Sony's Custom Mode that faithfully preserves the creator’s intent. To date, Sony has decided not to support the new Filmmaker Mode.

Sony KD-65XH9505


The XH95 features the improved Acoustic Multi-Audio, Sound-from-Picture Reality concept with a bi-amp system, which controls the main speakers and invisible tweeters separately, plus the X-Balanced Speaker is a new unit that packs clear sound into a newly designed slim driver. The XH95 can also decode Dolby Atmos internally, producing an immersive experience through the use of psychoacoustic processing.

The XH95 features Android TV 9.0 (Pie) with the Google Assistant, Google Play Store and Chromecast built-in, which offers users easy access to content, services and devices via its extensive platform. Sony’s original user interface menus and voice controls are also enhanced for better daily use, and Sony’s voice-activated TVs work alongside Google Assistant to provide a smarter viewing experience.

So does the XH95 offer a genuine movie viewing experience in a dark room like it’s OLED stablemates? Let’s find out.

Design, Connections and Control


The Sony XH95 uses a minimalist flush surface design, with a near bezel-less screen that is surrounded by a thin metal strip with a gun-metal finish, which is supported on feet at either end. The feet raise the screen high enough that it won’t be blocked by a soundbar. When positioned facing outwards the feet sit at the edge of the panel.
Sony KD-65XH9505

If you have a smaller TV unit you can switch these feet so they face inwards and allow you to use them on a smaller unit. In such a configuration the stands do get in the way of the downwards firing speakers, so be aware of this.

Around the back, we have the connections which are all sideways facing on the XH95 with two USB inputs, a digital audio out, headphone and AV audio jacks, four HDMI 2.0B inputs along with two satellite and one terrestrial antenna. The HDMI 3 input supports eARC/ARC but Sony still hasn’t embraced HDMI 2.1, which seems strange with the launch of the PS5 later this year.



Sony KD-65XH9505

Sony has redesigned the remote control, which is a definite improvement on previous years, and it finally has a backlight. It fits neatly in the hand and feels premium in build quality which suits the price point of the Sony XH95.

Sony KD-65XH9505
 ... the remote finally has a backlight


You can connect the XH95 to Apple devices thanks to support for AirPlay 2, which allows users to stream movies, music, games and photos. The inclusion of Apple HomeKit technology also provides an easy, secure way for users to control their television from their iPhone, iPad or Mac.

In addition, with the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa enabled devices, you can cast and control videos from YouTube with Google Home, or change the channel or volume with Amazon Alexa enabled devices. Hands-free capabilities are only available on the 55-inch screen size and larger.

Measurements

Out of the Box

As normal within our reviews, we measured the out of the box picture presets to find those that get as close as possible to the industry standards. The idea is that a TV must get close to these standards in at least one of its picture modes so end users can see content as it was mastered and intended to be seen. Custom mode on the Sony XH9505 is the most accurate out of the box picture setting. 

We use Calman colour calibration software, a Murideo Seven Generator and Klein K-10A meter for measurement and calibration.

Sony KD-65XH9505


The grayscale results with the Custom mode out of the box are excellent with just a few small errors seen within the tracking. Blue is high by around 2% and red low by around 1%, however, our DeltaE errors are two or below which is well under the visible threshold of three. This means that with TV and film viewing there are no visible issues within the image.

Sony KD-65XH9505


Moving to the Rec.709 colour gamut results and again the Custom mode is very good indeed out of the box. While the graph shows a slight hue pull towards blue/cyan, the DeltaE errors are well under three, so there are no visible issues seen with actual TV and film viewing materials on the XH95.

Calibrated

The Sony XH95 is well equipped with calibration controls and can also be used with the Calman for Bravia app and Calman software (with the correct tools) for a full AutoCal. On this occasion, we manually calibrated the image using the provided controls in the menu system. 

Sony KD-65XH9505


As expected, with the results out of the box being so accurate, it was only a matter of a few corrections to bring reference levels of accuracy out of the XH9505. Grayscale was perfectly tracked and our DeltaE errors are all under one, which is well below the visible threshold of three.

Sony KD-65XH9505


By correcting the grayscale we also helped correct the saturation tracking graph for the Rec.709 colour gamut. The absolute 100% marks are slightly off within the graph, but the important areas of 75% and below are very good with our DeltaE errors under three so there are no visible errors seen within film and TV content on screen. Overall, the Sony XH95 is very accurate for SDR picture quality.

HDR Results

The Sony X950H has HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision HDR capabilities. As always, we measured peak brightness across window sizes in the most accurate image preset to the standards and D65 white.

Sony KD-65XH9505


The Sony XH95 is impressive when it comes to the peak brightness available with the industry-standard 10% window result coming in at 1125 nits and full 100% white is a consistent 624 nits. Obviously, there is more to a good HDR image than just peak brightness, but the Sony is certainly capable of very good levels of brightness for peak highlights and being so bright will require less of an aggressive tone map than most sets that can’t reach as high.

