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Immersive audio without the wires. A love letter.Posted
I consider myself a videophile and never much of an audiophile, although this could be due to a minor hearing impairment that I have in my right ear. Thus, is this going to be a very down-to-earth and humble review. I came to this sound bar from a 10+ year old Logitech (computer) 5.1 speaker system - the Logitech Z906. Although it was optical audio only, I primarily used it because I have my gaming PC hooked up to it, which happens to be in the same room as my gaming TV and consoles - so I just hooked up my other devices to it via optical as well. It worked just fine and I was happy with it, considering my impairment. It did what I needed it to do. But, technology has changed and I figured it was finally time to move on. Enter this sound bar, the Sony HT-Z9F. Long story short, this has to be the best audio system I have every owned. I'm going to tell you now - if you are in the market for a sound bar, spend the extra little and get this one; while future-proofing yourself a little in the meantime. BUT...if you do buy this, you MUST buy the "optional" rear speakers (model SA-Z9R). I tested this sound bar by itself for a few days at first, then I added on the rear wireless speakers and tested together for a few days longer. The sound bar impressed me, but once I added the rear speaker, the "WOW" factor went up 10-fold. I will review the wireless rear speakers in their own review. For now, lets focus on just this sound bar (model HT-Z9F). Also, this is going to be a review from a GAMER standpoint. I'm to video games as others are to movies and cinema. So, you gamers out there, there is for you. ;-) Packaging: This is the standard fare L-shaped sound bar packaging. Nothing to see here, move along. However, I was super impressed with how well it was packaged. There is no way anything in this box is going to budge. I received the box in pristine condition and everything inside was packaged tightly and neat/tidy. Unboxing and setup: Wow, I will say, I seriously did not expect this sound bar to be as massive as it is. When I unboxed it, my first impression was "yeah, this is going to be fun to setup". Reviews like this make me wish that I could add more than just two pictures; not sure why there is this limitation. Anywho, inside the box lies the sound bar, the subwoofer (which was also bigger than I expected for a sound bar), the front magnetic speaker grill (optional), the remote control and obligatory batteries, an HDMI cable (which I didn't use), wall-mount kit, a Dolby Atmos demo disc and all the normal and necessary manuals, pamphlets, etc, etc. I do want to say this about the speaker grill. It works as "protection" only. The sound bar looks AWESOME without it, but I use it just to keep it clean. The manual does say that if you are using high-def audio, such as Dolby X or Atmos, they suggest not using the grill for the best audio experience. Setup on this is super straight-forward and simple. HDMI input panel on the back of the sound bar being awkwardly angled, instead of flush to the back of the sound bar. Seriously, if I could muster a single complaint, this would be it. The angle of the ports is such a pain and makes for a tight fit of the cables. Configuration: O.K., from here forward is the "meat" of the review. The initial setup was a breeze. In the main menu, you have 3 tabs up top: "Watch", which has a TV, HDMI1 and HDMI2 options; "Listen", which has Bluetooth Audio, USB, Analog and Chromecast options; "Setup", which has "Easy Setup" (which I believe is the first-time setup the sound bar does when you first power it on) and "Advanced Settings". The "Advanced Settings" option is where you want to make your way to first thing. Here's why: The "HDMI Settings" > "HDMI Signal Format". Once there, Change it to "Enhanced format". Even though you may already have it set up on your TV (the name varies from one TV to another, but my LG TV calls it "HDMI Ultra HD Deep Color"), this option allows HDR and all the other high def stuff to work properly. So, if you are using a device that has HDR, this setting MUST be turned on both via the sound bar and the TV for their respective inputs. The next thing you want to do is check it for a Software Update, if this did not happen during the initial setup - there was no upgrade available as of the time of writing this review. Afterwards, you will want to go into "Speaker Settings" > "Manual Speaker Settings" and adjust your Distance of the sound bar and subwoofer (along with rears, if you get them) from your sitting area. Then adjust your Decibel Level. The Level is defaulted to 0, but I changed the Front to 3, the Sub to 4 and the Rears to 3 each. The maximum is 6. There is also a Test Tone option here, which I suggest using to make sure both the sound bar and subwoofer and each rear emits audio. Outside of these specific settings, I've pretty much left everything else at the default. As for options on the remote, I immediately selected "Game" to put it in Game Studio mode (which, by the way, is the first sound bar I've ever seen personally that has a dedicated Game mode!). After this, I pressed "Vertical S." to make sure the Vertical Surround option was on. The remote has the option to adjust the volume level of the Sub and Rear speakers, although I was unable to locate anything that would allow me to adjust the Treble and other equalizers independently... but I'm guessing the Decibel levels I went through above does a similar job. On a side-note, the remote does not have any sort of