Sony HT-A9 review: all-in-one wireless surround sound that works

Sony’s $ 1,800 HT-A9 Home Theater System finds a satisfying middle ground between the ease of use a soundbar offers and the immersive audio experience created by a true multi-speaker surround speaker array.

Sony uses a mapping technology it calls 360 Spatial Sound to analyze your room layout and create the illusion of 12 phantom speakers that will convince listeners that the sound is coming from the ceiling and virtual center and side speakers. Users can enjoy streaming and physical media including Dolby Atmos or DTS: X sound mixes.

Listeners who have experienced less than impressive results from soundbars that promise a “virtual 5.1” surround sound experience may have their doubts, but Sony has absolutely solved this challenge and delivered a system that effectively delivers an immersive experience that it does not. It depends on the largest number of speakers, cables and ceiling installation problems.

sony ht a9 speaker system effectSony

Sony’s HT-A9 speaker system creates a truly immersive listening experience, but you’ll want to complement it with one of Sony’s subwoofers.

The HT-A9 features a transmitter box that connects to your television and four speakers that connect wirelessly to the transmitter via Wi-Fi. Sony offers an optional subwoofer – choose from the $ 400 200-watt SA-SW3 or the $ 700 300-watt SA-SW5. We tested with and without the SA-SW5 and concluded that the subwoofer is an almost essential addition to the system.

After a week of using the HT-A9 system with the subwoofer, I switched back to a Focal Dimension soundbar and subwoofer just for perspective. The Dimension is an exceptional soundbar, but there’s no way it can match Sony’s immersive listening and viewing experience.

Ht a9 speaker and rear of ht a9 control boxSony

The rear panel of the Sony HT-A9 control box (left) and an exposed illustration of one of the four corresponding speakers in the system (not to scale).

When you add the cost of the subwoofer, Sony asks for a $ 2,500 commitment for an optimal home theater experience. For that price, you get a flexible setup that you can easily follow when moving house and an experience closer to that offered by an elaborate speaker array than what you’ll get even with the best soundbars.

Sony HT-A9 setup

One of the most impressive tricks about the HT-A9 bag is its ability to adapt to the placement of the speakers. If you can place your speakers in a perfect rectangle with each speaker at an identical height, the mapping technology reads the room and tunes each speaker at its location. I set up the system with a couple of different rear speaker locations and overall performance was unaffected when the rear speakers were at different heights and not aligned with the front speakers.

sony sa sw5 300 watt subwoofer Sony

Adding Sony’s 300-watt SA-SW5 subwoofer to your HT-A9 home theater system will add $ 700 to your bill, but you should consider a subwoofer as an essential component.

Each speaker is labeled left or right and front or rear for easy placement (RL, FL, RR, FR) and each requires its own power cord plugged into an electrical outlet.

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