Hisense HS218 Soundbar Review

Tested using Methodology v1.0
Reviewed Sep 29, 2021 at 08:36 am
Hisense HS218 Picture
6.8
Mixed Usage
7.3
Dialogue/TV Shows
7.2
Music
6.1
Movies
Channels
2.1

The Hisense HS218 is a budget-friendly 2.1 soundbar. Out-of-the-box, it has a pretty neutral sound profile suitable for most types of audio content, though it can also sound a bit dark. While it comes with a dedicated subwoofer, it doesn't reproduce a very extended low-bass, so you don't feel the deep thump and rumble in bass-heavy music and action-filled movies. That said, there are some basic sound enhancement features available, like dialogue enhancement and EQ presets to customize its sound.

Our Verdict

6.8 Mixed Usage

The Hisense HS218 2.1 is adequate for mixed usage. Out-of-the-box, this soundbar has a pretty neutral, though slightly dark, sound profile that's still suitable for listening to most types of audio content. There are also some sound customization features to help you get a more neutral sound if you prefer. While it supports surround content, unfortunately, it doesn't provide a very immersive listening experience. It doesn't reproduce a very extended low-bass, disappointing for fans of bass-heavy music and action movies.

Pros
  • EQ presets available.
  • Bass and treble adjustments.
  • Dialogue enhancement feature.
Cons
  • No Atmos support.
  • Downmixes surround content into stereo.
  • Lacks low-bass.
7.3 Dialogue/TV Shows

The Hisense HS218 is satisfactory for dialogue-centric content like TV shows. Out-of-the-box, its balanced mid-range reproduces voices clearly and with detail. There's even a dialogue enhancement mode available to help make them more crisp. However, due to its 2.1 setup, it lacks a discrete center channel. As a result, voices aren't accurately localized to a pinpoint location within the sound image, resulting in less immersive listening experience.

Pros
  • Bluetooth support.
  • Dialogue enhancement feature.
Cons
  • Phantom center channel.
  • No auto-volume mode.
7.2 Music

The Hisense HS218 2.1 is decent for music. Out-of-the-box, it has a pretty neutral sound profile that can reproduce vocals and lead instruments clearly, though they can also sound a bit dark. Fortunately, you can use its bass and treble adjustments as well as its EQ presets to customize its sound. That said, it still struggles to reproduce an extended low-bass, so you don't feel the deep rumble in bass-heavy genres like EDM.

Pros
  • EQ presets available.
  • Bass and treble adjustments.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • Some compression at max volume.
6.1 Movies

The Hisense HS218 2.1 is mediocre for movies. Thanks to its balanced mid-range, this soundbar can reproduce dialogue clearly. While it supports surround content, it has to downmix it into stereo to play it, which doesn't sound as immersive. It doesn't support Dolby Atmos content. It also struggles to reproduce a thumpy, rumbling low-bass, which might disappoint fans of action-packed movies.

Pros
  • EQ presets available.
  • Bass and treble adjustments.
Cons
  • No Atmos support.
  • Downmixes surround content into stereo.
  • 6.8 Mixed Usage
  • 7.3 Dialogue/TV Shows
  • 7.2 Music
  • 6.1 Movies
  1. Updated Sep 29, 2021: Review published.
  2. Updated Sep 24, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The Hisense HS218 soundbar is a budget-friendly 2.1 setup released in 2021. It's a straightforward setup that comes with a dedicated subwoofer. Like most 2.1 bars we've tested, it doesn't support Dolby Atmos content. Its main competitors include the Samsung HW-A550, the Vizio V Series V21x-J8, and the Sony HT-S200F.

Design
Design
Style - Bar

The Hisense HS218 soundbar has a simple design. It's mostly plastic, and there's a metal grille on the front of the bar. There are also two rubber feet under the bar to hold it in place.

Design
Style - Subwoofer

The sub is mostly melamine. On the side, there's a circular piece of fabric. The port is plastic.