backlight. Also, the Sub and Rear volume levels were defaulted to 8, with a max of 10. The only problem I encountered was using my PC on the sound bar via optical audio. I was stumped. I plugged it into the optical port on the back, just like my old 5.1 system and expected it to work. Oddly, the "optical input" option did not exist on the remote. Referring to the manual, I finally found out that it was the "TV" input. So, I pressed that, played a test music video on YouTube...no audio. I'm baffled. It's simple. Nothing complicated. It's a cable and a port, it should work. After about 20 minutes of fiddling and having a mild panic attack, thinking I now won't be able to use my PC with it...I called Sony. After picking the agents brain for a while and trying to explain what I was trying to do (again, basic), he suggested I turn the TV off and just leave the sound bar on, then try it. It worked!!! **So, if you are using the optical audio port, please note that this sound bar "prioritizes" inputs. If there is a device using HDMI, they MUST be turned off to use the optical audio, or HDMI will take priority. You can't just have both on and switch the input. To use the optical port, ONLY the soundbar must be on and the "TV" input has to be selected from the remote.** Sound Quality: One word. AMAZING. I could just leave it at that and be done here, but I love this sound bar so much, it deserves more praise. As far as games go, there are very few that support Dolby Atmos and currently, only on the Xbox One X. The PS4 does not currently support Atmos, but that can be easily fixed in a future PS4 firmware update...but it would also require the games to be patched by the developers as well. The list of games can be found here: https://www.dolby.com/us/en/categories/games.html Yes, a paltry 8. Whopping. Games. I only had my PS4 hooked up in my game room, so the first game I launched to test the Vertical Surround Engine and the "simulated" Atmos support was God of War. Oh, man. The voices stood out and were at the perfect pitch. Weapon swings and other combat audio was phenomenal. However, it was the environmental sounds that dropped my jaw more than anything. The creaks of the wooden planks as you walk over them. The sound of rock as you climb cliffs. All of those ambient noises, just...unbelievable. Remember at the beginning of my review, I had mentioned that I had some hearing impairment? I'm going to say it right now...this sound bar has increased my enjoyment of gaming to another level. It's just something about the "tone" of the audio. I can hear things I've never heard in games before. Oh, and the volume level? Yeah, super loud. The volume goes up to 50 as the max. 18-20 is my "comfort" zone. Meaning, once I get it to 20-25, I'm essentially rocking out and my wife has to say "honey, can you turn that down just a little?". See, this makes me happy. I temporarily moved the Xbox One X into my game room to test out the demo disc and Gears of War 4 in Atmos. The demo disk was amazing, as you could hear everything as intended, WHERE it was intended. Gears of War 4 was equally amazing and immersive. I seriously could not believe what I was hearing. Sony has really outdone themselves with this setup. Also, I experienced ZERO sound issues with the wireless subwoofer and no audio lag/stuttering. BUT...as I stated above...to get the full immersive experience of this setup, you need the rear speakers. I will review them in their own review. Conclusion: 5 stars all the way. I would give it more if I could. Outside of my LG C7 OLED TV, this is my next best investment and I couldn't be happier. If I could afford it, I would seriously buy another one of these and the matching rear speakers for the 65" Sony TV in the front room that we use for our movies and streaming. But for me, the size of my room and my personal situation, this setup is perfect. I've never said this in a review, but....THANK YOU, SONY. You've allowed me to enjoy immersive audio for the first time in my life and without the bulk of wires!
I would recommend this to a friend
Incredible sound from a small setup.Posted
I have to first say, I’ve always been very skeptical of soundbar systems. They never seemed like they could fit the bill or even possibly compete with a dedicated 5.1/7.1 surround system. I will say though, that most even super cheap one’s are generally going to be better than most anything built-in to most TV’s. This system shattered my expectations. Granted this is the first such system I’ve ever owned, it really did impress. The sound it’s able to deliver is quite excellent. There’s lots of features with the system as well. You get 2 HDMI in and 1 out. There’s also an Optical input, a single USB port, an Analog input and an Ethernet Port. The Passthrough for the HDMI works flawlessly. Setting up the soundbar was a breeze and only took a few minutes after initially unboxing and placing the speakers. Connecting to WiFi was very fast and easy to do. I also have the optional Rear Wireless speakers. I’ll touch on those in this review as well as reviewing them separately. With setting up the soundbar there’s not a lot to. I have a Blu-Ray player and a TIVO currently connected to it but will be trading out the BluRay soon for possible a 4k streaming device. The sound from these sources is great. I was genuinely impressed with the performance of them. This small system definitely packs a punch. One of the features this has is Dolby Atmos. Despite not having speakers that aim up, somehow, someway, Sony figured out how to replicate the effect. Having never had the privilege to