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The BD3 backs up its impressive picture performance with 420W of top-class sound quality, although you can't help but lament the lack of HD audio decoding, which meant we had to settle for I Am Legend's Dolby Digital soundtrack instead of its True HD one. Nevertheless, the system still delivers the action with real charisma, giving the sudden jump-out-your-seat bits (like the lion pouncing on the deer at the start) enough bite to set your heartbeat racing.
The quality is excellent right across the frequency range, conveying delicate treble as effortlessly as big bangs and explosions. It's got plenty of bass power on tap - best showcased in the movie's pulsating finale - and this lovely low end stuff fuses flawlessly with the front pair to form a rich, coherent whole. It's also a dab hand with quieter dialogue-driven moments, making speech sound prominent and realistic.
However, as with most of the 2.1-channel systems we've tested recently, we're left wanting in the surround department despite all the cool-sounding virtual surround technology at play. No matter where we sat or how hard we listened, we never got the sense that we were at the heart of the action. Yes it does a great job of opening up the soundstage and expanding the effects wider than your average TV's speakers, but when it comes to movies you need to believe sounds are actually coming from behind you and sadly that's not the case here.
When you stick a CD in the tray, the system offers smooth and assured music playback. We also listened to a few 320kbps MP3s over the network connection from a Wi-Fi equipped laptop and the quality is staggeringly good, with the K2 technology genuinely making them sound as good as a CD.
At this point we should have been waxing lyrical about the NX-BD3's brilliant network functionality and superb AV performance, but significant omissions elsewhere have replaced our feeling of elation with disappointment over what could have been. With its Ethernet port and SD card slot, BD Live support seemed like a no-brainer, but for some reason (probably cost) JVC decided against it, which is a missed opportunity no matter how you feel about BD Live.
Even more disappointing is the lack of HD audio decoding, which is probably another cost driven decision but the formats' improved sound quality would have given those anisotropic speakers a proper work out. That said, the system still does a fantastic job with Dolby Digital, DTS and music material.
Other positives include its sublime looks, excellent picture quality, wide-ranging media playback and the aforementioned network functionality, all of which should keep you happy and goes some of the way towards justifying its hefty price tag despite its shortcomings elsewhere.
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