Like any home cinema system worth its salt, the HT-X30 lets you play digital media files including DivX, MP3, WMA and JPEGs. You can play these from recordable DVDs or CDs, or load them onto a flash memory drive and plug it into the USB port on the front panel. Alongside the USB port is a 3.5mm minijack for playing back music from an MP3 player.
Tweaking the sound to suit your taste is simple thanks to the dedicated Sound Edit button on the remote, which lets you alter channel levels and the left/right balance. There’s also a test tone to check your settings, a range of DSP/EQ effects that mimic different environments and Dolby Pro-Logic II processing with Music, Cinema and Matrix modes.
Setup is a quick and convenient procedure, and the system is generally easy to operate. Menu controls and DVD playback commands are carried out with minimum delay and the main menu, although very basic, is clearly laid out. The remote lets the side down with a cluster of buttons which are too small and too close to the bottom to press comfortably.
For a run-through of the system’s sound capabilities, we pulled Paul Verhoeven’s ultra-violent ”Starship Troopers” off the shelf and let it rip with the disc’s bustling 5.1-channel Dolby Digital soundtrack. Zipping straight to the exhilarating bug battle scene on Klendathu, our first impressions aren’t great; cranked up to a loud volume, the output is certainly powerful but lacks finesse, resulting in a harsh sound that makes big action scenes hard to enjoy. The constant gun shots, explosions and shrieking bugs aren’t given enough room to breathe by the front channels, resulting in a barrage of noise that’ll have you reaching for the volume down button in seconds.
But at lower volumes the satellites are easier to tolerate and there are actually some positives to be taken from the HT-X30’s performance. The rear satellites do a decent job at immersing you in the action, with sharply reproduced and smoothly steered surround effects. Credit also goes to the subwoofer for delivering tight and potent bass without overpowering the other speakers. The likes of REL or Velodyne won’t be having any sleepless nights but as all-in-one passive subs go it’s not a bad example.