First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
A fairly standard CD player, the CD-SW200E from Sharp fails to distinguish itself through sound quality, but does present itself as a versatile and useful Hi-Fi system. Support for MP3/WMA files, a huge subwoofer, and an easy-to-use interface all combine to make the Sharp a perfect system for youngsters and budget users alike.
- Sleek and shiny, MP3 support, Easy to use, Inexpensive
- Poor sound quality
Perfect for teens, the CD-SW200E delivers less than stellar sound quality, but makes up for it with simple and easy to use features.
Price$ 449.00 (AUD)
Design is a big part of this system's appeal. Metallic silver and black plastic enclose the system, with neon blue backlighting on the main unit's screen and on the subwoofer (it pulses to the beat of the music!), giving the entire setup a sleek and almost futuristic look. Certainly, it's the type of system that wouldn't look out of place in any teenager's bedroom.
Setting up was relatively quick and hassle free, the two speakers and the subwoofer were plugged into the main unit, which was plugged into a power point and we were good to go. We did have to go and buy some batteries for the remote however, as they weren't included, so it might help to have a couple of AA batteries on hand.
To start, we switched the power on and threw a CD into the 5-disc stacker, and were greeted with a horrifying, almost crunching whirring of gears as the CD trays moved around. After fifteen minutes of checking the machine, to make sure it wasn't broken, we nervously inserted another CD, and were assaulted by the same jarring noises. Operation wasn't actually inhibited at all, and we did slowly grow accustomed to the noises, but we still feel that it's worth noting. With the CD loaded and the LED screen flashing excitedly at us, we were ready to start our sound tests.
We found that sound quality on the Sharp was a trade off, partly due to an equaliser without any customisation options. The five presets provided (rock, pop, vocals, classical, jazz) provide an adequate range, but generally boost one characteristic of the sound to the detriment of others. Vocals are a clear example. Without vocal equalisation, vocals can sound slurred and slightly unclear, but when enabled, other aspects of the music start to lose their distinctness, despite a marked improvement in vocal clarity.
Bass was slightly muddy, and generally lacked a decent amount of punch. Users who like to feel their ribcages vibrate, however, will appreciate the X-BASS (eXtra Bass) feature, which increases the bass to the point where the entire track being played is reduced to a sort of rumbling cacophony of slurred notes and table shaking beats.
The overall quality of the sound produced by the CD-SW200E wasn't that good, but in the context of its low RRP, it ended up being quite acceptable. This isn't a system that's built around clarity and definition of sound, but it nonetheless manages to deliver a pleasant enough listening experience.
The volume went up quite high, although the last couple of points in the range were marked by a clear loss of sound quality. Nevertheless, when combined with the X-BASS feature, this stereo is capable of outputting quite a lot of noise!
A big part of the Sharp's feature set rests on its playback of MP3/WMA files. Listening to music in mp3 format is something that's becoming increasingly common these days, and as such, we're seeing more and more audio (and even non-audio) products being released with support for MP3s. In addition to playback support, the SW200E also boasts a navigation system, which makes selecting the track that you want from a CD that can hold up to 300 titles a little bit easier. The syntax was hard to get the hang of at first, but with a little organisation, and renaming of MP3s, we soon found it only took a couple of seconds to pinpoint the track we wanted.
A simple and clear interface, including a lightweight remote and a solid array of front-panel buttons made operating the CD-SW200E a pretty mindless affair. The only problems we came up against were regarding our initial attempts to master the navigation system, which proved fruitful soon enough.
In the end, the combination of MP3 support, a simplistic interface, unrefined sound, a low retail price and its slick, shiny exterior make this unit perfectly suited towards kids. This is the kind of system that a twelve year old would drool over, but its sound quality won't quite cut it for those interested in a sharper and higher quality representation of their music.
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