Top positive review
320 people found this helpful
Attractive and a good value, with good clean sound
on February 13, 2009
I have had this system since early January '09, and paid $129+ tax. I am, overall, very satisfied with the purchase. There were no surprises. It looks and performs as represented on the Amazon page. I rate it a B+, or an 8.5/10 overall compared to similarly priced bookshelf systems.
*Great looking in basic black, fits (style-wise and otherwise, it's also quite small) into anyone's living/bed room or office. Nice bright, clear, easy to read display.
*Solid Sony construction and quality. Materials and assembly are first rate. Lots of metal where it counts (the outer case, e.g.)
*Operation is straightforward and relatively simple. I learned basic functions in 5 minutes, and seldom needed to consult the fold-out style minimalistic manual.
*Sound is clear and accurate, and volume is ample enough to fill a typical room. Very little distortion or clipping even near top volume.
*Has controls or all basic functions on top of unit as well as remote, so you can still use it when you can't find your remote. Remote operation is intuitive AND logical. No stupid gimmick functions no one ever uses to get in the way, but does what it needs to do from across the room.
*iPod mounts atop unit (unit charges iPod whenever connected). Slides in easily. Easy to view iPod display. Position is practical; iPod does NOT tend to get in way or fall out as they do on a number of other like systems/docks. There is another jack for additional input (like connect to an Apple Airport Express/Extreme to run Airtunes and listen to Pandora/streaming or tracks in non-iPod formats). As with most docks, will not mate positively with iPod in a case (that is a limitation of Apple's design though).
*Plays custom MP3 CDs, including displaying ID3 tags. This means (if you burn the disc correctly) that playing an MP3 CD, you will see artist/album, and then track name. I find this a nice feature, though I guess its becoming pretty common.
*Limited bass response, with no provision for connection to external subwoofer. Most of the time not really noticeable, but for heavily bass driven music, you miss feeling the beat. Bass is there though, and is accurate and proportional. EQ is simple +/- separate treble and bass controls. Use of standard iPod EQ profiles has little effect on sound, though custom settings imported from iTunes DO work better.
*Speaker grilles not removable. Wiring passes through part board enclosures, and no strain relief mechanism, so it would be both a pain to replace speaker wires and over time more likely to need it. Wires are long enough for now at about 8 feet, and you could always splice more length in if needs be. Thats not ideal, as would be if you had easy access inside enclosures. I haven't tried the unit with other speakers, since the system impedance is 6 ohms and the various speakers I have access to are all 8 ohms (which is, or was, the standard, isn't it?).
*CD player recognizes only MP3 or CDDA/AIFF format discs/tracks. It really wouldn't have raised the production cost noticeably to include AAC, WAV, WMA, and most of all FLAC/ALAC.
I recommend this system to anyone looking for good sound (quality and quantity) on a budget, with the reservations mentioned about bass response. Likewise, its a solidly made unit that will last for years of use. I think it may be the best overall of its kind for use with iPod, at least until you get up to the Bose, Harman-Kardon, Denon, Bang/Olufsen class models (all of which retail at $350 and [way] up).
UPDATE 6/4/12: Almost three and a half years in almost daily service (mostly iPod or external input, but over 150 CDs played through, and 100 hours plus FM radio play), including the past 9 months continuously hooked up to a TV and an iMac (via 3.5mm AUX jack on the front panel), and still looking and working as when new. Zero problems, none at all. Initially, when I wrote the above, I had not planned to use it for TV/DVD/computer sound, but it recently serves that purpose very well as well. Three years after my original review I stand by it, only more so. I am actually surprised that it continues to work so well, without failure or diminished function, since things generally are made so much more cheaply than they were in the past. Not this Sony, it is a trooper, and I am glad to (still) have it. There are better systems, but none for less than $250, and few for less than $350 (and I have heard many since buying this model), and regardless of price this Sony sounds very good and has been utterly reliable, so it remains a terrific value.