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First impressions: Sony's new HT-A9 and HT-A7000 home theatre systems

By Kenny Yeo - 12 Aug 2021

First impressions: Sony's new HT-A9 and HT-A7000 home theatre systems

The Sony HT-A9.

We just became one of the first in Singapore to demo Sony's newest flagship-class home theatre systems

The new home theatre systems are called the HT-A9 and HT-A7000, and they were designed to offer a cinema-like surround sound experience in homes.

Let's talk about the HT-A9 system first because that's what we started with in our demo.

 

The HT-A9

The HT-A9's speakers look unassuming but sound powerful.

The HT-A9 consists of four speakers and a control box that ties everything together. It supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. What’s interesting about the HT-A9 is that it is a completely wireless system, which means each speaker only requires a power connection and that they talk to each other wirelessly. This makes setup less of a hassle because you only need to concern yourself with power.

Furthermore, the HT-A9 has a self-calibration sound field optimisation feature that uses the speakers’ built-in mics to measure its environment. Sony says the HT-A9 is intelligent enough to compensate for inconsistencies in positioning so you don’t even need to position the four speakers equidistant from each other.

The control box sends signals wirelessly to all four speakers.

The HT-A9 only comes in white which isn’t a bad thing. A white speaker blends more easily into the environment as opposed to a black one. And at just over 31cm in height, the speakers aren’t exactly small. And although all four speakers look alike, they are actually designated out of the box so positioning each speaker in their designated location is important.

Each speaker consists of a soft dome tweeter, a wide directivity woofer, and an up-firing speaker. The up-firing speaker is crucial because it conveys height information that’s important for a good Dolby Atmos and DTS:X experience. You can also pair the HT-A9 with one of Sony’s new wireless subwoofers, which was what they did for this session. Specifically, I listened to the HT-A9 paired with an SA-SW5 subwoofer.

The demo session consisted of a couple of test videos and movie trailers. It’s reasonable to expect that these were cherry-picked by Sony to provide the best experience, but even so, it’s hard not to be impressed by the HT-A9. 

The HT-A9 really sounds like it projects sound all around you. (Image source: Sony)

It took just mere seconds to realise and notice the wide soundstage that the HT-A9 projects. Even on a video track that isn’t encoded in Dolby Atmos, the sound seems to come from all around you. On properly encoded videos, the effects are more obvious. You can hear things swishing past, above, and around you. You really are enveloped in sound.

Of course, part of the reason why the HT-A9 sounds so good is because it really is a surround sound setup. There are four speakers surrounding you. But what’s remarkable to me is how easy it was to place where objects are in the projected soundstage. The image was very solid and easy to pinpoint and follow, and that’s not always the case even with dedicated surround sound setups.

 

The HT-A7000

The HT-A7000 is a 7.1.2 soundbar with multiple speakers.

The HT-A7000 is a 7.1.2 Dolby Atmos, DTS:X soundbar with up-firing speakers, beam tweeters, five front-firing speakers, and a built-in dual subwoofer. 

Given the number of speakers that it has, it’s no surprise that the HT-A7000 is a fairly large soundbar. Don’t think for a moment that you can just slide this under your TV and call it a day. Some planning and positioning are likely to be required especially if your TV isn’t wall-mounted.

The HT-A7000 soundbar didn’t sound as impressive, but that’s to be expected since it’s a soundbar and not a proper surround sound system. Furthermore, the listening environment was quite compromised as the ceilings were very high, which made it difficult for the HT-A7000’s upward-firing speakers to work their magic. Still, the HT-A7000 projected a decently wide stage that belies its size. You still get the sense that you are enveloped by sound but it isn’t as obvious and the images aren’t as solid and as easy to follow as the ones projected by the HT-A9. 

Unlike the HT-A9, the HT-A7000 relies quite heavily on its environment to project a surround sound-like soundstage. (Image source: Sony)

I also got to hear the HT-A7000 with a pair of rear speakers and that certainly helped. However, I’m not sure how many users would want to go down that route since it kind of negates the simplicity of a soundbar setup.

If you asked me to pick based on my short time with the HT-A9 and HT-A7000, my choice is obvious: I would go with the HT-A9. It’s slightly more expensive and requires more work to set up, but the benefits, to me, are plainly obvious and well worth it. 

 

Availability and pricing

The HT-A9 home theatre system and HT-A7000 soundbar will both will be available in Singapore sometime in September 2021.

The HT-A9 is S$2,699. However, you can get S$200 cashback with any purchase of a 55-inch and above Bravia TV. On top of that, you can also enjoy concierge service with free installation and calibration of your TV and HT-A9 system.

There are also bundle packages and they are as follows:

  • HT-A9 + SA-SW5 subwoofer - S$3,398 (U.P. S$3,698)
  • HT-A9 + SA-SW3 subwoofer - S$2,998 (U.P. S$3,198)

The HT-A7000 is S$2,499. However, you can also get S$200 cashback with any purchase of a 55-inch and above Bravia TV as well as a free SA-SW3 subwoofer.

You can demo the HT-A9 and HT-A7000 systems at the following locations:

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