experience Dolby Atmos outside of a theater, it definitely makes a very big difference. It adds a lot of height to nearly any source. The optional Rear Wireless speakers only further enhance this. I have a Digital Copy of “The Fifth Element” that I used to test out the Atmos as it’s a DTS-HD/Dolby Tru-HD/Dolby Atmos version. The sound bar on it’s own, without the Rear Wireless still sounds excellent even without the Vertical Surround feature. The soundbar definitely delivers great positional sound. You can hear different things from different directions. Add in the Vertical Sound, and it just adds a ton of height and depth to the soundstage that truly immerses you in the action. Adding in the Rear Wireless speakers enhances this even more so as the vertical surround will also add some more height and depth. It definitely gives you the feeling that you are listening to the movie on a 7.1 system with Dolby Atmos. I was even pleasantly surprised with the Subwoofer in this system as well. It’s very responsive and tight when it needs to be. It never sounded muddled either. I actually even had to turn it down because of how loud it gets in some movies and shows. There are some forthcoming features to the unit that have yet to be released. One of them is Google Assistant, which will be nice to have. I have Sony’s Google Home device already in my home, but if this can replace it, then I will likely use it instead. The soundbar does feature Chromecast built-in. It is only capable of receiving from a Smartphone however. I tested this using Spotify and it worked very well for the most part. It did lose connecting a few times but restarting the Casting fixed it. The sound quality though was very very good. It did seem to get a bit bogged down when I had some company over and everyone had their smartphones out. It also could have just been my device though. The Music Center app which you can get from your applicable Appstore works as a second remote which is very nice. You can adjust nearly everything from within the app. This is quite helpful if you don’t want to interrupt your on-screen experience by going into menu’s. There wasn’t really anything I could place as being an outright con aside maybe from the price. I think that this could better around $500 price point. I do wish that there might have been 1 more HDMI input, though I suppose you could just use a 4k capable switcher to overcome this, or if your TV supports its, Dolby Digital/DTS passthrough. Really outside of this, the only thing I did notice was that in some broadcasted TV shows I watched I wouldn’t get much from the rear speakers or occasionally any enhancement from the Vertical Surround, this even despite the broadcast being in 5.1 Dolby Digital. Changing the output type from PCM to Dolby Digital made no change. It didn’t affect all shows though, so it might have just been that the shows I was watching didn’t bother adding much to the surround channels. Some shows I did watch that sounded incredible on this were The Expanse and Marvel’s Agent’s of SHIELD. Those shows sounded great, though shows like NCIS, there was nothing from the rear channels at all, aside from the occasional music. I will say though, this was not something I experienced from a dedicated 5.1 system I have that was connected via Digital Optical to the unit from the TV so your mileage may vary. Would I recommend this system though despite these slight grievances, absolutely if you got the money to spend and want something that just doesn’t take up all that much room. If however you got room, and money, than a dedicated System with Dolby Atmos speakers may be something more your fitting.
I would recommend this to a friend
As Good As It Gets... but needs Rear Speakers InclPosted
The HT-Z9F is one Sony's latest high-end theater sound systems which only uses a single sound bar and subwoofer to emulate a 7.1.2 surround sound experience. The package comes with the sound bar, subwoofer, remote control (batteries included), mounting hardware, Demo DVD, 4K HDMI cable, & paperwork. Rather than go over ALL the specs which you can already find on this Bestbuy.com page, I'll try to give more observations of those specs instead. PROS: ----------- * Great-looking Sound bar and subwoofer. I like the removable front grill of the sound bar. The subwoofer is basic simple construction with a single front port on the bottom/front and the driver hidden behind the mesh on top. * There is an option to remove the magnetic grill on the front of the sound bar. Looks great either way. * Good frequency range. Different sounds - instruments, rain, explosions, screeches, speaking - it all really sounds quite good. * The "vertical" sound of this bar does work to a degree and does enhance the listening experience. This feature can be turned on or off via the remote. * The remote control is light, simplistic in design, and the buttons are satisfactory in response to the system. * The sound bar has every connection possible to connect to... see attached picture for rear available ports including bluetooth 4.2. * DTS and Dolby Atmos content were both outstanding (Avatar, The Matrix Reloaded, and some 4K online content). You can really tell the vertical sound engine is working well... to an extent. * Subwoofer (wood casing) connects to sound bar with no issues. CONS: ----------- * For this $899 system, you are paying for the Sony name, the new technology used, and a great look. What you are lacking is more power and bass (though it does have plenty). The system is 400W which isn't bad. Granted, I have a bigger basement theater room, so this