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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
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
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
Couldn't be Happier!!Posted
I had an older Sony 2.1 Soundbar (300W) that just didn't seem to have much dynamic range...so went shopping to see what newer systems were out there. I immediately gravitated to the Bose 500 Soundbar (as I am admitted Bose-snob...ever since my original Acoustimass system from the 1990's!), but while listening, the BB Tech showed me this Sony HT-Z9F system that was the exact same price as the Bose 500 with Bose 500 subwoofer). After listening back and forth and talking to the techs, I was getting swayed to the Sony...although still a little hesitant since I was coming to replace my older Sony system. Digging into the specs some more, the Bose's integrated Alexa is cute, but they tout "8 microphones" to better support Alexa. I already have an external Echo Dot and the new Sony firmware supports integrated control with Alexa so on that count, Sony won for me. Why pay extra for integrated Alexa features that don't do anything to improve the sound! My $20 Echo Dot does it's thing very well and the Sony Soundbar does it's thing very well. Also, it turns out the Sony supports both transmit and receive Bluetooth...so I can pair to my wireless headphones as well as send my music via my pair iPhone. According to the Techs, the Bose will not support wireless headphones. So, after quite a while of spec considerations and listening, I purchased the Sony system AND the matching Sony wireless rear satellite speakers. (also the same price as the Bose wireless rear speakers.) NOTE - if just comparing soundbars, the Bose Soundbar has a richer sound (and is more compact) than just the Sony Soundbar, but when comparing complete systems, in my opinion the Sony was the winner. The set up was very easy. The wireless components all paired flawlessly. One mistake I made - by not reading the directions closely - is that when using the TV eARC port - MAKE SURE YOU USE THE HDMI CABLE THAT COMES WITH THE SONY SYSTEM!!. I had just used an older cable at first and wondered why I couldn't see the Sony menu on the TV. Once I read closer and used the correct cable - problem solved. Lesson learned - not all HDMI Cables are created equal!! The room this is in is 16' x 16' and while this system is only spec'd at 200W (100W soundbar, 100W sub) it fills the room far better than my older 300W system. Most impressive is the quality of bass response at lower listening volumes. The bass is proportionally rich and full from low to high volumes which makes the listening experience quite enjoyable. Never had a system with this type of response or dynamic range at lower listening levels. But make no mistake, it has more than enough "oomph" at higher volumes too... at least for this size room. I also think the rear satellites are worth every penny. I think it was the content and quality of effects from the rears that actually sold me in the store and now at home, it is amazing how much audio content I was missing before! The 5.1 set up really enhances the whole listening experience. In addition to great sound, the Sony remote is very well laid out and responsive and the on-screen set up menu is very intuitive and complete. Especially nice is the speaker calibration for distances between speakers and listeners. Pairing between my external Echo Dot and iPhone were a snap and was pairing with bluetooth headphones. Note - out of the box, the LAN connection is needed to update the most recent firmware - which was easy and straightforward. Audio from my iPhone plays in 2.1 mode, but when you enable the Vertical Surround Feature, the audio is enhanced through the rear satellites for an amazing, room filling music quality! Summary - while l still love my Bose earbuds and Bose Mini-Link II bluetooth speaker, this Sony system (with rear satellites) provides absolutely amazing sound quality with an easy user interface and features- I couldn't be happier with this purchase!!
