All mod cons at a very attractive price
What is the Philips HTL5140?It’s the latest in a long-line of mid to entry level soundbar products we’ve tested and as such it joins a very competitive space. The HTL5140 is a simple 2.1 package, comprising the main speaker bar and a separate subwoofer unit. It boasts a 320W maximum output and features Bluetooth connectivity for streaming from phones and tablets.
Who is it for?It’s for anybody that wants to bolster the audio output of their TV and is prepared to spend £230ish (January 2015) to do so. As we said above, there are dozens of alternatives at this price point but not all that many of them boast HDMI connectivity as well as a wireless subwoofer.
DesignThe main speaker bar is a fairly svelte thing with a depth of just 66.5mm and a height just under 5cm, so it shouldn’t obscure the bottom of your TV if you choose to place it on top of your AV unit. It’s of a reasonably standard width, at a whisker under 105cm, which means it will also sit on the average cabinet without unsightly overhang. The front of the speaker bar features an easy to read display panel which gives feedback on volume, input and sound modes, amongst other things.
The supplied remote is thankfully larger than most that come with a soundbar and sits in the hand nicely. The buttons are well planned and presented, with plenty of space between and there are discrete controls for input selection, volume, bass and treble as well as standby and an activation of the virtual surround mode. You also get direct access to the Bluetooth pairing function, various sound modes and a dimmer for the front display panel.
ConnectionsThe HTL5140 is blessed with very good connectivity for this sector of the market. You get a HDMI out for TVs supporting ARC (Audio Return Channel) which allows you to run just one HDMI cable to the TV and everything connected to the TV will then send audio to the soundbar. You also get a HDMI input for the likes of a Blu-ray player, to take advantage of the DTS and Dolby Digital multichannel support and there’s also a S/PDIF (Toslink) Digital audio input, should your TV not have HDMI ARC. The HTL5140 also boasts NFC (Near Field Communication) capable Bluetooth connectivity, so you’re able to pair your similarly capable device with a simple tap on top of the speaker bar. And if all that sounds bamboozling, take a look at our soundbar guide for a simplified explanation.
Very good connectivity options for this price category
SetUpPart of the appeal in a soundbar is in its simplicity. For ease of use, most will probably opt for a HDMI setup and we wouldn’t blame them, provided all is working as intended. You’ll lose little to nothing, sound quality wise, by using the digital optical input, however, so if you find your TV isn’t playing nice with the soundbar, you will have no issues using it. The HTL5140 doesn’t feature any OSD (on-screen display), despite the HDMI out connection, so it’s through a combination of the remote control and display with which most of your operations will take place.
One thing worth noting is that the speaker bar arrives in three parts so some self-assembly is required but it doesn’t mean you can use the left and right sections as rear surrounds, like you can with others in Philips’ range.
Philips HTL5140 Specification & FeaturesThe main speaker bar features four main speaker drivers and two mylar tweeters, equally divided between the left and right channels. Despite its compact dimensions, the wireless subwoofer still packs in an eight-inch driver, which should give a bit more bass extension than the usual 6-6.5-inch driver units you get in this price category. The HTL5140 can also decode up to 7.1 channel DTS and Dolby Digital audio, although obviously it will be mixed down to two channel at the output stage. The aptX (there’s AAC support too) Bluetooth capability means you can get close to CD quality streaming and, as we said earlier, if you have an NFC capable device, it can be paired with the HTL5140 with utmost ease.
Philips HTL5140 Sound QualityWe’ve generally been impressed by the quality of recent Philips audio products and the HTL5140 continues that run of form. It’s not particularly great at lower volumes but since you’re going to be buying one to obtain beefier sound than you currently have, not really a big issue as you could just switch to your TVs speakers when necessary. With the volume ‘dial’ set anywhere above 20 you start to hear what the system is capable of. Audio is relatively expansive, even in the basic stereo mode, and even more with the Surround processing engaged. We would say that the processing works much better with content with actual 5.1/7.1 audio embedded, so we’d definitely steer clear of it with conventional stereo sources.
A well rounded sound, especially with multichannel movies & TV
The subwoofer really lends a hand with some punchy, dynamic low effects too although, again, it’s presence isn’t that noticeable at modest volumes. There is a little vacuum where the mid-range drivers tail off and the sub kicks in but this is something common to pretty much all soundbars under £300. That’s something that’s more noticeable when listening to music through the HTL5140, than it is with movies or TV shows, where the lack of nuance is more harmful. That’s not to say you couldn’t have a perfectly acceptable listening experience streaming your tunes to the system but if music is something that’s really key to your choice, you’re either going to have to spend a little more or explore solutions other than a soundbar.
- Great sound with movies & TV
- Very competitive price
- Unobtrusive design
- Very good connectivity
- Slightly lacking with music
- Not great at lower volume levels
Philips HTL5140 Soundbar Review
Should I buy the Philips HTL5140?
Considering the current going rate for this system, we can think of no real reason not to place the Philips HTL5140 high up on your shortlist. It’s stylish and, more importantly, very discrete so you shouldn’t have any screen masking issues, wherever you put it. Set up and operation is very simple, especially if your TV has HDMI ARC capability, and the supplied remote is a cut above most in this category. You also get the convenience of Bluetooth streaming – and even NFC pairing, if your device supports it – and the quality is very decent, thanks to aptX compatibility.
The HTL5140 is undoubtedly more suited to relaying TV and Movies, however, where the lack of subtlety is barely noticeable and, in fact, the system is capable of providing very immersive sound. Even the surround mode is fairly effective with native multichannel audio content and the subwoofer makes itself known with some imposing low end effects. This isn’t a system you’ll get much out of if you need to listen at lower levels, however, but this is relatively minor complaint. All things considered, the Philips HTL5140 is definitely worthy of our recommendation based on its combination of design, price, connectivity and sound quality.
What else could I buy?
Funnily enough the very last product to pass through these particular doors for review was a product competing in the same space as this Philips system. The Panasonic SC-HTB680 currently commands pretty much an identical price as the HTL5140 and shares many of the same qualities and conveniences; so much so, in fact, that you could probably base the decision between the two on your design preference alone. If a slim bar is a prerequisite, then you might want to also consider the Humax STE-1000 which as far as we know, is the most slender on the market. It’s a bit thin on the audio front too, however, but then it costs about £70 less than both. For a more general look at the alternatives out there, you can take a look at our extensive range of Soundbar reviews.
Ease of Use8
Value for Money8
Our Review Ethos
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