Design
Style - Satellites
Design
Dimensions - Bar
Width 37.8" (96.0 cm)
Height 2.4" (6.0 cm)
Depth 3.6" (9.2 cm)

The Hisense HS218 soundbar isn't very long, but it may not fit between the legs of some 55" TV stands. That said, it isn't very tall, so it shouldn't block your TV screen unless your TV sits flush on your table.

Design
Dimensions - Subwoofer
Width 6.7" (17.0 cm)
Height 13.5" (34.3 cm)
Depth 13.1" (33.4 cm)

The subwoofer isn't very large. It's about the size of an average desktop computer.

Design
Dimensions - Satellites
Width N/A
Height N/A
Depth N/A
Design
Back - Bar
Bar Mounting
Proprietary

On the back of the bar, there's an opening for the power cable and the inputs. You can also unscrew the screws on the side of the bar and use the included brackets to mount on your wall.

Design
Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
Ported

The back of the sub has an input for the power cable. The port is on the side.

Design
Back - Satellites
Mounting
No
7.5
Design
Build Quality

The Hisense HS218 soundbar has a good build quality. The bar itself is mostly plastic, which feels solid and durable. The metal grille on the front helps to protect the drivers inside. Meanwhile, the sub is mostly melamine. The fabric covering is a bit loose, however, and it may collect dust over time.

Design
In The Box
HDMI Cable Length
1.5 m (4.9 ft)
Digital Optical Cable Length
1.5 m (4.9 ft)

  • Manuals
  • Remote with 2AA batteries
  • 2x Power cables
  • Mounting plates and screws
  • HDMI cable
  • Optical cable

Sound
7.6
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response
Tested Preset
Music
Slope
-0.88
Std. Err.
3.10 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
40.6 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
17.7 kHz

The Hisense HS218 has a good stereo frequency response. Out-of-the-box, it has a pretty neutral, though slightly dull, sound profile. The treble range is a bit underemphasized, so vocals and lead instruments lack some brilliance and clarity. It also struggles to reproduce a very extended low-bass, so you may not feel the deep thump and rumble in bass-heavy music. That said, its balanced mid-range helps reproduce dialogue and lead instruments clearly. There are also some EQ presets to help you customize its sound.

7.7
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response With Preliminary Calibration
Suggested Preset
Music
Suggested Bass Setting
-3
Suggested Treble Setting
4
Slope
-0.04
Std. Err.
2.58 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
43.6 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
19.9 kHz

With calibration, this soundbar has a good stereo frequency response. With its bass set to '-3' and its treble set to '4', it has a very neutral, balanced sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content. Vocals and lead instruments are reproduced clearly and with detail. That said, the low-bass isn't very extended, so you don't feel the deep thump and rumble in your content.

6.5
Sound
Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
2.52 dB

The Hisense HS218 has a fair stereo soundstage. The soundstage is perceived to be about as wide as the bar itself, but it doesn't have any tricks to make it seem wider than that. Its focus is just decent. Sound objects like voices seem like they're coming from a general region but not from a specific pinpoint location.

7.2
Sound
Stereo Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
95.7 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
3.43 dB

The Hisense HS218 has decent stereo dynamics. It gets pretty loud, which is nice. However, there's a lot of compression when you push it to max volume, so audio reproduction isn't as clear at max volume. As a result, it may not be ideal for cranking up the volume to fill large rooms and crowded parties.

8.0
Sound
Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.35
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
1.23

The Hisense HS218 has an impressive stereo THD performance. At a normal listening volume, it falls within good limits, resulting in clean and pure audio reproduction. There's a slight jump in THD when you push the bar to max volume, but this may not be too noticeable with real-life content.

6.6
Sound
Center
Localization
Phantom
Slope
-0.57
Std. Err.
3.47 dB
SPL @ Max Volume
93.1 dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.39
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
1.24

The Hisense HS218 has a fair center channel performance. Since it's a 2.1 setup, it lacks a discrete center channel. Instead, it uses its left and right channels to simulate a phantom center. Unfortunately, this doesn't sound as clear and real as a discrete center, and voices may not seem like they're coming from a pinpoint location in the sound image.

