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Philips HTS6515/05 2.1-Channel Home Cinema System - Philips HTS6515/05
The menu system isn't much to look at but more importantly it's easy to navigate and pleasingly responsive. The remote is a very practical shape and size and boasts excellent button placement, but annoyingly you have to hold down chapter skip to rewind or fast-forward, which sounds petty but has always been a pet hate of ours.
The HTS6515's sound quality is pretty special. With movies, the sound is powerful, punchy and beautifully balanced, with the subwoofer supporting rather than overpowering the other speakers with taut, controlled bass. Also impressive are the eloquent speakers, which convey treble and midrange with smoothness, accuracy and plenty of character. This also translates into music playback that's well above the quality we'd normally expect from an all-in-one system, but based on the quality of Philips' previous 2.1 systems it shouldn't come as a surprise.
To test Ambisound's prowess we needed a DVD with a soundtrack that was full of busy surround channel information, and The Return Of The King fits the bill perfectly. Sadly, though, the film's scintillating soundtrack demonstrates the ineffectiveness of the technology - the flying arrows, clanking swords and passing horses during the siege on Gondor sound localised to the area around the speaker position, and don't reach far enough into the room to convince as a 5.1-channel effect. However, the sound is far more spacious and expansive than your average TV's speakers, which will be enough for many users.
When it comes to picture quality the HTS6515 does a wonderful job with The Return Of The King. With the image boosted to 1080p on our 40in Toshiba LCD, the depth and solidity of the picture is a joy to behold, plus high detail levels and a lack of noise give the image pleasing clarity and focus. It obviously doesn't reach hi-def levels of sharpness but this is a pretty good second best. The above qualities are best demonstrated during the epic battle scenes, where the tapestry of CG detail and live action is reproduced with a truly cinematic lustre.
If you're looking for a 2.1 DVD system that oozes style, offers a decent range of features and delivers magnificent three-channel sound, then look no further than the HTS6515. But if you're looking for a system that convincingly mimics a proper 5.1-channel soundstage then you may be disappointed by what Ambisound has to offer.
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