Review Price £399.99
Pioneer BCS-707 - Performance and Verdict
Obviously, we’re keen to discover how this system’s tower speakers perform in relation to the BCS-303’s compact satellites, and the good news is that they offer a slight improvement, although elsewhere the system suffers the same flaws.
But let’s start with the good stuff – with The Dark Knight on Blu-ray, the system injects the Dolby TrueHD soundtrack with plenty of dynamism and zest, resulting in a crisp, sprightly sound. As the real and imitation Batmen fighting off the bad guys in the car park, the BCS-707 concocts an intoxicating mixture of snappy gunshots, meaty punches and screeching car tyres, while the stirring score chugs along urgently in the background. There’s some nice attention to detail too, like the chink of bullet cartridges hitting the floor and gentle echoes off the walls, plus the soundstage is expansive.
The centre channel also conveys speech clearly. Harvey Dent’s dialogue in the courtroom is prominent and articulate, and ‘s’ sounds are shaped without sibilance. Even Commissioner Gordon’s mumbly conversations with Dent are easy to hear.
But the main problem is bass performance. The subwoofer overpowers the other speakers with its boomy output, and makes loud effects like explosions and shotgun blasts resonate for longer than they should – with more tautness and grip, bottom end performance could have been much more satisfying, but that’s not something passive all-in-one subs are known for.
And like so many all-in-one systems in this price bracket, the general feel of the sound is too boxed-in, lacking the openness and dazzling clarity you get from more serious speakers. The BCS-707 is only likely to satisfy the needs of casual listeners looking to improve on the sound offered by their TV speakers.
It’s much the same with music – when playing the gritty soul of John Legend & The Roots’ Wake Up! on CD, the BCS-707 achieves a pleasant balance with clean top-end, smooth vocal reproduction and a tidy sense of rhythm and timing, but a lack of integration from the subwoofer and limited dynamics don’t always hit the spot.
There are no problems with Blu-ray picture quality though – the BCS-707 delivers super-sharp 1080p images with radiant colours and a contrast balance that keeps Gotham’s city streets looking suitably mean and menacing without losing sight of the detail contained within.
Provided you leave your audiophile aspirations at the door, the BCS-707 is a respectable home cinema system, especially at this price. There’s a decent selection of features, including DLNA networking, wide format support, lots of sound modes and a supplied iPod dock, plus it’s easy to set up and looks stylish with its moody, modern black finish.
But sadly, the cons outweigh the pros. There are no HDMI inputs, no support for Wi-Fi, 3D or web content (all of which are slowly becoming standard features on rival systems) and the speaker build quality isn’t the greatest. But the biggest disappointment is the sound quality, which is too boxy and bass-heavy to completely convince.
Scores In Detail