Sony KD-65XH9505


Looking at the PQ EOTF tracking there is just one tone map used by the Sony for both 1000 and 4000 nits mastered content with a perfect track of the ST.2084 standard before a hard clip at the peak brightness. This will result in excellent 1000 nit content playback with strong detail seen within specular highlights, with 4000 nit content also looking very good with just the absolute brightest detail being clipped. 

Sony KD-65XH9505


Coverage of the DCI-P3 wide colour gamut within BT.2020 is also very good with very good saturation tracking as seen in the graph above. The only downside is that the XH95 is not capable of covering the full gamut size, but colour volume is very good within the gamut the TV can cover.

Sony KD-65XH9505


We measured BT.2020 coverage at 64% XY and 69% UV with P3 gamut coverage measuring in at 90% XY and 94% UV.

Sony KD-65XH9505

Performance


The Sony XH95 is a 65-inch Full Array Local Dimming (FALD) LED LCD TV that Sony claims is designed for movie viewing in dark and bright room environments. Sony never discusses the number of dimming zones on its FALD TVs and it is indeed quite tricky to get an accurate result using a FALD counter, but we counted 63 zones (7x9). The XH95 supports Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) HDR formats and during a demo at CES back in January, they were claiming image accuracy for SDR and HDR that matches their BVM studio reference monitors.

Looking at the panel uniformity and we have a clean looking panel with a 5% slide. The corners are a little darker and we have a dark area three quarters of the way up the central area of the panel, but this is not visible with normal content. 50% and 100% per cent are also clear of Dirty Screen Effect (DSE) with just the darker corners still visible, and at 50% we can still see a slight darkening at the three-quarter point. With actual TV and film viewing, we were not aware of these issues at all, and DSE was almost non-existent. Only with very fast camera pans over football pitches or similar areas of all one colour, did we see very mild DSE. However, it was so rare to spot that we didn’t think it was a major issue and we mention it just to be complete in our assessment.

 ... the XH95 produces some sublime looking HDR image quality that really takes advantage of the format

Viewing angles are good with the new film added to the panel this year, which retains a decent amount of contrast performance watching direct, but up to around 40 degrees, the XH9505 manages to retain the colour and gamma performance without wash out. As you get wider than this, the image does start to wash out more. With this level of performance, you can have some seating positions in your living room off-axis and not impact too much on image quality. But, as always, watching from directly in front of the TV will always give you the best performance.

The backlight and the local dimming algorithm used by Sony with the XH95 are excellent with their dimming producing some of the best FALD images we have seen, especially with 16:9 content. Blacks are deep with excellent shadow detail and above black performance. For those used to LED LCD TVs with more aggressive dimming, this might at first look like the Sony has lighter blacks, but in fact, there is no black crush at all with the Sony. This improves even more with HDR content looking incredibly dynamic and detailed. I saw demos at CES with this TV against one of the Sony BVM professional grading monitors and the performance was superb, and again in our extensive testing here at AVForums, the performance is incredibly accurate. 

 ... up to around 40 degrees, the XH9505 manages to retain the colour and gamma performance

The one downside with Sony’s approach here with the local dimming algorithm is the fact that scope content black bars are not black, especially with HDR content. We pointed this out in previous reviews of the XG95 and ZF9 panels which had the same issues when watching in dark surroundings. As a movie purist, I want to watch in dim surroundings with some bias light and the black bars on scope movies should be solid black. With HDR content the black bars are never black and any bright objects that get close to the bars, bleed that light into what should be a solid black bar. When asked about this Sony has replied that its dimming algorithm is designed to bring out just above black shadows and mid-tones of the image to create depth and detail which matches a professional mastering monitor. And in that respect, this is exactly what the XH95 does.

But, with that approach, the side effect is the black bars lighting up with bright objects close by and it is a compromise. Other manufacturers, such as Samsung, manage to keep the black bars much darker with their more aggressive algorithms, but in doing so there is more black crush visible within the image, as well as a vignette effect to the edges of the image. So you have two approaches at solving the problem, with Sony going for more image accuracy and detail retrieval in the blacks without crushing, versus a more aggressive approach which keeps the bars black but introduces crush and detail loss in the darkest areas of the image. The only TV technology that can produce inky black bars and superb above black detail is OLED, but it lacks the pop available with the XH95’s HDR peak brightness performance, so once again it will come down to choosing the approach that suits you and your needs best. 

  It also feels like the audio is coming directly from the centre of the screen

Video processing performance is superb on the Sony XH95 with excellent upscaling that is some of the best in the business. Rather than looking overly sharp and processed, the XH95 upscales with superb sharpness that remains natural looking without any obvious edge enhancements or ringing to fine lines. With 576i, 1080i and 1080p sources, the scaled images look nice and detailed with no artefacts and excellent Jaggie suppression. Motion is also very good indeed with no induced judder with 24fps material that has the correct pulldown applied with MotionFlow off. Plus, Motionflow can work very well with fast-moving sports content without adding in too many artefacts. Indeed, when compared with the competition, Sony’s MotionFlow interpolation is some of the best available with very few artefacts introduced, but there is also plenty of soap opera effect to the higher interpolation settings. Obviously, as image purists, we would recommend that MotionFlow is off for film content, but you are free to experiment with video sources and sports content to find the settings that suit your preference for that particular content.

