Sony HT-Z9F vs Sonos Arc which is better?

I am very excited about this Sony HT-Z9F vs Sonos Arc contest. Both the Sonos Arc and the Sony HT-Z9F offer Dolby Atmos and they are two companies that I hold in very high regard. This is actually not the first time that I have put Sony and Sonos in the ring together. Not too long ago we had a look at the Sony HTX8500 vs Sonos Beam which is a better buy? which was a lot of fun and saw Sony come out on top of that encounter. Now though we have the rematch between Sony and Sonos and this is more epic than when Rocky took on Apollo Creed for the second time in Rocky II

The Price

Price is a very important category in this Sony HT-Z9F vs Sonos Arc as you want to get as much value for your money as possible. I am a Scotsman so I know a thing or two about being thrifty and squeezing all you can out of a penny! Both of these are expensive so you need to know that going in, but these are two very high end soundbars so that is to be expected. 

Sony HT-Z9F: 

Sony Z9F 3.1ch Sound bar with Dolby Atmos and Wireless Subwoofer (HT-Z9F), Home Theater Surround Sound Speaker System for TV Black

As of me writing this if you were to go on Amazon and look for the Sony HT-Z9F , you would find it on there for $898. Considering this includes a subwoofer with it I do not think that is an unreasonable price for this at all. It does mean that it is a higher end soundbar and I know that those just looking for an upgrade for their TV speakers will be out. However, as far as soundbars that offer cinema style sound, the price here is not out of question. If you look on eBay, the prices for this are right around what Amazon are asking. I did find one for just over 600 bucks, but then the shipping was nearly $200! I would still recommend that you do a bit of shopping around as you may be able to save a few bucks if you get lucky. 

Sonos Arc: 

Sonos Arc - The Premium Smart Soundbar for TV, Movies, Music, Gaming, and More - Black

Unless Sonos have released their follow up to the Sonos Arc by the time you read this, the Sonos Arc is currently the most expensive offering from these dudes. The retail price for this is $799.99 and I know that is going to make you spit you’re your morning coffee or after work whiskey, which if that is the case, I hope it is not good whiskey! However, the asking price for this is not actually out of line when you consider what it is offering. As I always do, I had a good look on eBay and this is not really any cheaper on there than it is on Amazon. You are looking at anywhere between 800 and 1000 bucks for this on eBay. There are some pre-owned models on there for a couple of hundred bucks cheaper, but I am not sure I would recommend that. 

The Verdict: I know that the Sony HT-Z9F comes with a subwoofer and considering it is around 100 bucks more than the Sonos Arc, getting a Sony subwoofer for what relates to around 100 bucks when compared to the Arc is a steal. However, I do feel that overall, I have to give this one to the Sonos Arc, but it is very close, like so close I could maybe be persuaded to change my mind on this if someone could put an argument together! 

The Design

This is going to be a tough round in our Sony HT-Z9F vs Sonos Arc bout. Usually, Sony will win most battles when it comes to design. Since the 80s I have been a huge fan of what Sony does with their stuff, from their TVs, Walkman, stereos, PlayStations, and now soundbars, but the Sonos Arc is the coolest soundbar from Sonos so this is going to be close. 

Sony HT-Z9F: When it comes to product design, Sony has never let me down and that is the case here with the Sony HT-Z9F too. If you want a video that is straight to the point and shows you exactly what you can expect from this thing check out this Unboxing and Setup Guide | Sony Z9F Soundbar which Sony has made themselves.

As you can see from that video this is a pretty damn big soundbar and it comes in at 44.5 x 23.7 x 9.5 inches. So, it is nice and long and close to the overall size of the Sonos Arc in all honesty. As you would expect from Sony, this thing has a very high-quality feel and build to it. The majority of the soundbar is black plastic, but in typical Sony style, they have a metal grill that is held in place by magnets which I thought was pretty cool.

There is a light LCD that shows what channel you are on and I think that is a nice effect. Round the back of the soundbar, this thing is pretty stacked when it comes to what inputs it is offering you. You have two HDMI in ports which is neat, one HDMI out, there is an optical port, a LAN port and there is also a USB port for any updates that the soundbar may need. In all, Sony has made sure that you have all you need around the back of here and I am more than cool with that. 

Now, we do also have to talk about the soundbar that the Sony HT-Z9F comes with. I really like the subwoofer; it has that same Sony style and fits in with the soundbar perfectly. While it has a very cool style to it, it does not actually take up a ton of space. The dimensions of the subwoofer are 7.4” x 15” x 15.1” inches. The opening on the front has a plastic design to it which may get dusty over time so be sure to keep an eye on that. 

