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Harman Kardon HKTS 10 review:

Harman Kardon HKTS 10

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The Good Sharply styled satellites; versatile and seriously powerful subwoofer.

The Bad The sub is a bit big.

The Bottom Line This sub/sat system delivers full-bodied home-theater thrills, but its tiny sats are less than stellar with music.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.0 Overall

When Harman Kardon's engineers set out to design a high-performance but compact home-theater speaker package, they had one small problem: little speakers have a habit of sounding, well, little. Undeterred, the company went ahead and crafted a set of sharp-looking satellites, a nifty dedicated center speaker, and one of the biggest, baddest subs we've seen in an affordably priced system. The result is the amply endowed HKTS 10, which can unleash dinosaur stompings and megaton explosions on a par with those delivered by a full-sized system. When Harman Kardon's engineers set out to design a high-performance but compact home-theater speaker package, they had one small problem: little speakers have a habit of sounding, well, little. Undeterred, the company went ahead and crafted a set of sharp-looking satellites, a nifty dedicated center speaker, and one of the biggest, baddest subs we've seen in an affordably priced system. The result is the amply endowed HKTS 10, which can unleash dinosaur stompings and megaton explosions on a par with those delivered by a full-sized system.

Major sub
The muscular, 40-pound, 150-watt sub is the star of the system, lending a heavyweight presence to the HKTS 10's sound with its 12-inch speaker. (Most similarly priced home-theater speaker packages employ 6-inch or 8-inch subwoofers.) Measuring an imposing 20 by 16 by 15 inches, the HKTS 10's sub grabs a lot of floor space and can fill medium-sized to fairly large rooms with sound. It'll probably overpower really small spaces.

The four sharply contoured sats are a lot more manageable and come equipped with wall-mount hardware. The trim center speaker sports dual 4-inch woofers and a 1-inch tweeter; the other sats also have a 1-inch tweeter but only a single 4-inch woofer. Timbre matching is excellent. The transition from speaker to speaker was nearly undetectable as sounds panned around our room.

Connectivity options are unusually complete. The sats' high-quality binding posts accept banana jacks or bare wire. The sub's filtered speaker-level connections will come in awfully handy with older, pre-Dolby Digital systems (you can run the sub and sats off any receiver's speaker connections). If you have a Dolby Digital receiver, just hook up a long interconnect cable to the direct input on the HKTS 10. All basses--ahem, bases--are covered.

For once, setup variations are spelled out in the excellent owner's manual, so it's easy to dial in the best sound. In addition, the system's rich, charcoal-gray finish looks great.

Sounding out the HKTS 10
The big sub fully demonstrated its prowess on the Men in Black DVD--man, it goes low and can energize even fairly large rooms with deep, extended bass. Straight dramatic films such as The Madness of King George were unfailingly natural; you can really hear each scene's acoustic setting. Surround effects were seamless and nicely integrated with the front speakers. Dialogue was articulate and clean if somewhat thin.

But CDs were a different story. Without a picture to distract our attention, we were aware of the some slight discontinuity between the sats and the sub. Vocals and other midrange sounds on John Hiatt's sweet-sounding Crossing Muddy Waters were slightly undernourished. The sub's definition is only fair. Yes, it goes low, but it's slightly flabby. Please don't misunderstand--the HKTS 10 didn't sound bad with music, but it's clearly optimized for home-theater duty.

To sum up, the HKTS 10 faces serious competition from some of the better package systems, such as the $1,000 , which is better with music and can more than keep up on the home-theater front. But for home-theater fans on a budget, the $649 HKTS 10's only rival is HTD's impressive system.

Editor's note: When we originally posted this reveiw, we rated the HKTS 10 an 8. After further consideration, we've decided to lower this package's rating to 7 because other kits are available in this price range that we consider to be better buys.

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