Full-screen SDR content looks incredibly accurate with very good black levels, excellent just above black shadow details and cinematic colours. Skin tones look sublime with a real lifelike naturalness and colours that are balanced and nuanced. The detail is excellent with images looking sharp and contrast is also very good for an LCD. Motion is also solid with 24fps material looking as it should with no added blur other than that within the content. Moving to SDR films with black bars and in a well-lit room, we didn’t have as many issues with the bars being flooded with light from within the image. In dimmer viewing conditions it is a little more visible from time to time. Image quality, however, remains superb and accurate.

  With HDR content the black bars are never black

Moving to HDR content and again 16:9 material looks sublime with excellent dynamic range and wide natural colours. Nature documentaries in HLG are sublime with superb natural colours, excellent motion and plenty of dynamic range to make images pop. The detail is also superb with excellent sharpness and plenty of depth. Moving again to films with black bars and in both well lit and dim viewing environments we did see issues with the black bars lighting up with bright objects close to the edge of the bars. How much this affects your enjoyment of the XH95 will be personal and, for me, I did find it distracting. The image quality within the black bars are some of the best I have seen from a FALD LCD in 2020 so far, so it is a shame that I find the black bar issues a distraction, your mileage may vary. If in doubt, get a demo in dark surroundings to check for yourself. Given the excellent local dimming, tone mapping and peak brightness on offer, the XH95 produces some sublime looking HDR image quality that really takes advantage of the format.

 ... its dimming algorithm is designed to bring out just above black shadows and mid-tones of the image... And in that respect, this is exactly what the XH95 does.

Gaming wise the XH95 is decent for console gamers not too interested in the features available from HDMI 2.1 equipped sets. Input lag is a reasonable 20ms and HDR gaming is nice and dynamic without looking washed out in any way. 

Sound quality has also improved over last year, with the newly re-designed drivers and enclosures providing an audio performance that is detailed, weighty and wide. It also feels like the audio is coming directly from the centre of the screen thanks to the clever positioning of the tweeters on the side of the panel. While it will not compete with an off-board Atmos sound system, the sound quality of the XH95 is very good for a TV.

Finally, Android TV 9 (Pie) is also very good with a fast and stable performance with app selection and OS functions. We didn’t encounter any slow down or crashing in the few weeks of testing for our review.



Verdict

The Good

  • Excellent out of the box SDR image accuracy
  • Excellent calibrated image quality
  • Very good just above black shadow details
  • Excellent depth to the image with SDR
  • Good contrast and black levels
  • Very good HDR presentation
  • Very good tone mapping and peak brightness
  • Excellent motion
  • Excellent upscaling performance
  • Very good viewing angles
  • Sound quality is a step up on last year

The Bad

  • Light bleed into the black bars is still an issue this year
  • No HDMI 2.1

Sony XH95/ X950H (KD-65XH9505) 4K LCD TV Review


The Sony XH95 is yet another strong FALD LCD TV from the company with excellent features and superb image accuracy. 

There is no such thing as the perfect TV and we did encounter some issues with the XH95 that were partly down to the technology and how Sony has chosen to implement that. We once again found the issue to be that black bars of scope films will light up when objects in the image are close to them, becoming distracting when watching in dim surroundings and most noticeably with HDR content. Sony is well aware of this and states that to achieve the image accuracy the XH95 is capable of, with deep blacks, superb just above details and impressive contrast, the dimming algorithm has to allow some light leakage into the black bars. How distracting this is for consumers will come down to personal taste and potential owners need to demo the TV to check. For me it was distracting, but there is no doubting that the image quality produced within those black bars is some of the best I have seen from a FALD LCD TV. 

Video processing, upscaling and motion remain superb on the XH95 and even the gaming input lag is a respectable 20ms, which will suit most console gamers. The lack of HDMI 2.1 inputs and features is disappointing, especially when Sony will be releasing the next-gen PS5 soon which will take advantage of HDMI 2.1 features.

Overall, the Sony XH95 is an excellent LCD flagship that produces accurate image quality as the creators intended it to be seen in both SDR and HDR. There are a few well-mentioned issues that may affect your mileage with this set and as always we recommend a demonstration before spending this much on a TV, but the XH95 has made some decent improvements over last year’s model and has superb image accuracy. As such we feel it is worthy of an AVForums recommendation.
Recommended

Scores

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

.
.
8

Screen Uniformity

.
.
8

Colour Accuracy

.
9

Greyscale Accuracy

.
9

Video Processing

.
.
8

Picture Quality

.
.
8

SDR Picture Quality

.
.
8

HDR Picture Quality

.
.
8

Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box

.
9

Picture Quality Calibrated

.
9

Sound Quality

.
.
8

Smart Features

.
.
8

Build Quality

.
.
8

Ease Of Use

.
.
8

Value for Money

.
.
8

Verdict

.
.
8
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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