Philips HTL5120 soundbar review

It may not come with a separate subwoofer, but this curvy soundbar impresses

Soundbars are currently home cinema’s hero products and the HTL5120 is a fine example of the genre. The design is more luxurious than the price tag suggests, with silky black cloth, brushed silver panels and curvy gloss-black ports at both ends. It can be installed on the wall or tabletop, with an orientation sensor switching the sound to suit its position.

Connections are generous, with two HDMI v1.4 inputs and an ARC-ready output, plus optical, coaxial, analogue stereo and 3.5mm inputs. There’s no USB port, but built-in Bluetooth provides easy music streaming from phones and laptops. On-board decoding covers Dolby Digital and DTS but not HD audio.

In action the HTL5120 sounds great. With 120W in the tank it floods the room with rich, muscular sound, lending weight and authority to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey's DTS track. The breathtaking prologue is handled with a silky, smooth quality; high frequencies shimmer and sparkle as Smaug wreaks havoc in Erebor – the chink of gold and the rustle of trees sit crisply above the dragon’s tight thumping footsteps and the cries of terrified dwarves. Even without an outboard sub, the Philips' tightly-integrated bass lends depth and doesn't muddy the sound. Crank up the volume and the sound doesn’t distort either – explosions and crashes are aggressive but always well controlled.

A Virtual Surround Sound mode adds a little extra width to scenes like the rain-strewn Stone Giants battle, but surround sound it is not – stick with regular stereo to enjoy this great-value 'bar.


Philips HTL5120
£250 Approx

Overall: 4/5