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Philips HTL5120 review

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Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR

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Philips HTL5120
  • Philips HTL5120
  • Philips HTL5120
  • Philips HTL5120
  • Philips HTL5120
  • Philips HTL5120
  • Philips HTL5120
  • Philips HTL5120

Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Refined sound quality
  • Generous connections
  • Superb build quality and classy design

Cons

  • No USB port
  • Virtual Surround Sound

Key Features

  • 120W power
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • Two HDMI inputs & two digital audio inputs
  • Virtual Surround Sound and Double Bass
  • Wall or tabletop mounting with orientation sensor
  • Manufacturer: Philips
  • Review Price: £250.00

Introduction

The large number of soundbars we’ve tested over the last few months is an indication of the growing appetite for these clutter free, convenient home cinema solutions. JBL, Panasonic, Samsung, Orbitsound, B&W, Toshiba and Roth have all thrown their hats in the ring, but now it’s Philips’s turn to show off its skills with the affordably-priced HTL5120. The beauty of this bar is that there’s even less clutter than usual thanks to an integrated active subwoofer.

Philips HTL5120

Philips HTL5120 – Design

Looks play a big part in the success of any soundbar, and here Philips has fashioned an absolute stunner. The Philips HTL5120 is curvy, elegant and slim, with a ‘wing-shaped’ profile that makes it look like no other soundbar on the market. When placed on a tabletop it lies nice and low, but it can also be wall-mounted – a built in orientation sensor detects which way it’s installed and optimises the sound accordingly.

Not only does it look gorgeous, but up-close inspection reveals beautiful build quality – a silky black cloth covers the entire unit, while a brushed silver panel on the front and glossy ported end panels bring a touch of class. Its solid construction is far better than we’d expect for the money.

That silver panel on the front is printed with the names of the inputs and sound modes, with little white lights above it indicating which ones are selected. This row of lights also displays the volume, bass and treble levels when you turn them up or down. It’s a shame Philips couldn’t have squeezed in an LED display, which would have made everything less cryptic, but this arguably could have spoiled the classy look.

Philips HTL5120

All of the connections are found on the underside of the unit (or the back, depending on which way up you have it) and there’s a very generous selection. You get two HDMI v1.4 inputs, allowing you to channel two external sources through the unit (a Blu-ray deck and TV receiver, for example) as well as an ARC-compatible output.

Philips HTL5120

Joining these are optical and coaxial digital audio inputs, analogue stereo input and a 3.5mm mini jack on the back edge for MP3 players (labelled ‘Music Link’). Some pricier soundbars such as the Panasonic SU-HTB527 offer fewer connections, underlining how generous Philips’s selection actually is.

Philips HTL5120 – Features

But even better news is that the HTL5120 comes equipped with built-in Bluetooth, making it a cinch to stream music from mobile phones, laptops and other portable devices – again something that the Panasonic SU-HTB527 lacks. This could be a real clincher for those who listen to music as much as they watch movies, but don’t want a separate audio system. There’s no USB port, though.

Philips HTL5120

The Philips HTL5120 features Virtual Surround Sound, which uses spatial algorithms to replicate to effect of a 5.1 system – the idea being that you get an expansive soundstage without the need for surround speakers. It’s joined by a Double Bass mode, to boost low frequencies from the built-in sub. There are also dedicated treble and bass controls, FullSound, and the self-explanatory Auto Volume Leveller.

Overall power output is quoted as 120W, pumped into the room by a 4-inch woofer and 1-inch tweeter at each end of the soundbar. On board decoding for Dolby Digital and DTS allows you to feed a bitstream directly into the unit via HDMI or digital input. There’s no HD audio decoding but it’s not essential.

john

May 15, 2013, 3:18 pm

On board decoding for Dolby Digital and DTS allows you to feed a bitstream directly into the unit via HDMI or digital input. There’s no HD audio decoding but it’s not essential

Could you please clarify why it is not needed ? is there any work aorund?

thanks

andyvan

May 15, 2013, 3:41 pm

Most Blu-ray players will decode it for you, so the soundbar doesn't need to do the heavy lifting.

Håvard Fledsberg

June 17, 2013, 12:46 pm

How would you proceed if you wanted to pair this with a couple of satellite speakers for surround? Can you turn on or off virtual surround?

ipodee

August 28, 2013, 2:32 pm

How does the virtual surround sound do? Not a trace of surrounded-ness?

Leo

September 11, 2013, 5:10 pm

During your review did you have any problems with bass or treble? Your review says the indicators update up or down as you increase or decrease bass or treble but I've just revived mine and have no such indication on mine, just a single light come on acknowledging the remote has been pressed. Any ideas? Philips support forum is down but just wanted to see if you'd experienced this?

Jake

November 23, 2013, 5:21 am

How about the clarity of voices? And how full-bodied is the sound? What size room will it fill? Thanks!

Vir Killer

December 3, 2013, 7:57 am

I'm bummed I cannot find this sound bar anywhere for sale...

Geoff Richards

December 3, 2013, 2:12 pm

It's on Amazon UK - the link is right above your comment...

Vir Killer

December 5, 2013, 10:33 pm

Oh, I'm in the USA... :(

Geoff Richards

December 6, 2013, 11:49 am

Ah. There might well be a sister model with a slightly different model number, sold by Philips USA. Here's their range: http://www.usa.philips.com/c/s...

Vir Killer

December 6, 2013, 6:46 pm

Thanks, same model # here, just unavailable. Amazon had it and says it is now out of stock temporarily but no ETA.

Functionally I'm curious, does this sound bar turn on and off with the TV using ARC and is it supposed to do this with any TV using ARC, even non Philips branded? Thanks!

Geoff Richards

December 9, 2013, 12:08 pm

Not sure. I haven't tested this soundbar myself.

mitsarasss

February 1, 2014, 10:06 am

Can Bluetooth be turned on/off, or is it on all the time?

imran

November 16, 2014, 12:10 am

need a replacement remote, no one sells them. ;(

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