The Sony HT-Z9F is a good 3.1 soundbar setup that does a great job with dialogue thanks to its dedicated center speaker. It features a wireless subwoofer that helps give it some extra thump during action movies or bass-heavy music. While this soundbar is Atmos-enabled, unfortunately, it lacks upwards firing or satellite speakers and uses Sony's S Force and Vertical Sound technology to simulate an Atmos surround sound experience. On the upside, it has two Full HDMI inputs that support all audio formats, and the soundbar also has Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Chromecast built-in to listen to music wirelessly.
Note: Some of our readers have reported that the subwoofer cuts out repeatedly when listening to this soundbar, possibly because of issues with the wireless connection. We haven't experienced this problem during our testing. However, this may be because our testing space doesn't have many issues with interference, since there aren't a lot of other Wi-Fi networks in the area.
The Sony HT-Z9F is a good mixed usage soundbar. This 3.1 setup does a great job at clearly reproducing dialogue, thanks to its dedicated center channel, meaning you should have no problem hearing speech over the background music and sound effects. Thanks to its dedicated wireless subwoofer, it has decent bass response, making it an okay choice for movies as well. Unfortunately, while this soundbar supports Atmos, its lack of satellites or upward-firing speakers means the soundstage isn't very open, and all objects sound as if they're coming from in front of you.
The Sony HT-Z9F is excellent for dialogue and TV shows. Thanks to its dedicated center channel, dialogue sounds clear and accurate, and you should have no trouble making out what is being said over background music or sound effects. This soundbar also features a dialogue enhancement setting, to bring speech out even more.
The Sony HT-Z9F is okay for music. While it supports wireless playback, including Chromecast audio, the sound reproduction is only decent and it lacks low-bass, meaning fans of EDM or dubstep may be disappointed. This soundbar also lacks any room correction, or bass or treble adjustments, so the sound can only be customized via presets.
The Sony HT-Z9F is decent for movies. Thanks to its dedicated wireless subwoofer, it has decent bass response, though unfortunately, its LFE is a little high, but this shouldn't be too noticeable for movies. The 3.1 configuration means that dialogue comes out very clear and detailed, and there are even dialogue enhancement settings as well. Unfortunately, while this soundbar is Atmos compatible, the lack of necessary speakers means all objects sound like they're coming from straight in front of you, instead of from behind and above.
The Sony HT-Z9F is a mid-range soundbar from 2018. It's a simple 3.1 setup that has the option to add two additional rear speakers. While it supports Dolby Atmos, due to its default 3.1 speaker configuration, it won't offer as an immersive listening experience as higher-end models like the 7.1.2 Sony HT-ST5000. The HT-Z9F's main competitors are the Samsung HW-Q70R, the LG SK9Y, and the Vizio SB36512-F6.
The Sony HT-Z9F is a sleek looking bar that has a premium look and feel to it. It has a metal grille that holds in place with magnets and can be easily removed. The rest of the bar is made mostly of good quality plastic with a glossy black finish.
The sub is mainly made of wood, with the port in the front being glossy black. Unfortunately, the front of the sub is covered with mesh fabric as opposed to metal, so it may get dirty or ripped.
The Sony HT-Z9F is pretty wide and likely won't fit between the legs of most 55" or smaller TVs, unless they have very wide stands. While it's a bit taller than some other soundbars, like the Sony HT-CT800, it still shouldn't block the bottom of your TV unless it sits directly on the table, like the Sony A9G.
The subwoofer of the Sony HT-Z9F is pretty average-sized and is about the size of an average desktop PC. It's not too big and should be able to fit beside your TV stand or couch without any difficulties.
This soundbar setup doesn't have any satellites.
The back of this soundbar has an opening for all of its inputs, and a second opening on the other end of the bar for its power cable. The mounting holes are on either side of the bar, and mounting brackets are included in the box.
Since the port is on the front of the sub, the back is pretty plain with only the power cable on the bottom, and the pairing and power button at the top.
The Sony HT-Z9F soundbar is a well-made soundbar system that feels a bit more premium than the Sony HT-X9000F or Vizio SB36312-G6. The bar has a metal grille that can be easily removed as it's held in place by magnets. The rest of the bar is made of good quality plastic. Unfortunately, while half of the rear of the soundbar has a premium gritty plastic feel to it, the other half is glossy black and is prone to fingerprints. The subwoofer is mostly made of wood and feels sturdy, though the fabric cover may get easily ripped or dirty.
