The system offers Dolby Digital, DTS and Pro Logic II decoding, while Smart Surround automatically selects stereo or multi-channel output according to the type of content being played. DoubleBASS processing takes bass frequencies lower than the sub’s cut-off point of 30Hz and reproduces them within its audible range, while individual bass and treble settings allow you to tweak sound to achieve the best balance. Finally you get a range of pointless sound equaliser settings with names like Action, Rock and Concert.
Not only is the system easy to set up but it’s also easy to operate thanks to the really intuitive and well-made remote, which works in harmony with the logical and responsive onscreen menus. There is one minor gripe though – the sound drops out for a good few seconds when you restart the disc after pausing.
The system turns in a decent performance with the ”Pearl Harbor” DVD’s breath-taking Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. But it’s worth making one thing clear – the HTS6600 is no match for a true 5.1-channel system. Despite Philips’ claims to the contrary it doesn’t offer anything near multi-channel surround sound – at best, Ambisound is a highly effective stereo widener, which increases the sense of space across the front channels. At no stage did we feel as though the Japanese planes soaring over Pearl Harbor were behind or to the side of the viewing position, which keeps all the action contained to the front of the room. We don’t wish to sound overly negative but if you want a real surround sound experience then we’re afraid you’ll just have to bite the bullet and find space for six speakers.
But once you’ve accepted this, it’s time to kick back and enjoy the HTS6600 for what it is – a refined and astonishingly muscular 2.1 system. The front channels pack plenty of muscle and bite, giving the rat-tat-tat-tat of aircraft machine gun fire the sort of sharpness that will get the hairs on the back of your neck standing to attention. This is as exhilarating as three-channel home cinema gets, almost matching more expensive systems like the Onkyo LV-S501 for sheer heart-pounding dynamism and detail – and importantly, it’s much better than anything your TV speakers could muster.