If you just want a user-friendly system then look no further.
- Remarkably simple and easy to use
- Not very powerful, USB input is flawed (as usual)
As a basic CD, MP3 and radio player the XL-UH25H does its job admirably. If you’re looking for thrilling sound quality or advanced functionality, though, you’d best look elsewhere.
Price$ 179.00 (AUD)
The XL-UH25H sits in the lower end of Sharp’s mini hi-fi line-up, with little separating it from more expensive models. It’s simple to set up and simple to use, but its more advanced features are just a gimmick. If you just want a user-friendly system then look no further, but sound quality isn’t one of the system’s strong features.
Like Sharp’s other models, the XL-UH25H is a series of small, unimposing enclosures. The control unit isn’t particularly tall — measuring a mere 13cm — and seems to be designed to stack on top of the system’s speakers. The speakers themselves have been thoughtfully designed to be placed either horizontally — with a similar height to the central unit — or vertically. The signature high gloss black finish can be seen on the fascia of the control unit, but the speakers themselves are finished in a matte black finish.
Rated at a measly 10 Watts RMS per channel, this micro system doesn’t have very much power hidden away. The speakers themselves might be perfectly capable, but the hi-fi deck itself isn’t able to drive them to particularly loud volumes — no louder than is sufficient to fill a small room — before significant distortion sets in and starts causing problems.
Three main playback modes predominate, just like its older brother the XL-UH2080H. The system’s AM/FM radio works like any other; reception is good and tracking through frequencies happens quickly and accurately. The same can be said for CD playback, with the XL-UH25H quickly tracking to start playback and seek through audio CDs.
USB playback isn’t spectacular, however. This is the main failing of the device: its inability to handle complex folder structures and complicated artist, album or filenames. Our test music was inordinately difficult to navigate through, enough so that we abandoned using the USB port altogether. In all fairness this problem is symptomatic to almost all budget mini hi-fi systems — perhaps some good advice would be to think of the USB port as a novelty, rather than feature you'll use every day.
You can boost the system’s sound with one of five settings: Rock, Classical, Jazz, Pop and Flat. There's also the ubiquitous ‘X-Bass’ bass boost setting, although this really doesn’t do much for bass response except to increase distortion levels. While the speaker equalisation might boost bass and treble levels, it doesn’t hide the fact that the XL-UH25H has small speakers and not much grunt to power them with.
The speaker enclosures are quite light, exposing their budget components and build quality. While this has its upsides — the speakers could easily be mounted on a wall — the downside is sound quality that’s best suited to radio broadcasts or low-quality music.
Treble isn’t too bad, with a 2in tweeter driver in each speaker. We’re not sure whether this was a shortcoming of the speakers or the amplification, but treble response became incredibly harsh and ringing at higher volumes. This made music very fatiguing and difficult to listen to for extended periods.
Mid-range isn’t too terrible but certainly plays second fiddle to higher frequency sounds. This is a product of small speakers in a small enclosure and can’t really be avoided — apart from special situations like the complicated enclosure of the JohnBlue JB4 Mk2.
A similar situation can be found (or heard) with bass response. Even with the Rock equaliser setting and X-Bass enabled, bass response was very poor. You simply shouldn’t expect any kind of decent low frequency enhancement from these speakers.
Don’t get us wrong — the sound quality is more than acceptable for radio, casual CD listening or compressed music playback. If you just want a simple system that sounds passable, does what it’s expected to do with few unnecessary frills and is decently priced, consider Sharp’s XL-UH25H.
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