The Sony HT-Z9F's stereo frequency response is quite decent. Unfortunately, its low-frequency extension is fairly high, which means it may struggle to reproduce the very deep rumble of bass in some movies or bass-heavy music genres like dubstep, but should still be more than fine for most people. The treble also starts to dip in the mid-treble range, and is quite recessed in high-treble, making some higher frequencies and vocals less audible. However, overall the sound profile of this bar is quite well-balanced and sounds accurate and clean.
The Sony HTZ9F's stereo soundstage is decent and feels as wide as the bar but the bar doesn’t do anything to make it sound wider. Objects don’t seem to come from an accurate pinpoint location like some other bars, such as the Samsung HW-Q90R.
The Sony HTZ9F can get quite loud and should be suitable for large rooms or crowed environments, like a party. Also, at max volume, it performs quite well and you shouldn't hear any thumping or compression artifacts.
At a normal listening volume of 80dB, the THD performance of the Sony HTZ9F is very good. This results in clean and pure audio reproduction. Unfortunately, it doesn't perform nearly as well under heavier loads, and when pushing this bar to its max volume there's a jump in THD, though this may still be difficult to hear with real-life content, especially since few people will likely use this bar at max volume.
The Sony HTZ9F is a 3.1 setup with excellent center channel performance. This soundbar has a dedicated center speaker, which results in a clearer and more accurate audio reproduction of the dialogue in movies and TV shows.
Since the Sony HTZ9F doesn't have dedicated surround satellites, it uses Sony's S-Force Front Surround to simulate the surround sound experience. While it does a decent job at making it appear as if sound is coming from around and behind you, unfortunately, this isn't as immersive as soundbar setups that have dedicated satellites. Also, for some reason, when reproducing surround sound content through its 3 channel bar, this soundbar seems to clip audio at around 10kHz.
The Sony HTZ9F supports Atmos but doesn't have any upwards firing speakers or satellites and uses Sony's Vertical Surround Engine to simulate an Atmos experience. While this works decently well, the sound isn't nearly as immersive as a soundbar with upwards firing speakers, like the Samsung HW-Q80R or the Samsung HW-Q70T. For some reason, when Sony's Vertical Surround Engine is turned 'on', the soundbar seems to cut off at around 10kHz.
Note: While we generally test all audio without any sound enhancement settings turned on, we had to turn the "Vertical Surround Engine" on to get the soundbar to reproduce Atmos content.
The Sony HTZ9F has mediocre sound enhancement features. It lacks Room Correction, so it may sound differently depending on your room. It also lacks both bass and treble adjustments and only provides various EQ presets. This soundbar uses Sony's Vertical Surround Engine technology to help it try and achieve an Atmos-surround effect with only a 3.1 setup. It also uses Sony's S-Force Front Surround to give you the illusion of rear satellites from the front bar, which can't be turned off. Unfortunately, these don't seem to work as well as having dedicated satellites and upwards firing speakers, and don't create a very immersive experience. If you want a soundbar that comes with a graphic EQ to help you customize its sound, consider the Samsung HW-Q700A instead.
The Sony HTZ9F has a wide array of inputs, including two Full HDMI in so you can use your soundbar as a hub, and get the highest quality signals. It also has a 3.5mm Aux port, which is getting less common, making it easy to plug in a phone to share music.
Update 03/20/2020: To reflect this soundbar's eARC capabilities, formats that are only supported by eARC are now set to "yes". The text has been updated.
The Sony HTZ9F can play all standard surround formats over HDMI ARC. Unlike the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround, this bar also has eARC, and supports object-based surround signals and lossless formats, which is great if your TV has eARC.
The two Full HDMI In ports allow you to use the soundbar like an HDMI hub. This way you can plug two external devices (like a Blu-Ray player or gaming console) into your soundbar and it will carry both audio and video signals to your TV. Both HDMI ports support all common audio formats, including Atmos for both Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby TrueHD.
Dolby Digital and DTS content are usually found on Blu-ray discs and streaming platforms like Netflix. This bar can offer surround sound using either of these formats through its Optical port.
Update 03/23/2021: There was a mistake in our methodology where we measured the latency using every second frame (eg. 120fps). We now re-evaluated the footage using every frame at 240fps for more accurate results.
