Hisense AX5125H review: impressive Dolby Atmos performance in an affordable soundbar system

Dolby Atmos doesn't have to be pricey

Hisense AX5125H soundbar hero image
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

The Hisense AX5125H provides immersive Dolby Atmos sound with clarity and balance, all in an affordable soundbar system. It may be light on features compared to rival soundbars, but when you get sound this good for this cheap, it almost doesn't matter.

Pros

  • +

    Immersive Dolby Atmos sound

  • +

    Clear dialogue and punchy bass

  • +

    Exceptional value

Cons

  • -

    No Wi-Fi music streaming

  • -

    No app for EQ adjustments

  • -

    Satellite speakers can get overwhelmed

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Hisense AX5125H review: Two minute review

The Hisense AX5125H is a 5.1.2-channel soundbar system comprising four units –  a soundbar, a subwoofer and two satellite speakers.

Compared to the best soundbars, the Hisense AX5125H has somewhat basic features, with only Bluetooth connectivity for music streaming as opposed to the Wi-Fi streaming you’ll find on the similarly priced Sonos Beam and Bose Smart Soundbar 600. However, unlike those soundbars, the AX5125H provides a ‘real’ surround sound experience with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X compatibility out of the box as opposed to requiring optional speakers at an additional cost. 

The AX5125H takes a no-frills approach, and it shows. But for a budget soundbar, the AX5125H’s sound is impressive, providing plenty of punch, clarity and immersion. Dolby Atmos and surround effects are accurately reproduced, speech is crystal clear and bass is weighty yet controlled. Even streamed music sounds good despite being limited to Bluetooth quality. For an affordable system, the Hisense AX5125H rivals some of the cheaper examples of the best Dolby Atmos soundbars

Its main bar may be a little on the wider side, but the AX5125H’s sub and rear speakers have a compact design – ideal for those looking to minimize the impact of external boxes. Its materials and build quality aren’t the most premium, but both are better than expected thanks to stylish metal grilles and a reassuringly solid feel. The provided remote feels every bit cheap, however. 

The Hisense AX5125H's simple plug-and-play approach makes setup a breeze. Those who like a good app for control and settings adjustments will be disappointed as one isn’t available, leaving all control to the provided remote. But for those looking for simplicity, the AX5125H provides.

For a 5.1.2-channel speaker array with nine speakers across four units, including two up-firing drivers for Atmos, the AX5125H is an incredible value at under $350 / £350 / AU$450. Those looking for a soundbar with all the bells and whistles may want to look elsewhere, But, if you’re after a soundbar that’s going to add plenty of oomph to your TV plus real surround immersion on a budget, look no further than the AX5125H.

Hisense AX5125H main soundbar connected to Hisense U6N

The Hisense AX5125H's main soundbar provides excellent speech clarity (Image credit: Future)

Hisense AX5125H review: Price & release date

  • Release date: 2023
  • Price at release: $449 / £499 / AU$599 
  • Price at time of writing: $299 / £349 / AU$449  

The Hisense AX5125H is a 5.1.2-channel Dolby Atmos soundbar system that comes with a main soundbar, subwoofer and two satellite speakers. Upon its release in 2023, the AX5125H sold for $399 / £499 / AU$599. At that price, it was in a similar price range to the Sony HT-S2000, one of the best budget soundbars on the market.

Since its release, prices for the AX5125H have dropped, and at the time of writing, we’re seeing it available for as low as $299 / £349 / AU$449 – again in line with the Sony HT-S2000’s current prices. 

Hisense AX5125H review: Specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Dimensions Main soundbar: 36.2 x 18.8 x 3.5-inches (920 x 478 x 90mm); subwoofer: 8.5 x 12.3 x 11.9-inches (210.5 x 310 x 300mm); satellites: 3.6 x 5.7 x 4.3-inches (90.1 x 140.5 x 110mm)
Speaker channels5.1.2
Connections 1x HDMI Out (eARC), 1x HDMI in, optical, USB, 3.5mm AUX
Dolby Atmos:DTS:XYes/Yes
Sub included Yes
Rear speakers included Yes
FeaturesBluetooth 5.3

Hisense AX5125H connections

The Hisense AX5125H's connections include not only HDMI but also a 3.5mm AUX input (Image credit: Future)

Hisense AX5125H review: Features

  • 5.1.2-channel configuration
  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X compatible
  • Bluetooth-only streaming     

Featuring nine speakers across four ‘boxes’, the Hisense AX5125H offers a 5.1.2-channel speaker array and supports the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X formats, along with the Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio formats. 

The AX5125H has seven preset ‘AI EQ’ sound modes such as Movie and Night, and includes an AI mode that analyzes content to improve the sound. Unlike soundbars from brands such as Sonos, Bose and Sony, the AX5125H does not have a companion app or any kind of EQ customization, instead relying on basic Bass and Treble adjustments with the provided remote control. 

The AX5125H has two HDMI ports (one with eARC), plus optical digital, 3.5mm AUX, and USB connections. There’s no built-in Wi-Fi, but Bluetooth version 5.3 is provided for music streaming. 