4.2
Sound
Surround 5.1
Localization
Stereo (Downmix)
Slope
-0.63
Std. Err.
3.44 dB
SPL @ Max Volume
93.1 dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.40
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
1.18
7.1 Rears
No

The Hisense HS218 has a poor surrounds performance. Due to its 2.1 setup, it lacks discrete surround channels. Instead, it downmixes surround content into stereo to play it. Unfortunately, this doesn't sound as immersive as a discrete setup, and surround objects aren't very accurately localized within the sound image. Audio also seems like it's coming from in front of you rather than from speakers placed all around.

0
Sound
Height (Atmos)
Localization
Not Supported
Slope
N/A
Std. Err.
N/A
SPL @ Max Volume
N/A
Weighted THD @ 80dB
N/A
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
N/A
3.0
Sound
Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
No
Dialogue Enhancement
Yes
Auto-Volume/Night Mode
No
Subwoofer Level Adjustment
No
Bass Adjustment
Yes
Treble Adjustment
Yes
EQ
Presets
Surround Level Adjustment
No
Rear Level Adjustment
No
Height Level Adjustment
No
Virtual Surround
Yes

The Hisense HS218 soundbar has a bad selection of sound enhancement features. This straightforward setup comes with bass and treble adjustments as well as a few EQ presets to help you customize its sound, including 'News', 'Music', and 'Movie'. There's also a virtual surround feature that you can turn on and off using the remote. We noticed that this feature tried to 'push' the sound further to widen the sound, but unfortunately, this sounds a bit fake and forced. This setup lacks some more premium sound enhancement features like room correction, so it may sound a bit different depending on the space you're listening in.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Physical Inputs - Bar
Optical Audio In
1
HDMI ARC
1
HDMI Out
No
Full HDMI In
No
Analog Audio In 3.5mm (Aux)
1
RCA In
No
USB for Files
1
Ethernet
No

The Hisense HS218 soundbar has some physical inputs. You can connect it to your TV via optical or HDMI ARC. However, it lacks a Full HDMI In port, so you can't use it as a hub between different devices like your PC and TV. Also, while there's a Coaxial port, we don't consider this an RCA In port. Instead, it's a supplemental digital audio port.

6.1
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - ARC
eARC
No
Dolby Atmos
No
Dolby Digital
Yes
Dolby Digital Plus
No
DTS
No
DTS:X (eARC only)
No
Dolby TrueHD (eARC only)
No
DTS-HD MA (eARC only)
No
5.1 PCM (eARC only)
No

The Hisense HS218 soundbar has mediocre audio format support via ARC. It supports the most common surround sound format, Dolby Digital, which is handy. While the website reports that it supports Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and DTS-HD MA, this is impossible since the bar doesn't have eARC support. The manual also confirms that it doesn't support these formats.

0
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Full HDMI In
Dolby Atmos
No
DTS:X
No
Dolby Digital
No
Dolby Digital Plus
No
DTS
No
Dolby TrueHD
No
DTS-HD MA
No
5.1 PCM
No
6.0
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Optical
Dolby Digital
Yes
DTS
No

The Hisense HS218 soundbar supports Dolby Digital via Optical, which is nice for listeners who watch lots of surround sound content on streaming platforms and Blu-ray discs.

9.1
Connectivity
Latency
ARC
32 ms
Optical
24 ms
Full HDMI In
N/A

The Hisense HS218 soundbar has an incredible latency performance. Via ARC and Optical, it has low latency, so the audio you hear is in sync with the video you see. As a result, it's suitable for watching videos and movies over these connections. Keep in mind that some apps and TVs compensate for latency differently, so your real-world experience may vary.

6.0
Connectivity
Wireless Playback
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
No
Chromecast built-in
No
Apple AirPlay
No

The Hisense HS218 soundbar only supports Bluetooth connectivity. You can use a Bluetooth connection to wirelessly stream audio content from your phone or tablet to the bar. However, you aren't able to connect your devices using other wireless formats like Wi-Fi.

