Just when we thought Sony's soundbars couldn't get any more expensive than the $1,299 HT-ST7, along comes the new HT-ST9 at $1,499.
Cosmetically it looks very similar to both the ST7 and ST5, but if you take off the front grill some of the improvements become clearer. The ST9 now includes coaxial mid/treble drivers for its front three channels, which the company says improves sound quality.
The sound bar features seven channels of amplification -- the front three channels, plus four additional front-mounted speakers. It appears that any surround effects are software-based and not physical, but the unit does include a wireless subwoofer.
As a premium product the ST9 includes many of the features of Sony's new mid-range receivers, such as support for Bluetooth headphones and multiroom music via Sony's SoundPal Link app. Google Cast and hi-res playback are also supported.
While many soundbars feature only an optical cable connection, Sony distinguishes itself by including HDMI at even the budget level. The HT-ST9 includes three HDMI inputs plus an output with Audio Return Channel compatibility. It almost goes without saying that these ports feature the latest HDCP 2.2 and HDMI 2.0 standards.
If you have a home automation system you will be interested to hear that, like many of the company's receivers, the ST9 features IP control.
The HT-ST9 will be available in the US in July, with pricing and availability for Australia and the UK as yet unannounced. The US price converts to around £1,000 or AU$1,930, but expect final prices to vary considerably.