harman kardon
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Review: Harman/Kardon HKTS 20BQ 5.1 speaker system

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Short version: Harman/Kardon makes great speakers, and this set is no exception. If you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive home-theater speaker system, you can definitely do much worse then the HKTS 20BQ. This is a complete 5.1 system in a box, and includes everything you need to get your system rocking. The speakers have great response throughout the range, and the 8 inch powered subwoofer will definitely shake things up.

Features:

  • Complete 5.1 home-theater speaker system
  • Eight-inch, 200-watt, powered subwoofer
  • Four identical, video-shielded, two-way satellite speakers
  • Voice-matched, video-shielded, two-way dual-driver center speaker
  • Includes all cables, satellite table stands and wall brackets for satellites and center
  • MSRP: $799

Pros:

  • Small speakers give off big sound
  • All 5 speakers are voice matched and shielded
  • Easy to set up and connect wires

Cons:

  • Mounting brackets are a bit fiddly
  • Includes wall mounting brackets, but not the floor stands
  • Wires too short for some applications


Product page

Full Review: I want to start this out by saying that I’m not an audiophile. I don’t sit and obsess over frequency range, and until recently I didn’t even have a receiver that supported DTS. I do however love to watch movies and play games, and when I do I like to be able to hear everything that’s going on the way the audio engineer intended me to. I feel that the H/K’s definitely reproduce that sound quality. Of course, to test, I couldn’t just be scientific about it, the first thing I did was plug in the Blu-ray version of The Dark Knight, and ran it through the “Trip to County” scene. Absolutely stunning. The tonal range is perfect, and the balance between the four satellite and one center speaker is perfect. There are no obvious levels missing, and the subwoofer provided just the right amount of subtle bass tones.

For the not so subtle sound, I dropped Battlefield: Bad Company 2 into my Xbox 360. Again, the sound was what I expected from a company like Harmon/Kardon. Explosions were suitably window shaking, and the high tones from when a grenade explodes near your head are faithfully reproduced. The sound experience while gaming was excellent as well.

Music reproduction was good as well. There was no distortion at either end of the range, and the speakers performed well playing either Carmina Burana or Jump Around by House of Pain. All in all, no matter what the volume level, the sound reproduction was perfect. I’d say the only point that was really disappointing about the speakers was the wall mounts. Ideally, you want to point the rear channels at your optimum viewing location, and because of the way the speaker wire feeds into the bracket, that’s very difficult. It can be done, but expect to spend a little time thinking about how to mount the brackets.

Conclusion: Is the HKTS 20BQ worth the money? Well, I’m notoriously cheap, and I’m seriously considering buying a set of these for my house. The sound quality is amazing, and the speakers work well no matter if you are listening to music, playing games, or listening to your favorite explosion laden movie. MSRP is $799, but a saavy shopper can find them for $699 online.

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