Top critical review
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A decent compact stereo for casual use
on December 28, 2001
Since I live with two other guys in a duplex, I don't have a lot of room for a big, high-end system (and as a student, I lack the budget to get one anyway). But I do require a certain quality of sound when it comes to my music. So I spent a number of hours shopping for a reasonable compact stereo system that had the features I was looking for (decent sound, ease-of-use, sleep timer, appearance, etc.). After checking out a number of systems, the MX-GT80 caught my eye, and I began to fiddle around with it.
My first impression was the relative quality of sound it put out. It's not at an audiophile level, but it was basically clean and powerful compared to the other systems I tested in its price range. I found the JVC easier to use as well, even though there are a number of controls and functions crammed on the front panel. The feel of the controls was adequate, and I was able to discern the basic functions fairly quickly without having to check the manual (a big plus). The system has an interesting look - sort of an "industrial" motif. I would have preferred something a bit more elegant, but it was acceptable for my bachelor decor. The remote keys are a bit small, but usable, and it controls all of the basic functions. However, some options still need to be accessed on the front panel, such as CD-repeat. Overall it seemed to fit my needs, so I went ahead and purchased it.
When I got it home, I was able to set it up quickly and easily - it fit quite well on top of my medium-sized dresser. I enjoy relaxing to Celtic-type music (Enya, Michelle Tumes, Eden's Bridge, etc.), and it plays my favorites nicely. Even at low volume, it seems to pick up and project the more subtle aspects of the music very well. I like listening to audio tapes or music when I hit the sack, and the sleep function works fine for that purpose. The time settings are at 10-minute intervals, but there is an abrupt jump from 30 to 60 minutes. I would have preferred more time increments, or the ability to manually enter the playing time. I have to echo an MX-GT90 reviewer's dismissal of the clock - mine actually loses time very quickly. But I didn't buy it for timekeeping, so that shortcoming doesn't really bother me. After a few weeks, the 3-CD capacity becomes somewhat limiting (I would have preferred at least 5), so you may wish to consider that before purchase.
Overall, this is a decent compact system for casual use. I don't crank it up much (the neighbors didn't like my "Matrix" soundtrack test-drive), but it still sounds good at low volume. It's also easy to control while lying in bed. However, this stereo does have it's limitations, and had I found one, I would have gone with another system that better suited my audio wants and needs. I recommend it with some reservations, so you might want to spend more time shopping and comparing than I did to make sure you get everything you want in a compact stereo. But, you can certainly do worse than this one.
UPDATE 1/28/05: My MX-GT80 recently ate a CD, so I retired it to the garage for radio duty. I replaced it with a JVC MX-GC5, which I'm quite happy with (see my review for more details).