Price (RRP): $1,099
Hisense is perhaps best known in Australia for its TVs. But over the past few years it has been expanding its offerings. It now has fridges, air conditioners and soundbars. The Hisense HS512 is the company’s top-of-the-line soundbar.
Hisense HS512 features
That model number has meaning: 5.1.2 is a one of the preferred speaker arrangements of we home theatre types. The 5 is front, centre and surround, the 1 is the subwoofer and the 2 is the number of overhead channels. The Hisense HS512 supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
There’s not all that much information about the soundbar on the website or in the manual, so I’ll just lay it out in full, thus:
- 11 speaker drivers
- 4 upwards firing
- 380 watts
- 2 HDMI inputs
- Optical digital audio input
- Coaxial digital audio input
- USB 2.0 socket for audio playback
- Bluetooth playback
- 1 HDMI output, supporting ARC
- 4K UltraHD pass through
- The aforementioned Dolby Atmos and DTS X
- Wireless subwoofer with 8-inch driver
- Remote control
To expand a little, there are several options for feeding a signal to the Hisense HS512. The main way is via one of the two HDMI inputs. Both of these pass through video signals up to UltraHD. Another way is back down the HDMI output from the TV using the Audio Return Channel support.
Then there are the two digital audio inputs, both coaxial (ie. electrical) and optical are provided. And there’s a 3.5mm analogue audio input as well. And you can connect your phone to the soundbar via Bluetooth.
Speakers and size
The soundbar is 1,200mm wide, but rather slender at 73mm tall and 110mm thick. What I found impressive was the subwoofer. Usually the wireless sub packaged with soundbars gets by with a small driver, with consequent limitations in bass performance. This one comes with a 200mm downwards firing driver in a bass reflex loaded enclosure. The box is larger than usual, too, at 420mm tall by 240mm by 240mm. The port is on the same side as the power connection. In general I’d prefer it weren’t because you typically want the power connection close to a wall to hide it, but the port needs a bit of breathing room.
There’s a pairing button on the sub, but I didn’t need to use it.
It’s unclear how much of the claimed 380 watts the subwoofer gets.
Now, back to the soundbar. Eleven speaker drivers, huh? Where did they put them all?
Well, four are obvious: they don’t have grilles over them. There’s one of those on each end of the bar, pointing out to the sides. And there’s two on top, one near each end, firing mostly upwards, but slightly forwards, out into the room.
I located the rest by peering closely through the metal grille, using an artfully directed torch. Two more upwards-firing drivers are next to the exposed ones on the top. They also are slightly canted forwards. But those hidden ones seem to be smaller, and recessed into something of a horn. Presumably that increases their directivity for firing up at the ceiling.
There are four drivers across the front firing directly out into the room. Two are close together near the middle and the others are each about 300mm in from their respective ends.
Setting up the Hisense HS512
Between the centre speakers and the right-hand one is the LED display which shows status through the grille. Above that is a set of four control keys, although you will mostly use the slim remote control. And between the centre speakers and the left-hand one?
Well, there was clearly something in there. It looked like the end of an angled tube, with its aperture pointing further to the left. My guess is that it’s a bass reflex port, but that leaves us at ten speaker drivers, not eleven. Perhaps there’s an internal woofer behind that. You wouldn’t use it for high frequencies because it would wreck the spatial balance.
Installation took me maybe three minutes. I pushed back my TV a little to make room, put the bar in front of it. I pushed aside my usual subwoofer and put the Hisense one in its place. Plugged in the HDMI cables – one for connecting the soundbar to the TV is included – and the power and it was done. Except, that is, for adjusting the bass, but I’ll return to that.