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.