Some of the AX5125H’s budget and mid-range rivals such as the Sonos Ray, Sonos Beam and Bose Smart Soundbar 600 provide Wi-Fi connectivity and app features such as EQ. On the other hand, you are getting a more complete surround package out of the box with the AX5125H. 

  • Features score: 4/5

Hisense AX5125H soundbar, sub and rear speakers

The Hisense AX5125H soundbar with sub and two rear speakers: 9 speakers and 5.1.2 channels across four units (Image credit: Future)

Hisense AX5125H review: Sound quality

  • ‘Real’ Dolby Atmos sound 
  • Punchy, dynamic performance  
  • Small satellite speakers can get overwhelmed

Watching Star Wars: A New Hope on Disney Plus, the effectiveness of the surround sound was immediately apparent during the final attack run on the Death Star. The screeching TIE fighters and roaring rear engines sounded like they were coming from all around thanks to the Hisense’s effective Dolby Atmos delivery, led by the main soundbar’s up-firing speakers. The soundstage was surprisingly wide, and it gave all aspects of the soundtrack room to breathe. Dialogue was crystal clear, and the horn-heavy score, explosions and gunfire were all presented with equal importance. 

Switching to The Batman on 4K Blu-ray, the opening crime scene section demonstrated the AX5125H’s subtleties. Dialogue was impressive, and the low hum of the officers' voices, camera clicks, and even the stretching of Batman’s leather suit were all easily distinguishable and accurately placed. 

Moving to the chaotic batmobile car chase, the same punchy power and balance I heard in Star Wars was present, and the driving rain showcased the AX5125H’s Atmos chops.

Music listening was also enjoyable with the AX5125H, despite the streaming quality being limited to Bluetooth. Whatever genre I threw at it, the AX5125H obliged. The pounding drums, bassy synths and gravelly vocals of Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark were all well-handled. Thelonius Monk’s Japanese Folk Song demonstrated the AX5125H’s ability to convey all frequencies, with the twinkling piano keys and sharp sax balancing well with the smooth drums and double bass. Finally, listening to Caroline Polachek’s Welcome To My Island, her soaring vocals could be pushed to high volumes with no strain.

The Hisense AX5125H is not all perfect, as its smaller satellite speakers could sometimes get overwhelmed reproducing surround effects. Even so, its performance was meaty and even feisty. 

  • Sound quality score: 4.5/5

Hisense AX5125H sub

The Hisense AX5125H's sub provides plenty of powerful bass in a fairly compact size (Image credit: Future)

Hisense AX5125H review: Design

  • Compact subwoofer and rear speakers 
  • Decent build quality 
  • Front LED display 

The Hisense AX5125H’s main soundbar measures 36.2 x 18.8 x 3.5-inches (920 x 478 x 90mm), the subwoofer 8.5 x 12.3 x 11.9-inches (210.5 x 310 x 300mm) and the satellites 3.6 x 5.7 x 4.3-inches (90.1 x 140.5 x 110mm). 

Build quality is mixed, though the grilles for each speaker are the kind of black mesh metal you’d expect to find on more premium units. It also features a front LED display. There is an option to dim and brighten the LED display to four levels, plus turn it off completely to prevent distractions.

The provided remote is basic but serviceable, with Bass and Treble EQ buttons and a dedicated button to cycle through the sound presets. 

  • Design score: 4/5

Hisense AX5125H remote

The Hisense AX5125H's supplied remote is basic and feels a bit cheap, but is simple to use (Image credit: Future)

Hisense AX5125H review: Usability & setup

  • Two HDMI ports
  • Easy, basic setup
  • No app support   

Setup of the Hisense AX5125H is easy. Once I connected the main soundbar to a TV using its HDMI eARC port, I then connected the wireless sub and satellite speakers by pressing the pairing button on each unit and all were connected and ready to go. Once paired, there was no need to pair again on the next usage even when I unplugged them.

With no companion app, everything is controlled using the provided remote (or your TV remote using HDMI-CEC). 

The AX5125H’s front alphanumeric display gives clear feedback from input commands and adjustments without any need to rely on the blinking LEDs you find on some soundbars such as the Sonos Beam and Ray. Although obscured somewhat by the soundbar’s grille, it’s still a welcome feature. 

  • Usability & setup score: 4.5/5

Hisense AX5125H rear speaker next to remote

Despite the fairly small size, the Hisense AX5125H's satellite speakers (one shown next to the AX5125H's supplied remote) provide excellent immersion (Image credit: Future)

Hisense AX5125H review: Value

  • Full soundbar package for a budget price 
  • Good performance for the money 
  • Lacks premium features such as Wi-Fi  

At roughly $349 / £349 / AU$449 for a complete surround package with two up-firing speakers, the Hisense AX5125H provides excellent value. Despite missing some features such as Wi-Fi connectivity and a companion app for EQ control, the system’s performance more than makes up for the omission.

At this price range, there is budget competition from Bose, Sonos, and Sony, but crucially, these will be all-in-one bars that don’t provide the full surround sound experience you get from the AX5125H. Yes, it may not rival more premium soundbars, but the sound quality it provides is nothing short of impressive for the price.

