Sony recently released the Sony HT-NT5 soundbar. In this review we take a close look at the soundbar. Is this soundbar an addition to your sound experience?
Sony HT-NT5 – design and installation
When you take the Sony HT-NT5 out of the box, you will find the same things as in other boxes of the soundbars of Sony: a soundbar, the necessary parts for attaching the soundbar to the wall, the subwoofer and the remote control . Sony delivers the soundbar completely – whether you are planning to put the wide speaker on a cabinet (as we have done) or to fix the device to the wall, in both cases you can immediately go. A small but important form of service.
Installing and setting up the soundbar may not actually have a name. If you want to start right away, place the soundbar and connect the device to your TV with the included optical cable. The subwoofer is plugged into the socket and automatically makes contact with the soundbar. Finally, make sure that the batteries in the compact remote control go and let your television know that the sound from now on via external speakers. It requires minimal effort and knowledge of things, and delivers good results quickly.
Of course it can also be slightly more extensive. For that you connect the soundbar to the television via an HDMI cable that you undoubtedly have somewhere to lie (this is unfortunately not included, but fortunately not so expensive). Then you get access to the soundbar’s menu, where you can update it to the new firmware, for example. That is equally important, since that update adds wider support for surround sound, for example. You can also change input mode quickly in this menu, if necessary.
The Sony HT-NT5 has a premium look. The grid on top is not directly on the bar itself, but needs to be confirmed by the user – if necessary. Because you can also use it without it; however, nothing will change to your sound experience. It is purely for the appearance of your equipment. If you find a better or better fit with your setup without a grid, then you can leave it in the box. If you prefer to go with it, you can easily attach the accessory to the soundbar using magnetic strips – that is how it happened.
The most striking thing about the design of this soundbar are the two small speakers at the front. Those speakers can send the sound horizontally through the room. The sound will then not be sent up (directed towards the ceiling) into the room, but directly to the listener. We are going to talk about this in terms of the quality of the sound, but we can already tell you that the sound experience will benefit. In terms of design, however, it does not look very nice. In fact, the eye a bit cheap.
The tweeters are made of rubber (as is often the case) and shine well during the day. And that gives them a bit of a cheap look. The nice thing about those little speakers at the front is that the soundbar will automatically use them when you put it down. The Sony HT-NT5 is also smart enough to know when you have hung the bar and will automatically switch to the tweeters behind the grid, so you always get the sound sent into the room, regardless of the position.
At the back are the three hdmi connections that you can not all just as well achieve (especially the rear make it tricky). There are also the connections for the optical and ethernet cable and USB stick. In addition, the soundbar has wifi and bluetooth, so you can also use it in combination with mobile devices and even other speakers from Sony. We could not test the latter; but with two extra speakers you get a physical surround sound, provided you place them behind you.
Moreover, there is support for all kinds of wireless music streaming, such as WiFi (with DNLA), Google Cast and Spotify, but also HDCP 2.2 . The standard, made by Intel, makes it possible to secure digital content sent via a digital connection. By using this security standard, content providers and manufacturers of AV equipment encrypt the data transfer and it is only possible to display the content with equipment that is authorized to do so.
The support for Hi-Res audio is also certainly an important aspect of the speaker. It is therefore possible to send audio that is not compressed or minimally compressed by the speaker, which immediately produces a moot sound. You have to play the right files (an mp3 file is quite compressed and lacks details in advance) and that can be disadvantageous when you have little disk space to deal with. But some music streaming services already support Hi-Res audio, like, to name a few, Tidal.
Sony HT-NT5 – use
Just like the installation, putting the Sony HT-NT5 into operation is incredibly simple. With the remote control or the SongPal application you can realize a lot of things. So you can make a multiroom setup via the app with speakers that are located elsewhere in the house by grouping them. With the remote control you can easily and quickly change input, allowing you to make the most of all connections and wireless possibilities. The remote is the same as that of other Sony sound bars.
The remote control is clear and comprehensive enough. At the bottom there are media buttons, with which you can control the music that you play from a NAS or mobile device. So you do not necessarily have to use the SongPal or another app (your own music player, for example), so the screen of your smartphone can stay nice (bluetooth already eats enough of your battery). There are also buttons on the soundbar itself: you control the volume, the input and you can, for example, switch Bluetooth on and off.
