Review: Sony HT-XF9000

Extra dimension in height

Sony’s soundbar simulates both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X in height, thus giving an extra dimension to the soundscape. Yes, it works.

Karakter
Sony HT-XF9000
We think
The soundscape is huge on film, and the dialogue is crystal clear. The subwoofer has also tolerable power.
It can sometimes sound a little crass in the overtones, and the subwoofer has a lot of energy in its upper range and less in the deep bass. Music in stereo is not great.
Specifications

Matches screen size: 40” and up
HDMI: 1 in, 1 out (ARC)
Digital in: Optical, USB-A
Wireless: Bluetooth
Analogue in: 3.5 mm AUX
Website: sony.no

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This is Sony’s most affordable soundbar that simulates sound in height, to provides extra size of soundscapes from movies with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtrack. The HDMI input supports all video formats, including 4K with Dolby Vision. This means you won’t risk your display going black if you play a 4K Blu-ray movie (something we experienced with Philips B1).
HT-XF9000 is designed to fit under Sony’s new TVs in the XF90 series. It does not have any kind of display in the front. Instead, the information comes up on the TV screen. Also, the remote control has its own buttons for just about everything — including one for each of the sound modes — so you don’t have to press multiple times to reach a feature.

Sound quality

The movie experience is good. We get a good impression of the surround sound in the thriller Alien: Covenant. The dialogues are clear, although somewhat crass compared with Samsung and JBL. Here things happen in height, unless you’re too far from the soundbar. A maximum distance of three metres is fine, and the room should not seem very subdued.
The sub-woofer does a good job, although there is a little too much information in the upper bass and less in the deep bass. It can seem somewhat restrained at times. You can safely crank your bass almost all the way up. Stereo music works well, but you should turn off Vertical Surround. Otherwise it just sounds strange. The music sound mode sounds the warmest and richest. The voice of Lady Gaga is clear, but appears a bit sharp. Otherwise, the rhythms sound good and you get plenty of bass.

Conclusion

With simulated surround sound as well as a good impression of height in the soundscape, Sony’s soundbar engages you quite well when you watch movies, and the dialogue is clear.
It can, at times, feel somewhat crass and grainy. Music in stereo, especially, lacks a little magic. But the bass range is solid and on we are generally rather fond of Sony’s soundbar.

Foto: Sony

Also in this test

Klipsch RSB-6

Does not follow up

A masculine expression and rugged sound does not have the power to follow up, and Klipsch lands at the bottom.

If you like the PA sound you know from concert halls and nightlife venues, you'll nod approvingly.
The soundbar does not have the power to keep up with the “tough” soundscape. It all sounds fairly flat, and Bluetooth sounds discouragingly bad.

JBL Bar 3.1

Powerhouse

No one in the class provide this sense of home cinema. JBL crushes everyone on sheer force, and the sound quality is good enough for it to take the lead.

No one in this class come close to this level of power. The subwoofer at 10 inches is especially impressive. In addition, it sounds good, and the soundbar is user-friendly.
There are those with higher resolution and even better cohesion in the tones. Does not support DTS

LG SJ8

Let the sound flow

The soundbar from LG is one of the most affordable with built-in network features and streaming of music services. It also sounds good.

The sound is crisp, with a clear dialogue on movies. The soundscape is huge, and we give a thumbs up for the network and streaming services.
It lacks power, and it can sound a little slim.

Samsung HW-N660

Perfect balance

The soundbar from Samsung has a beautiful coherence in the tones, which makes both movies and music a pleasant experience.

The soundscape is great, and it works extraordinarily well on film and games. The soundbar has a very well adjusted timbre balance.
We would like more power, and the narrow display can hold way too little text, which is why it appears in a rolling manner.

Panasonic SC-HTB250

Small and half-hearted

The small soundbar from Panasonic sounds bigger and more powerful than you might think. But it has a few issues.

The sound is powerful, with more oomph than we had anticipated. Quite a huge soundscape on film.
Bluetooth sounds miserable, and with the absent analogue input, you can therefore not enjoy music from a mobile phone.

Creative Sound BlasterX Katana

For gamers

Creative’s soundbar is for gamers and the only one in the test with USB inputs that replaces the sound card in PCs and Macs.

The soundscape gets an okay feel of surround on film and games, and the subwoofer hangs well together with the sound from the soundbar. A straightforward display simplifies its use.
The overtones are rather taciturn, the dialogues in film sound somewhat woolly, and the music lacks a little spark. The subwoofer is not wireless, HDMI is missing as is support for DTS.

Yamaha YAS-207

Surprisingly huge sound

Yamaha was first on the market with active soundbars. This is their first with DTS Virtual:X surround sound.

The soundscape is folded outward and upward. This soundbar does an excellent job in simulating true surround sound.
We miss a display, since LEDs provide limited visibility from a distance. The overtone area could be more airy.

Philips Fidelio B1/12

Better on TV than music

This is one of the smallest soundbars on the market. It sounds bigger than it looks, but has its shortcomings.

Very compact dimensions makes for a discreet soundbar, and it is also very easy to use. The sound is more powerful than you might think.
Does not sound as good on music as film, the bass is somewhat uncontrolled and the midrange could have had more energy. HDMI does not support HDCP 2.2 and thereby does not support 4K Blu-ray.

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