Bowers & Wilkins’ Panorama 2 clearly carries the brand’s audio heritage – this is a high-end soundbar with a remarkably smooth, detailed and nuanced performance that constantly impresses. Within its curved and well-built chassis are nine newly-designed drivers powered by Class D amplifiers, arranged to ensure a wide dispersion so that no one misses out on the action. Connectivity on the Panorama 2 is extensive, with a trio of HDMI inputs and an ARC-compatible HDMI output making it easy to hookup a Blu-ray player, console, set-top box and your flatscreen TV. With its Panorama 2, Bowers & Wilkins has delivered the perfect mix of style, convenience and audio quality.
Designed for home theatre enthusiasts, the DLA-X55R offers an unprecedented picture quality for its price point. Light output and native contrast are highly impressive, while the colour reproduction is nuanced and natural. Sharpness is another strength, with JVC’s second-generation ‘e-Shift2’ detail enhancement technology displaying Full HD content with an astonishing level of detail that comes close to an Ultra HD sensation. Installation of the DLA-X55R is helped by its comprehensive setup features, including motorised horizontal and vertical lens shift, a 2x zoom and Lens Memory function, plus extensive calibration options and a range of excellent preset viewing modes.
KEF’s revamped ‘egg’ 5.1 package is ideal for a discreet home theatre system. Its secret weapon is the brand’s proprietary Uni-Q driver, which combines a 115mm woofer and 19mm aluminium dome tweeter in a coaxial design to create a precise sound image from its five small satellite speakers. Adding realistic, deep bass is the partnering 250W active subwoofer with its long-throw 200mm driver and whose design merges seamlessly with the surround enclosures. The E305 is neatly conceived, easy to install, simple to use and provides an impressively broad but still accurate performance with film soundtracks. It’s also a natural performer with music material, making it a great all-round solution.
A 7.1-channel processor/preamp with state-of-the art digital processing and features, the Krell Foundation is aimed at home theatre enthusiasts for whom only the very best will suffice. A total of 10 HDMI inputs and two outputs provide setup flexibility, including instantaneous source switching, while the brand’s proprietary ARES room EQ system tailors sound performance to the listening environment. Owners of compatible amplifiers can make use of its balanced outputs. As expected from a high-end product, design and build quality is faultless, and the slim form factor means it can be accommodated easily. In action the Foundation delivers multichannel audio with amazing clarity and precision and passes video signals with unerring accuracy.
Loewe always strives to provide home entertainment systems that mix premium design and ease of use with a quality audio-visual experience, and this combination is no different. The new Individual 55 Slim Frame TV offers Active 3D playback, an integrated PVR and Smart TV features, plus personalised style options to tailor it for any living room. The 3D Orchestra 5.1 IS, meanwhile, uses an array of wireless speakers with omnidirectional dispersion, ensuring an immersive surround sound performance, with a tight bass delivery from the dedicated 200W subwoofer. With no need for an external processor, as decoding is handled by the Loewe TV, this is an appealing fuss-free solution.
OPPO’s BDP-103EU is a state-of-the-art Blu-ray player, matching a luxurious, heavyweight build quality with an astonishing range of features. In addition to two HDMI outputs, external sources can take advantage of the player’s high-grade processing via its twin HDMI inputs, while USB, Ethernet and Wi-Fi capability make it easy to play back your own media files. As a universal deck, the OPPO will happily spin Super Audio CDs and DVD-Audio discs as well as Blu-rays – its performance, aided by extensive user adjustments, is sublime. 4K upscaling and HDMI passthrough mean it can be combined with the latest high-end displays at the heart of a home cinema.
The Philips HTL9100 is no ordinary soundbar. If needed, the detachable, battery-powered side speakers can be put anywhere in the room where they will receive rear-channel sound wirelessly, providing true ‘Surround On Demand’ via the onboard Dolby and DTS 5.1 decoders. With the subwoofer also working wirelessly, and connectivity including Bluetooth for music streaming, two HDMI inputs and an ARC-compatible output, installation is fast and foolproof. Philips’ Smart Equalization sensor will also adjust the soundbar’s sound depending on whether it is mounted to a wall or flat on a stand. An energetic, detailed audio performance and slim, unobtrusive design completes this forward-thinking, innovative product. Hook it up to your TV and enjoy…
Sony’s flagship receiver sports a heavyweight design and build but brings finesse to its multichannel performance ensuring that movie soundtracks and music alike are delivered with vivid detail and bags of energy. The 9.2-channel STR-DA5800ES is also feature-packed, offering nine HDMI inputs and three outputs, an asynchronous USB input, built-in network switching and, uniquely for an AVR, video-on-demand courtesy of the Sony Entertainment Network. Powerful on-board audio processing enables centre channel Lift Up and Virtual Height functionality to ease installation, while media playback includes support for 192kHz/24-bit FLAC and WAV files. Add in the gorgeous and intuitive graphic user interface and effective auto-calibration regime and the result is an inspired new addition to Sony’s home cinema line-up.