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Philips HTS8100 Soundbar DVD System - Philips HTS8100
The sense of space and width created by Ambisound is genuinely impressive, with those competent drivers forcefully throwing surround information either side of the listening position. We never felt as though effects were coming from behind us, but they felt detached enough from the front channels to make for a suitably engaging and immersive experience.
This is particularly true during The Matrix's electrifying lobby shoot out scene, with the HTS8100 firing out crisp, piercing gunshots left and right - all the while maintaining excellent separation of the front, centre and rear channels. The famous score underpinning the scene is delivered with verve and doesn't get drowned out by the cacophony of effects surrounding it.
Also impressive is the subwoofer, which produces tight, solid bass that fuses beautifully with the Ambisound's midrange and treble output. It doesn't sound flabby or boomy like many other all-in-one subs, which means the other channels are never overpowered - it simply provides a solid foundation for those key action scenes. Dialogue, meanwhile, is clear, direct and stays locked to the centre of the screen.
As for pictures, the on-board 1080p upscaling is better than you might expect. Fine detail contained in The Matrix disc is displayed with exceptional clarity, while competent handling of colours and blacks contribute towards some rich and cinematic looking images. Superb.
As soundbar cinema systems go, the HTS8100 is a fine example. The sound quality on offer is surprisingly sophisticated, and those angled speaker drivers do generate a genuine sense of width that sets this system apart from the virtual surround modes found in TVs and 2.1 systems.
But as impressive as Ambisound is, we wouldn't recommend buying the HTS8100 if you can afford and accommodate a proper separates system. The rear effects don't completely surround you as they do when using real surround speakers, so you're not quite getting that true home cinema experience.
That said, we still think the HTS8100 is definitely worth checking out, not least because of its great feature list, effortlessly gorgeous design and solid picture quality.
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