More and more in the last 12 to 18 months people have started to realise that the sound you’re getting from that thin flat-screen TV isn’t exactly cinema quality. To rectify that people are buying a new category of speaker – the “Soundbar”.  Philips have released a soundbar that adapts to the style of sound you want by converting from 2.1 to 5.1 surround in a snap.

There isn’t much innovation in soundbar design – they are boxy, thin and normally sit under your flat-screen TV.  Philips have designed a soundbar in their top end Fidelio range that can sit on a bench or TV stand or hang from a wall underneath your TV.

An airfoil design gives the soundbar the look of a plane wing from the side, while inside there are sensors detecting if the soundbar is hanging from the wall or sitting flat on a bench to ensure sound is directed appropriately.

2.1 Sound

On the floor your “0.1” is a sleek and tall subwoofer.  To minimise the overall footprint the subwoofer sits tall with a downward focus for optimal bass effect in your loungeroom.  Importantly, the subwoofer is wireless, so requires only power – meaning you can place it in the optimal position in the lounge area.

Philips Fidelio Soundbar (HTL9100)

Philips Fidelio Soundbar (HTL9100)

With the soundbar under the TV and your subwoofer in place you have a quality 2.1 sound system.

5.1 Surround Sound

What about those Blu-Ray movies or action packed games you’re playing and watching?  Surely they need 5.1 surround sound?  Walk up to your Philips SoundBar (HTL9100) and gently pull and snap off each end.  After a moment’s silence, the system re-adjusts its sound output turning those two end pieces into your left and right read, with the front speaker converting to front left and right plus centre.

Philips Fidelio Soundbar (HTL9100)

Philips Fidelio Soundbar (HTL9100)

The sound is incredible.  Each of the rear speakers has an in-built battery giving you 10 hours sound without returning them to the main SoundBar where they will charge again in around four hours time.

Quality Sound

With a stunning design, combined with the innovative “convertible” sound configuration you already have value for your $999 price tag.  However, Philips really don’t hold back when it comes to ensuring you’re getting the right quality of sound.

Philips uses a panel of people to do blind tests on their systems against competitors in the market. Unless they get a 65% or more preference for the Philips system the product just isn’t ready for market.  Add to that their “Golden Ears” program which puts that panel through the ringer with some of the most complex and intricate audio listening tests before they are part of the blind tests – you’ve got a real dedication to quality – in fact, the Philips tag line is “Obsessed with sound” – seems pretty appropriate after taking a look at the Golden Ears program.

Overall this is a great product, priced appropriately and very competitive when you consider the features.  The idea that your under-TV soundbar could have built into it some snap-off wireless rear speakers is a moment of genius from someone in the Philips product team.

Price: $999