For less than 500 euros you can now purchase a Sony soundbar: the Sony HT-XF9000. The design of the soundbar is tuned to that of the Sony XF90 series, making that TV and soundbar at first glance a great combination. But what about the sound and other televisions?
It is quite a bold step to provide a soundbar with a design that fits a specific television. Because then that design almost does not really fit in any other way, which is a bit off to the easy idea of the soundbar: drop and use. The plug and play principle is of course still very present, but what the Sony HT-XF9000 really has to convince is the sound reproduction. In this review, we take a closer look at the wide speaker, with the included wireless subwoofer.
Sony HT-XF9000 – design and specifications
The Sony HT-XF9000 is a 2.1-soundbar that has two loudspeakers are directed forward. Despite the small number of speakers on board, the soundbar does support Dolby Atmos through the Vertical Surround Engine. It is also equipped with S-Force PRO front surround. Further there is support for 4k hdr Dolby Vision and HDCP 2.2. On the back we find an HDMI-in and HDMI-out, as well as an optical audio and analogue input and a USB port. There is no nfc, but bluetooth 4.2.
The design is thus tuned to the Sony XF90 series. You notice this on the two sides: the soundbar slants backwards, so that it fits exactly between the legs of that television. When you put both products together, it should look like a beautiful whole. Because we do not have the TV, we unfortunately can not see it ourselves. With us it stands for a 55-inch Philips TV and it looks fine. From the front, the soundbar does not look spectacularly different or the like, but just sleek and stylish – as we are used to.
There are a number of buttons on the top. Although, there are no real buttons, since you do not press anything. If you press softly on the button for switching on and off, the soundbar is already on. In addition, there is a button for changing the source, two buttons for controlling the volume and a button for switching on bluetooth. There are also two openings at the back, with which you can also attach the soundbar to a wall. But you can also put it on a TV cabinet, of course.
Sony completes the package of the soundbar and subwoofer with a supplied remote control. This is not a special, but an extensive model. You can, for example, adjust the sound mode, but also perform simpler tasks such as switching the volume on and off, adjusting the volume level and changing the source. The remote control, despite its rectangular design, nicely in the hand and the buttons are easily accessible. You can also use the remote control for your own television for some things.
A possibility that sparkles in absence is the option to play music over the network. Now, fortunately, you have many other options for that nowadays, but if you still spend between four and five hundred euros on a soundbar, something like Google Cast or Spotify Connect can be used. Then you would really have a complete product – especially since cheaper soundbars are now also equipped with such technology (and even expansion to have multiroom support).
Sony HT-XF9000 – installation
Installing the Sony HT XF9000 requires no effort at all. When you remove the soundbar and subwoofer from the box, first connect the soundbar to the TV with the HDMI cable. Then you plug the plug into the socket. Then grab the subwoofer and plug that plug into the socket. The link between the two devices takes place automatically, so you do not have to worry about that. Just tell your television that you want sound from external speakers and you are ready for use. Simulator can not.
Sony HT-XF9000 – in use
It’s good that Sony has an HDMI connection on the back, so blu-ray players or other devices can be connected directly to the soundbar. It is a pity that it is only one. Admittedly, this is not a high-end soundbar, but a considerable step higher than the model for the much lower segment. Soundbars that cost about half even have one hdmi port extra, so you can expect such an extra port for the double amount. We have more devices that we would like to connect straight away.
Nevertheless, it’s great that you do not immediately lose your hdmi port on your television when you use this soundbar, because you’re the two port. The hdmi-port with which you connect the soundbar to the TV (the better way, so you do not see any audio delay), supports hdmi-arc. That means you do not have to use the Sony remote control if you do not want to. Switching on and off is done with the remote of your television. The same applies to controlling the volume level.
Although you can not separately set different types of tones, you can adjust the power of the subwoofer (harder or softer) and there are different sound modes available: Auto Sound, Cinema, Music, Game, News, Sport and Standard. Of course there is also the digital surround sound mode. There is also the voice and the evening mode, so you can arrange a quick setting for almost every situation. Whether you want to do that in all cases is of course a second. Usually it does not really need.
A disadvantage of this soundbar is that you can not see exactly how hard the device actually is. Because the sound of the TV goes through the soundbar, you can no longer see the level of the sound on TV. The soundbar itself has few resources for that, so you have to guess a bit that the sound is right when you start something. Very often you will be disappointed, because the sound is then adjusted to your previous session. If you play a game, the sound goes fast – but of course you do not have to.
Sony HT-XF9000 – audio quality
The different audio modes know what to do with the type of content you want to watch or listen to it. However, that does not apply to all modes. For example, the surround sound does not convince and does not lift the sound to the level you would like to hear. Of course that is impossible with only a soundbar at home. For what it does, it sounds reasonable – but it is not a stand that we like to turn on while watching a movie or playing a game. The same goes for the cinema mode: it makes some sounds sound far away.
Fortunately, the music stands out. The display does not change very much compared to the standard mode. The bass is a bit more prominent, while the higher tones also get a bit more space. The standard mode is also great for listening to music, for the moment you want the bass sound to be slightly less present. The sports mode gives a reverberation to the listening experience, which is especially good at football matches (or any other sport that can be seen at a great stage).
News eliminates all sounds that do not have to be in the foreground to be, making the presenter very understandable, while the game mode takes elements of the music mode (hard bass) and cinema mode (sounds are sent a bit wider into the room). In most cases, however, we think the standard mode sounds more than just fine. Especially when you watch a movie, but also when you play a game. The standard mode has in our opinion the best balance for most types of entertainment.
In most cases the Sony HT-XF9000 sounds good to very good. The different types of tones (high, middle and low) often come out well. Music sounds layered and has the space to represent a very large part of the spectrum. If you are therefore looking for a nice stereo soundbar for listening to music, we can wholeheartedly recommend this bar. Whether you’re watching a movie, playing a game or listening to music, the Sony HT-XF9000 is able to fill the room with a warm and clear sound.
Sony HT-XF9000 – conclusion
The Sony HT-XF9000 generally scores very well on the most important part, the sound reproduction. Not every sound mode convinces; luckily you have the choice which mode you use in any situation. In many cases the standard mode is simply more than good, because of the balance between all tones. Music you like to play in the music mode, making this soundbar an excellent choice for listening to music. But movies, sports and games are also sent warm and clear to the room.
For an amount of almost 500 euros you can expect a few things from a soundbar and in that respect Sony does not quite live up to expectations, first sight. For example, there are no network options (such as Google Cast or Spotify Connect) and the subwoofer also looks a bit cheap (but luckily it does its job well). We also miss some extra connections, but we are glad that Sony has installed at least one extra HDMI connection on the device.
Fortunately, you can connect a disk via USB and play music directly from there, in a large format. number of different sizes. Not all soundbars in this segment (or even a segment higher) have this option. So it’s a bit of giving and taking as far as the Sony HT-XF9000 is concerned. Are you looking for a capable soundbar and attach little value to multiroom setups or cast capabilities, then you get with this Sony soundbar a nice device that sounds fine and clear.