The Sony HTZ9F can play music wirelessly via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi will give you better range, higher quality audio, and uninterrupted music playback even if you receive a phone call. Unlike the Sony HT-G700, it also has Chromecast built-in, so you can control the soundbar with a Google Assistant smart speaker, and set up multi-room audio with other Chromecast-enabled speakers.
When this bar is used as a hub between your PC or game console and your TV, it can pass through chroma 4:4:4 up to 60Hz. If you send such a signal, the text will look crisp.
The sub connects wirelessly to the bar, and only requires a power cable.
Note: We've received reports from our readers that the subwoofer can cut out repeatedly when trying to use the soundbar, possibly because of connectivity issues. We haven't experienced this issue during our testing, but this may be due to our Wi-Fi setup, which doesn't face a lot of interference issues.
The Sony Z9F soundbar has a screen behind the front grille that displays all inputs and settings. It's a rather large screen compared to many other soundbars, like the Sony HT-CT800.
The buttons on the soundbar are the same as other Sony soundbars, but with a music service button that can be programmed to open your preferred music streaming service, like Spotify.
The remote for this soundbar is fairly large but has a lot of buttons to let you easily change settings. Unfortunately, it can't be used as a universal remote to control your TV.
This soundbar is compatible with the Sony Music Center app which allows you to cast audio files to the soundbar via Wi-Fi, or use your mobile device as a remote. Unfortunately, the app doesn't give you access to all the settings found on the physical remote.
The Sony Z9F soundbar goes into a standby mode after 20 minutes of inactivity to conserve power. The HDMI ARC also supports HDMI CEC, so you can use your TV's remote to perform basic tasks on your soundbar, like volume and input control.
The Sony HT-Z9F is a good mixed usage soundbar that does a great job with dialogue thanks to its dedicated center channel speaker. While this 3.1 setup supports Dolby Atmos, it unfortunately doesn't provide nearly as immersive of a listening experience due to its lack or satellite or upwards firing speakers. See our recommendations for the best soundbars, the best Dolby Atmos soundbars, and the best soundbars with a subwoofer.
The Sony HT-Z9F is a better performing soundbar overall than the Sony HT-G700. The HT-Z9F is slightly better built, its sound profile is a bit more balanced, and although it doesn't get as loud as the HT-G700, it can reach its max volume with a lot less thumping and compression artifacts. It has two Full HDMI In ports, and you can even stream music to it using Chromecast or Wi-Fi. Unlike the HT-G700, it also uses its front-firing speakers to produce a surround and height experience, but it doesn't perform as well as the HT-G700.
The Samsung HW-Q70T performs very similarly to the Sony HT-Z9F. Both are well-built, premium-looking setups that support Dolby Atmos content. They both have well-balanced sound profiles, but the Q70T's bass extends marginally deeper than the Sony, giving it a slight edge when it comes to reproducing the deep thumps and rumbles in bass-heavy movies and music. The Sony uses S Force and Vertical Surround technology to simulate an Atmos surround experience, while the Q70T uses two up-firing speakers on the bar to create a more immersive experience. The Q70T also has more sound customization options.
The Sony HT-Z9F is a better overall soundbar than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Sony is a 3.1 setup that supports Atmos and offers a full array of physical inputs that support common audio formats. However, the JBL is a 5.1 setup with room correction. You can also stream audio to it using Apple AirPlay.
The Sony HT-Z9F is a better soundbar than the Bose Soundbar 700. The Sony has a more extended bass, thanks to its dedicated wireless subwoofer, and has significantly better connectivity options. Unlike the Bose, it supports Atmos, but due to its lack of up-firing or rear speakers, it doesn't create the most immersive Atmos experience. The Bose has a better center-channel performance, which helps reproduce dialogue accurately.
The Sony HT-Z9F is a better performing soundbar than the Sonos Beam. The Sony is more versatile, even though it struggles to reproduce a rumbly bass and it can support Atmos content as well as all common audio formats through an ARC or full HDMI In connection. However, the Sonos is great if you're short on space and looking for a standalone soundbar with a fairly neutral sound. The Sonos can also be upgraded later down the line.
The Sony HT-Z9F is a better soundbar setup than the Sony HT-ST5000. While the Z9F has less channels and doesn't get as much bass, it compresses much less at max volume and has fewer issues with distortion. It also has a bit more detail and clarity in the treble range. If bass is what you're after, the ST5000 is the way to go, but the Z9F provides better value otherwise.