sub does not thump/hit like other higher end sub components that typically connect to separate receivers. However, for apartments, smaller rooms, or enclosed areas, this system will be an excellent choice if you want to fork over the $$. * The main focus of this sound bar is to emulate a 7.1.2 surround sound experience. It does do that to a degree, but I strongly recommend getting the optional rear speakers (Sony SA-Z9R) to enhance the rear definition of sound that the sound bar (by itself) can lack. * The rear speaker set (SA-Z9R) should be included with the $899 price point. Adding the 2 very small rear speakers only adds extra-defining surround sound - not much power. If you do not opt for the rear speakers, your surround sound will suffer a bit. The sound bar can still only do so much by itself, even with the vertical engine software. OTHER OBSERVATIONS: ----------- * There is no real use for the LAN connection on the back of the sound bar currently. There are more future functions coming with upcoming firmware updates according to the Sony website (Network Function: Chromecast built-in, Works with Google Assistant, Spotify Connect, DLNA.) * Sound bar is mountable and package includes hardware. * Will use the Sony Music Center app to play music on different Sony speakers around the home. I was unable to get this app to connect - this is a future firmware update based on what the Sony rep told me on the phone. (The app works with my other wireless Sony BT speakers) * If you opt to add the rear speakers, the only cord used for them is an AC power cord so make sure you have power available for each speaker. CONCLUSION: ===================== This is definitely a formidable theater sound system. The only applications that may need to be avoided are bigger theater rooms that may be open on the back side (where sound is not fully encompassed). It is highly recommended to get the rear surround speakers to get a "full" front/rear sound experience. It does not compare to a real 7.1.2 system but it's a viable option if you don't have room for a ton of components or want to "keep it simple". This is as good a sound bar system as anything out there. The vertical engine definitely helps, and for movies, it's quite good. On a separate note, music that has a lot of bass (bass you feel), you'll want to use a dedicated sub/receiver system. Great job, Sony!
I would recommend this to a friend
You cannot go wrong with the Sony Z9F Soundbar!!!Posted
Let’s be honest, a slim soundbar with tiny speakers in it?!, I have to admit that it wasn’t my vision of a Home Theater with Dolby Atmos sound. My question was, how? So, I was wrong. Sony has developed a technology with this piece of art that truly delivers excellent quality sound, as well as you can feel the experience that Dolby Atmos offers with this unit. Now, it will be a long tale if I try to explain in full detail how Dolby Atmos works, the best I can recap in this explanation is by saying that Dolby Atmos concept is based in objects. Yes, the way you see the main objects in your screen 4k TV is the same experience the sound will follow that action to that specific object, left, right, up or down. So, many Dolby Atmos technologies are based not only on horizontal surrounding sound, but vertical too. The way to achieve this is by locating another set of 2 speakers on the ceiling, or on the floor facing up. You have no space for cabling, you don’t have a dedicated “Sound Room” in your home, and your wife doesn’t want to see 7 speakers and cabling all around in the living room, and on top of that, your budget is very limited, but you still want to have Quality Sound, as well as being on top of the technology. Well, the Sony HT-Z9F accomplishes all of that, and more. It performs Dolby Atmos amazingly well, it has 3 front channels speakers, 2 side channels, and a low-frequency channel. So the sound goes not only directly forward, but also upwards and outwards. That is how a directional effect helps provide the closest emulation of surround sound and with this unit you can achieve without actually having five separate speakers around you. But if you add the rear speakers, you will get not only more power of Sound, but a truly 5.1 decoding effect. I love to play music, specially Classical music, and I feel pleased with the performance of this unit. For movies you can feel the Vertical and horizontal involving sound really well. Another new addition is the “vertical S” button. When you press it, the HT-Z9F will up-mix your digital signal processing to 7.1 channel sound. And if you are listening Stereo Music it will turn your music in a surround sound environment with excellent results. Not to mention that the Bass is Powerful, I dont need more bass than a level of ten on the remote for either playing music or Movies. If you want to check how Dolby Atmos works, the best way to try it, is by using the 2 different demo modes that comes with this unit. For Music, you can try the demo “3 Dimensional Surround Experience” by pressing and holding for 3 seconds the input button. For video Dolby Atmos experience, this unit comes with a DVD where you can really see and hear, how this soundbar performs Dolby Atmos Videos. I strongly recommend to get the 2 rear speakers, model ZR9, with this set of optional background speakers, the Z9F exceeds the surrounding sound effects. And for the first time I was really getting a true 5.1 performance. I was watching a documentary that has music in the background while the narrator was talking, and I was able to hear clear and crystal music trough the rear speakers while only