Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
- Great balanced sound, Almost infinite number of settings to choose from, inputs and outputs
- Not the warmest bass for music playback, Expensive
A great, although expensive mid range speaker and receiver package that excels when it comes to watching movies.
Price$ 2,205.95 (AUD)
Sony's TH700 6.1 speaker and receiver package hosts a large array of connectivity and setting options, making it a good central control unit for all your home theatre devices. When watching movies this package really shines, but it also performs quite well when listening to music. The receiver is a standalone six-channel amplifier and receiver, also including a radio, but there is no DVD player, so factor that extra cost in when considering your purchase.
We used the movies Swordfish and Final Fantasy 7 to run the TH700 through its paces, and we were left very satisfied with the results. Machinegun fire and explosions sounded accurate with great placement amongst the six speakers, and the deeper sounds of car exhausts were rendered very well. The sub performed outstandingly, able to achieve loud volumes while still remaining tight and accurate. It has its own gain and frequency isolation dials, with the ability to cut the frequency range between 50Hz and 200Hz, which gives added control on top of changing the bass settings on the receiver. This is a great feature for keeping your neighbours happy late at night, and one that is not usually offered on mid-range systems.
On initial testing, music playback was slightly disappointing. Sony offer three audio settings - concert, hall and jazz - to choose from and the bass and treble of the two front speakers can be adjusted. After we played around for a while with the host of settings, we managed to find a good balance, but always felt the bass was slightly lacking in warmth. Even with the sub in use, we were still left mildly dissatisfied. That said, middle and upper registry deliverance was excellent in this system, performing especially well with classical and operatic styles of music. The sub may not have been overly warm, but it was quite punchy, reproducing the intense bass stabs of Outkast's Ghetto Musik with ease at very high volumes - a true test for any stereo.
The TH700 receiver's one line LCD menu system was slightly frustrating to use at first, but once we ran through it a few times we got the hang of it. There is a massive array of setting options, with the ability to adjust every possible aspect of the speaker set up through the receiver. The speakers can be calibrated automatically using an included microphone, or the individual speaker level, distance and size settings can be adjusted manually if you prefer to do it that way. The usual Dolby Digital and DTS Surround decoding options are also included in the receiver, including Dolby Pro Logic I, II and IIx, as well as Neo:6.
Sony has opted for a classic wooden speaker design in the TH700. The grills for the two front speakers can be removed to reveal bright yellow speaker cones, which we thought was a nice touch to modernise the classical and somewhat staid design of the speakers. The front speakers and woofer are also striking in size to say the least.
The six channel receiver has an array of connectivity options including the usual composite and component connections as well as HDMI, optical and coaxial digital ports. There a three optical and two coaxial inputs, with a single optical out, as well as two inputs and one output for HDMI devices. There is also an extra set of optical and component inputs on the front of the receiver.
The TH700 is relatively easy to set up as it is simply a case of connecting speakers and sub to the receiver with the supplied speaker wire, and then adding in whatever other devices you may choose to run. In saying this, being able to hide the wires for seven speakers is always going to prove a test.
Overall we were very pleased with the TH700. It is certainly at the expensive end of the mid range market, but will no doubt function very well as the centre of any home entertainment package, although it does require the purchase of an external DVD/CD player.
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