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

 Hisense AX5125H soundbar hero image .
Credit: Future

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
Hisense AX5125H main soundbar connected to Hisense U6N

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

Hisense AX5125H connections
Hisense AX5125H connections

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
Hisense AX5125H soundbar, sub and rear speakers

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
Hisense AX5125H sub

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
Hisense AX5125H remote

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
Hisense AX5125H rear speaker next to remote

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?

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Hisense AX5125H soundbar, sub and rear speakers in testing room
Hisense AX5125H soundbar, sub and rear speakers in testing room

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