the voice was coming out of the bar. It was amazing! And even if this is not a truly 7.1, but a 5.1, watching and hearing movies on 7.1 format will not disappoint you at all, it performs great! For Concerts, with the optional background speakers hooked up, and the volume cranked up, I got theatre quality surrounding sound! Something that I have really loved from Sony Soundbars since I have got my first one (CT660), was that you were able to customized the sound. You were able to control the tones, bass and treble, as well as the intensity (db). The Z9F allows you to customized the level of the sound and even to increase the vertical or horizontal sound effects by setting in the setup the distance where the speakers are located, for all the speakers separately, as well as the power of sound. But something really cool I found out was that he Remote has separate volume controls for the woofer and optional rear speakers. From the remote, you can toggle between the five essential audio modes that the HT-Z9F has been designed around. That includes cinema mode, music mode, game studio mode, news mode, and sports mode. Cinema mode is focused on providing an immersive sound experience similar to a theatre, while music mode focused on enhancing the richness of the sound. The gaming mode is also focused on immersion, but with an emphasis on heightening the feeling of motion and distance for the player. The news mode is for people who have hearing problems. It’s designed to take voices and make them stand out against background music, noise, and audio effects. The sports mode is designed to emphasize crowd noise to help you feel like you’re watching from the sidelines, but does so without sacrificing the clarity of the commentators. Setup is extremely easy, it is fool proof. Sony changed the old connectors distribution and the jacks on this unit are set at a 45 degree angle in a rectangular cutout in the back of the sound bar. There are two HDMI inputs on the sound bar and the mandatory ARC. I have a Sony 4K TV model XBR55X850 and a Sony Blu-ray UBP-X800, so everything is Sony, and the 3 of them work together flawlessly. The design in avant guard. It looks really great, slim and elegant, and I think it is a clever idea that the grill is connected with magnets and can be easily removed. The rear speakers are wireless and Sub and rear speakers pair very easily. There is built-in Wi-Fi as well as a Ethernet connection for Internet access, which is really useful for Chromecast and to keep the firmware up to date. There is built-in Bluetooth that allows you to connect your cell phone, TV or other devices to the sound bar wirelessly and play music. The sound bar I had before was the ST9, and even if I love it’s performance, as well as the power that produces, I decide to keep in my living room the Z9F instead because of the 5.1 and Atmos capability. The difference is very noticeable. To recap, the Sony HT-Z9F Sound Bar system is a nice piece of work, great quality sound, and a good investment. If you think of the cost of a complete set of a Dolby Atmos system, with the Z9F you can have an outstanding quality for a fraction of the cost, as well as space saver convenience and good looking Sound bar. It is a smart choice for anyone that doesn’t want to deal with wires everywhere for speakers and enjoy the top of the technology as well.
I would recommend this to a friend
Surpassed my expectations - but not perfectPosted
This Sony 3.1 soundbar with its compact design, wireless subwoofer, optional wireless speaker(s) (turning into 5.1) and onscreen setup display makes it worth a very serious look. My review includes the optional wireless SA-Z9R rear speakers. In the HT-Z9F soundbar box; Soundbar Soundbar grill (attaches with magnets) Wireless subwoofer Remote control HDMI cable Wall mount template and hardware Assorted instruction/guides and ATMOS experience DVD In the optional SA-Z9Rwireless speakers box; 2 wireless speakers Assorted instruction/guides Pros; Lets get this out of the way first – I think the sound is awesome. I am not an audiophile so I cant really speak in technical terms but I would describe the sound as very spatial. With 3.1 processing (5.1 since I have optional rear speakers installed) it seems to fill the room and makes your movies/games/music come alive. This is one of the first soundbars to process Dolby ATMOS and luckily enough I have a 4K Blu-ray player which can process ATMOS. So I was able to listen to the provided ATMOS experience DVD - and it was short but pretty impressive. I also happened to have the “Commuter” blu-ray which also has Dolby ATMOS – and I was really impressed with its sound as well. I also listened to Dolby digital movies/shows and they sounded great too. Power output was more than enough for me but it doesn’t have rattle the windows, wake up the neighbors output. I also happen to have a Sony ES 7.2 receiver which is a few years old and as such cant process ATMOS, but I did a comparison with its overall sound to this soundbar. Since I have the space I would still pick my ES receiver as it is more powerful and I can pick its speakers. Having said that - IF you lack the space or inclination to mess with running speaker wires, buying additional speakers, etc. - then this soundbar is a VERY good option. Its nicely designed with flat black metal band around the back half and high gloss glass band around front section. It looks good with or without the black mesh grill (easily attaches/detaches using magnets). Its size should make it easy to use on a TV’s pedestal or to mount on the wall. Also just in case it