Those of you looking at soundbars are often chased away by the steep price tags that come with them. Some set you back into the R30,000 department and it is tough to get a reasonably decent audio experience on a budget. That is where the Hisense AX5100G comes in. This soundbar is sold in two models. You get the Hisense AX3100 model. It contains only the soundbar and subwoofer. You then get the Hisense AX5100G model that comes with the same soundbar and subwoofer but also packs in two rear speakers. Combined together, this is a 5.1 sound system that promises a surround sound 340W experience for under R5,000.
Hisense AX5100G 5.1ch Soundbar Review Below
Hisense has divided these models into two versions to cater for those who are only looking for a soundbar as well as those looking for some rear speaker sound too. The truth is, you can slap Dolby Atmos and DTS surround sound all over a product but if a sound system doesn’t have rear speakers, the experience often falls flat. I can’t explain how huge of a difference having rear speakers make in an entertainment room. Everything suddenly becomes more immersive. You can hear raindrops behind you, monster screams as you get chased through the jungle in a game and explosions that wrap around you in detail.
The Hisense AX5100G is a 340W speaker set. The power is divided across all three speakers. It comes with DTS:X, Dolby Atmos support, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital, the most modern codec support and Hisense’s AI-optimized sound equalizer. There’s also Bluetooth 5.0.
So for this review, I am covering both the Hisense AX5100G and Hisense AX3100. If you are picking up the soundbar-only model, just ignore all talk about the rear speakers. However, I honestly don’t see why anyone would not look at the full 5.1 system when it offers such great value for money in the first place.
The Hisense AX5100G is all packed into one box. Inside, there’s the soundbar itself, the subwoofer and loads of cables. This soundbar needs three power cables in order to work. One power cable is used for the soundbar itself, one for the subwoofer and one for the rear speaker set. Those speakers are then connected by an RC cable. Thankfully, everything you need comes in the box including mounting brackets for the soundbar and screws for the rear speakers should you decide to mount them on your wall.
In the perfect world, a brand would give you cool speaker stands to put up somewhere in your entertainment room where you could position the rear speakers. Sadly, this is not a perfect world so the rear speakers need to be installed in some way or another. At least Hisense gives you screws and plugs for that. There’s also a remote that packs some chunky buttons used to operate the system.
Everything is neatly packed in the box and the rear speakers are included in a separate compartment. There’s also quite a lot of documentation here which explains how to connect it all together but if you’ve set up a speaker system in the past five years, this isn’t anything new. The soundbar also comes neatly wrapped in plastic and features a wrap-around paper that shows off some features of the device.
The overall design of the entire system is quite simple. All the speakers feature a black wooden casing with a metal grille front. The soundbar packs an HDMI port for eARC, USB for firmware and media playback, optical audio, an aux port and a coaxial port. The subwoofer only has a figure-8 port and a button for syncing the subwoofer to the soundbar. The left rear speaker also packs the same power port and sync button but there’s also an RCA port to link the speakers together.
Both the subwoofer and left rear speaker also include a blue LED light to signal its connection status to the soundbar. There are some issues with this light but I will get to that in a bit.
I won’t say this is Hisense’s most stylish soundbar around but it gets the job done. The soundbar has a decently-sized LED screen on the front that shows the volume, input and other details. There’s also a red standby light.
Setting up the system was fairly simple. I simply removed by current soundbar and plugged the new one in. I did the same thing for the subwoofer thanks to both speakers using the same power plug. The rear speakers were more of a mission because they need to be behind you and they can’t magically float in the air now, can they? So I finally decided to get some floating shelves installed to accommodate these speakers.
I then ran some trunking and looped the speakers together. I did have to cut the cable off and replace it with some longer electrical wiring just to have a neater setup. In the end, I had the rear speakers behind me and some extra shelf space for other cool stuff.
There’s nothing complicated about the Hisense AX5100G when it comes to its performance. In fact, the included remote was barely used thanks to the Roku TV support on the soundbar. This meant I could directly control the soundbar’s bass, treble and equaliser from the menu system on a TV.
The controller let me turn up the bass and treble but I could also do it on the Hisense U80H itself too. You’ll also need to change your TV settings to accommodate your eARC and pass-through modes. This way, the soundbar knows what sound format is coming through. Auto, for some reason, doesn’t work as there’s audio lag on the sound. I found using Pass Through was the best bet.
