Sony KD-65XH9505 4K LED Television

hcchighreccomendJohn Archer enjoys the all-around appeal of Sony's range-topping 4K LED telly

Unless Sony springs a replacement for 2019's ZF9 series on us later in the year, the KD-65XH9505 is the Japanese brand's flagship 65in 4K TV for 2020. And at first glance you might wonder if that's a status that it will be able to live up to. Even the £2,000 ticket, while not inconsiderable, doesn't exactly scream 'flagship'.

It's an attractive TV – especially if you attach its feet under each corner, rather in their optional more central position – but its build quality only feels so-so. It's also quite chunky around the back and, unlike most Sony TV flatscreens, is devoid of cable-tidying features.


Next, while it has four HDMI inputs and supports eARC functionality for passing through lossless audio formats, it's not able to handle the 4K/120fps HDR games promised by the incoming PS5 and Xbox Series X games consoles (whereas, oddly, the step-down XH90 models will be, after a promised firmware update). Nor is there support for the VRR or ALLM gaming features found on many high-end competitors. Its Game preset's 18.4ms of measured input lag is a decent effort, however.

Sony also hasn't embraced the UHD Alliance's Filmmaker Mode, which is designed to set TV picture settings to resemble those used in professional mastering studios. Neither does the 65XH9505 incorporate Dolby Vision IQ functionality, for intelligent ambient light compensation.


Like LG's OLED GX TV, this Sony's HDR compatibility includes HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision, but not HDR10+. Current screens from Philips and Panasonic handle both 'active' HDR formats.

Back In The Zone
From here on in, thankfully, things take a very sharp upturn, beginning with the fact the 65XH9505 employs a VA-type LCD panel, illuminated by a direct LED lighting system driven by local dimming. The number of dimming zones (60) isn't particularly high; Samsung's 65Q95T flagship 4K TV has 120, by comparison. But Sony's set sells for a whole £1,000 less.

Efficient picture processing can often compensate for a relatively low dimming zone count, and the 65XH9505 features Sony's premium X1 Ultimate chipset, which blends the brand's decades of TV know-how with specific picture-enhancing features such as a dual-database upscaling engine; Super Bitmapping for removing colour striping; object-based HDR remastering for (excellent) SDR-to-HDR conversion; and Sony's X-Motion Clarity system, which exploits the full array with local dimming (FALD) display design to give you the motion benefits of black frame insertion without the usual brightness loss.


Colours are delivered by a combination of Sony's Live Colour, Triluminos and Precision Colour Mapping systems, and Sony's X-Wide Angle technology means you can view the set from a good deal off-axis without its picture suffering the usual contrast and colour reductions.

Smart features are provided by Android TV. The ninth-generation implementation here further refines and stabilises the platform, but still doesn't address key issues of a clunky home page, limited customisation options, and relatively few content showcase ideas. I know I've been saying this for years, by the way.

Android TV is supplemented by YouView, which corrals the key UK catch-up TV apps into one easy-to-browse place.

Balanced Audio
For the 65XH9505's sonics, Sony is in an inventive mood. First, independently amplified side-firing HF drivers built high into the TV's rear panel (and named Sound Positioning Tweeters) help it locate audio in the part of the screen/soundstage where it's supposed to be. Second, new down-firing 'X-Balanced' full-range speakers use an unusual shape and structure, and high-quality components, to deliver the volume and dynamic reach you don't usually hear with LCD TVs.


And I write that not as a Sony statement of intent, but a fact. The force with which the 65XH9505 reworks 1917's massive Dolby Atmos soundtrack (4K Blu-ray) into your room is remarkable, building a wall of sound that's full of clear details and always coherent. The tweeters enhance both the height and detail in even the densest parts of the mix, while the X-Balanced speakers go loud and proud. A race across a heavily shelled battlefield sounds convincingly dramatic – and you can't ask for more than that from a built-in TV sound system.

A Bright Idea
The 65XH9505's pictures are – mostly – just as spectacular. Brightness, in particular, makes an instant impact. The screen measures a peak light output (on a 10 per cent white HDR window) of just over 1,000 nits in Standard mode, and just under 1,000 nits in Cinema mode. These are high figures for a £2,000 LCD TV.