Sony Master Series A9F OLED & Z9F LED-LCD 4K HDR TVs Debut

The Sony Master Series TVs include the A9F OLED and Z9F LED-LCD, both of which provide exceptional video processing and Netflix Calibrated Mode.

At a press conference in New York City today, the Sony Master Series of 4K HDR TVs was unveiled. According to the press release, the goal is to “create a TV capable of displaying images that faithfully convey the creators’ intent. Sony’s new Master Series provides picture quality approaching that of a professional-grade monitor in a movie studio and was developed by following a very strict set of product-evaluation criteria by its most experienced picture-quality engineers.”

The Master Series includes two new models: the A9F OLED and Z9F LED-LCD. Both include Sony’s next-generation Picture Processor X1 Ultimate, which is said to “intelligently detect and analyze each object in the picture through Sony’s new Object-based Super Resolution for exceptional accuracy and detail. The Object-based HDR remaster has been updated and now allows each object to be remastered individually for better depth, accurate texture, and overall more realistic picture.” Other functions of the Picture Processor X1 Ultimate include Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR and Dual Database processing, much like the previous generation.

Another innovation is Netflix Calibrated Mode. According to the press release, “The new feature was specially developed to mirror the same picture quality as a studio evaluation master for television in order to preserve the artists’ creative vision and intent. By clicking one simple menu setting, Netflix Calibrated Mode faithfully reproduces the visuals that help bring a story to life, and entertainment enthusiasts can now enjoy this experience when watching their favorite TV series, films, documentaries, and more on Netflix.”

As Scott Mirer, Vice President of Device Partner Ecosystem at Netflix, recalls, “While recently watching Lost in Space, I was struck by the vivid landscapes: lush forests, shadowed snowfields, and other visual elements that pulled me more deeply into the Robinsons’ adventures. We can’t wait for our members around the world watching on Sony’s new master Series TVs to get this fantastic experience and—for the very first time—to deliver studio-quality picture mastering to the living room with Netflix Calibrated Mode.”

The press release also mentions that the Master Series “supports CalMan’s professional-grade calibration.” By itself, that doesn’t say much at all. But a subsequent press release from Portrait Displays, developers of CalMan, reveals that the Sony Master Series TVs support AutoCal, which automates the calibration process. The new TVs join models from Samsung and LG that implement this important feature.

Both new TVs are based on the Android operating system. In addition, they have a built-in microphone for accepting voice commands using Google Assistant. However, the availability of Google Assistant depends on the region a user is in.

sony master series

Seen in the photo above, the A9F features Sony’s Pixel Contrast Booster panel controller, which maximizes the dynamic range by “widening the area of color reproduction at high brightness.” In addition, its Acoustic Surface Audio+ is an upgrade from the Acoustic Surface technology in the A1E and A8F. As you may know, this technology replaces traditional speakers with actuators affixed to the back of the panel, vibrating the panel itself to project sound into the room. Acoustic Surface Audio+ adds a third actuator in the center of the screen, and it provides two subwoofers facing sideways. The A9F also has a TV Center Speaker mode that allows Acoustic Surface Audio+ to act as a center-channel speaker in a full home-theater audio system.

sony master series
The Sony Z9F showing a still from the Netflix original series Lost in Space.

The Z9F is the long-awaited successor to the Z9D, Sony’s flagship FALD LED-backlit LCD TV. (Sony has not revealed the number of local-dimming zones, nor is it likely to do so in the future.) One of its new features is called X-Wide Angle, which “ensures the picture retains its quality regardless of the viewing angle. It enables a wider viewing angle that reduces color shifts when viewing the screen off-axis, so colors stay true no matter the viewer’s position.” Another feature is X-Motion Clarity, which is said to minimize motion blue without sacrificing brightness.

According to Mike Fasulo, President and Chief Operating Officer of Sony Electronics North America, “Sony’s focus has always been on quality, and our new Master Series is a game changer. Netflix is redefining the way in which content is produced, and together we have created an offering that has never been done before. Our new line of TVs featuring Netflix Calibrated Mode truly optimize the entertainment experience.”

The Sony Master Series A9F OLED and Z9F LED-LCD TVs will be available across North America in the fall of 2018. The A9F will come in 55″ and 65″ screen sizes, while the Z9F will be available in 65″ and 75″ sizes. Pricing has not yet been announced.

AVS Forum Senior Editor Mark Henninger is attending the event, and he will provide his impressions in a separate article.

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