Apart from changing the EQ, bass and treble, the actual controller for the Hisense AX5100G is pointless once you have eARC set up. You can adjust everything on the TV using your TV remote.
When it comes to the sound quality of the Hisense AX5100G, it performs quite well. The big push here is, of course, the 5.1 support and that is a real game-changer if you’re going from a standard soundbar or TV speaker setup. The additional rear speakers add new dimensions to your sound experience and I was surprised to hear how well they performed. In fact, for their size, they actually deliver quite a punch.
The sound quality from the rear speakers was great and loud too. Of course, you’ll need to be watching something that supports 5.1. I immediately loaded up some YouTube videos with 5.1 sound demos. It was really magical to hear stuff flying from the front soundbar to the back of my head.
These speakers make a big difference in all content. Be it watching The Last of Us and hearing the ambience of the world around the main characters. While gaming, it was great to walk past someone who was talking and hear them behind me as I walked away. Not to mention when playing Dead Space, the clanging of pipes and the screams of monsters behind me freaked me out like you won’t believe.
I tested almost everything on this system and it was all decent. I did find the soundbar to be a bit harsh on the high sounds. This meant that voices had high, hollow pitches to them which muzzled out the sound effects on the rest of the content. Sort of like these sounds were sharper than everything else. Everything I watched and played had this issue. You could easily hear the voice at work but explosions, music and other effects didn’t pack the same punch. However, you can tweak the bass and treble levels to improve this but only slightly.
The system handles Dolby Atmos well too. Sure, it doesn’t have any actual up-firing speakers but its reliance on virtualization was great. The room filled with sound across Dolby Atmos content. Even though some sounds were still overly sharpened.
I did have a few technical issues with the Hisense AX5100G which you may or may not relate to. Firstly, the subwoofer and rear speakers never turn off. In fact, at night when I powered down everything, they kept searching for the soundbar which resulted in an annoying blue light flashing all the time. It does stabilise unless the soundbar is turned on. This means, with the horrible price of electricity, these speakers continue to use power even if you go away for a few days. Those lights don’t stop flashing. The only way to prevent this is to unplug the speakers.
So every night I had to go and pull the plug out of the back of each speaker and every day when I wanted to use them, I had to go plug them in. There was nothing worse than sitting down to enjoy a game after a long day, getting comfortable and realising I had to get up to plug the speakers back in.
It is all a bit cumbersome and I never thought I would be climbing into bed at night and having to get back out to go unplug speakers so they don’t consume electricity. Hisense could have added something here. Maybe a switch or automatic shutdown.
The soundbar also has its fair share of problems. For some reason, it resets its volume to 50 every time it loses power. So basically, after every loadshedding session I had, I would turn the soundbar back on, launch a game or show and almost get blown away by the volume. I then had to hurry and tap the volume button as fast as humanly possible to turn it down. Keep in mind that 50 is incredibly loud and would definitely cause hostility in a flat or complex.
The soundbar also has a very short energy saver mode that sees it turn off after 15 minutes of inactivity. For a speaker set that leaves the rear speaker and subwoofer on at all times, this energy-saver mode is quite ironic. Fifteen minutes is way too short for this to happen. Keep in mind that when it turns off, it makes a shutdown sound and the TV goes black as it resorts to TV speakers. The moment you do anything, it turns back on, makes a startup sound and the TV goes black again.
Apart from that, I do enjoy the Hisense AX5100G. The 5.1 experience will change the way you consume your content and considering this speaker system is only R5,000, it is definitely a bargain. But its incredible price tag does come with its own set of issues and I don’t know if the trouble is worth the ability to hear monsters screaming behind me.
Find out more about the Hisense AX5100G 5.1ch soundbar on the official site here.
Hisense AX5100G 5.1ch Soundbar
Design - 7.5/10
Performance - 7/10
Value - 8/10
The Hisense AX5100G 5.1ch Soundbar gets the job and is a definite upgrade from standard TV speakers. There are better solutions out there but not as affordable as this.
Great price tag
5.1 on a budget
Rear speakers are decent
No auto shutdown on extra speakers
Some high tones are too sharp