Philips' Sound Obsession - New AV Devices Engineered for Perfection

Raising The Bar On Surround Sound

Raising The Bar On Surround Sound

HTS9140 Blu-ray Soundbar With Ambisound

Mention Soundbar, and the Philips moniker would most likely come to mind. The new HTS9140 is visibly slimmer and packs a few sonic punches of its own compared to its thicker HTS8160 predecessor. As anticipated, the HTS9140 will continue to house a Blu-ray disc player and FM tuner, along with five drivers and a woofer housed within its softly curved enclosure. Designed for 40-inch HDTVs and above, audio gurus at Leuven have made some changes to the new Soundbar champion which isn't quite apparent to the naked eye. By off-setting the speaker placement between each pair of drivers, acoustic engineer Mr Van Daele claims that such a design actually helps to produce a wider soundstage and sweetspot for the listener. By the way, this novel speaker architecture is patented by Philips. Based on our auditory experience with the HTS9140 after a round of "Hancock" on Dolby TrueHD, we have to admit that it does create a wider spatial effect than its older cousin. The HTS9140 is tentatively priced at S$1,599.

The new HTS 9140 is well over the one grand mark, but if you are looking for a simple and uncluttered AV solution, it does serve its desired purpose rather well. Featuring touch controls and internal decoding for lossless formats such as Dolby TrueHD, this swanky Blu-ray sound system would be perfect for those who prefer their living space to be clean and uncluttered.

Using a combination of array processing and angled drivers, Philips has come up with a rather novel approach in delivering a wider spatial sound in this all-in-one AV rig. However, Philips would like to reiterate that a Soundbar isn't meant to replace a physical 5.1-channel system, but to create a wider, more open auditory experience.


HTS9520 5.1-channel Home Theatre System

Mention 5.1-channel AV systems, and you'd probably relate it to messy cables. However, it is apparent Philips is still a firm believer in the physical surround sound heritage. The HTS9520 is a complete HTIB (home theatre-in-a-box), which includes a dedicated Blu-ray console, four satellites, a center speaker, as well as a woofer in its entire package. As an added option, you can choose to connect the two rear speakers wirelessly as well. Besides the player's DLNA Network Link feature which provides wireless access to your media content, the most radical change made to the new HTIB can be found in the HTS9520's satellites. As you can see from the picture below, each satellite is made up of three drivers; one front-firing and two-side firing speakers. Interestingly, the two side-firing drivers are actually offshoots of the dipole principle, where one speaker is perpetually out of phase with the other to create an immersive surround sound experience. Mr Van Daele also mentioned that the HTS9520 drivers work in tandem with Philips' proprietary algorithms to enhance the embracing spatial effect. Collectively, Philips has dubbed this technology as "360Sound" which is self-explanatory really. Like the rest of the "Obsessed with Sound" candidates, the HTS9250 Is expected to arrive in July with a retail price of S$1,599.

The center speaker (top) consists of a three full-range woofers with a frequency range of 150 to 20,000 Hz. This Blu-ray spinner does not do 3D for now, but we understand Philips has a 3D-ready BDP7500S2 deck planned in their road maps. The stereoscopic endowed player should surface sometime later this year.

To the untrained eye, this might seem like an out of sorts speaker placement. Philips didn't get it wrong though. The four satellites like the one shown here is made up from a single front-firing driver and two side-firing drivers below to produce the aforementioned 360Sound auditory effect.