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Sensibly, Philips has designed the system to be powered using a single mains lead connected to the subwoofer. The soundbar draws its power from the sub and is connected by a single umbilical cord, which means you don’t have a trail of ugly wires hanging down your wall. The process of rigging up the system is self explanatory, while the superbly designed onscreen menus let you tinker with the basics quickly, leaving you with more time to get down to the business of watching movies.
The unit plays a pleasing range of formats, happily spinning DVD+R/+RW, DVD-R/-RW, Video CD, Super Video CD and CD-R/-RW. Your PC media library is in safe hands too, as the unit supports DivX Ultra (and all the versions before it), MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MP3, WMA and JPEG files, but like the 8140 there’s no support for AAC. These compressed formats can be played from a flash drive connected to the USB input on the left hand side of the soundbar, plus there’s a line input for hooking up an MP3 player.
The system features built-in decoding for Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks, alongside Dolby Pro Logic II for playing back stereo sources with a bit of virtual surround sparkle. There’s also a smattering of Philips’ own sound tweaks, including treble and bass control, Smart Surround (which chooses Stereo or Multichannel automatically according to the source), DoubleBass and ClearVoice to boost bass and dialogue respectively, plus FullSound to enhance MP3/WMA playback. Add a range of equaliser settings to the equation, with names like Action, Rock and Concert, and you’ve got yourself a pretty flexible audio performer.
To test the HTS6100’s sonic prowess we loaded up Speed on DVD and right from the outset we were impressed by what we heard. The disc’s high-octane DTS soundtrack is reproduced with astonishing clarity and power by the soundbar’s built-in speakers, reproducing the film’s frequent explosions with gut-wrenching force (the first bus bomb is particularly potent) and thankfully you can crank the volume up high without fear of distortion or cabinet rattle.
But by far the most impressive aspect of the HTS6100’s performance is the expansive soundstage generated by Ambisound, which throws surround effects far and wide into the room to provide a genuine sense of space. It cleanly separates the rear channels, accurately placing them either side of the listening position, while speech remains pinned to the front of the room, sounding forthright and true-to-life at all times. These attributes make Speed’s opening lift shaft sequence a real thrill, with the excellent placement of effects like creaking cables and frantic screaming adding to the tension and claustrophobic atmosphere of the scene.