I would recommend this to a friend
Great Sound Bar; Easy to UsePosted
First Impressions: Opening the box was a bit awkward. I have a picture attached. I’m glad this was shipped to me vs. trying to carry it. I understand trying to cut down on the packaging, but to me this would have been better packaged as a rectangular box. The subwoofer was about as heavy as a standard CPU; the Sound Bar had some heft as well. For the following, I used a Hisense 4K TV, a standard provider-issued HDTV cable box, a Roku Premiere, and a Samsung 8. Setup: Sony is great at creating short, simple to understand setup directions. Since my TV was new, I had a HDMI (ARC) port. The included HDMI cable runs from this port to the Sound Bar, then you plug each device into the Sound Bar via HDMI. Your inputs are now controlled through the Sound Bar vs. the TV. The subwoofer is wirelessly connected; all you do is plug it into power. The only issue I had was that the ports on the Sound Bar are in an at angle. I found it to be a pain to get the cables seated properly. TV: I tried using the Sound Bar for both the TV and the Roku. The sound was very rich as compared to my TV. The system synced with my TV and cable remotes instantly; however, I still need both the Sony and the cable box remote to access all functions. I am still confused as to why, when I change the volume, I get two volume bars (pictured). One may be the subwoofer; I don’t seem to be able to adjust the SW on its own even though it has its own button. The Owner’s Manual is a book and I’ve yet to finish it so it may be a user issue. Music: First, I tried playing music using Google Play Music on my Samsung 8. I kept getting an error message stating that my song could not be played, that it had to be uploaded to Play Music on my computer. I’d already done this in the past, so that didn’t make sense. I Googled the error code and found that it was a common complaint, with little resolution. I could play my library from my computer, just not my phone. The one exception was the one song I purchased from the Play Store that I tried – that played from my phone fine. Amazon Music streamed over Bluetooth and Chromecast fine. I noticed, though, that you could not use the pre-set sound settings with Chromecast. I found that the sound from the Bluetooth connection was much richer. Other than the above, the Sony Music center app instantly connected with the Sound Bar; however, once I used either Amazon’s or Google’s apps to play the music, I got the same error using my downloaded library. Samsung Music could play my music library using the Sony app just fine. It seems just to be an issue with Chromecast, which is more of a reflection on Google than Sony. I highly recommend this unit. It’s easy to set up, fairly intuitive to use, and has great sound. The few issues I had was not enough for me to downgrade the rating.
I would recommend this to a friend
The Sony HT-Z9F is an excellent sound bar with easPosted
To start, set up is extremely simple, with the HDMI connectivity capabilities as well as Bluetooth, WiFi, USB and optical connections, it has the means to make connections to the vast majority of modern A/V and digital equipment. It comes with a subwoofer that is wireless except for a power cord. In addition to those connectivity options, it also has a built-in Chromecast to allow for streaming from your PC or mobile device. If you choose, you can even add wireless rear speakers for a true 5.1 surround experience (this is uncommon for most sound bars). Adding those speakers is seamless as the soundbar found them without even having to complete the setup process. The audio is phenomenal and room-filling, the bass is powerful and adds dimension rather than noise as small subwoofers tend to. It is Dolby Atmos DTS:X capable and it shows. The soundbar itself is slim and unobtrusive, with a clean look. It even has a magnetically attachable speaker grill should you choose to use it, and an LCD that can be seen with or without the grill. When hooking up via HDMI it took no effort to get optimal sound quality and 5.1 capabilities (provided the source supports it). It has two HDMI inputs so you will want to limit your HDMI inputs to the ones that can truly benefit from the capabilities of the connection, the rest you may choose to send to it via optical as I have (I have dramatically more HDMI devices than just two). This is an issue I’ve had in the past with HDMI capable sound bars, however with it being able to also connect optically, it does not become a limitation here. My only complaint about this sound bar is that it seems to overpower spoken words when set to most of the audio options, and there is no independent control of the volume for the rear speakers. I have also run into one oddity with the use, although it's purely cosmetic - when changing the volume on the soundbar while connected via HDMI, I see 2 volume gauges on the screen. I tested it and they are definitely both coming from the sound bar, as they both show up when changing the volume via the button on the bar itself rather than with the remote. Pros: Room-filling dynamic fully-realized sound Plethora of connectivity options Capability for true 5.1 speaker setup Wireless connections to both the subwoofer and speakers Cons: Voice can be drowned out in certain scenarios at lower volumes, where background seems to be overpowering No independent control of the volume for the satellites Price If you’re looking for an unobtrusive but fully capable sound option without having to run speaker wire all over your house, then this is it. The capability to have a true surround experience if you choose as well as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X capability and 4K HDMI passthrough are significant strengths. The price may be a little high, but the truly wireless connectivity of the system offers capabilities that many more expensive and less able options can supply.
