So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- Looks incredible, Sony Cinema Modes
- Way too many components, Lacking Bass, Surround a little weak
The best looking home theatre system currently on the market, but it is let down by having a mass of components and not have the substance to match its style.
Price$ 2,499.00 (AUD)
Everyone loves wireless home theatre systems. Hooking up a wired system is like playing a massively complicated game of Jenga and leaves the whole lounge room in a mess. Whilst wireless systems aren't truly wireless in a literal sense, they remove the key problem area; the connection between the front and back speakers. This frees up space and streamlinines your entire setup. The Sony DAV-LF10 attempts to bring this wireless ease to the table, but fails by offering one of the most cluttered setups we have seen.
Our biggest problem with the system was the amount of peripherals it requires just to get off the ground. Not only is there a rather large and rather chunky amplifier for the rear two speakers, but both the front and the back also need wireless receivers connected just to get the rear speakers working. Exacerbating this, you even need to connect a separate receiver to operate the remote control. Why more companies can't run their wireless systems off small transmitters with built in wireless connectivity is beyond us. It is ridiculous to have to connect separate peripherals for every device. The whole system really didn't feel wireless by the time we'd finished with it, and it had bits and pieces sticking out all over the place.
Of course this mass of external devices meant setup was less than a quick process. The cables are colour coded to match the ports on the backs of the receivers but bizarrely the speakers are not similarly coded, leading to frustration for new users not sure which speaker goes where. It is worth noting that Sony has utilized a simple plastic plug, rather than the traditional split speaker wire system, which is a nice touch.
It took some serious pouring through the manual to work out which of the several hundred transmitters (noted exaggeration) included with the package went where. The ports are labeled with the corresponding product number, but the average user wants something simple, bright and obvious. Most people are going to struggle with this setup (it took us five minutes of playing with the remote before we realized it needed a receiver!).
That said, you only set up a system once and the absolutely jaw-dropping design will, for many people, overshadow any number of other problems they may face. This is, without a doubt the best looking home theatre setup we've had come through the office. The DVD-player rests vertically on a stand, and sports an artistic and extremely modern clear and plastic motif. Meanwhile the speakers and subwoofer unit (which includes the main receiver) match, with a slim silver design, reminiscent of something you'd see in a museum. The whole package looks absolutely stunning, and is the perfect aesthetic complement to a modern lounge room design.
Whilst the system will please those after a visually perfect system, people after top notch sound may be slightly disappointed. Whilst the quality of the audio was quite good, the surround element ultimately came across lacking. Throughout our variety of test DVDs, noise didn't travel as accurately across the soundscape as it did on other systems. Events like arrows being shot or planes flying over, whilst sounding fairly good, just didn't have the same sort of three dimensional presence.
In general we felt the back speakers came across as quite weak, which was the root of this problem. The front three speakers presented clear, tonally accurate treble which had a nice level of detail and a bit of a kick to it. The subwoofer however did feel a little less powerful than we are used to. Other systems have really hit us in the face at the right times, whereas the DAV-LF10 lacked a little impact.
The system is definitely designed as a standalone unit, rather than as a true home theatre amplifier. It comes with only the barest of input ports, meaning it really won't be useful for synthesizing multiple home entertainment devices together. It has one component output for connecting to your television, and two RCA inputs with a single optical port for audio. People wanting to connect media centre PCs, next generation video games consoles or other external devices will find themselves out of luck with the DAV-LF10.
Those who are after a heap of features to play with however might be in luck. Whilst the system only offers the basics in terms of Pro Logic II support there are six DTS surround modes including Hall, Jazz Club and Sports as well as three special Sony cinema modes. These are programmed to take the most of various kinds of movie encoding, and we found they added an extra layer to the sound that was definitely a noticeable improvement.
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