The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TECHNOLOGY -

Mov­ing up to a full 5.1-chan­nel sur­round sound home the­atre sys­tem can of­ten be a costly ven­ture.

if you fac­tor in the player, a proper DTS/ Dolby Dig­i­tal de­cod­ing am­pli­fier and a set of 5.1 speak­ers, it’ll eas­ily cost you be­tween RM5,000 and RM7,000.

This may be an ac­cept­able price for true au­dio­philes but what about the rest of us, where price is more of a fac­tor than au­dio fidelity?

Well, this is where the HT-C455 home the­atre sys­tem from Sam­sung comes in.

At only RM1,299, the com­pany gives you a full home the­atre sys­tem which in­cludes a woofer, four sur­round speak­ers and a cen­tre speaker as well as an DvD player with a builtin DTS/Dolby Dig­i­tal de­coder and am­pli­fier built-in.

Yes, it’s DvD player in a world where Blu­ray is start­ing to take over, but we’ll deal with that is­sue as we go on.

Some assem­bly re­quired

First off, it’s clear the HT-C455 is built to a price — the speaker cab­i­nets are made of plas­tic and sound a lit­tle hol­low when tapped, and each in­di­vid­ual speaker is very light.

Sam­sung has done a re­mark­able job of pack­ing the en­tire home the­atre sys­tem in a rel­a­tively small box, but this also means it’s all in pieces and has to be as­sem­bled by the user.

Armed with a screw­driver and the in­struc­tion book­let, i pro­ceeded to as­sem­ble the speak­ers. THE Walk­man, the Sony cas­sette de­vice that for­ever changed mu­sic lis­ten­ing be­fore be­com­ing out­dated by dig­i­tal MP3 play­ers and iPods, has died. it was 31 years old.

Sony an­nounced that it has ceased pro­duc­tion of the clas­sic, cas­sette tape Walk­man in Ja­pan, ef­fec­tively sound­ing the death knell of the once iconic, now ob­so­lete de­vice.

The Walk­man is sur­vived by the Dis­c­man (still cling­ing to life) and ironic mu­sic lis­ten­ers who think us­ing a Walk­man in this day-and-age is charm­ingly out-oftouch.

it will con­tinue to be pro­duced in China and dis­trib­uted in the United States, Europe and some Asian coun­tries. Dig­i­tal Walk­mans are also be­ing made with mod­els that dis­play lyrics and have im­proved dig­i­tal noise-can­celling technology.

Still, if you’re look­ing to chisel a date in the Walk­man’s tomb­stone, then oct. 25, 2010, is as good as any. For many, that it’s taken this long is sur­pris­ing: “They were still mak­ing those?” Per­haps oct 23, 2001,

Each of the four satel­lite speak­ers are iden­ti­cal in ev­ery way and are made up of three pieces each — the top-half (which con­tains the ac­tual tweet­ers and mid-range cones) con­nects to a sec­ond sec­tion, which in turn con­nects to a heavy base.

The rea­son i men­tion this is that the mold­ing of the screw threads for the base are quite poorly made and it was re­ally tough to drive the four screws in prop­erly with­out strip­ping the screw threads or strip­ping the Philips head on the screw.

Apart from the strug­gle to as­sem­ble the speak­ers, though, the rest of the set up was a breeze.

The DvD player it­self has colour-coded con­nec­tors with match­ing ca­bles, so it’s a sim­ple mat­ter of plac­ing the speak­ers in their re­spec­tive po­si­tions and match­ing them to the ca­bles.

once that’s done, you’re ready to go.

Au­dio-video qual­ity

You’d think that from the cheap speaker cabi­net qual­ity that the au­dio would be bad but i was re­ally pleas­antly sur­prised at how well the HT-C455 per­formed.

it’s cer­tainly not up to the stan­dard of an ex­pen­sive home the­atre sys­tem but the au­dio qual­ity is re­ally quite good.

in tests, i found the speak­ers to have aboveav­er­age qual­ity with good bass and clear enough au­dio.

The au­dio didn’t break-up even when i turned the vol­ume all the way up.

The DvD player it­self is not too bad — it can up­scale DvDs to 1080p and smoothen out the jagged edges.

How­ever, an up­scaled DvD still can’t com­pare with a good Blu-ray with 1080p na­tive res­o­lu­tion.

The player also ac­cepts a va­ri­ety of video, photo and au­dio for­mats, from DivX, JPEgs, and WMv to MP3s — all you need to do is load it in a USB Flash drive and plug it into the player’s USB host port to play.

Karaoke fans will be glad to know that Sam­sung has also in­cluded two mi­cro­phone ports on the front for your sing­ing en­joy­ment.

if you own a Sam­sung HDTv, con­nect­ing the player to the Tv via HDMi also means that you can use a sin­gle re­mote con­trol to man­age both the Tv and the player.

now here’s the thing — in a world where peo­ple are now mov­ing on to Blu-ray, is the HT-C455 even rel­e­vant?

Well, if you con­sider it as a DvD player, per­haps not, but the player does come with an op­ti­cal dig­i­tal in­put, which ac­cepts raw 5.1 DTS or Dolby Dig­i­tal data from mod­ern Blu­ray play­ers (Sony PlayS­ta­tion3 in­cluded) and de­codes, am­pli­fies and out­puts it to the speak­ers.

This es­sen­tially means that even if the DvD player isn’t used at all, you can treat the en­tire set up as an am­pli­fier and speaker sys­tem by hook­ing up a Blu-ray player to get the full sur­round sound ex­pe­ri­ence.

it may seem like a waste of the DvD player, but it’s still pretty cheap for a home the­atre sys­tem.


De­spite the rather cheap build qual­ity, the Sam­sung HT-C455 is a pretty de­cent-sound­ing home the­atre sys­tem for the price.

it’s cer­tainly not go­ing to win any awards, but if you want an en­try-level sys­tem to get you the home the­atre ex­pe­ri­ence, the HTC455 isn’t bad at all.

Pros: Sur­pris­ingly good au­dio qual­ity; op­ti­cal dig­i­tal in­put ac­cepts 5.1 sig­nals from com­pat­i­ble Blu-ray play­ers.

Cons: Cheap build qual­ity. nostal­gia for the Walk­man to­day is be­cause it elim­i­nated any sep­a­ra­tion from mu­sic. it felt like an ap­pendage, which is per­haps why some (with ques­tion­able fashion in­stincts) clipped theirs to their belt.

The Walk­man was also the fa­ther of the mix­tape, an off­spring that nearly trumps the pro­gen­i­tor.

For the first time, mu­sic was some­thing you could make yours by ar­rang­ing it and swap­ping it.

For those young and un­fa­mil­iar with this process, mak­ing a mix­tape typ­i­cally en­tailed gath­er­ing songs by the Cure and Depeche Mode, la­belling the tape with care and awk­wardly giv­ing it to a love in­ter­est in home­room.

The Walk­man didn’t dis­ap­pear so much as it was im­proved upon. Sony con­tin­ues to use it as a brand, but the com­pany long ago ceded hip­ness and style to Ap­ple. The iPod will likely one day be­fall a sim­i­lar fate, and an­other gen­er­a­tion will gasp in joined wist­ful­ness.

When it comes to mu­sic and how we hear it, we’re all ro­man­tics. — AP

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