Connectivity
Other Input Specifications
4k @ 60 Hz Passthrough
No
4k @ 60 Hz @ 10 bit Passthrough
No
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 Passthrough
No
HDR10 Passthrough
No
Connectivity
Connectivity - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
Yes

The sub is wireless. You don't need to connect it to the bar to get it to work, which is handy. All you need to do is plug it into a power outlet.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
No
Additional Features
Additional Features
Interface
Display
Yes

There's a small display located near the center of the bar, behind the metal grille. It lets you know when you adjust a setting and displays the audio format you're playing.

Additional Features
Bar Controls

There are some physical controls located on the side of the bar. You can use them to power the bar on/off, adjust the volume, and change the input. However, you need to use the remote to access the rest of its features.

Additional Features
Remote
Universal Remote
No

The remote is simple, and it lets you control all of the bar's functions. You can access its bass and treble adjustments, change the EQ preset, and turn the virtual surround feature on and off.

Additional Features
Voice Assistants Support
Amazon Alexa
No
Google Assistant
No
Apple Siri
No
Additional Features
App
App Name No App
iOS No
Android No
Acts As A Remote
No
Controls Soundbar's Settings
No
Casts Device Files
No
Additional Features
Other Features
Power Saving
Auto-off
HDMI CEC (TV Remote Control)
Yes

The Hisense HS218 soundbar has an auto-off feature that shuts it down after 15 minutes of inactivity. It also supports HDMI CEC, so you can use your TV remote to control some of its basic features.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Hisense HS218 2.1 channel soundbar comes in 'Black', and you can see the label for the model we tested here.

If you come across another version of this soundbar, let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Soundbars

The Hisense HS218 2.1 channel soundbar is a straightforward budget-friendly setup. It has some basic sound enhancement features like EQ presets and dialogue enhancement, but it lacks more premium features like room correction. Also, it doesn't support Dolby Atmos content.

See our recommendations for the best budget soundbars, the best soundbars under $200, and the best soundbars for dialogue.

Sonos Arc

The standalone Sonos Arc is better than the Hisense HS218. The Sonos is a 5.0.2 setup that's better built. Unlike the Hisense, it supports Atmos content and has built-in voice assistant capabilities. It also offers better soundstage, center, and surround performances. It even has some more sound enhancement features, like room correction.

Samsung HW-A550

The Samsung HW-A550 is better than the Hisense HS218. The Samsung has a better stereo soundstage, and it comes with more sound enhancement features like a graphic EQ and auto-volume mode. Unlike the Hisense, it has a Full HDMI In port. That said, the Hisense has better center and surround performances.

Sonos Beam

The Sonos Beam is better than the Hisense HS218. The Sonos is a 3.0 setup that's better-built and comes with built-in voice assistant support. It has better center and soundstage performances, too. Also, it comes with some more sound enhancement features, like room correction. However, the Hisense comes with a dedicated sub, which helps reproduce a slightly more extended low-bass.

JBL Bar 9.1

The JBL Bar 9.1 is better than the Hisense HS218. The JBL is a 5.1.4 setup with discrete satellites. It's better built, and it supports Dolby Atmos content. Also, it offers better soundstage, center, and surround performances. It can reproduce a more extended low-bass. Also, it has some more sound enhancement features, like room correction.

TCL Alto 8i

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the TCL Alto 8i or the Hisense HS218. The Hisense is better built and comes with a dedicated subwoofer. It also has a better surrounds performance. However, the TCL has a better soundstage. Unlike the Hisense, it supports Dolby Atmos content and has a Full HDMI In port.

Sony HT-S200F

The Hisense HS218 is a better 2.1 soundbar than the Sony HT-S200F. The Hisense is better-built, and unlike the Sony, it comes with a dedicated subwoofer. While it doesn't reproduce a more extended low-bass than some more premium models we've tested, it does have a more extended bass than the Sony. Also, it has better soundstage and surround performances.

Vizio V Series V21x-J8

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Vizio V Series V21x-J8 or the Hisense HS218. The Vizio has a better stereo soundstage, and it reproduces a more extended low-bass. That said, the Hisense is better built, with a better center channel performance. Some listeners may prefer its more neutral default sound profile over the Vizio's more bass-heavy sound profile.

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