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Philips HTL5120 review

Tom Morgan
19 Aug 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
250
inc VAT

A fantastic sounding, well-priced sound bar with Bluetooth and HDMI support

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Adding a sound bar to your TV is a quick and easy way to improve your home cinema setup. Sound bars have less wires than a multiple speaker system and you don't have to worry about making room for satellites. You don't need a bulky, separate amplifier, either. Philips' latest sound bar goes one step further and integrates its subwoofer to save even more space.

Philips HTL5120

The HTL5120 looks gorgeous thanks to its oval-shaped chassis, which is covered in black fabric mesh and finished with brushed aluminium trim. It should look great whether you place it on a table or mount it to a wall.

A small power button and a row of white LED input indicators continue the minimal theme, with no unsightly ports or unnecessary lines to break the design flow. It’s incredibly well built for a mid-range product, with high quality construction and no signs of cutting corners.

All the HTL5120’s inputs are hidden in a compartment at the back of the unit. It has two HDMI inputs for connecting a Blu-ray player, set-top box or games console, as well as a single HDMI output that supports Audio Return Channel (ARC). ARC lets you play your TV’s sound through the HTL5120 without the need for extra wires and is a highly convenient feature.

Philips HTL5120

The HTL5120 also has digital optical and coaxial inputs, and a stereo pair of analogue RCA jacks, plus a 3.5mm audio input on top of the unit for connecting auxiliary sources or a smartphone. Sadly, there's not a lot of room for chunky cables, and we struggled to fit two thick HDMI cables between the power cord.

If you prefer to stream your music, you'll appreciate the HTL5120’s Bluetooth connectivity, which lets you pair a tablet or smartphone to the sound bar directly.

It's a shame the HTL5120 doesn’t have an LCD display, as the tiny LED lights indicating the currently selected preset can't be read when you’re standing more than a foot away. Annoyingly, sound cuts out momentarily whenever you adjust a tone control, such as bass. This is because tone must be adjusted incrementally, one step at a time. We’d much prefer to have a regular, linear means of adjusting tone and find this behaviour irritating.

Philips HTL5120

You must adjust the sound bar’s volume, input selection and equalizer settings with the remote control, as there are no buttons on the unit itself other than the power switch. It has dedicated bass, treble and audio sync controls, a button to toggle the virtual surround sound effect on and off, a night mode setting to reduce the amount of bass temporarily, and individual buttons for each input.

AUDIO QUALITY

In use, the HTL5120 made the most of our test tracks and films, producing a warm sound. It had a clear mid-range that wasn’t overpowered by other frequency ranges, and this made speech easy to hear, even during busier video sequences.

It has a greater presence within our test room than many other sound bars we've seen, even at relatively low volumes. Plus, we could use the HTL5120 at high volumes without hearing any distortion.

The HTL5120’s mid-range drivers and high-end tweeters direct audio towards the listener, and ports on either end aim sound around the room too. It works well with music, but the Virtual 3D surround sound effect is better for watching films. It's supposed to mimic a real 5.1 speaker setup, and creates a much wider sound stage than the standard mode. Even so, it still can't replace multiple speakers.

Despite not having a separate subwoofer, the HTL5120 still manages to create impressively deep bass, which gives real depth to music and films. It won't rattle the furniture, but it won't annoy the neighbours either. It also manages to avoid overpowering the rest of the mix, letting you appreciate finer details and high frequency sounds, such as breaking glass, during heavy action sequences.

We got the best from the HTL5120 when it was in the wall-mounted position, with its speakers facing us directly. It has an orientation sensor that’s supposed to tweak the audio output when it’s laid flat, but we found the HTL5120 had more presence when the speakers were facing us.

CONCLUSION

The HTL5120 is a great value sound bar. Similarly priced sound bars can't match it in terms of sound quality or connectivity, and while an LCD display would’ve made it easier to adjust settings, it sounds superb out of the box. It looks stunning too, and should complement any home cinema system where true 5.1 isn't an option.

Details

Price£250
Rating*****
AwardBest Buy

Connections

HDMI inputs2
HDMI outputs1
Component inputs0
Component outputs0
Total SCART sockets0
SCART socket type0
S-Video input0
S-video output0
Composite inputs0
Composite outputs0
Stereo phono inputs1
Stereo phono outputs0
Coaxial S/PDIF inputs1
Coaxial S/PDIF outputs0
Optical S/PDIF inputs1
Optical S/PDIF outputs0
Multi-channel inputno
Speaker configuration2.0
Main unit end speaker connection typeN/A
Speaker end speaker connection typeN/A
Wired network portsnone
Wireless networking supportnone

Playback

Optical driveno
Region freeN/A
Supported playback disc formatsN/A
Audio format supportN/A

Speakers

Speaker configuration2.0
RMS power output120W
RMS power centreN/A
RMS power front120W
RMS power surroundN/A
RMS power subwooferN/A
Wall mountableyes
Centre speaker cable lengthN/A
Front speaker cable lengthN/A
Surround speaker cable lengthN/A

General

Size1010x154x81mm
Power consumption standby0W
Power consumption on38W

Buying Information

Price£250
Warrantyone year RTB
Supplierhttp://www.johnlewis.com
Detailswww.philips.co.uk