- Good bass and mid-range performance, wide range of inputs and connections, Bluetooth
- Treble is quite weak and at times lacks clarity, volume range is a little too small considering the variety of potential inputs
A system with a huge range of inputs, including Bluetooth, the Sony CMT-HX5BT is a good choice for those with plenty of music. Unfortunately, the audio quality is let-down in the treble; however, the bass and mid-range are excellent.
Price$ 599.00 (AUD)
Sony's CMT-HX5BT is a Bluetooth-capable Mini Hi-Fi system. With an AM/FM tuner, CD player, and USB and auxiliary ports, the HX5BT is capable of handling a very wide range of sources. Its audio performance doesn't quite deliver the same levels of versatility, with some weaknesses in the treble range, but it nevertheless represents a great option for those looking for a decent Hi-Fi system with a large range of inputs.
Audio on the CMT-HX5BT is dominated by the bass and mid-range, both of which are strong and generally clear. Although at times, they'll overpower the treble, which in itself is slightly weak, and tends to lose a lot of its clarity in the upper ranges. When using the unit to test classical music, we were slightly disappointed; however, its handling of jazz, blues, and rock was much more impressive. The bass, albeit slightly muddy occasionally, complements the mid-range very well, creating a very pleasing blend of sound. Guitar riffs are quick and powerful, and vocals are strong and clear. Electronic and pop music is great on the HX5BT as well, with the bass' power delivering thumping beats. Softer piano-based tunes didn't seem as lively as guitar-driven music in our tests, and slower notes especially seemed to fade a little too quickly.
Volume on the Hi-Fi is good, although we did feel that it could be louder. With the unit's propensity towards music such as rock and electronic, we would have liked to have been able to really crank it. As it is, we found maximum volume to be very loud, but still a comfortable listening level. Of course, with the HX5BT's bevy of inputs, volume will often depend upon the MP3 player, PC, or similar device which is connected to the Hi-Fi system, in which case maximum volume may be too loud, but by the same token it could also be too quiet. A bit of a larger range in volumes would have been an improvement. Nevertheless, we found that we only really encountered distortion after about 90 per cent volume, and even then it was quite minimal.
The design of the HX5BT is somewhat strange. The receiver is bulky and widely proportioned, and may end up taking up quite a bit of space. Nevertheless, it's attractive enough, with a metallic finish. The speakers themselves have an almost tacky looking black front panel, made from very shiny plastic. This is only visible if the dust covers are removed, however, and otherwise the speakers look simple but neat. A single tweet rests above two large mid drivers, and is the only driver visible when the dust covers are on. The entire ensemble looks a little strange together, with the metallic finish on the receiver and the black plastic or black dust covers on the speakers, despite all that it should fit well enough into most rooms.
As mentioned, the Hi-Fi supports connections from a rather large range of sources. It has an inbuilt front-loading CD tray, AM/FM antennas, a USB and auxiliary port on the front, and of course Bluetooth connectivity. Bluetooth-enabled Sony-Ericsson phones or MP3 players can be used to play music through the system, as can PCs with Bluetooth connectivity. The auxiliary port provides a physical connection for MP3 players and PCs without Bluetooth as well. The only omission that really came to mind was perhaps a pair of analogue RCA audio inputs, which would make using the system as a home theatre device a little easier; however, ultimately this isn't a huge deal.
Overall, the CMT-HX5BT is a decent Hi-Fi system. Its design struck us as a little strange, but it's definitely quite functional. The wide range of inputs and connections makes it a great option for those with an equally wide range of devices full of music. Although the audio is unfortunately let-down by the treble, it nevertheless performs very well with rock and jazz based tracks, and is a good choice for those who enjoy such music.
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