I would recommend this to a friend
Hi Beradon, Sony takes into consideration all feedback to improve the performance and quality of our products and services. We're always looking to make Sony better. We appreciate your time sharing this feedback. Regards, ^Ron
High quality soundPosted
If you want to hear a top tier soundbar that produce a great listen experience look no further and make the Sony HT-Z9F your next purchase. I’m fortunate to own different sound systems and I thought I had the best but that was before trying the Sony HT-Z9F. Let me take you back to me opening the Sony box with the HT-Z9F. Packed simply with the contents you need to get you started. You get the soundbar, subwoofer, remote, power cable, hdmi cord, batteries, Dolby setup disc, manuals and mounting accessories. You can use the quick guide but it’s plug and play easy to install. The home button on the remote takes you to basic and advance setup options to get you ready for a great listening session. The HT-Z9F is a 3.1 channel system but you can always add the rear speakers to get 7.1.2 surround sound. The sound is very clear so you hear just about everything as it was intended. When you push the vertical s button on the Sony remote sounds get even better. The subwoofer handles the bass of action movies and I know it will keep us on the edge when we are watching thrillers. What I like is after making your adjustments the settings are saved so you can store your remote and use the tv remote if you are using the hdmi arc. For the price you are paying for the HT-Z9F it is loaded with all the newest features and because it connects to the internet I know it will be supported with updates for new features. The HT-Z9F makes me feel more comfortable staying home to watch a movie knowing that I have top of the line surround sound instead of always going out to the movie theaters. With the cinema, game, music and news mode I can choose what I want or I can use auto and forget about it. You cannot go wrong making the decision to get this. It has almost everything that makes it convenient. You can cast your music from your phone or tablet using chromecast. Google is compatible so you can play your music together with other speakers with chromecast built in. If the tv is limited on hdmi port you can also use the ports on the soundbar. I fully recommend the HT-Z9F.
I would recommend this to a friend
Clear, room filling soundPosted
I have been using another sound bar for a few years that was pretty expensive but I've never been that excited about the sound. I was psyched to get this new Sony sound bar along with the wireless rear speakers. Setup was pretty straight forward. I only have 2 components and I plugged them right into the bar via HDMI and ran the HDMI out to Sony Bravia TV. My only complaint is that the inputs on the back of the bar are at an angle, i had a bit of a hard time getting the HDMI cables in. I guess Sony did it this way to make mounting the bar easier? I will be mounting mine later and will find out. The sub and the wireless speakers just need to be plugged into power and they are ready to go. I did not have to link them or change any settings through the remote which was really nice. Once everything was plugged in, I ran through the on-screen setup to set up the WiFi network, do an update and change some settings. It was fast, easy and I was ready to go in a few minutes. I broke the system in by watching the new Avengers movie at a pretty good volume. The sound was amazing. I could hear the movie all around me with the rears behind. I've had satellite speakers in the past that were pretty useless...not these! After the movie I tested them out with a baseball game which sounded great as well. With the vertical sound feature turned on, you really hear a difference in sound. I'm no audiophile so I'm not sure exactly what it does, but it just sounds fuller with this feature on. The remote is great. There are a bunch of different sound modes, volume buttons for the sub and the rears, as well as night mode and voice features. The voice button allows you to better hear dialogue but I have not found the need for this yet, everything sounds great. Night mode is great for watching movies later at night and you don't want to wake the neighbors. It will make sure you still hear everything well but won't rock the room and keeps huge sound effects from getting too loud. While I do not really need this bar for playing music, I do like the convenience of doing so from my phone. Both Chromecast audio and Bluetooth work really well and music sounds better on this system than other sound bars I have heard. I downloaded the Sony app as well, it allows you to use your phone to change volume, access media servers, etc. I wanted to be able to recommend this bar without the rear speakers, but after watching a few movies in full surround sound, I just can't. Do yourself a favor and spend a few extra bucks to get the wireless rears, it really makes a difference. The system sounds great without them, but the satellites really up the game. Great job with this Sony!
