With so many new immersive systems entering the market, big brands are trying to compete against one another in new and innovative ways. On the upper end of the home audio market, Sony’s HT-A9 Wireless Surround Sound System has some really fascinating features as well as a bit of audio trickery to help to create the 3D soundstage.
Many of the newest, most innovative features on the market are coming from soundbars, as manufacturers try to cram that immersion factor into a tiny bar that sits in front of the television. There’s a great soundbar in the HT series too, but this is a 4.0.4 system. Or, if you configure it differently, a phantom 7.1.4 system!
Clever Mapping & Satisfying Audio
The centerpiece of this device is Sony’s 360 degree Spatial Sound Mapping technology. This is a really clever feature. They’ve managed to create an incredibly-efficient way of allowing the system to adapt to the room it is placed within, rather than the other way around.
Sound Field Optimization and Monopole Synthesis allow microphones to measure the room’s layout, including the height and the distance between speakers. Then, the Optimization feature creates a soundfield using “phantom” sources to create the feeling of immersion.
In the box, you get four speakers and a central hub which connects to the television. Cleverly, the configuration turns this into a much more immersive system.
The clever speaker design features a front-facing tweeter as well as a full-range driver to cover more of the mids and low frequencies. To handle the Z-axis there is an upward firing driver, which bounces off the ceiling to create the sound.
Sony has been cagey with the technology in question, but it relies on creating a pretty clever 3D map of the room and creating balanced audio. Even without tweaking the positioning of the speakers, there are very few gaps in the sound. You’ll ultimately end up with a really impressive system that does create a sound far beyond what would have once been possible with four speakers.
Compatibility & Shortfalls
The audio codecs you can listen to via the HT-A9 include Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, LPCM and Sony’s own 360 Reality Audio. This is perhaps the biggest draw of this device. There are dozens of immersive titles available to stream in 360RA via services such as Tidal and Amazon Music, most of which are inaccessible to users. The eARC connection to the central hub is great for connecting to consoles and other audio sources.
One shortfall is the lack of a subwoofer. The speakers do a decent job, and have a balanced sound for most audio purposes, but you just might miss that sub covering the low frequencies.
Summary: Is The HT-A9 System Truly Worth It?
It’s not a cheap system, but the impressive soundstage and convenience can make it a great choice, as there is very little in the way of setup to get really great sound. The central hub makes this a “plug and play” system, great for the casual home listener who doesn’t mind the expense.
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