Review Price £399.95
Pioneer’s BCS-303 provides a convenient and cost effective way of getting a complete high-definition home cinema system in one fell swoop. Because the five satellite speakers (2 x front, centre, 2 x surround) are extremely compact, each one measuring just 96 x 96 x 85mm, it’s perfect for bedrooms or living rooms without an abundance of space. An alternative version of this system, the BCS-707, comes with two pairs of tall speakers for the front and rear channels.
The system comes in two boxes – inside one is the XV-BD707, a combined Blu-ray player and AV receiver, and in the other is the S-BD303 5.1 speaker system. The Blu-ray receiver is a straight-laced but fashionable-looking unit, coated in Pioneer’s regular gloss-black finish. Its build quality is superb by normal all-in-one standards mainly thanks to its robust aluminium top panel.
The fascia features an illuminated volume dial, covered USB port and MP3 player input on the right hand side, while a row of small playback buttons runs along the top for up-close control. On the back is a useful, if not comprehensive, line-up of sockets, including HDMI v1.3, component, composite and analogue stereo outputs, as well as two optical digital audio inputs for your external sources, an Ethernet port to tap into the unit’s networking capabilities and an aerial input for the built-in FM radio tuner. Unsurprisingly the terminals for the supplied speaker cables are springclips.
Not a bad selection then, but it’s a shame there are no HDMI inputs for passing other high-definition devices through the system. Not only would this have allowed you to switch between sources and take up just one HDMI input on your TV, but it would have also let you enjoy surround sound from those sources without rigging up a separate optical cable.
As for the speakers, the satellites are a step up from the usual light, plasticky boxes supplied with some all-in-one systems – they’re weighty and dressed in a classy gloss-black finish and a cloth grille on the front. That goes for the centre speaker too, which is elongated to fit into narrow AV rack shelves. At just 130mm wide, the side-firing subwoofer is one of the slimmest we’ve come across, which means it should be easy to accommodate. The front is styled in a matching gloss black finish, and the rear sports nothing except a springclip speaker terminal – par for the course for passive subs.