Sonos Arc: I really do like the style of the Sonos Arc and it is the largest soundbar that Sonos offer. The dimensions of this are 3.4” x 45” x 4.5” so you will need to make sure you have enough room for that 45 inches of length. No one wants a soundbar that is hanging off the edges. It is worth noting that Sonos offer this in both black and white, but I have only ever messed around with the black version of this soundbar. This thing has a real quality feel about it and Sonos usually go for a fabric covering of their soundbars, but they have done something different for this one.

The soundbar is made from this very strong black plastic and covering the speakers and the main portion of the soundbar is this plastic grill which looks fantastic. Seriously when it comes to style, no other Sonos soundbar comes close to what this is offering. The sides are a much lighter shade and it is a very cool effect, I also like the way the Sonos logo looks on here. The main thing that you notice here is just how curvy the soundbar is and I mean that as a compliment. 

Before we head round the back, I suggest you check out this Unboxing SONOS ARC video which shows off just how cool and sleek this thing looks. Round the back of the Sonos Arc, we have your hookups. There is no optical port on the Sonos Arc there is just an HDMI port. That is not as big of a deal as you may be thinking as they do give you a special cable to compensate for this. 

The Verdict: Man, this is one of the toughest comparisons I have had to do. I wish I could just be a real chicken and say that this is a draw, but I have to pick a winner. I know this may be the Sony fanboy in me, but I am going to have to say that I slightly just prefer that classic Sony look of the Sony HT-Z9F.  

The Sound

As we are talking about two Dolby Atmos soundbars in this Sony HT-Z9F vs Sonos Arc contest, it is going to be a great deal of fun. These are the types of soundbars that are designed for those of us that want that cinema style sound in our home. Getting an upgrade on your TV speakers is expected, but what about the home cinema experience?

Sony HT-Z9F: Here we are with the main category! The Sony HT-Z9F is a Dolby Atmos soundbar. The idea here is to fill the room with sound and for a 3.1 system and it holds it’s own very well. I found this very complimentary video called Sony HT-Z9F Soundbar Complete Walkthrough: Closest to Theater Sound You Can Get for the Money that shows how this soundbar manages to give you a cinema style of sound.

I want to start by talking about the Dolby Atmos that this offers, as the actual bar is a little lacking in the speaker department when in direct comparison with something like the Sonos Arc, I do feel that you notice a difference. Movies like Captain Marvel that have a lot of stuff going on all around the screen are actually handled very well and I was impressed with the way the soundbar filled the room with sound. 

If you are watching a TV show or a movie like Knives Out that is all about the dialogue. Then you will be blown away by the vocal clarity that this offers. Even in a movie that has a lot of action going on with the dialogue. Jurassic Park III is a great example of this. The scene I am talking about is near the end where the Spinosaurus attacks them on the boat. There are lots of loud noises, weather effects, and talking all hitting you at once and it sounded fantastic and clear when pumped through here. I know that the movie is not great, but that is a very good scene to watch to see how a soundbar handles a whole bunch of stuff going on at once. 

As the Sony HT-Z9F comes with a soundbar, you will not be surprised to hear that it handles bass and boom very well. The first movie I actually watched when putting this through its paces was Deep Blue Sea which I consider to be the greatest shark movie ever made… I am dead serious by the way! Anyway, the bass was great and I think that while the subwoofer they give you with this may not be the greatest from Sony, it more than gets the job done and compliments the soundbar very, very well. 

Sonos Arc: The Sonos Arc is a 5.0.2 setup and it is truly fantastic stuff. If I had to right now do a list of my favorite soundbars the Sonos Arc would feature on it. I highly recommend that you have a look at this Review: Sonos Arc Brings Dolby Atmos With Incredible Precision & Volume video to hear more about the sound capabilities of this soundbar.

The fact that this is packed with speakers means that the Dolby Atmos effect is very, very well done. It truly fills the room with sound and if you are watching something like Zack Snyder’s Justice League you are getting sound from all around you as good as you can without rear speakers of course. It is a great effect and will make you feel like you are experiencing surround sound. Are there better Dolby Atmos soundbars out there? Well if you ask uptight “audiophiles” they will say yes, but I hand on heart think this is one of the best. 

It is not just loud movies that sound great when played with the Sonos Arc. The vocal clarity on offer here is just amazing and some of the best I have encountered to be real with you. One of my favorite TV shows of all time is The Sopranos and for a show like that which is very dialogue heavy, the Sonos Arc is truly amazing. You have different sound settings that you can play around with, but even out of the box just with the default settings, this is a very impressive soundbar and great if you want that cinema style sound at home. 

