Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Movie and DVD Reviews: The best and not-so-best movies available on DVD, and whatever else catches my eye.

Harman Kardon HKTS-18 5.1 Channel Speaker System

Jerry Stratton, December 7, 2007

Front speakers

In the process of upgrading my stereo/home entertainment system, I needed new speakers. The old set was very old, and consisted of two sets of stereo speakers doubling the sound. Both of the DVD players I’ve owned support 5.1 sound, and my now-ancient Sony DE835 stereo receiver also supports it (the equivalent today is probably the STR-DE685).

I’d always planned to upgrade to better speakers, but just never got around to it. Recently one of the rear speakers developed an annoying habit of emitting a low hissy rumble about an hour or so into any movie with bass. That meant it was time to spend some money.

I did a little research and found that Harman Kardon had some nicely affordable speakers that seemed perfect for a small apartment. Their HKTS-18 5.1 Channel Speaker System ran less than $400 at the time I bought it from Amazon.

I kept a close watch on the UPS tracker and made sure I arrived home before delivery. I was surprised immediately by how big the box was, and by how small the speakers were. I had unpacked all five of the main speakers and only emptied out about a quarter of the overall box! The entire rest of the box was the subwoofer. I was totally unprepared for the size of the subwoofer. It dwarfs the rest of the speakers.

Subwoofer

Cartman is guarding the subwoofer; you can see the center speaker on top of the television set.

Everything necessary to hook them up to a standard 5.1 stereo is included: two long and three short speaker wires, and an RCA cable for the subwoofer. There are also some mounting brackets, but I didn’t use them so don’t know how useful they are.

I hooked them up immediately and popped in some DVDs, of course. As expected when I saw the subwoofer, it is not something I’ll be able to use at night. It really shakes the floor… and I live in an upstairs apartment. For most of the testing, I put the subwoofer on top of my coffee table, and turned it down low.

Despite their small size (physically they’re about half the size of my previous speakers), there’s a big improvement in sound quality and experience over the old speakers. Watching Almost Famous I just about jumped off my couch when the plane hit turbulence towards the end of the movie. Having ambient noise behind, sound up front, and a deep base all around really makes a difference watching a movie.

When used as standard stereo speakers, the stereo can be told to use both the front and rear speaker sets, just like my old setup, so that’s nice.

This was a great purchase, and I’m glad I made it, but I won’t be using that subwoofer very often unless I move. It sounds beautiful, but I doubt that it sounds as good in the downstairs apartment.

If you haven’t tried 5.1 and you enjoy modern movies on DVD, I definitely recommend it.

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