Philips HTS8140 review

As long as you're not expecting 'proper' surround sound, this is an impressive do-it-all movie player Tested at £600.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

As long as you're not expecting 'proper' surround sound, this is an impressive do-it-all movie player


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    More convenient than a six-speaker system

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    very good upscaled DVD pictures

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    decent ability with movie soundtracks


  • -

    Sound doesn't surround as well as a 'proper' speaker package

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    not agile enough for CDs

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    units are fairly large

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This new Ambisound system uses "psychoacoustic phenomena, array processing and precisely angled driver positioning" to produce a surround-sound field from a single array of speakers.

But it's not terribly convincing. We're used to soundbars having a fairly wide stereo field, but little ability at projecting sounds around the back of the listener. This has a narrower projection, reducing the extent that sound envelops you.

As long as you're not expecting too much, though, this Philips has a lot going for it. Put Training Day into the built-in DVD drive and the picture is upscaled to 1080p with excellent stability. Edges are sharp, colours are vibrant, detail levels impressive.

Narrowness aside, sound performance is very good. Voices are clear and detailed, while explosions and action scenes benefit from a weighty presentation.

Good with movies, less so with music
The challenge of a classical CD exposes the '8140's limitations. Dynamically, it's all a bit squashed, and the subwoofer produces rather flabby bass that struggles to mesh with the midrange and treble. Still, it's perfectly listenable.

The other thing to consider is the units. This is a two-piece system comprising the main speaker/DVD bar and a separate subwoofer; neither unit is exactly small.

And you won't be escaping cabling entirely. If you want to also connect a game console or your Freeview tuner to the system, it's the subwoofer they have to plug into, meaning you can end up with a few unsightly wires.

Still, this is clearly far neater than a full system, and the excellent styling goes a long way to making-up for the size of the units, so if you're looking for decent movie sound without 5.1 speakers, this is worth a look.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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