Sony’s new sound bars go multi-room, hi-res to upgrade your living room

Sony has been working hard lately to change course, as well as opinions about its status in the home theater space. Those efforts have led to some impressive sound bar offerings of late. This year at CES, Sony showed a continuation on the journey towards renewed prominence in home audio with two gorgeous new hi-res sound bars, as well as a new hi-res sound platform to join last year’s very capable XT1.

Sony HT-ST9

Sony’s flagship sound bar, the ST9, is a gorgeous black beam laden with nice drivers and seven discretely powered channels in an attempt to rule the micro-home audio space. The bar adds some impressive new additions to the Sony family this year, including multiple coaxial drivers for enhanced clarity up top, as well as a powerful new subwoofer.

The bar also allows HDCP 2.2-compliant 4K passthrough via HDMI, high resolution audio playback for FLAC and WAV files, as well as DSD files, a new addition to the lineup this year. The bar also takes advantage of Sony’s new LDAC codec, which the company claims allows a “larger pipe” for better resolution Bluetooth streaming.

Photo credit: Digital Trends / Ryan Waniata
Photo credit: Digital Trends / Ryan Waniata

Our first audition of the bar was impressive. Demonstrating its skills by sourcing the latest Spider Man flick (a Sony production, of course) the ST9 exhibited sparkling clarity on the topside, and the new wireless subwoofer offered some decent boom to help raise the action to the next level.

Sony HT-NT3

The little brother of the ST9, the NT3 holds its own as a viable home audio source, incorporating ST9 features like coaxial drivers, 4K passthrough, and high resolution audio playback in a reduced 2.1 configuration. Sony had the demos on lock down for the show, but we were allowed a chance to audition a few songs such as the old Sinatra standard “Bang, Bang,” as well as Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” both of which were crystal clear, with some nice punch down low.

Sony HT-XT3

Finally, Sony has added a gorgeous new sound platform which follows its sound bar siblings to add new coaxial drivers, high resolution audio playback, and 4K passthrough via HDMI. Unfortunately, we weren’t given a chance to sample the audio talents of the new XT3, but if it improves on the very impressive XT1, we could have a new winner in the sound platform space.

Photo credit: Digital Trends / Ryan Waniata
Photo credit: Digital Trends / Ryan Waniata

Sony has also added multi-room wireless capability to its top tier home theater options this year, adapting the company’s SongPal app to work more like the Sonos ecosystem. This allows independent control of music sources, and shared playback of the home theater devices with Sony’s upgraded wireless speakers, such as the new SRS-X99, and SRS-X77. Sony’s first attempt at the multi-room speaker genre seemed a little clunky in the demonstration, with an interface that was fairly pedestrian, and some lag.

However, that’s to be expected in the saturated airspace of the CES showroom floor, so we’ll have to wait till we go hands on with the new gear to give a final verdict on Sony’s new bid to jump into the uber-crowded multi-room speaker space.

Home Theater

Leave the charger behind: Wireless headphones will get epic battery life in 2019

From wireless in-ears to noise-canceling over-ears, virtually every headphone manufacturer has seriously improved wireless headphone battery capacity, making fears about charging up for long listening sessions a thing of the past.
Buying Guides

Block the outside world, tune into your own with the best in-ear headphones

Over-the-ear headphones offer top-flight sound, but they're not so easy to take along with you. If you're looking to upgrade your portable sound, check out our favorite in-ear headphones -- there's a model for every user and every budget.
Home Theater

These awesome A/V receivers will swarm you with surround sound at any budget

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to shopping for a receiver, so we assembled our favorites for 2018, at multiple price points and all loaded with features, from Dolby Atmos to 4K HDR, and much more.
Home Theater

Still listening on tinny TV speakers? Try one of our favorite soundbars

You no longer have to sacrifice sound for size when selecting home audio equipment. Check out our picks for the best soundbars, whether you're looking for budget options, pure power, smarts, or tons of features.

Bethesda swings banhammer on ‘Fallout 76’ players visiting secret developer room

Bethesda is banning Fallout 76 players who gain access to the online multiplayer game's secret developer room. The hidden location contains plans for everything, including top-tier weapons and unreleased items.

Don't spend hundreds on Pro Tools or Logic. Try one of these free alternatives

Believe it or not, Pro Tools isn't the only digital audio workstation worth your time. Check out our picks for the best free recording software, whether you're looking for a lightweight app or a full-blown audio workstation.
Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Home Theater

Roku adds automatic sign-out mode, for those with regular houseguests

Being able to use a Roku device while staying at a hotel or Airbnb is awesome. What is less awesome is leaving yourself signed in after you leave. With a new automatic sign-out feature, Roku is making it easier to relax.
Home Theater

Wireless headphones are finally awesome, and these are our favorites

With sleek form factors, prime audio quality, and the freedom of untethered listening, there has never been a better time to pick up a pair of wireless headphones. These are the best ones currently available.

Apple may be developing a new iPod Touch to woo younger users

Apple may be developing its first new iPod touch model since 2015 as it aims to capture younger users who are not yet ready for their own smartphone, and expand its overall listening base in the future.
Home Theater

Cord-cutting has grown by 48 percent in 8 years, according to Nielsen

People are continuing to ditch cable but not all cord-cutters are the same. In fact, there are two distinct groups within the cord-cutting universe, with a very small, yet growing third group that's worth paying attention to.
Home Theater

All of the TVs getting Apple’s AirPlay 2 in 2019

This year, Apple made it clear it was done keeping its AirPlay wireless streaming technology to itself. With an open API, the way is clear for a plethora of third-party devices, including this growing list of TVs.
Home Theater

New TV? Here's where to go to watch the best 4K content available

Searching for content for your new 4K UHD TV? Look no further. We have every major source of the best 4K content, along with the cost, hardware requirements, and features that make each service worth a look.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.