Sony Sound Bar Speaker

Last updated date: January 22, 2019

DWYM Score
8.1

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We looked at the top 1 Soundbars and dug through the reviews from 4 of the most popular review sites including Digital Trends, Trusted Reviews, Tech Radar, New York Times Wirecutter and more. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Soundbar you should buy.

Overall Take

In our analysis of 48 expert reviews, the Sony Sony Sound Bar Speaker placed 5th when we looked at the top 10 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

Editor's Note March 17, 2019:
Checkout The Best Soundbar for a detailed review of all the top soundbars.

Expert Summarized Score
8.0
4 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.2
40 user reviews
Our Favorite Video Reviews
What experts liked
The Z9F may not look like much of a powerhouse, but it’s loaded with just about every feature you could ask for in a 3.1 soundbar, including some impressive digital sound processing. Like other virtual surround soundbars, this is not a substitute for a fully discrete Dolby Atmos system. The Z9F will reward you with intuitive design and good performance, all in a sleek (and dare we say sexy?) little package.
- Digital Trends
July 8, 2018 | Full review
Integration is excellent, and there’s no disconnect between the subwoofer and soundbar. Despite all the processing jiggery pokery, dialogue is precise and unmuddied. The Sony HT-ZF9 confounds expectations, delivering an expansive soundfield from an easy-to-accommodate design. It can be confusing to use, but rewards with a compelling Atmos-lite performance.
- Trusted Reviews
June 7, 2018 | Full review
Design-wise, the Z9F is neat and simple. The bar is around a meter wide and features a removable grille, which conceals a trio of drivers. Rear connectivity includes two HDMI inputs (which are 4K HDCP and Dolby Vision compatible) plus an HDMI out with ARC. There’s also USB, an analogue stereo 3.5 mm minijack input, and optical digital audio input. The Bluetooth implementation is compatible with Sony’s LDAC extension, and while there's no NFC, Bluetooth headphones can be paired for private listening. Chromecast is built-in, and there’s interaction with Google Assistant.
- Tech Radar
November 7, 2018 | Full review
This soundbar also comes with a wireless subwoofer, offers HDMI video pass-through (with 4K HDR support), and can decode Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks and simulate the 3D audio effects through its Vertical Surround Engine technology.
- New York Times Wirecutter
What experts didn't like
Surround performance varies based on installation and vertical Surround feature adds sibilance to midrange.
- Digital Trends
July 8, 2018 | Full review
This soundbar is more confusing than an Ikea flatpack plan
- Trusted Reviews
June 7, 2018 | Full review
It is operationally confusing and disappointing overhead sound.
- Tech Radar
November 7, 2018 | Full review
The Sony can’t quite compete with our top pick in all-around performance, and it’s more complicated to set up and use due to its receiver-like design, but it will work for you if you need an HDMI connection and 4K support.
- New York Times Wirecutter

From The Manufacturer

Feel the thrill of your favorite shows and movies. The Z9F 3.1ch Dolby Atmos/DTS:X Sound bar's new Vertical Surround Engine places you in the middle of the action. Five different sound modes optimize audio to what you’re hearing. Wireless and network-capable, the Z9F can also connect to select rear speakers for a full-room solution that provides a cinematic experience.

Overall Product Rankings

1. Sonos Playbar
Overall Score: 9.2
Expert Reviews: 8
2. Sonos Playbase
Overall Score: 8.8
Expert Reviews: 4
3. VIZIO 28-Inch Sound bar
Overall Score: 8.7
Expert Reviews: 2
4. LG Electronics High Resolution Audio Sound Bar
Overall Score: 8.3
Expert Reviews: 4
5. Sony Sound Bar Speaker
Overall Score: 8.1
Expert Reviews: 4
6. Samsung Soundbar with Dolby Atmos
Overall Score: 8.0
Expert Reviews: 5
7. Sony Ultra-slim 300W HTCT290 Sound bar
Overall Score: 7.7
Expert Reviews: 2
8. Bose Solo 5 TV Sound System
Overall Score: 7.7
Expert Reviews: 3
9. TaoTronics Sound Bar
Overall Score: 7.5
Expert Reviews: 2
10. Polk Soundbar
Overall Score: 6.9
Expert Reviews: 10

An Overview On Soundbars

Now that you can order a film at the press of a button, movie night has moved from the cineplex to living rooms. For that reason, it’s likely no surprise that consumers report they’d rather watch a movie at home than leave the house. But getting the same experience at home as you do in a theater can be challenging.

Even if you take advantage of the low prices on high-quality big-screen TVs, duplicating true movie theater surround sound can get expensive. In recent years, soundbars have advanced to the point where they now can simulate surround sound for a fraction of the cost of a speaker set. But one soundbar can differ dramatically from another, so it’s important to do your research before you buy.