blocks your TV’s IR it has 2 built in IR repeaters on the back. It didn’t block mine so cant speak to how they actually work. Has easy to understand inputs/output attachments on the back of the sound bar. There are 2 HDMI inputs and 1 HDMI ARC output. There is also a fiber optical in, aux in (3.5 mm) for analog input, hard wired Ethernet port, USB (for playing music). Has built in Wi-fi but I used hard wired ethernet connection. I had it all connected and ready to roll within 15 minutes – including synching the subwoofer (was synched before I could get to it after plugging it in). Same thing with the rear wireless speakers – connected before I could even check. A green light appears on each to show they are synched. Adding it to Google Home app on my phone was pretty straight forward too. There is a front panel LED display to indicate inputs, messages, etc. – it can be turned down or off completely if desired. I think the biggest plus, for me, is that all of the remote functions show on screen so you don’t have to decode a series of lights or try to guess what audio codec is being used, etc. All controlled thru the provided remote that fits easily in your hand and has a myriad of options available. It has cinema/music/game/news/sports/standard audio presets, a night feature that cuts back ambient sounds and focuses on voice. You can turn up/down the rear or subwoofer speakers volume independent of overall sound level. There is a HOME main menu where you can drill down to set speakers response, run sound test for each speaker, set whether soundbar comes on when attached equipment is turned on, set it as passthru (I really like this option as you don’t have to have the soundbar on to and can use the TV speakers), etc. Suffice to say you should be able to pretty much fine tune this system exactly how you want it to sound/function. There are also controls built into the top of the sound bar as well. Chromecast audio is built in and was easy to use once synched with my Google home. Bluetooth is also built in. The GREAT twist is you can use it as a receiver (play your connected devices thru it as is usually the case) OR use it as a transmitter. This is great as using transmitter mode allows you to synch blue-tooth wireless headphones and use them without disturbing those around you. Just make sure when synching that anything the headphones may already be synched with is off or out of range and then drill down into soundbar settings to make sure Bluetooth is set to transmit. It does have a USB 2.0 input but its for audio only and with its connection being in the back it doesnt make it easy to get to. I guess you could get an extension but with built in Chromecast and Bluetooth I wonder when someone might actually use this? The sub-woofer wont win any design awards but has a pleasing functional shape. It weighs around 17 lbs. so I am sure that speaks to the size of its magnet. It has a nice unobtrusive light on the front of it that glows red when not on, green when on and connected. Around back is a synch button in case of issues as well as an on/off button. As mentioned this can be turned up/down from remote with more tuning options using Home menu. Rear speakers are somewhat small as most back speakers are - but have good heft to them as well. No indicator on the front for these but around back is power indicator (same light info as sub-woofer), power button, a link button, a wall mounting hole and another hole if attaching to a speaker stand. As mentioned these can be turned up/down from remote with more tuning options thru Home menu. I would definitely suggest purchasing these if you want to truly hear all this system can do. I did not try mounting anything to a wall. Cons – at least for me With great power comes great responsibility. You have a lot of options to set this exactly how you want it – BUT some settings interact with others. I.E – I made a small change to a sound setting and it wound up turning off all of the sound modes. Took me awhile to figure what the issue was. So be careful and document what you change – just in case. It only comes with an HDMI cable – no fiber optic or auxiliary cable included. Remote is not illuminated and makes it hard to find or use in dark room. Only 2 HDMI input connections. Also the HDMI connection area is inset and slanted to allow for flat connection to wall but you better have small hands to get into the space. The connections are pretty close together too so may have issue if using wide HDMI connector. While it has Chromecast built in its only for audio – you cant stream videos from your phone or Google Home thru to TV. Seems a tad odd to me since it is connected to TV? Maybe future firmware upgrade – hopefully…. While the soundbar, subwoofer or rear speakers do not have a power “brick” to contend with, none of them have removable power cords. So if running cord thru a wall you will need to have enough space for the plug to pass thru/clear. No option on the provided remote to run/learn other devices. As such every time I use the provided remote to turn on/off the soundbar – it also turns on/off my Sony ES receiver. I assume that if you have other Sony components within this remotes IR range – you may have the same issue. I was able to setup my Cox Cable remote using its auxiliary option to at least turn on/off and raise/lower volume of soundbar – with purpose of trying to reduce number of remotes I have to use. Overall a very nice unit that is one of the first soundbars to be able to provide ATMOS decoding but do consider purchasing the wireless rear speakers for full sound experience.
