Sony HT-NT5

FOR Clear, open sound; good drive and or­gan­i­sa­tion AGAINST Poorly in­te­grated sub; midrange lacks de­tail

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

Sound­bars aren’t sat­is­fied with be­ing just sound­bars any­more. They now of­fer all man­ner of wire­less 5.1 set-ups, hi-res mu­sic play­back, multi-room ca­pa­bil­i­ties and stream­ing op­tions. Some­times go­ing back to ba­sics might not be such a bad thing.

The Sony HTNT5 sits at the top of Sony’s sound­bar line-up for 2016. It boasts a stylish de­sign, with a slim pro­file that can ei­ther be laid flat un­der your TV or wall-mounted. It will au­to­mat­i­cally know which way it has been po­si­tioned and ad­just its EQ to suit – just be aware that it’s quite deep and you’ll need a fair bit of space in front of your telly.

Healthy con­nec­tions

The HTNT5 is made up of two parts: the three-way, two-chan­nel sound­bar and its ac­com­pa­ny­ing wire­less sub­woofer. The sound­bar it­self fea­tures two clus­ters of driv­ers at ei­ther edge, each com­pris­ing a sin­gle mid/bass unit an­gled di­ag­o­nally up­wards and two tweet­ers – one sit­ting un­der the grille and one along the bot­tom edge. All six driv­ers are pow­ered by their own pro­pri­etary Smas­ter HX am­pli­fier.

On the back you’ll find a healthy num­ber of con­nec­tions, with an Arc-en­abled HDMI out­put, three HDMI ins (all HDCP 2.2 com­pli­ant), one each of ana­logue au­dio and op­ti­cal dig­i­tal, and a USB port on the side. There’s also an eth­er­net con­nec­tion and dual-band wi-fi, plus Blue­tooth as well.

Get­ting set up is pretty straight­for­ward, as the sub is as plug-and-play as it gets. It au­to­mat­i­cally links to the sound­bar when you switch it on (shown by a solid green light) and there are no cross­over or phase con­trols to mess with – you’re just left to de­cide on po­si­tion­ing and vol­ume.

Sony of­fers the op­tion to add wire­less sur­rounds for a more en­velop­ing sound, which can be done via the sound­bar’s

“The HT-NT5 is a wellde­signed sound­bar and a tempt­ing propo­si­tion, even with a £600 price”

easy-to-use home­page. This is also where you go to change set­tings or se­lect a source, in­clud­ing the likes of Spo­tify Con­nect, Blue­tooth and home net­work de­vices, along­side the phys­i­cal con­nec­tions.

It sup­ports mu­sic up to 24-bit/192khz, plus Sony’s Song­pal app for IOS and An­droid al­lows you to con­nect the HTNT5 to other Sony kit in your house to cre­ate a quick and easy multi-room setup.

De­liv­er­ing drama

We put on Captain Amer­ica: The Win­ter Sol­dier and skip to the stand-off be­tween the Win­ter Sol­dier and the Avengers. It’s a big sound­stage with plenty of scale, so you can re­ally push the vol­ume to neigh­bour-both­er­ing lev­els with­out an is­sue. It’s a fast, ag­ile sound too. As cars col­lide and me­tal crunches, there’s a sat­is­fy­ing zing to the tre­ble that stays on the right side of bright with­out sound­ing hard – some­thing Sony’s sound­bars haven’t al­ways man­aged be­fore.

This crisp high-end helps cre­ate an up­front sound sup­ported by a clean, open midrange that en­sures di­a­logue is clear and pro­jected, even in the busi­est of scenes.

It’s not al­ways the most ex­pres­sive though. We’d like to be able to hear more de­tail in both a char­ac­ter’s voice and the movie sound­track. The sound might be fast and or­gan­ised, but it needs a bet­ter grip on dy­nam­ics to de­liver drama or sus­pense.

This is par­tic­u­larly the case in busy scenes – the HTNT5 finds it dif­fi­cult to sep­a­rate noises and ef­fects, be­com­ing con­gested and lacking space. With less to worry about, the HTNT5 can con­cen­trate on fewer things, which helps with de­tail lev­els and dy­nam­ics. But un­for­tu­nately the sub is the weak link, prov­ing too soft­handed to cre­ate any im­pact. Ex­plo­sions and gun­shots sound big­ger than through your TV, but they lack the punch a sound­bar at this level should have.

It’s a sim­i­lar story with mu­sic. The bass makes it­self heard, but it’s poorly in­te­grated and feels dis­jointed from the rest of the mix. Vo­cals lack the sub­tler de­tails we need to re­ally con­nect with the mu­sic.

The HTNT5 is a well-de­signed sound­bar that ap­pears a tempt­ing propo­si­tion, even with a £600 price tag. How­ever, de­spite its abil­ity to make things louder, wider and more fo­cused, we’re not get­ting much more de­tail than from our tele­vi­sion speak­ers – and that’s not good enough at this price.

The two-part Sony HT-NT5 is made up of a three-way, two-chan­nel sound­bar and a wire­less sub­woofer

The HT-NT5 can ei­ther be laid flat un­der your TV, or wall-mounted. It au­to­mat­i­cally ad­justs the EQ to suit

VER­DICT Another stylish sound­bar from Sony, but its lack of de­tail, dy­nam­ics and low-end punch leave us want­ing more

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