The bass that the Sonos Arc provides is pretty impressive too. It may lack the dedicated subwoofer that the Sony has, but I still found movies that have a lot of bass like The Avengers for example sound great when played through this. If you want to go all in then you could get something like this Sonos Sub which is an amazing subwoofer from Sonos, but it costs as much as the actual soundbar! 

The Verdict: These are two amazing soundbars and I think they will both offer you that cinema experience you are looking for in your living room or home theatre. I do have to say that I think the Sonos Arc gives a better Dolby Atmos effect and because of that I am having to give this round to the Sonos Arc. However, I do have to say that the Sony HT-Z9F is very good and I am sure many people would have a hard time telling the difference in sound quality.  

The Remote Control

If you have read any other article on here where I have talked about a Sonos soundbar, you have a pretty good idea where this is going to go! Anyway, let us take a closer look at how you control both of these soundbars as we see which one has the best remote control. 

Sony HT-Z9F: I was very impressed with the remote control that Sony put in the box with the Sony HT-Z9F. If you ask me, Sony are the best of the best when it comes to a remote control. This one is stacked with buttons that give you complete control over your soundbar and subwoofer. I like how you can quickly pick between the different presets it offers and it just has everything that I want and you need in a remote control. Just recently I got the PlayStation Media Remote for my PlayStation 5 and that even shows that even now, Sony knows how to make a great remote control. 

Sonos Arc: There is this awesome, underrated, and forgotten about movie from the early 90s called Stay Tuned that I loved as a kid and in that movie when John Ritter gets his new TV, he gets this crazy remote with it. Does the Sonos Arc have a remote control that is as futuristic as that? Well no, the reason I say this is because, like their other soundbars, the Sonos Arc does not come with a remote control! Instead, you have to download the app on your phone or tablet and use that. To be fair, this is a fantastic app and the level of control it gives you is amazing. However, for someone like me, I do not like this as I like to have an actual remote. Even if they just gave us something very basic that would have been better than no remote at all. 

The Verdict: It would be very easy for me to say that the Sony HT-Z9F wins this round in our Sony HT-Z9F vs Sonos Arc contest by default, but that would be doing my boys at Sony a huge disservice. You see the remote that Sony gives you is fantastic and gives you all the control you need over the soundbar. Off the top of my head, I cannot think of anything better they could have done to this remote control! 

What Is In The Box?

As you are spending a great deal of your hard earned money on either of these we need to take a look and see exactly what you are getting in the boxes of the Sony HT-Z9F and the Sonos Arc

Sony HT-Z9F: So, what does Sony throw in the box for the Sony HT-Z9F? Well, before I get to that I do have to tell you that when this thing showed up at my doorstop the carrier was not happy at how massive the box was. The box the soundbar and subwoofer are in is huge, but the box containing that was so big I could have lived in it. Anyway, you get your subwoofer, soundbar their power cables, and instruction booklets. A big pet peeve of mine is always when they give you an input, but no cable! They do not give you an optical cable with this, only an HDMI, but as I am a Sony fanboy I am far more forgiving here than I usually am. 

Sonos Arc: Apart from the lack of a remote control one of the things that I like about the Sonos Arc and the other Sonos soundbars that I have looked at here on the site is that they are a company that well and truly gives you all that you need. You get your soundbar and power cable, but they also give you an HDMI cable. As there is no optical cable port on the back, they also give you this HDMI to optical cable adapter. This means no matter your setup, this is ready to go out of the box. 

The Verdict: This is a tough one to call. On one hand, Sony does not give you an optical cable, even though their soundbar has one. Yet, they do at least give you a remote control. Sonos though does win me over with that HDMI to optical cable adapter. I am having a hard time picking a winner here folks, but I do have to say the lack of a remote is making me side with Sony!   

What Is Better Sony HT-Z9F or Sonos Arc?

So we come to the end of our Sony HT-Z9F vs Sonos Arc battle. As I have said more than once today, these are both great soundbars and I would not have a hard time recommending either one of these to any of my friends or family. Still, we have to pick a winner here and we cannot just sit on the fence! As these are both Dolby Atmos soundbars, I am going to have to give this to the Sonos Arc as I feel it offers a better Dolby Atmos effect. The Sony HT-Z9F still offers fantastic sound quality and you do get that subwoofer, but as far as Dolby Atmos goes, I think Sonos does it better here. 

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