Sony BRAVIA TVs: sounding as good as they look

Sony BRAVIA TVs: sounding as good as they look
(Image credit: Sony)

When it comes to TVs, picture is only half of the battle. If you want a complete audio-visual experience, what you hear is just as important as what you see. That’s why when we review a TV, we always take into account the sound quality, and why we often recommend leaving some room in your budget for a sound system.

It’s also why we’re excited when a brand realises the importance of audio.

Sony is one such brand. It has employed a range of audio technologies to ensure its TVs sound as good as they look. So whether you’re spending extra on a soundbar or other external speaker, or just want the best sound possible from your TV, Sony has a solution for you.

Acoustic Surface Audio: the screen is the speaker


(Image credit: Sony)

Let’s start with the TVs themselves. Most TVs’ sound comes from speakers built into the TV frame – nothing wrong with that, but with TV borders becoming ever slimmer, there’s increasingly little space into which to cram a decent-sized speaker. But what if you could tether the audio to come from the corresponding part of the picture? What if dialogue came from characters’ mouths, and gunshots direct from the muzzle of the gun? That’s now possible, thanks to Acoustic Surface Audio+.

This technology effectively turns the TV screen into one giant speaker. Actuators sit behind the glass screen panel in small aluminium baskets. These actuators move rapidly, and it’s these vibrations that create the audio. Because they’re situated behind the screen rather than below or to the sides, the system can position sounds precisely on-screen. The result? A more realistic and more immersive audio-visual experience.

These vibrations are invisible to the human eye, so don’t worry, you won’t see the screen shaking like it’s being rocked by a loud car stereo. There’s even a Voice Zoom mode which amplifies human voices – very handy when you want to make out mumbled dialogue during a sonically busy scene.

As well as greater sonic precision, it also means greater clarity. That’s because the sound source is facing the viewer directly, whereas most TVs’ speakers are either down-firing from the bottom of the frame or rear-firing around the back, meaning the sound has to travel around the panel to get to your seating position.

Turning the TV into a centre audio channel


(Image credit: Sony)

But if you want to add external speakers, the sound only gets better. That’s thanks to clever technology called Acoustic Centre Sync, which lets your TV’s speakers act as the centre channel when using a soundbar. Instead of replacing your TV audio with that from a soundbar, it combines the two, letting the soundbar handle the low-end and mid-range frequencies while the TV takes care of the high frequencies.

So what? you might be thinking. It means conversations sound more natural because they come from the corresponding part of the picture, that’s what. It combines the benefits of Sony’s Acoustic Surface Audio+ technology with greater bass and mid-range frequencies that only an external speaker like a soundbar can offer.

Hence not only will high frequencies be positioned with precision, explosions will have more rumble and bass-heavy music will come with more impact. It’s the cinema experience, brought home.

But this tech doesn't just work with soundbars – you can also integrate the TV into your home theatre setup with higher-end models (e.g. the A90J, A95K and Z9K) acting as the centre speaker. That means the TV connects to your AV receiver, becoming the centre of your surround sound system, again matching the vocals directly to the action just like in the cinema.

A wearable home theatre system


(Image credit: Sony)

And if you don’t want to disturb everyone else in the home? Sony has a solution for that, too: a wearable neckband speaker.

The Sony SRS-NS7 is your own wearable home theatre system that provides personalised Dolby Atmos 360-degree spatial sound. Not only does it provide audio to you and you alone – letting everyone else in the home get on with what they’re doing – it does so in a uniquely personalised way. By analysing the shape of your ears, it creates the ideal arrangement of virtual Dolby Atmos speakers all around you, as if you had an expert audiologist creating your very own sound system. Which makes you feel more immersed in the scene, whether it’s action, drama, comedy or all of the above.

Just connect the WLA-NS7 wireless transmitter to your BRAVIA XR TV, pair the two wirelessly, and get watching. It works great for music too, using streaming apps compatible with Sony’s 360 Reality Audio tech.

The X-Balanced speaker unit packages the optimum speaker size in a compact body. This increases the sound pressure while reducing distortion for clear music and vocals. The upward-firing speaker delivers sound directly to you and you alone, letting you enjoy audio thrills even late at night. And the passive radiator increases the low frequency response for clear bass sound, giving you the full home cinema experience without disturbing the neighbours.

So whether you’re adding external speakers or just using the TV’s built-in audio, a Sony TV will upgrade your home viewing and listening.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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