SLS Q-Line Silver Home Theater System - Product Review

Budget Home Theater with Great Speakers

SLS Q-Line Silver Home Theater System
SLS Q-Line Silver Home Theater System. Photo (c) SLS Audio

The SLS Q-line is a compact home-theater-in-a-box system, with compact satellite speakers utilizing ribbon-based drivers, AV receiver, and subwoofer that is great for entry level consumers. Just hook up your own DVD player and additional components, and you are set to go.

SLS Q-Line Home Theater System Overview

The features of the SLS Q-Line Home Theater System include:

1. A fully functional 5.1 Channel AV Receiver with Dolby Digital, DTS, and Dolby Pro LogicII decoding.

2. The AV receiver features 125 watts-per-channel RMS output (6 ohm speaker load) x 5 with .7% THD (Total Harmonic Distortion).

3. All speakers are supplied: L/R Mains, Center, L/R surrounds, and a 100 watt RMS Powered Subwoofer. The impedance for the satellite speakers is 6 ohms, rather than the customary 8 ohms.

4. The Satellite speakers employ Ribbon Tweeter technology developed by SLS.

5. Composite video inputs and analog audio inputs for connection of VCR, DVD player, DVD recorder, and CD player.

6. Digital audio inputs (Two coaxial, one optical) for DVD player or other component with digital audio output.

7. Composite video monitor output for connection to Television.

8. 6-channel direct audio inputs for DVD-Audio/SACD compatible players

9. AM/FM stereo tuner with a total of 30 presets.

10. Cables and speaker wire provided - all wires are color coded for easy connection.

11. Wireless remote control

12. Front panel Headphone output.

13. Illustrated User Manual

Testing Setup - Components

For initial set up, all the speaker connections and cables are provided in the box, and are color coded, making speaker hookup easy. A test tone function is also provided to calibrate speaker channel levels.

If you do need to use the owner's manual, it is easy to understand, with good illustrations. Connecting your other components, such as a DVD player, VCR, etc... is very simple.

However, there is no provision for an audio turntable connection, which is becoming more typical in AV Receivers and Home Theater Systems in this price class.

Additional components used in this review included a Samsung LN-R238W 23-inch LCD-HDTV, and Syntax LT-32HV LCD television. DVD players used included the JVC XV-NP10S - Code Free Version, an older Pioneer DV-341. A Denon DCM-370 CD/HDCD player was also included in the testing setup.

Audio comparisons were made using a Yamaha HTR-5490 AV receiver with Optimus PRO-LX5II satellite speakers and a Yamaha YST-SW205 subwoofer. Shure E3c stereo earphones were used to evaluate headphone capability.

Testing Setup - Software

A sampling of the software used included standard CDs: HEART - Dreamboat Annie, Nora Jones: Come Away With Me, Blue Man Group: The Complex and Audio, Lisa Loeb: Firecracker (HDCD), Blondie: Live (HDCD), Telarc: 1812 Overture.

One Laserdisc was used: Godzilla 1998.

DVDs used included: Kill Bill - Vol1/Vol2, Master and Commander, Chicago, Lord Of the Rings Trilogy, House Of The Flying Daggers, Alien Vs Predator, Moulin Rouge, The Mummy, Ed Wood (Region 3 - NTSC), and Crying Freeman (Region 2 - PAL).

DVD-Audio/DTS music discs used included: Queen: Night At The Opera/The Game, Eagles: Hotel California, Sheila Nicholls: Wake, Alan Parsons: On Air. Also included: The Corrs: In Blue (Dolby Digital). Portions of other software titles in the above categories were used as well.

Other Setup Observations

The SLS Q-line Home Theater System comes with an AV receiver, all needed speakers, and connection cables to get this system running. The provided cables and onboard connectors are color coded making setup easy. Without cracking open the owner's manual, I was watching a DVD in surround sound in about 20 minutes from the time I opened the box.

Unlike many home theater-in-a-box systems, the SLS Q-line does not come with a DVD player. As a trade off, the Q-line comes with a better speaker set than most systems in this price range. It ribbon-driver-based satellite speakers provide excellent sound quality across the board with both movie and music sources.

Audio Performance

In terms of surround staging and audio quality, the Q-Line was a great performer, especially bolstered by the ribbon-based satellite speakers. The satellite speakers provided were excellent, providing detailed, textured, sound reproduction on both music and movie material used for this review. The satellite speakers proved to be a definite cut-above satellite speakers provided in most home theater-in-a-box systems, not only in sound quality, but also in build-quality and physical weight.

However, I did find that the powered subwoofer was sometimes too subtle on movie material, in comparison to other subs I have used, including the Yamaha YST-SW205 used in my comparison system. I found that setting the subwoofer level at about 5db higher than baseline, using the speaker level setup menu, yielded a better LFE result, especially on DVD movie material.

Video Performance

On the video side, a disappointment was the lack of S-Video and Component video input/output capability with the provided AV Receiver. Using the AV receiver as a video switcher, its composite video connections provided the expected video quality from this type of connection.

There was no apparent degradation of composite video signals. However, composite video does not provide the quality of S-Video or component video connection options available on most newer television sets.

If using the Q-Line with a system that includes an HDTV and progressive scan or upscaling DVD player, I would suggest bypassing the video connection options of the Q-Line's AV receiver and use a direct component to television video connection route.

The lack of S-Video and component video connection options limits the use of the receiver with HDTVs and Progressive scan DVD players. One suggestion: SLS should offer both this basic system, and one with a higher-end receiver for easier use with HDTV and Progressive Scan DVD players.

What I liked About The SLS Q-Line

1. Basic home theater system with good sound quality.

2. Easy setup and operation.

3. Easy to understand owner's manual

4. Ribbon speaker technology provides excellent sound and the speakers are more substantial in weight and size than speakers offered in similarly priced systems.

5. Color coded connection cables are a real time saver, enabling easy and quick hookup for the novice.

What I Didn't Like or Could Be Improved on the SLS Q-Line

1. Subwoofer sometimes too subtle on intense low frequency movie soundtracks.

2. No S-video or component video inputs/outputs on Receiver.

3. Only one Digital Optical input (however, there are two digital coaxial inputs).

4. No on-screen setup display option.

5. User must provide your own DVD player. NOTE: This is minor point, but one that must be taken into consideration for those looking for a system that includes a DVD player.

Final Take

The SLS Q-line is a home theater-in-a-box system, with satellite speakers utilizing ribbon-based drivers, AV receiver, and subwoofer. The ribbon-based speakers contribute to making the Q-Line a great overall performer on the audio side. However, the sub is sometimes too subtle, and should set at a higher level than the satellites.

The included AV receiver performs well in the audio department for the price range of this system. On the video side, the receiver lacks component video connections, which would have made it easier to use with HDTVs and progressive scan DVD players.

However, its composite video inputs/outputs provide a basic option that can be used with almost all televisions. Just hookup your own DVD player, and you are set to go.

Although the connectivity options for higher end setups are lacking, the overall performance, in terms of what it does offer, makes the Q-Line a very attractive $500 system for those getting started in home theater.

With a better AV receiver offering and a slightly better sub, the Q-Line would definitely deserve a 4.5 or 5 star rating. I am looking forward to see if SLS has more coming from the Q-Line concept, such as a step-up AV receiver option with 6.1 or 7.1 channel operation (with the needed additional speakers) and component video (or even HDMI or DVI) input/output connection options.

For its excellent speakers, I give the SLS Q-Line Silver Home Theater System 4.0 stars out of 5.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.