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To test the Samsung's performance we jumped straight to the King Kong DVD and we're pleased to report that its sound quality is noticeably better than the HT-X810R. It handles the movie's frenetic soundtrack with a lot more balance and authority, and unlike many one-box jobs it packs enough punch to get the pulse racing without doing damage to your ears in the process.
What impressed us most is the quality of the subwoofer's bass output, which is intense and menacing but not as overbearing or flabby as the X810's bass box. During the crunching Kong/T-Rex face-off or the brontosaurus stampede (still the most ridiculous scene in film history) it underpins the action with deep, solid low-end rumble but politely gives the rear effects, voices and score plenty of room for manoeuvre. It's all the more pleasing that this sympathetic balance is achieved after using the ASC mode.
The other speakers do a good job too, glossing over their obvious lack of refinement with sheer effort and elbow grease. The fronts and rears go about their business with exhilarating gusto, generating a snappy, expansive soundstage, and they're surprisingly deft when it comes to conveying delicate treble - the sound of insects scuttling over Naomi Watts as she hides inside the log are delivered with skin-crawling clarity. The centre channel has a good stab at dialogue but it's more muffled than it would be on a good separates system.
We're not saying that the Samsung is any sort of match for a good separates system, as there's a slightly boxed-in feel to the sound that a more competent amp and speakers would avoid, but as one-box systems go this isn't bad at all.
Sadly it all falls apart with music playback, with hi-res DVD-Audio material, CDs and MP3s sounding disappointingly flat, clumsy and lacking in detail, while the subwoofer suddenly becomes too eager to stamp its authority on proceedings and smothers stereo playback.
Picture quality is impressive though, with the system's 1080p upscaling showing no serious artefacts. The system delivers pure and natural colours, proving itself able to show subtlety and strength within the same frame, while the high amount of detail in the picture lends satisfying clarity to Skull Island's busy scenery.
When buying an affordable one-box system instead of separates, you have to be prepared to compromise on quality, and while that's certainly the case with the HT-X715T, its fantastic feature list should help you to forgive its sonic shortcomings. There aren't many systems at this price that offer Bluetooth support, auto calibration, DVD-Audio playback and such generous format compatibility.
But taking its astonishingly low online price into consideration, it does a much better job with films than you may expect. Music playback isn't great, but in all other respects the HT-X715T is a terrific proposition - and that's before we've even mentioned its lovely, show-stopping design.
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