It's a sad fact that most home-theater-in-a-box systems are saddled with iffy speakers. That's why we were jazzed about Samsung's new HT-SK6 kit, which marries a nifty A/V receiver/DVD player with one of the best mini speaker packages you can find, Klipsch's Quintet II. So yes, we were impressed with HT-SK6, but it has a list price of $1,199, so if you aren't planning to fill a medium-sized or larger room or play your system loudly, we'd recommend first checking out Samsung's far more affordable kit, the HT-DM550. Samsung's and Klipsch's branded components look like they were made for each other. The svelte receiver/DVD player's mirror-finished front panel is minimally adorned, but the bright-blue, neon-illuminated volume knob and power button add distinctive touches. The six-piece Klipsch system includes four 8.25-inch-tall, deliciously curvy satellites and a dedicated center speaker. The ensemble matches the receiver's silver finish.
Only the demure, black-cube KSW-10 subwoofer doesn't follow the styling cues of the other components. Spinal Tap fans take note: The sub's level control goes from 0 to 11. That beast measures 15 inches high by 13 inches wide and deep.
The remote is hardly a model of intuitive design. The buttons are tiny and poorly labeled. Additionally, many of the frequently used buttons are hidden under the remote's slip-down cover. Fast-forwarding through CDs was a hassle; instead of just speeding up the sound, the player sputters ahead in 5-, 10-, or 20-second increments. More groans: The receiver's rear-mounted cooling fan runs all the time, generating a slight but noticeable air-rushing noise. The receiver/DVD player's connectivity options rise above the routine. Not only do you get a set of progressive-scan video outputs, there's also a set of component-video inputs (handy if you have an HDTV cable box, for instance). The system also sports composite-video ins and outs and an S-Video output. Stereo audio inputs are provided, as is an optical digital-audio input.
The satellite speakers' most unique features are the horn tweeters; a 0.75-inch polymer dome tweeter sits in the mouth of Klipsch's exclusive MicroTractrix Horn. The 3.5-inch poly cone woofers are more conventional, but it's worth noting that these satellites' unusually high efficiency provides impressive dynamic range and loudness capability. The subwoofer's high-quality 55-watt amplifier is mated to a 10-inch down-firing, fiber-composite cone woofer. We were impressed by the unit's solid construction.
Extrabeefy five-way binding posts are used for the sats' and sub's speaker-level connections. The subwoofer also has a line-level, RCA-type input, for which Samsung supplies a 9-foot cable. Setting the subwoofer level for music and movies was tricky. When our DVDs sounded reasonably full, our CDs were too thin; when CDs had just the right amount of bass, DVDs were overripe. We found ourselves readjusting the sub each time we bounced between DVDs and CDs. We usually opt for Dolby Pro Logic II processing for CDs, but with this system, plain old stereo sounded best.
Lyle Lovett's Joshua Judges Ruth CD is a natural-sounding disc, and it highlighted the HT-SK6's strengths and weaknesses. Lovett's voice was a tad thin, but the bass went awfully deep. The sound broke loose from the tiny satellites and sounded surprisingly big. We turned up the heat with Warren Zevon's classic "Excitable Boy" and were aware of some strain with this more rock-oriented stuff.
The Gladiator DVD's ravishing music score packs plenty of bass, making this little system sound big. The battle scenes were powerful, and the sound of the vast sweep of cheering spectators pouring out of the surround speakers was a special treat. The DVD's overwhelming blood and guts, the galloping horses, and the metallic clang of the swords all came over well. This system's resolution and detail are miles ahead of those of the far more costly system. Less spectacular-sounding DVDs, such as our old favorite Glengarry Glen Ross, had a vivid presence.
The HT-SK6 accommodated our standard selection of DVD-Rs, DVD+Rs, and DVD+RWs, but not DVD-RWs. All of our MP3 CD-Rs played and displayed menu folders.