Kenwood AX-7

Kenwood AX-7
  • Kenwood AX-7
  • Kenwood AX-7
  • Kenwood AX-7
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • Great design, Surround sound

Cons

  • Surround sound listening volumes, No component video

Bottom Line

An excellent CD/DVD player and speaker package whose virtual surround sound is the clear standout feature, although it is not equipped with a component video output.

Would you buy this?

Kenwood has produced a compact home theatre system in the AX-7. It provides excellent virtual surround and great sound quality for both movie and music playback in a fairly small package. However we would have liked to see the inclusion of a component video output, as the video quality lags behind the excellent audio produced by the amplifier and speakers.

The package is made up of a CD/DVD player, a dedicated amplifier and two speakers, with all the components looking particularly stylish. Small and neat in design, the amplifier and player are finished in silver with blue LED lighting, coupled with classically designed wooden speakers. The compact design lends itself very well to those who are chasing a small virtual surround setup and don't want five or six speakers scattered around the room. The remote is also well laid out, making the sometimes tricky menu system easier to navigate than using the controls on the DVD player.

The system is compatible with MP3, WMA and JPEG files stored on a disc, as well as regular CDs and DVDs. Music was impressive to say the least, with everything from pop to classical to rock music sounding excellent. The clarity across the sound spectrum was very impressive, with great distinction between intricate instruments and melodies in the middle and upper registers. For a system with no dedicated subwoofer, the bass was adequate, and after a little fiddling with the manual equaliser and D-bass settings we achieved a fairly strong balance.

We ran the system on a number of scenes from The Matrix to test its virtual surround capabilities and again had great results. The lobby shoot-out scene sounded accurate with the array of bullets and effects panning around the room. We did however find the absence of a subwoofer more noticeable here, with rumbling explosions and car exhausts not quite having the same impact we're used to. The only downfall in these tests was that the volume in surround mode was not overly impressive. We were watching parts of movies on the highest volume during testing, and although this was still loud, we would like to be able to push it further.

An auto calibration microphone is included, and a number of equalisation options are available. Simple bass and treble levels can be adjusted, or you can play around with the full seven-band equaliser. A handy inclusion is the 'flat' button to remove any equalizing adjustments and return to default settings in a flash.

There are a number of connections to be made when setting up this system, but all wiring is clearly labelled, making it a fairly simple task. That said, the speaker wires are quite short, only just stretching far enough for us to adequately position the unit. Those with larger lounge rooms may struggle to take full advantage of this system. The CD/DVD player hosts all the inputs and outputs, and while optical audio is present, we were disappointed to see that component video is not. This means that while the audio is of an extremely high quality, the video, which is limited to just composite or S-Video, is a little lacking, and this was evident in our testing, with DVDs not appearing nearly as crisp as they have on other systems.

Overall, this is a neat little package from Kenwood that has excellent sound quality, but is let down by the lack of component video connections for the DVD player. If you can live without this, the sound quality makes this a worthwhile purchase.

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