The Sony HT-Z9F is slightly more versatile than the Yamaha YAS-209. The Sony has a better build with more connectivity and audio format support options, offers Atmos support, and has an impressive center channel performance, making it well suited for dialogue-centric content. However, the Yamaha has a more neutral default sound profile.
The Samsung HW-Q90R is better than the Sony HT-Z9F. It creates a more immersive listening experience, thanks to its dedicated satellite speakers, and has better Atmos height performance due to its upwards firing speakers. On the other hand, the Sony has more connectivity options, has Chromecast built-in, and isn't nearly as wide.
The Sony HT-Z9F performs very similarly to the Samsung HW-Q70R. They're both well-designed, feel quite premium, and have decent sound reproduction, though the Samsung has a significantly lower LFE, providing better bass performance. On the other hand, While the Sony downmixes surround content into its front three speakers, the Samsung doesn't support surround channels at all. The Sony also has more connectivity options, offering two HDMI inputs instead of one, as well as Chromecast support.
The Sony HT-Z9F is a better soundbar for mixed use than the Sony HT-X9000F. The HT-Z9F is slightly better built, it can deliver a slightly more balanced bass range, and there are fewer compression artifacts at max volume. It has an excellent discrete center channel, you can stream music over Wi-Fi, and it has two Full HDMI In ports. As it uses phantom front-firing speakers to create height channels, it also feels a touch more immersive than the HT-X9000F's downmixing.
The Sony HT-Z9F is a better soundbar setup than the LG SK9Y. They both consist of the bar itself and a dedicated wireless subwoofer, with no satellites. The Sony feels more premium and better-built, has better center-channel performance for dialogue, and provides much better bass response thanks to its lower LFE. On the other hand, the LG has a better Atmos height effect, thanks to its upwards firing speakers, and offers better sound profile adjustment options.
The Samsung HW-Q80R is better than the Sony HT-Z9F in most uses. The Samsung has a better sound overall, as it has more low-bass response to produce that rumble and thump, and it has a much better center channel performance, as well as better sound enhancement features to tune it the way you like. However, the Sony has support for eArc and has Chromecast built-in.
The Sony HT-Z9F is a better 3.1 soundbar setup than the LG SN6Y. The Sony has a more neutral default sound profile, supports more surround sound formats, including Dolby Atmos, and has more wireless playback options like Chromecast and AirPlay. It has less sound customization options than the LG, however. If you don't care as much about surround support and prefer being able to customize the way your soundbar sounds, the LG may be a better option.
The Sony HT-Z9F is a slightly better performing soundbar than the LG SL10YG. While both support Atmos content, the Sony is more versatile and supports more audio formats. It really shines when it comes to vocal-centric content like TV shows and podcasts. However, the LG has a more well balanced but slightly more bass-heavy sound.
The Sony HT-Z9F is a better-performing soundbar than the Samsung HW-T650. Unlike most 3.1 setups, the Sony supports Dolby Atmos content. It doesn't have dedicated surround or height speakers, but it uses S-Force Front Surround and Vertical Surround Engine to simulate these experiences. It has also more connectivity options, which is ideal for users who want to use the soundbar as a hub between different devices. However, the Sony doesn't have bass or treble adjustments, so if you like to customize your sound, you may prefer the Samsung.
The Sony HT-Z9F is a better overall soundbar than the Vizio SB36312-G6. The Sony feels better built, it has a more neutral sound profile, and it has a dialogue enhancement feature. It can also get louder with less thumping and compression artifacts, and its center, surround, and height performances are better. It even has two Full HDMI In inputs and it supports eARC.
The Sony HT-Z9F is better than the Samsung HW-Q60R. The Sony has up firing speakers to simulate height in Dolby Atmos content and has many more inputs than the Samsung, however, the Samsung is more customizable and its center channel performs significantly better. They both have wireless playback capabilities, but the Sony has Chromecast built-in for easy casting.
The Samsung HW-Q700A is a better overall soundbar than the Sony HT-Z9F. The Samsung has a better soundstage performance, and thanks to its up-firing speakers, it has a better Atmos performance. It also comes with more sound enhancement features, including a graphic EQ that's ideal for customizing its sound. However, the Sony has less compression when you play it at max volume, which is handy if you like to turn up the volume for parties.