During our use, we have mostly used the music and Clear Audio modes. The Sony HT-NT5 is clearly a 2.1 device, so real surround sound can be forgotten (without those extra speakers), so we would rather not put it on the stand for movies when we watched a movie. Although explosions and other effects do pop through the speakers, you have to set the device very hard and then understand what was said. Clear Audio is clearly the favorite.
With that audio mode you ensure that the audio becomes clear and understandable, which is ideal for the moments when you watch a series, YouTube video or film. Yes, the effects are shifted slightly backwards, but at least you can understand what is being said. For a surround sound experience with beautiful effects, you do not need to bring this soundbar into your home, because that simply lacks a real surround effect. This effect is as good as absent without those extra speakers in the house.
We have therefore mainly used the Sony HT-NT5 as a 2.1-audio set. In combination with the mode for music that delivers a wonderful result, which you can read more about later in this article. The game mode is also fine in itself, but we did not necessarily think better than Clear Audio, which automatically selects the optimal settings. The soundbar also offers support for 4K HDR. 4K HDR support is particularly interesting when you have an Ultra HD TV and accompanying media player.
The best thing about the support for Google Cast, among other things, is that you can also use this soundbar in combination with other speakers that support the same technology. That is possible with other Google Cast speakers, but also with speakers that are from Sony. With the extra speakers in the house you can not only create a surround sound effect, you can also create a multiroom audio system and play music that is the same in every room, for example. The soundbar can be part of that network.
Sony HT-NT5 – audio quality
We have already mentioned this somewhat above. The audio quality of the Sony HT-NT5 is good. Whether you use the music or Clear Audio mode (for listening to music or playing movies and playing games, respectively), the soundbar delivers a very fine result. The highs are as good as the low tones. The subwoofer is impressive and does the 1 in the 2.1 setup honors. You can set the strength of the bass yourself and with the different modes you can really find a sound level that you like.
One mode often has a preference over the other mode. As indicated, we prefer the Clear Audio mode while watching a movie, not the movie mode. Within a 2.1-arrangement, the surround sounds do not come into their own, making understanding of the characters on the screen more difficult. And that affects your viewing experience well. So it is possible to connect two or more other speakers for a surround sound experience, but unfortunately we have not been able to test this at the moment.
The stereo sound is really bright, wide, room filling and nice to listen to. In the time we used the Sony HT-NT5, we mainly used it for music and series. Dance, metal, rock, Dutch music or pop – it all sounds pure and you will never hear any distortion, noise or whatever. However, the noise at high volumes may cause distortion. At a normal noise level, however, you will not notice anything at all.
There is also a mode for sports games and there is the standard mode, which actually serves as an amplifier of your television sound. The sound from the soundbar with the sport mode does not sound as nice as on the more expensive soundbars and that has to do with the lack of a real surround sound experience. The sound always sounds clear, but you do not have the idea to sit almost in the stadium, or something like that. You can also expect a clear sound from the standard mode; but do not expect more than that.
Thanks to the support for High-Res audio, you may be able to listen to your old music in a different way, provided of course you use the right file formats. However, if you use a format that ensures that the music can not be played compressed, you can enjoy a phenomenal sound. You will hear layers and subtle details that you have not noticed before in your music of choice and that is the best compliment for a speaker.
Sony HT-NT5 – conclusion
However, the biggest disadvantage of the Sony HT-NT5 is the price. The model is for sale for around seven hundred euros and that is simply a substantial 2.1 stereo sound system. Yes, the system delivers a beautiful, clear and strong sound when you listen to music or watch series, but there are some shortcomings. Firstly, you have to invest extra in other Sony or other Google Cast speakers for a convincing surround sound effect and secondly not all sound modes sound as good.
When you opt for a soundbar, you are actually already making a bit of a compromise for your sound system. You’ll have your reasons for choosing a soundbar (it’s often a bit cheaper, you do not feel like drakegroup, et cetera), but with the Sony HT-NT5 you make at least a better compromise for yourself. If you are looking for a nice, reasonably compact sound system with a sleek design for your music, you can consider this soundbar. Even if your surround effects are not important, but just want to improve the audio quality of your flat screen TV, it is a good option.
The Sony HT-CT790 – one of the most comprehensive soundbars of the moment, including a (better) virtual surround mode – is available for almost half, making it a more interesting choice. But that does not mean that the Sony HT-NT5 is a bad soundbar, but do not expect a nice surround sound without extra investments. The sound that comes out is particularly suitable for listening to (high-res) music or viewing TV programs or series. In terms of connections, streaming services and options, we have nothing to complain about.