Sony HT-ZF9 Soundbar Review & Comments

Discussion in 'Soundbars, Soundplates & Soundbases' started by Phil Hinton, Oct 17, 2018.


    1. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers
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    2. BOFH_UK

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      Interesting idea but gotta say I'm not convinced. Having Atmos & DTS:X support is nice but at this price point I'd expect a bit more in the way of actual speaker channels. Feels like it's kinda stuck in no-man's land a bit between 'normal' soundbars and the high end stuff like the Samsung N950.

      On that note, and this is hardly exclusively a Sony problem, why on earth are soundbars costing £500, £1000 or more only coming with two HDMI ports? Doubly so when they're being sold as Atmos setups! It's surely not that unusual for even modest rigs to have three Atmos-capable sources (say a console, Blu-ray / UHD player and a streaming service) and, at least in my experience, passing Atmos via ARC is hit and miss at best. Feels like a proper step back from a couple of years back when Yamaha were doing such a good job with their beam steering setups.
       
    3. Scotland11

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      I've been waiting for this review for a while and it's pretty much what I expected. At my price point it leaves me deciding between this and a Sonos Beam. Trade off being addtional HDMI ports and Atmos/DTS on the Sony versus the full house integration of the Sonos with blu-rays bit streamed by Xbox One S to DD and a £250 saving.
       
    4. Scotland11

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      I guess they must assume most people's TVs will pass DD+ via ARC.

      Between Sky Q, BT YouView+, Xbox One S & Apple TV I have a range of Atmos capable devices but unfortunately my B6 doesnt't pass DD+ via ARC. If it did, I'd only need the Xbox connected directly to the sound bar.
       
    5. Clem_Dye

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      A lack of HDMI inputs is a nuisance, for sure. No mention in the review if they pass a signal when the bar is in standby. Do they? Sony TVs pass DD5.1 via external HDMI inputs, so I guess pairing this with a Sony TV is the best bet.

      Clem
       
    6. davidcrofter

      davidcrofter
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      Looked at this earlier in the year and you really need to add the rear speakers for starters and even then you are just getting a 5.1 system. The overhead effects simply don't work - all you get is a wider soundstage. The DTS-X and Atmos processing aren't much use if you can't reproduce it with the actual soundbar.

      Then of course we get to cost - adding the rear speakers takes it to near £900 which is just too expensive for basically an average 5.1 soundbar.
       
    7. djkutasi

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      I haven't heard this, but doubt that the "virtual height magic" could work. :(

      Maybe worth considering if the space is really an issue... or well... if you have space for this Sony you should have room for a "larger" Samsung K950 as well and that is actually have upward firing speakers for the same "street" price.
       
    8. Scotland11

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      From the review:
      Having tested this briefly in John Lewis, which I would say were less than ideal conditions, I felt a sence of immersion with sounds appearing from the sides and above. For someone like myself with a small room and the sofa against the wall (no room for rear speakers) this could be ideal. Plus this supports DTS-X and DTS-HD Master Audio whereas the K950 I think only goes as far as DTS 5.1. The size of this soundbar is also more attractive than the Samsung which looks a bit of a monster.
       
    9. ghostof82

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      I'm having such a hard time choosing a soundbar. I'm limited to about 1000mm which makes this Sony ideal, and the Atmos etc is a bonus as my tv and UHD player are compliant although I know its a but daft with just 3 speakers, but really, I'll never live in a house with 7 speakers all round me in ceiling etc. But I don't know. I wish LG and Samsung had less cinerama-like huge Atmos soundbars which are too big for my space. Somebody here on this forum once commented that soundbars are all about compromise and they were absolutely right.
       
    10. Jonnyb320

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      I have this sound bar, and am really impressed. I’m constrained by marital cohesion as to what I could have, and this fits the bil. It’s small and unobtrusive, yet produces big sound.
      I’m sure there are better sound bars out there, but this is compact, fully loaded, does a really good job of adding “height” to the sound stage, and within budget.
       
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    11. Morden

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      I recently bought one, how do i confirm its playing Atmos/dtsx as i dont see any indication on its lcd display?

      Do i leave sound to auto and switch off vertical sound or choose cinema etc and switch on.

      Any help appreciated.
       
      Last edited: Nov 19, 2018
    12. sleepyhead

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      Hitting the 'display' button on the remote will show the current codec on the display.
      I tend to mostly leave the sound on auto or cinema with vertical on, although switch it off and choose the music setting for just music. With Atmos the vertical surround button does nothing because its always enabled as part of Atmos.
       
    13. Morden

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      Thanks, have confirmed I'm getting Atmos from the 4k player via soundbar.

      I take it cinema works fine with Atmos or only use cinema if upscaling to vertical surround?
       
    14. markymark34

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      Anyone get the surrounds? Seem stupidly expensive.
       
    15. Morden

      Morden
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      Yes got surrounds in package with SB from JL for £698 and once levels and distance correctly set up, they definitely add to sound.
      Especially on atmos content.
       
    16. birdistheword

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      Hi people, interested in this bar can anyone tell me if you can add other Sony Bluetooth speakers or is just the rears that are compatible?
      Thanks
       
    17. Morden

      Morden
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      For rear surround speakers only the saz9 are compatible with this soundbar.

      if you want multiroom, then other sony Bluetooth speakers might work as the SB supports multiroom.
       
    18. majorusa

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      I had this soundbar for more than a week and I decided to return it. I bought instead the LG SK9Y. The reason for returning the Sony was that it has a very weak sound, the voices of the actors are like they are speaking from a metal barrel and the bar lacks dynamic sound in music. My TV has better sound than this Sony soundbar. It took me two days to figure why.
      I measured the frequencies output and I discovered that the bar is less capable to output high frequency sounds due to the 3 medium range speakers that is using. Also there is a gap between the frequency of the subwoofer and the treble. The bars on the audio spectrum analyzer are moving but have lower amplitude than the rest of the bars. It is like the subwoofer is from another soundbar.
      The virtual engine is a joke. It gives the sound more space but there is no precision. I tested with "A quiet place" which at around 20 minutes has a scene that depicts a movement on the ceiling of the room that goes right to left. You sense that it is somewhere above the tv and not above your head. Also, the lateral movement is virtually absent.
      There is also another reason for which the bar needed to go back to the shop. It does not accept Dolby Atmos from the TV via ARC. My LG 49SK8500 TV is Dolby Atmos capable. The LG SK9Y sound bar accepts Dolby Atmos from Prime Video and Netflix apps of the TV. So I do not need another player to play Atmos content. With the Sony soundbar I needed the Apple TV 4K to watch Netflix with Atmos.
      I tweaked all that I could at this Sony soundbar and I could not make it sound decent. Not even in movies. It is a pity because visually looks great but to make a soundbar with three 6 cm diameter speakers is simply ridiculous. The LG that is cheaper than the Sony, has 5 speakers composed each from a tweeter with 20mm PPS dome and a woofer of 40x100mm and another 2 2" woofer up firing speakers for Atmos.
      What I liked at Sony was the DTS X and eARC support and the fact that includes two input HDMI ports. But sound is king and unfortunately at this Sony soundbar the king is poor.
       
    19. dhokes

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      I think with soundbars you have to compromise something. I don't sit too far away and my room is relatively small and I personally think the sound is clear enough. I could purchase something more powerful but I don't feel the need for more power over DTSX support.
       
    20. hrj

      hrj
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      how would you compare this to the older samsung k850 (2016) as it now has Dts 5.1 and priced almost the same as sony zf9
       

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