I would recommend this to a friend
Before purchasing I researched, read many reviews and listened to numerous sound bars from Sony as well as other companies. Most of what's available either lacked rear speaker compatibility or didn't support Dolby Atmos. I got the Z9R rear speakers after reading reviews and this made my system complete. I listened to the sound bar without the rear speakers and it still sounds good but the rear speakers bring the system to life. I found open-box models at a local Best Buy so I was able to get the 5.1 system for $800 total instead of $1200. For some reason the subwoofer and rear speakers didn't sync right away so I did it manually which wasn't too difficult. The remote allows for separate control of the subwoofer and rear speakers although I maxed the volume out for each and it sounds great. What showcases this system is the Dolby Atmos disc that's included and this allows for the audience to hear how a 5.1 system can sound like a 7.1.2. Sony's Vertical Engine Technology makes for an immersive experience so the sounds have depth and height to it. Two hdmi inputs were enough for me and having the hdmi/arc output made it convenient for other devices connected to the tv to communicate with the sound bar. Reviews mentioned there were problems with the angle of input for the hdmi cables but if you start from the rear most input, it's quite easy to set up. The features are simple and easy to use and help to set up the sound bar for the best possible output. It can get loud as needed but sounds good even at low volumes. The dialogue from movies are very crisp and clear and the bass is adequate and not too overpowering. It made sense for me to purchase this after getting a 55" Sony 930E 4K tv and I've never had any issues with a Sony product ever. I considered the Sony 9000F and ST5000 sound bars -- the 9000F was good but a little lacking and the ST5000 was too powerful and neither offered rear speakers compatibility. I also looked at the previous generation of Sony sound bars but there were too many issues from review I read and no future firmware to support Dolby Atmos. I spent many hours talking with Best Buy Sony reps and one selling point was they all mentioned that Sony is in the movie and music industry so they know how to develop technology to produce the best possible picture and sound. I could've got a comparable sound bar for a lot cheaper but this fit my needs and I saved $400 buying a slightly used 2018 product. This is a great compromise for a sound bar that's somewhere in between an actual 7.1.2 system and something that "sounds great for the money" but if you don't plan on getting the rear speakers, another system might be a better fit. I totally recommend this as a 5.1 system and has made my home theater experience that much more enjoyable
I would recommend this to a friend
Makes the Sound AlivePosted
This soundbar in combination with the optional rear speakers really makes the sounds come alive. When I'm watching an action movie, it’s like Thor’s hammer is whizzing right over my head. When I'm playing a video game, it’s like the dragons of Skyrim are breathing fire down my neck. And when I'm listening to romantic music, it’s like Weird Al is pumping his accordion right in front of me. If you’re an audiophile or purist and are very particular about your sound, you’ll never be happy with any soundbar, let alone life in general. But for folks like me who appreciate high quality sound without a lot of fuss (i.e., lazy people), the Sony HT-9ZF hits the spot. Incredibly simple to set up, with menus that show up on the TV—you don’t have to deal with Morse code of flashing lights like on other soundbars. I upgraded from a $300 5.1 soundbar kit that included the subwoofer and rear speakers. That kit still had wires running from rear speakers to the subwoofer. More annoyingly, it had a constant hiss in the rear speakers when playing at low volumes. But with this Sony, except for the power plugs, everything is truly wireless. And the sound clarity is awesome – no hiss or other distracting noise. What’s really nice is there’s a separate volume boost for voice (and one for subwoofer), regardless of the sound mode you’re in. That really helps as so many shows now feature actors mumbling out their lines as they’re lost in space. There are two downsides. The first is you miss out on the complete immersive experience without buying the additional rear speakers. That’s true for any soundbar, of course. And even though this one does a decent job with its vertical sound projection from the front, I highly recommend getting the rear speakers. The second downside is the HDMI connectors are angled and don’t have much clearance. I suppose they’re better for certain wall mounts, but less useful than straight connectors for everyone else. Bottom line is this is a very high quality soundbar that paired with the optional rear speakers will satisfy most people.
