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“If someone buys an HDTV and doesn’t have high-definition surround sound to go with it, it’s like buying a Ferrari without the engine or a Learjet without the wings. It’s the audio that drives the action, creates the mood and brings the video content to life,” says Mike Klipsch, president of US audio brand Klipsch.
He has a point. It’s all very well getting yourself a swanky new TV and Blu-ray deck, but without surround sound you’re only getting half the story. And, thankfully, if you’re the sort of person who can’t even afford to use Ferraris and Learjets in a metaphor, let alone buy one, then the good news is that high-quality 5.1 speaker systems are more affordable than ever – as the HD Theater 500 system aims to demonstrate.
This sub/sat system is yours for just under £500 and conveniently packs all the speakers you need into a single box, although you’ll still need an AV receiver to drive them of course. One of the main selling points of the system is its compactness – no big, imposing floorstanders or fridge-sized subs to contend with, just a set of compact speakers that you can perch around the room without having to get a rubberstamp from your other half.
In the box you’ll find five satellites and a powered subwoofer. The front/rear sats stand just 6in high and the sealed enclosure comes dressed in a very appealing high gloss-black finish. The front grilles can be removed, and doing so exposes the 2.5in IMG mid-bass woofer and MicroTractrix Horn-loaded 0.75in aluminium dome tweeter. According to Klipsch, the efficiency of this proprietary technology means you don’t need much power to drive them.
Pick one up and can feel the quality instantly, telling you all you need to know about their long-term durability. They may be small, but each one is weighty and solid, the sort of build quality that you perhaps wouldn’t expect at this price point. Klipsch says they’ve been ‘value engineered’ while staying true to the company’s audiophile heritage, and if they sound half as good as they feel then we could be onto a winner.