Soundbars can range in price from $50 to thousands of dollars, but do you really need to spend that much? You can get adequate sound at a lower cost, and some of the moderately-priced soundbars can rival those that top $1,000 in price. When shopping for soundbars, pay close attention to the range of tones you’ll get. Some soundbars can’t handle bass as well as others, even when they’re promising the best sound quality.

Once you get your soundbar home, you’ll generally be on your own to make it work with your existing systems. One of the best things you can do is take note of the equipment you already have and make sure the soundbar you choose is compatible. Many of today’s speakers use Bluetooth connectivity to allow you to eliminate unsightly wires. So if you have an older TV or receiver, you may find the soundbar you’ve bought won’t connect.

Finally, stop to think about where you’ll set up your new soundbar, as well as any speakers you plan to add on to it. There are soundbars you can mount on the wall, while there are many others that can set on your furniture in front of your TV. Whichever option you choose, note the dimensions of your soundbar in advance to ensure you know how much room it will take up.

DYWM Fun Fact

As you set up your home theater, it’s important to consider the size of your room. Soundbars are more than adequate for smaller rooms. But if your home theater is in a large basement or an oversized bonus room, you’re likely going to find that you need additional speakers to truly immerse your audience with sound. This is also true if you’re a movie buff who expects to feel like you’re on the Millennium Falcon, not just watching it on a screen. But many soundbars are designed for add-ons, so you should be able to build your home theater gradually if you aren’t quite ready to jump in fully just yet.

The Soundbar Buying Guide

  • If your soundbar doesn’t sound good, there’s no point in even having one. If you’re going for the best sound, consider either the Sonos Playbar or Sonos Playbase. Both have great sound and great ranges. However, the Sonos Playbase performs better in the deeper ranges, with bass you can feel in your chest. The VIZIO 28-inch soundbar also offers deep, rich bass that can take on even the much pricier Sonos speakers.
  • For those interested in building a true home theater, adding on extra speakers is the key to success. Sonos allows you to easily buy extra speakers to connect to your soundbar. The Sonos Playbar does best with this, letting you expand to a true 5.1 wireless sound system. Even without extra speakers, though, Sonos does a better job at simulating surround sound, while VIZIO’s soundbar struggles with that.
  • Setup can be intimidating if you don’t consider yourself a tech guru. The TaoTronics soundbar is among the easiest to use, whether you’re wiring it up or using its Bluetooth-pairing capabilities. With the VIZIO 28-inch soundbar, you’ll need to follow the owner’s manual, but it’s fairly simple to connect it to Bluetooth and get things going. Sonos can be tricky to set up, especially when it comes to pairing with other equipment.
  • One of the biggest concerns when shopping for any speaker is where it will be. The Sonos Playbar is designed to hang on a wall, but it can also rest in front of your TV. The Sonos Playbase can be mounted, but it looks great in front of your TV. If you’re limited on space, you may want to avoid the VIZIO 28-inch soundbar, since it comes with a separate subwoofer that you’ll need to place.
  • If you’re looking for the smallest soundbar, the Sonos Playbase is the shortest, at only 2.28 inches tall. Lengthwise, though, it’s a tie between the Sonos Playbase and VIZIO 28-inch soundbar, which both are around 28 inches long. However, the VIZIO has that separate subwoofer, while the Sonos Playbase comes with no additional speakers.
  • One size benefit to the Sonos Playbar is that it can be easily mounted horizontally or vertically, with the sensor automatically adjusting the sound depending on how you’ve oriented it.
  • If you have an Amazon product that uses Alexa, Sonos soundbars have an additional benefit in that you can connect them to your device and play music on command.
  • With Sonos soundbars, you’ll have access to an app that you can then use to control your speakers. However, the Sonos Playbar and Playbase don’t come with a remote control, which means you’ll need a universal remote if you can’t connect it to an existing smart remote. The TaoTronics soundbar comes with a remote, but it’s a bit bulky. You’ll also need to have two AAA batteries on hand since they aren’t included in the box.
  • If you plan to regularly switch the sound from your soundbar to your TV, note that there have been some complaints with the Sonos Playbar that the shift can be tricky at times.
  • The TaoTronics soundbar is built to last with durable ABS plastic beneath the soft cloth cover. The VIZIO, on the other hand, has been known to ship the occasional problematic unit that will begin producing static after only months of use. Although the Sonos soundbars are durable, if you choose the white model of the Playbase, be aware that it can scratch easily.
  • When it comes to price, you’re going to pay much more for a Sonos soundbar than other speakers. In addition to the $500-plus price tag for the Playbar or Playbase, the soundbars are meant to be used with other speakers, which will up the price considerably. However, even the VIZIO 28-inch soundbar, which retails for just over $100, and the TaoTronics soundbar, which retails for considerably less than $100, will see a price increase if you plan to create surround sound. But keep in mind that the VIZIO soundbar also includes a wireless subwoofer, saving you even more than the lower asking price.