The sheer resolution and detail retrieval of the HT-A9, particularly in content that sports a spatial audio mix such as The Matrix and The Quiet Place Part II, meant I heard little details that I missed entirely on my 7.1.4 speaker system.
Without a centre speaker, Sony relies on its phantom speaker tech to deliver dialogue and, once again, it sounded clear and intelligible throughout. In many ways the centre fill sounded better, as it was less directional and more dispersed than what you would normally get with a dedicated centre channel.
The HT-A9’s mapping is so accurate in fact that, unlike traditional home theatre speakers, you can put the speakers just about anywhere and don’t need to worry about having them orientated at the same height and distance.
I put mine on a tall bookshelf, a side table behind the couch, a media cabinet below the television and a coffee table closer to the ground. To my surprise, I didn’t notice any dropoff in audio quality when compared to having them in their ideal speaker positions. Just keep in mind that you will need to run through the calibration process every time you move any of the speakers.
The HT-A9 equally shined with music, particularly 360 Audio supported tracks on services like Tidal, boasting plenty of clarity and a wide soundstage. Home theatre systems rarely sound great with music, so this is a big win for the HT-A9.
However, the HT-A9’s attempt to replicate a phantom subwoofer was far from convincing, making the ‘optional’ wireless subwoofer that Sony sells separately a mandatory purchase.
At $2299 plus $999 for the optional sub, the HT-A9 won’t be for everyone. But when you consider that it delivers a level of immersive sound that other soundbars can’t while also taking up less space and offering flexible placement, the HT-A9 is hard to beat.
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