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