I would recommend this to a friend
Wow! 7.1.2 Atomos in a 3.1 package a winner.Posted
The Sony HT-Z9F is a feature packed soundbar providing 7.1.2 sound in a 3.1 package. It is a technological sound wonder! With all the features this review is a little long but worth the read if you are considering this soundbar. The Soundbar and subwoofer come in the standard L shaped box. The packaging is well designed and holds everything well preventing damage. The system was extremely easy to set up due to its HDMI connections and Wireless sub woofer (and later additional wireless rear speakers). The design is good looking, black finish and only about 2.5 inches tall. You can choose to use it with or without the speakers exposed using the magnetic speaker grill. If you are an audio purist you will get the best sound without the grill. If you have small children who like to poke things I recommend using the grill. The sound bar should fit under most TV’s without blocking the picture or IR receiver. The sound bar does have an IR repeater so you do not have to worry about the IR receiver being blocked anyway. The subwoofer is compact enough that it fits into a corner easily. All you have to do plug it in and turn it on and it pairs automatically with the sound bar. The finish is black also. The soundbar has 2 HDMI inputs, both of which are 4K HDR 18 Gbps pass-through and HDCP 2.2 allowing Dolby Vision,HDR10 and HLG. The HDMI out with ARC for the TV. I can also confirm the ARC implementation works bidirectionally allowing input and output. There’s also a LAN port, USB, 3.5mm audio, and optical audio. The soundbar also has built-in Bluetooth, WiFi, and Chromecast. You can also send music wirelessly to remote speakers around your house by using the Sony music pal app and other Sony wireless speakers. You can even control the soundbar with your Google home. Sony had endowed this soundbar with a decoder for almost every Dolby and DTS format. You do have to use the HDMI inputs on the soundbar for Dolby True HD. I was able to connect everything to my LG tv and pass it through on the ARC input. You do get Home theater available on the screen and have to switch the inputs to the desired device but I have it all set up with a Logitech Harmony another great device! Setting up the soundbar was easy through the onscreen interface and pairing the subwoofer (and later the optional rear speakers) was plug and play! The soundbar comes with a lot of options and preset sound modes. I recommend you use the express set up first then adjust with the advanced manual settings as needed later. There’s a lot of extra options if you do the advanced manual set up, but I didn’t find I had to change any of them except one. The HDMI signal format, which is set to Standard by default and needs to be Enhanced to pass through 4K/HDR. If you have your speakers set up so that they are not physically centered with your seating you can change the sonic center in the set up. This allows the seating to be any configuration and still providing sound as the director designed it. The soundbar sounds great with anything playing through it, but it sounds incredible when you’re watching something that really takes advantage of higher end formats like Dolby Atmos and True HD. To test this I’m using this soundbar with my LG 65 inch C6 OLED 4K HDR television and my Phillips BDP7501 4K UHD Blu-ray player an Nvidia Sheild TV, and Amazon FireTV2 which supports UHD HDR and Dolby Atmos or Dolby TrueHD sound. I watched Startrek on Beyond 4K Blu-ray with Dolby Atmos and the sound was Incredible. Netfilix and VUDU streaming from the TV and both streaming boxes sound great also. Most Dolby Atmos soundbars and speakers have extra speakers that are oriented to bounce off the ceiling and create the sound above you. The HT-Z9F doesn’t have any extra speakers for this, but Sony uses their Vertical Sound Engine, which uses the existing speakers to create a virtual soundfield. This works great, you hear sounds at all heights around you creating a cinematic experience right in your living room. There are optional rear speakers (SA-Z9R) that can be added to this, they are not included in the 3.1 package. I highly recommend the rear speakers as they give you 5.1 surround sound (7.1.2 emulated because of the vertical sound engine). The soundbar sounds great on its own, but with them this sound system really rocks! My former Vizio 5.1 soundbar sounded good but this Sony soundbar creates a completely exhilarating experience especially with with the optional rear speakers. The sounds are clearer and the sonic positioning is more accurate allowing you to have a true theater like experience thanks to DSEE HX (digital sound enhancement engine) and the Vertical sound engine. The remote is well designed it allows you increase the voice level for those movies and tv shows where you have a hard time hearing the characters speak. There is also a night mode that cuts most of the bass and softens the overall sound of the soundbar. The vertical sound feature can be turned off , although once you experience it you will probably never turn it off. In summary Sony has produced a sonic masterpiece in a compact soundbar. You will enjoy the theater like sound it produces for all your listening and video activities. This soundbar has every feature you may want.
