- Great value, Very respectable sound quality, Neutral audio gives greater versatility in listening material, Simple and easy to use
- Lacks in-depth calibration options, neutral audio isn't suitable for users with specific viewing and listening tastes
A great entry-level home theatre, Pioneer's HTZ151DVD is an excellent option for newcomers, delivering everything you need to get into home theatre at a very affordable price
Price$ 449.00 (AUD)
Pioneer's HTZ151DVD home theatre system is a great entry-level product, including everything needed to experience 5.1 surround sound. It's a DVD player and receiver that comes with a 5.1-channel speaker system and its low price, simple features, neutral sound, and ease of setup and use make it an ideal product for newcomers to the home theatre scene. Although it lacks extensive calibration options and features, it nevertheless delivers great sound quality for a unit in its price range.
Audio performance on the HTZ151DVD is quite neutral, not emphasising either treble or bass, with a strong midrange making it a great option for most movies. Neutrality can either be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your point of view. If you want to be able to listen to a wide range of sources (eg action movies, drama movies, music, radio, etc) then a neutral system will generally handle them all respectably. On the other hand, if you watch a lot of movies or listen to a lot of music in a single genre, it can often be better to have a system that has a heavy emphasis on either bass (for thumping music, or action movies, for example) or treble (for classical or opera music, for example). Although the HTZ151DVD does handle both treble and bass well, without noticeable distortion either at below the 70 percent volume mark, it doesn't really deliver the excellent levels of performance in these areas that other units do (although this is generally at the expense of other areas).
One of the HTZ151DVD's biggest flaws, is that it really lacks the customisation options that a lot of home theatre systems (albeit generally more expensive ones) have. Sound quality does noticeably deteriorate at higher volumes, in bass and treble ranges, but there's enough power so that most users will be able to find a comfortable listening level before they start losing sound quality. Audio quality is generally respectable, and for a unit that's as affordable as this one, it's actually very good. The audio isn't exceptionally clear, but it's well defined and perfectly suitable for watching movies and listening to audio CDs.
Pioneer has kept things simple with calibration and features. Setting up the system is quick and easy, and simply involves positioning the five speakers, plugging them in, and then connecting the DVD player to your TV set. Individual speaker and subwoofer volumes can be adjusted by ten decibels either way, while bass and treble volumes can both be adjusted by three decibels either way - unfortunately not quite enough to satisfy our expectations, even for a system at this price. A variety of listening modes (action movie, drama movie, hall, rock, pop, etc) are available, and help to make what you're listening to sound a little better.
The unit's design is quite standard. It's silver and black, and is perfectly capable of matching most living room decors. Pioneer has taken care in the design and has made it suitable for users who only have limited space. The two surround (rear) speakers can be placed next to the front speakers at an outward angle, reflecting sound and creating the illusion of surround sound by bouncing off the walls. Whilst this didn't really recreate a perfect 5.1 setup in our tests, we nevertheless found it to be an excellent feature, and should be useful for users who don't have a large living room.
Overall, the HTZ151DVD home theatre is a fantastic value option for users who are new to home theatre and don't know where to start. It's affordable, simple, easy to setup and use, and delivers great sound quality without overemphasising one particular style of audio over another, giving users a good amount of variety to experiment with their system. If you're looking to get into the world of home theatres, or just want a good sounding unit at a great price, the HTZ151DVD is well-worth considering.
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