The Hisense U5120G soundbar is a hefty speaker that boasts quite an impressive lineup of features. For starters, it comes with Dolby Atmos, 4K HDR passthrough and combines an 11-speaker soundbar and a hefty subwoofer to deliver powerful sound.
Watch our Hisense U5120G Soundbar review below
This Hisense U5120G is one of the larger speaker sets you can get on the market thanks to its robust bar. Inside, there are 11 speakers. Each of these packs 30W different-sized drivers. In the front, there are seven speakers divided between the centre, left and right. There are two side-firing speakers located on the left and the right face of the soundbar and two large up-firing speakers positioned on the top of the bar. Lastly, there’s a 180W subwoofer that operated between 40-120Hz.
Together, all the speakers combine to create a unique surround sound experience that is emulated by bouncing sound off the ceiling and shooting it out the sides of the soundbar. For the most part, it works and the Hisense U5120G packs some incredible value for money but it definitely cuts some corners to get there.
Hisense Hisense U5120G Design
The Hisense U5120G unboxing experience is much in line with other soundbars. That is to say it is neatly packed in a finger-up box. I know it isn’t called a finger-up box but I can’t help but see the shape of a finger pointing up whenever I see soundbars in boxes.
The box opens from the bottom and the contents slide outwards. It is all secured with foam to keep it from being damaged. Both the soundbar and the subwoofer are wrapped in film. The soundbar also has a decal wrapped around it to show the specs and features.
The Hisense U5120G is a giant speaker. I actually underestimated the sheer size of this speaker and in comparison to my previous Sony GT-700 soundbar, this thing is huge. The soundbar itself measures 1200mm in length and is 112m wide and 75mm high. It weighs 5Kgs.
You need to keep these dimensions in mind when buying this soundbar because its sheer size and thickness might mean it won’t fit on your TV stand. It didn’t fit on mine. My TV legs on my current Bravia stick out making this soundbar a tight fit. In fact, I had to move my TV right to the back of the stand. Literally, right to the very very end of it in order to fit this soundbar onto my stand.
When it comes to the design, it is fully black with mesh covering all of the front, top and sides. The subwoofer is also your typical speaker with a large metal mesh on the front and a wood encasing around it. The bottom of the soundbar includes two large rubber feet for grip and the back is where all the ports are found. You’ll also find the physical buttons on the top and LED display on the front.
I really like the physical buttons over touch controls which many manufacturers decide to go with. I actually know when I press something and don’t have to worry about pressing buttons when I am dusting and cleaning.
As for the ports, the soundbar includes a USB A port, USB Type C, optical, coaxial and three HDMI ports. Two ports of them are HDMI in and one port is HDMI out which doubles as the eARC port too. There’s also a power port on the back that uses a figure-8 cable. The soundbar also comes with a control that is used to turn on the device and fiddle with the various settings. It is okay. You’ll likely use the TV remote to adjust the volume after linking it to eARC but the one that comes in the box gets the job done. The soundbar can also be mounted to a wall if need be. It comes with brackets in the box. I don’t mound anything so I didn’t use them.
Setting it up is simple enough. I used eARC so I simply plugged one HDMI cable into the HDMI eARC port, plugged in the power and turned it on. The subwoofer automatically connected to the soundbar as soon as it was plugged in too.
Hisense U5120G Performance
The Hisense U5120G uses single chip inside the soundbar that handles the device’s audio passthrough, equalizer and functionality. There’s both an upside and a downside to using this chip. The good side is that it offers tech makers an affordable way of implementing things like Dolby Atmos and great performance sound. The downside is that the chip doesn’t come with detailed functionality features such as individual channel control, room tuning and other advanced features.
The chip also relies on Hisense being good at what they do and for the most part, the brand has coded the functionality quite well. It is capable of decoding Dolby Atmos, DTS X, Virtual X and a range of codes including MP3, AAX, HE-AAC, WMA, WMA Pro, FLAC, ALAC and WAV Hi-Res.
The soundbar also comes with a feature called Eilex Prism. In short, this tool is built into the Hisense U5120G and helps tune the soundbar and subwoofer to the equaliser you choose. Basically, it makes sure that whatever sound is coming from the source is calibrated correctly.
The Hisense U5120G comes with a few settings to tweak once powered on and set up. The Equaliser is likely the thing you will change the most as you’ll switch between different presets depending on what you’re doing. Presets include Movie, Music, News, Night, AI, Sports and Game.
Usually, I stick to one EQ when both playing games and watching movies but the Hisense U5120G kind of forced me to swap this around due to how drastic the differences were between the sound. Night Mode does what you’d expect. It lowers the loud sounds. Movie mode increased the bass and treble to an unbearable point where I had to manually dial down the Bass and Treble settings to equal things out.
Sports mode pumped up the voice commentary a bit which helped too. Game mode made lower sounds louder and provided some good mids. I didn’t use AI EQ at all because watching content on that preset resulted in a mismatched experience. Music would increase at times and sound effects would often muzzle voices in TV shows. It isn’t really ideal for anything where there’s voice work coming through.
Dolby Atmos is a big feature on this Hisense U5120G and it sort of achieves what it sets out to do. Of course, this is a soundbar so it doesn’t actually deliver true Dolby Atmos but rather relies on psychoacoustics. Meaning it relies on the side speakers and up-firing speakers to bounce sound around the room to deliver a surround sound experience.
This means you’ll need to have the correct setup to make this work. The 3D sound has a height of 4 meters from the screen meaning larger rooms with higher ceilings might not benefit at all from the 3D sound features. You’ll also need to make sure you’re not sitting further than 2 meters away from the soundbar else you’ll lose the Dolby Atmos experience. I found sitting closer resulted in a generally better 3D sound experience.
I remember one particular moment while reviewing this soundbar when playing Back 4 Blood. When shooting my weapon, I kept hearing my empty bullets drop behind me and the cling of the empty shells hitting the floor. The sound was quite distinct and it came from behind my chair. This was definitely the side-firing speakers sending these sound effects throughout the room.
The device offers some incredible value for money with a powerful soundbar that if set up correctly, produces some fantastic sound. Of course, you can get a better Dolby Atmos experience with dedicated backside speakers but this soundbar does a decent job of faking it. Considering this only costs R6,999, it is a pretty decent investment that will up your gaming, music and entertainment experience.
Hisense U5120G 5.2.1 Soundbar Review
Design - 7.5/10
Performance - 8/10
Value - 8.5/10
Sound - 8/10
The Hisense U5120G packs some powerful sound in a fairly large soundbar. It makes use of psychoacoustic to bounce sound off the wall for Dolby Atmos and it works in some situations. But the sound quality is decent for a product that costs R5999.
Virtual surround sound works at times
No control over presets and balance
AI preset isn’t great