  • Value score: 4.5/5

Should I buy the Hisense AX5125H?

Swipe to scroll horizontally
AttributesNotesRating
FeaturesDolby Atmos, DTS:X and Bluetooth streaming, but no Wi-Fi streaming or app4/5
Sound qualityPowerful, immersive, clear - all for affordable price4.5/5
DesignSimple and solid but remote feels cheap 4/5
Usability & setupPlug and play, but no app for EQ settings4.5/5
Value5.1.2 channels in four units for cheap - perfect for those on a budget4.5/5

Buy it if...

You want 'real' surround sound
With four units comprising 5.1.2 channels, you're getting actual surround sound rather than the virtual processing in other soundbars. 

You don't want to break the bank
For roughly $350 / £350 / AU$449, you can get a complete soundbar package for the same price as many rival standalone soundbars. 

You want power and clarity
Despite being on the cheaper end of the market, the AX5125H has crystal clear dialogue and bags of powerful bass. 

Don't buy it if...

You want the best soundbar for music
Limited to Bluetooth quality, the AX5125H is beaten by the likes of the Sonos Beam when it comes to music streaming. 

You like to experiment with the EQ
The AX5125H's EQ is limited to basic bass and treble adjustment and preset sound modes, whereas rivals offer in-depth EQ adjustments through apps. 

You want potent surround sound
At a small size (the same as the provided remote), the AX5125H's satellite speakers can sometimes get lost in the mix during louder scenes. 

Also consider

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Hisense AX5125HSony HT-S2000Sonos Beam (Gen 2)Bose Smart Soundbar 600
Dimensions Soundbar: 36.2 x 18.8 x 3.5 inches (920 x 478 x 90mm)31.5 x 5.2 x 3.5 inches (800 x 132 x 89mm)25.6 x 3.9 x 2.7 inches (650 x 99 x 68mm)27 x 4 x 2 inches (685 x 101 x 50mm)
Price $299 / £349 / AU$449$349 / £299 / N/A$449 / £449 / AU$799$499 / £499 / AU$799
Speaker channels 5.1.23.15.0 (virtual)3.0.2
Connections 2x HDMI (1x out/1x In) optical, USB, 3.5mm AUX, Bluetooth1x HDMI (out), optical, USB-A, Bluetooth1x HDMI (out), optical, Wi-Fi, AirPlay 21x HDMI (out), optical, Wi-Fi, Airplay 2, Chromecast, Bluetooth
Dolby Atmos/DTS:XYes/YesYes/YesYes/NoYes/No
Sub included YesNo (optinal)No (optional)No (optional)
Rear speakers included YesNo (optional)No (optional)No (optional)
Image

Sony HT-S2000
The HT-S2000 is an all-in-one soundbar that offers a lot similar features to the AX5125H and although the HT-S2000's sound quality is impressive, it won't be as immersive as the AX5125H. If you're looking for a more compact alternative, however, the HT-S2000 is the way to go. 

Read our full Sony HT-S2000 review

Image

Sonos Beam (Gen 2)
The Sonos Beam's Wi-Fi music streaming is superior to the AX5125H's Bluetooth-only option, and it offers big sound in a compact bar. However, with no included extra sub or speakers, its virtual Dolby Atmos isn't as good as the AX5125H, which comes with four separate units. 

Read our full Sonos Beam (Gen 2) review

Image

Bose Smart Soundbar 600
The Bose 600 comes packed with more features than the AX5125H, including Wi-Fi and AirPlay 2 compatibility as well as True Space processing to upscale stereo, mono and 5.1 signals to Atmos. However, it is an all-in-one soundbar, so it doesn't offer the same power or immersion as the AX5125H. 

Read our full Bose Smart Soundbar 600 review

Hisense AX5125H soundbar, sub and rear speakers in testing room

The Hisense AX5125H in our testing room, connected to a Hisense U6N TV (Image credit: Future)

How I tested the Hisense AX5125H

  • Tested with a variety of sources
  • Connected to a Hisense U6N TV
  • Dolby Atmos, surround and stereo sound tested

I tested the Hisense AX5125H connected to a Hisense U6N TV, and although Hisense-specific features were on offer, testing was done without these turned on. 

After cycling through the different AI EQ modes, including News, Night and more, I opted for Movie, which was the most accurate and immersive. After this, I tested the AX5125H with a variety of sources, including broadcast TV, mainly testing lower-resolution speech and signals, and 4K Blu-ray and Disney Plus for Dolby Atmos and surround playback.

I next tested music streaming from Spotify and Tidal using Bluetooth, playing reference tracks from multiple genres that I have used to test soundbars, headphones and speakers in the past. 

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed: 21st June, 2024
James Davidson
TV Hardware Staff Writer, Home Entertainment

 James is the TV Hardware Staff Writer at TechRadar. Before joining the team, he worked at a major UK based AV retailer selling TV and audio equipment, where he was either telling customers the difference between OLED and QLED or being wowed by watching a PS5 run on the LG 65G2. When not writing about the latest TV tech, James can be found gaming, reading, watching rugby or coming up with another idea for a novel.