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Sonically the system is much better than expected too, and certainly improves on the HT-BD1250’s performance. Basterds’ DTS HD Master Audio track is sharp and detailed, and the system’s ‘Crystal’ amplifier packs a punch – when the Nazi soldiers shoot up the floor of Monsieur LaPadite’s house, the gunfire is ferocious.
During the movie’s outrageous climax inside the cinema, the flurry of rapid machine gun fire, screaming voices and explosions is conveyed with a decent amount of energy and detail. The nimble interplay between the speakers and clear effect placement creates a spacious, enveloping soundstage that draws you right in.
But while our impressions are generally positive, the sound quality is far from perfect. The overall sound is a little too resonant, but of greatest concern is dialogue. Its bright and frequently over sibilant reproduction is a far cry from the smooth, life-like vocal tones produced by some of the other speaker systems we’ve tested recently.
It’s not always comfortable at loud volumes either, pushing high-frequencies into harshness, and our final criticism concerns the subwoofer, which performs well for a passive unit but ultimately lacks the depth and punch needed to really get the room rocking.
As for music, the system’s CD and MP3 playback is very enjoyable thanks to its sympathetic balance across the frequencies, although the sub is a little loose and half-hearted when it comes to the driving kick drums of dance tracks.
When buying a one-box system at this sort of price, you should expect to make sacrifices, and in the case of the HT-BD1252 build quality and sound performance take the biggest hits. However, lower your expectations and you might just be surprised by what it can do – action set pieces are a hoot and there’s a decent amount of sonic detail to be heard.
And there are other reasons why you shouldn’t dismiss the Samsung out of hand – its feature list is impressive even if you don’t go for the wireless options, it’s easy to use (apart from network setup), loads Blu-ray discs in under 30 seconds and displays them with all the panache of a dedicated player. So if your budget is tight and you’re willing to accept its shortcomings go for it – otherwise we suggest you keep saving for a decent separates system.