I would recommend this to a friend
Not Quite Real Atmos, but It’s Close and AwesomePosted
I was surprised at how great this soundbar is, especially being 3.1 and claiming ‘close to 7.1.2ch’. It doesn’t quite feel like a true 7.1.2 system, but it comes a lot closer than I was expecting. If you’re spending the money, I would go with the optional rear speakers and you are better than good. The soundbar is pretty compact for what it is; it’s only about 2.5 inches tall and should fit under most TVs without blocking them. You can choose to display it with or without the speakers exposed; I ended up using the magnetic speaker grill, but I did like both looks. The subwoofer is not the smallest I’ve seen, but it’s compact enough that it tucks into the corner pretty well. The soundbar has 2 HDMI inputs, both of which passthrough HDR (including Dolby Vision and HLG), and there’s an HDMI out with ARC for the TV. There’s also a LAN port, USB, 3.5mm, and Toslink. The soundbar also has built-in Bluetooth, WiFi, and Chromecast (Chromecast is a big plus for me). It can decode pretty much any Dolby and DTS format under the sun, though some of them like Dolby True HD are limited to the HDMI inputs. There’s just so much packed in here that it really didn’t leave me wanting for anything else. Setting up the soundbar was straightforward through the onscreen interface and pairing the subwoofer (and later the optional rear speakers) was not an issue. There’s a lot of extra options, but I didn’t find I had to change most of them. One exception was the HDMI signal format, which is set to ‘Standard’ by default and needs to be ‘Enhanced’ in order to pass through 4K/HDR fully. The soundbar sounds great with anything playing through it, but it sounds incredible when you’re watching something that really takes advantage of higher end formats like Dolby Atmos and True HD. I watched Bladerunner on 4K Blu-ray with Dolby Atmos and the sound was better than anything I’ve ever heard in my house before. Most Dolby Atmos soundbars have extra speakers that are angled up to bounce off the ceiling and create sound that is above you. The HT-Z9F doesn’t have any extra speakers for this, but something they call the ‘Vertical Sound Engine’, which uses the existing speakers to create a virtual soundfield that’s pretty convincing. I don’t think anything will ever be as good as dedicated speakers, but what Sony’s done is as good as I’ve ever heard. There are optional rear speakers that can be added to this, which I have and I’d definitely recommend getting them at some point if you don’t get them immediately. I still think the soundbar sounds great on its own, but they really do complete the experience. Overall I think the HT-Z9F delivers on the experience it advertises. It’s expensive to be sure and I do think the rear speakers ought to be included instead of separate, but I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with what you get.
I would recommend this to a friend
Vertical Sound, lots of Bass and many options!!Posted
I am extremely impressed with my new Sony HTZ9F soundbar and subwoofer. This system can get very loud and has all the bass I would ever need for my home theater. The sound is clear and absolutely wonderful and the vertical sound feature is a truly amazing accomplishment by Sony. The Z9F not only comes with a demo disc to play, it also has a built in demo mode that will play with a 3 second press of the button on the soundbar. When the manufacturer adds a built in demo mode, you know or at least hope, it’s going to be a pretty great product and this soundbar does not disappoint in any way whatsoever. It’s also pretty neat to be able to press the demo button when friends are over to quickly show-off the amazing vertical surround sound without having to put in a movie. The Soundbar and subwoofer came nicely packaged and the system was extremely easy to set up. I’m using this soundbar with my Sony XBR55X850C 4K HDR television and my Sony UBPX800/B 4K Blu-ray player. Being that all three of these are Sony products you would expect them to play well together and they absolutely do just that. When setting up the soundbar, if you are using a 4K tv and/or a 4k blu-ray player, be sure to go to the soundbar settings to upgrade the HDMI port(s) that you are using to the enhanced format so that 4K and HDR content can pass through the soundbar. If you do not enhance the port you will not get the true 4K experience you want. You also want to be sure that the HDMI ports you are using on your television are upgraded to an enhanced format if that is an option. Be sure to use the HDMI (ARC) port if you have that available. Another cool feature of this soundbar is that it will act as an IR relay for your television remote, or at least it does for mine. Which means that I just have to aim my television remote at the soundbar and not have to worry about the remote sensor on the television being covered up by the soundbar. This is a wonderful feature as my previous soundbar blocked the tv remote sensor and I could only use my bluetooth television remote, with it’s limited control options. The soundbar comes with a lot of options and preset sound modes. You can control the volume of the rear speakers and subwoofer individually, which is really cool. It definitely comes in handy since the subwoofer has a lot of bass and can be pretty loud sometimes. The rear speakers are not included but can be purchased separately. I do recommend the rear speakers as they give you 5.1 surround sound that really adds to the overall listening experience, however even without the rear speakers this soundbar sounds great. With the remote you can increase the voice level for those movies and tv shows where you have a hard time hearing the characters speak, it works and works well. There is also a night mode that cuts most of the bass and softens the overall sound of the soundbar. The vertical sound feature can be turned off however I leave it on all the time because it improves the sound and makes you feel like you are right there in the scene of the movie or TV show. With vertical sound when there is rain on the TV show or movie it sounds like the rain is actually coming from above and falling all around you, it’s really cool and works very well. The design in great, in my opinion. It looks really nice, is not too tall and I love that the grill/cover is connected with magnets and can be easily removed for cleaning and/or just to have a different look. I’ve read some complaints about how compact all the ports are on the back but I think they are actually better than the few other soundbars I’ve had in the past and I didn’t have any problems reaching or plugging in any of the cables. Overall I’m blown-away by this soundbar and subwoofer, the clarity, THE BASS, the mids, lows and highs all sound perfect. Once again, the bass on this system really “thumps” and I love it! This is hands-down the best soundbar I’ve ever owned and probably the best soundbar in this price range that I’ve heard to date. Yes, the price is a little high, but you get what you pay for and I think it’s worth every penny! I would without a doubt recommend this to anyone who wants to own one of the best soundbar subwoofer systems, in this price range, available on the market today.
I would recommend this to a friend