I would recommend this to a friend
Great Sound Bar with Wireless Sub WooferPosted
I recently purchased a new Sony 4K TV and really needed an external sound bar to take full advantage of the new purchase. The Sony HTZ9F 3.1 Channel Sound Bar with Wireless Sub Woofer and (optional rear channels) is the perfect solution. The sound bar comes with the sub woofer, an HDMI cable, remote and batteries, a wall mountain bracket/template and user manuals. It was well packaged to keep the units safe in the box. Once unboxed, setup was very straight forward...simply connect the sound bar to the TV via HDMI (ARC) if available...which my TV has. Connect cable box and any other components via HDMI (there are only 2 HDMI ports on the sound bar). Plug in the power on the sound bar and sub and turn them on..the sub (and rear channel speakers) connect automatically. Within minutes, the system was up and running...and man the difference was so noticeable. My Xfinity remote supports the Sony remote, so the remote controls TV and audio no problem. You still need to see the included Sony remote to set up other functions and sound settings. The sound is very good, the first thing that really jumped out was the clarity and volume of voices. It seems like some TV shows or channels muffle voices and I really need to crank up the volume to hear the dialogue....that is completely gone with this sound bar. There are a number of sound options available and I'm still experimenting with them all, but the Cinema or Standard settings seem to be the best so far. Now for music, I was curious to see how easy this system would be to use with my iPhone or laptop. There are 2 options for connecting for music: Bluetooth and WiFi. With BT, it's as easy as turning the sound bar to Bluetooth mode and connecting your phone...boom, deep and rich music in less than a minute! I then downloaded the Sony Music Center App and connected the system to my home WiFi network. The app walks thru the install/set up process and takes just a couple minutes. The app is pretty straight forward and gives you access to a number of music options including Pandora and TuneIn radio. Pros: - Easy set up - Self connecting Wireless Sub Woofer and Rear Channel Speakers (optional) - Bluetooth and WiFi connection options for music - Modern design and looks, magnetic cover on sound bar - Deep rich sound quality and great dialogue clarity Cons: - No backlight on the remote control - sought to see in dark room - HDMI inputs are at an odd angle and can be challenging to connect to - Only 2 HDMI ports Overall, this is a great sounding, easy to set up and great looking sound bar and speaker system. I would definitely recommend this system!
I would recommend this to a friend
SONY Raises the BarPosted
The Sony HT-Z9F soundbard is an awesome experience. It will surround and encapsulate you in amazing musical sounds like no other. The HT-Z9F offers Vertical Sound which if you have not experienced breaks the sound mold which everyone has been accustomed to. The HT-Z9F differs from other soundbars as it creates the illusion of height and a wide open space. This soundbar is not reliant on your living room ceiling space (or the lack thereof) to create the Vertical Sound effect. The Vertical Sound capability in a nutshell is very SPACIOUS sounding. Super pleasing to listen to. My soundbar is used for YouTube music videos, TV and watching movies. Design wise, the HT-Z9F is neat, simple and pleasing to the eye. The soundbar is around 3 feet wide and has 3 drivers which are concealed by a metal grill. The soundbar has a solid feel to it and is weighty (a good thing). Interesting is the soundbar grill is held on via the use of magnets. I see no viable reasons why the grill is detachable. Is there a need to dust beneath the grill? The HT-Z9F comes stadard with a remote control. Yes, yet another remote to add to your table top. I am not getting into the specifications or capabilities of this soundbar, rather I am focusing on its sound. If you see one on display, put it through the paces while in the store. Go ahead and compare it. Sony is the one to buy. The subwoofer produces deep sounds. The subwoofer does not have a metal grill, rather it has what feels like some sort of synthetic fabric cover.. I would suspect that the fabric is easily damaged, so it is advisable to be careful with it especially if you position your subwoofer on the floor where children and pets can gain access to it. Is the Sony HT-Z9F worth the money? I compared the Sony HT-Z9F to my Sony 2.1 Channel 2.1 soundbar system. which I have owned for approximately 9 months. To my audiophile ears, the sound quality was quite similar, but overall the HT-Z9F won out in the long run, especially since I coupled the HT-Z9F with the Sony SA-Z9R speakers. Overall, another great Sony product!
I would recommend this to a friend