Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
- Supports SACD, Five DVD carousel, good quality audio and sound, HDMI
- Speakers are big but sound is relatively small, Data CD functions could be improved, not many connections, too expensive
While it is a little too costly, the FXG9K is a solid home theatre package, offering good quality audio and combining it with a five disc changer and a HDMI connection.
Price$ 1,399.00 (AUD)
Sony's DAV-FXG9K is a reasonably impressive, but not outstand mid-range home theatre package. Its mixture of interesting features such as support for SACD and a five disc changer are somewhat counterfeited by the shortage of connections and audio that lacks power.
The DAV-FXG9K is a bit of an odd package in some ways. Though the system is a true 5.1 setup, in their marketing material Sony suggest you place the four main speakers at the front, two on top of the other two. Then, using the magic of sound processing technology you can have a virtual 5.1 system. Why you would want to do this is beyond us, as the DAV-FXG9K sounds far better when you place the speakers as you would normally do with a 5.1 system. The speakers themselves are also slightly unusual, as the four satellites are at least ten times the size of the weedy centre speaker, which looks most out of place.
Sound proved to be a mixed bag with the DAV-FXG9K. When playing Louis Armstrong's classic Summertime the system produced a great sound with impressive definition across both his trumpet and rasping vocals. However playing more modern styles left us distinctly unimpressed, with a rather lifeless soundstage. Movies generally sounded good too, though in all cases we thought the sound lacked the punch that some of the really good systems exhibit. To really get the most out of the DAV-FXG9K it's necessary to turn the bass and volume up fairly high.
Like any decent home theatre system Sony also include a good range of sound processing modes including Dolby Digital, DTS and Pro Logic II. A range of equalisation options are also available, each based around the sound environment of Sony's production studios. They include options for general films, science fiction and musicals, though we didn't find that much of a difference between each mode.
The quality of the video was one area that didn't disappoint. We tested DVDs across both HDMI and component and in each case the picture quality was sharp and clear. We did notice a few occasions where flesh tones seemed to have taken on a strange hue, but for the most part colours were accurate. The system supports progressive scan, and we found video to be smooth and free from signs of compression.
Sony split their home theatre systems into two types: component and DVD. The component systems come with a fully featured AV receiver while the DVD systems make do with a slightly enhanced DVD player. The DAV-FXG9K falls into the latter group, so it doesn't have the number of inputs and outputs we have come to expect from home theatre systems. Sony has included virtually every kind of connection including component, composite, S-video, optical, coaxial and HDMI, but there are just not enough of them, with only one of each available. If you were to try and connect a high definition set top box, a PVR and a next generation gaming console for example, you'd be out of luck.
The DAV-FXG9K also includes a five disc changer. This is an especially good feature, as it ditches the flimsy spinning tray seen on most multi disc changers instead opting for a slot mechanism. The system is well designed, with an attractive charcoal colour scheme, though the speakers are a little chunky. The enormous subwoofer may also get in the way. As is usual with Sony, the remote control is of good quality and well laid out and almost every button glows in the dark too.
Setting up the DAV-FXG9K is refreshingly simple as Sony uses a system of colour coded cables. An automatic calibration microphone is also included, which saves the hassle of measuring the distance from the speakers to the listening position. We had the whole thing up and running in less than 10 minutes. The DAV-FXG9K is also complete with some useful extras, such as support for MP3, JPEG and DivX discs. Rather frustratingly though, if you have a disc with all three kinds of data, the system will only find the DivX files. To play back MP3s or JPEGs it's necessary to put them on a separate disc. Apart from this slightly unintuitive issue we found the system played back files nicely, handling DivX files especially well.
Overall, the DAV-FXG9K is a decent system, but it doesn't compare favourably to some other similarly priced models in the Sony line-up.
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