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Pioneer DCS-370 - 5.1-Channel Home Cinema System - Pioneer DCS-370
Music playback also lacks the neutrality you'd get from the very best speakers but CDs are still highly enjoyable, as its warm and atmospheric rendition of Roxy Music's Avalon attests.
But there's nothing unrefined about the DCS-370's picture quality. The all-digital HDMI socket keeps the signal looking clean, and set to 1080i or 720p there are no upscaling artefacts to speak of. Meanwhile, strong colour saturation gives images an enjoyably dynamic appearance, best demonstrated by the vivid greens and blues of the planet Naboo in The Phantom Menace - and we're also impressed by the deck's sharp detail reproduction.
To check the system's handling of multimedia formats, we slotted a USB stick packed with MP3, WMA and JPEG files into the port on the front and the system had no trouble playing any of them. Music files encoded at 192kbps sound crisp and bassy, while JPEGs look sharp.
Any system that boasts an attractive design, solid performance and a range of features that goes beyond the basics is worth a look, but when it costs just over £200 then it starts looking like excellent value for money. The DCS-370 does all of this, offering you a level of quality that you don't often find at this price point. Features like a USB port, multimedia compatibility and video upscaling all count in its favour, while the powerful performance with both movies and music from the surprisingly accomplished tallboy speakers belie its budget price tag.
The system would have been considered even better value had it offered some sort of hi-res audio playback and 1080p upscaling, and despite boasting performance that beats most similarly priced systems hands down, it's still a little rough round the edges compared with a decent separates system.
But these are minor complaints - on the whole this is a smashing system from a company that can do no wrong at the moment.
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