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Sony HT-NT5 review:

Sony finally nails the sub-$1k sound bar

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The Good The Sony HT-NT5 gets nearly everything right: design, features and sound for music and home theater.

The Bad Sound quality, while excellent, is not twice as good as a $400 sound bar. Setting up rear speakers is expensive and a little frustrating.

The Bottom Line The Sony HT-NT5 offers distinctive good looks, a superlative feature set and generous performance, making it our favorite sound bar for the price.

CNET Editors' Rating

8.3 Overall
  • Design 10.0
  • Features 10.0
  • Sound 8.0
  • Value 7.0

Audio equipment, and the sound bar in particular, is a little bit like local government. Everyone sees the "little people" -- the street sweepers, the meter readers and so on --and everyone knows the "mayor", but from the outside looking in it's hard to know about the ones in the middle. Until now there haven't been any significant soundbars between $400 and $1200 that we highly recommended.

One problem is that most soundbars, regardless of price, sacrifice sound quality in favor of form factor, so in many cases it doesn't make sense paying over, say, $400. But there are a couple of models that manage to solve the "can't block the TV screen or IR sensor" problem without sacrificing much performance. The Sony NT-H5 is one of these.

With a raft-load of features, reasonable future-proofing and excellent sound quality to boot, Sony offers an excellent upmarket soundbar with a plenty of flexibility. In short, the HT-NT5 is a keeper. The Sony HT-NT5 is available in the US for $799, Australia for $999 and the UK for £599.

Design and Features

sony-ht-nt5-07.jpg

The Sony HT-NT5 is a stylish 2.1 soundbar which offers extensive connectivity and the ability to add wireless rears.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Sony manages to counter the low height requirements for a sound bar -- they typically need to fit under a TV--by angling the drivers back. In this way the unit is able to incorporate a pair of two three-eighths inch drivers and two sets of silk dome tweeters. Why two sets I hear you say? The unit can be placed horizontally or vertically on a wall and it is configured in such a way so it always has one set facing towards the listening position. The bar is 42.5 inches wide and 2.5 inches when lying flat on your AV unit (about 108cm by 6.4cm).

sony-ht-nt5-07.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

The unit comes supplied with a wireless subwoofer which includes a front ported design and a 6.5-inch driver. It's moderately large at 7.5 inches wide by roughly 15 inches both tall and deep (19.1cm by 38.1cm).

The onscreen display mimics the company's SongPal app, with a graphical representation of the inputs and a helpful "Wireless Rear" button at the top (of which we'll hear more later).

Sony was one of the first hardware manufacturers to support Google Cast, and the HT-NT5 continues the trend. This extra allows you to control music from Cast-compatible audio apps on your phone or other device, and have them play through the sound bar. Even cooler, now that Chromecast Audio and other companies' Google Cast products can support multiroom audio, the HT-NT5 can become part of a whole-home audio system, with simultaneous playback in multiple rooms from one app (a.k.a. "party mode"), for a price much lower than Sonos.

If you want to dabble in other all-you-can-eat streaming apps, Sony does provide its own proprietary SongPal Link multiroom system and Spotify Connect as well.

sony-ht-nt5-07.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

The unit comes with three HDMI ports (while many competitors don't even offer one), each equipped HDCP 2.2 and HDR support for 4K sources.

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