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Samsung HT-DS1000 review: Samsung HT-DS1000

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Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.

6.0

Samsung HT-DS1000

The Good

Slickly designed upscale home-theater system includes tallboy speakers and pedestal-mounted receiver-DVD-audio/video player; powered subwoofer; upscaled DVD video via HDMI output; lip-synch delay; autosetup and calibration.

The Bad

The sound quality isn't up to the same level as the eye-catching aesthetics; limited connectivity; noisy cooling fan.

The Bottom Line

The sound quality of Samsung's HT-DS1000 isn't up to the level of its superstylish design.
If it's true that most folks are drawn to home-theater-in-a-box systems (HTIBs) for their eye appeal, Samsung has another winner on its hands. The company's $1,200-list HT-DS1000's slender, tallboy speakers tower over most similarly equipped HTIBs, and its pedestal-mounted receiver-DVD-audio/video player is a work of art. It's also one of the first all-in-one home-theater systems we've seen that can upscale DVDs to HD-equivalent resolutions via its all-digital HDMI connection. The only caveat for style-centric buyers is the sound quality: the DS1000's aural agility is on par with most fashionable HTIBs', which is to say, far below what you'd get from a similarly priced A/V receiver/speaker package system.

The Samsung HT-DS1000 system comes packed in a large, 128-pound box, so unless you're built like Arnold Schwarzenegger, you might want to enlist the help of a few strong friends to move and unpack the system.

When the 2.7-inch-thick receiver-DVD-audio/video player is mounted on its pedestal, it stands 47 inches tall. If you'd rather not give up floor space to the pedestal, you can horizontally mount the receiver on the included table stand or wall-mount the unit. When you use the table stand, the receiver's blue display automatically adjusts itself to a horizontal orientation. Disc loading is a little out of the ordinary: press the Open button and the black-plastic cover retreats behind the receiver's aluminum skin, exposing the player's drive mechanism. You can then place your CD or DVD on the hub. Press Play and the cover glides back into place as the disc begins to play.

The 54.6-inch-tall front and rear aluminum-clad speakers stand on weighted metal bases while the matching 16.2-inch-wide center speaker rests on thick, rubber feet. As for the subwoofer, its uncommonly thin profile is countered by its extra depth: it's just 9.8 inches wide but 18.1 inches high and 20 inches deep.

The remote hides less-accessed buttons under a slip-down cover; in day-to-day use, you'll have to deal with only a few keys.

The Samsung HT-DS1000's four tower speakers each house five 2.25-inch midrange drivers and a 0.8-inch tweeter, while the center speaker duplicates the towers' driver arrangement in a much smaller package. As for the subwoofer, it sports an 8-inch woofer and a set of conveniently located volume and crossover controls, features rarely seen on HTIB subs.

The hunky sub contains all of the system's amplifiers: five 100-watt channels for the speakers plus a 150-watt amp for the sub itself. Surround processing is limited to Dolby Digital, Pro Logic II, and DTS. The DS1000 can also play DVD-Audio discs but not SACDs.

The Auto Sound Calibration Setup feature balances the speaker volume levels and sets the delays by measuring the distances between each speaker and the listener. To perform the autocalibration, you must plug in the supplied microphone and press a few buttons. It's easy enough to use.

The HDMI output is the DS1000's standout connectivity feature: it provides an all-digital video connection to HDMI, and, with an affordable adapter, to DVI-equipped HD monitors. The HDMI output enables DVD video to be upscaled to HD-friendly resolutions of 720p and 1080i.

HDMI notwithstanding, however, this HTIB's connectivity offerings are downright skimpy: remaining connectivity features are limited to a single stereo input, two optical digital inputs, and component- and composite-video outputs. On the plus side, Samsung's Anynet connection allows the DS1000 to be controlled from compatible Samsung TVs. Also, the lip-synch delay can be used to resynchronize the DS1000's audio with digital video displays that lag behind audio signals. As far as we know, Samsung is the first brand to offer this feature in a HTIB.

If you're sold on the DS1000's look but you'd prefer a built-in five-disc changer, consider upgrading to the similarly styled HT-DS1500, which retails for a few hundred dollars more.

The Moulin Rouge DVD's full-tilt musical extravaganzas have humbled many a HTIB around these parts, but the Samsung HT-DS1000 held it together. Nicole Kidman, backed by massive big-band arrangements, belts out pop tunes with gusto, but we felt the subwoofer's bass was a tad boomy and sounded disconnected from the towers. So yes, the DS1000 falls prey to the classic HTIB mid-bass hole that occurs with lean-sounding satellites: the subwoofer's plentiful deep bass highlights the towers' lack of mid-bass, so the overall sound is thin and bright.

The Fight Club DVD's bare-fisted dynamic range assaults fared well enough over most of the movie's action-packed scenes, but the fantasized midair jet plane collision once again exposed the limitations of this HTIB's ultimate home-theater prowess. To make up for some of the mid-bass shortfall, we boosted the subwoofer level, which helped the balance somewhat, but thickened the sound of male voices to the point that they sounded boomy. That said, Fight Club's exceptional surround mix was well served by the DS1000--low-level detail and ambience came through quite well. While the system can play pretty darn loud, it sounds best when turned down to more moderate levels.

CDs seemed to reveal more of the DS1000's limitations than DVDs. Acoustic music sounded hollow and harsh, and rock music was strained and muddy. Also, quieter passages were obscured by the unit's noisy cooling fan.

In the final analysis, we rank the DS1000's audio performance behind that of Panasonic's lower-priced tower-equipped HTIBs (such as the SC-HT930), but the Samsung's dazzling visual elegance may be enough to sway less aurally critical buyers.

6.0

Samsung HT-DS1000

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 6Performance 4