Sony BDV-E300 Blu-ray Home Cinema System - Sony BDV-E300

By Danny Phillips

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

User Score:

To test how well the BDV-E300 performs, we grabbed the trusty Hellboy II: The Golden Army Blu-ray off the shelf. After 45 seconds the disc started playing, which is a lot quicker than the 92 seconds it took to crank Terminator Salvation into life, but still a fairly long time to wait.

Once it gets going, the Sony delivers a marvellous performance with the movie’s DTS HD MA soundtrack. Flip to our favourite scene – the Elemental attack in chapter 11 – and the scale of the soundstage is immense. It blasts out the action with more attack and distortion-free dynamism than most similarly priced rivals we’ve auditioned, which makes it a thrilling system to spend time with.

The sound of the beast’s tentacles crashing down on cars is wall-shakingly fierce, while its screams are loud and powerful but not grating. There’s also detail by the bucket load. The chirpy chatter of the movie’s odd little creatures and other high-frequency sounds during the Troll Market scene ring out loud and true across the soundstage.

The rear channels project themselves well, creating an almost 360-degree soundstage, but their range isn’t limited to high-pitched effects. They also handle mid and low frequencies with surprising aplomb, which gives the rear soundstage unusual depth. During calmer passages they lay out a rich bed of sound that intensifies the atmosphere.

There isn’t really much to criticise. The only thing we’d say is that you can get even more detail, punch and refinement from a good separate speaker system made by the likes of KEF, Teufel or Monitor Audio – but to achieve that you’d be spending over £500 on speakers alone, which kind of defeats the object. By one-box system standards this is almost as good as it gets.

The great work continues on the video front – the BDV-E300’s picture is beautifully detailed, punchy and lustrous, the same sort of quality you get from standalone Sony players like the BDP-S760. Similarly, DVD quality is hugely satisfying. The system converts the image to 1080p without compromising on depth, detail or colour fidelity, as well as keeping video nasties like jaggies and block noise at bay.

Verdict

With limited digital media support – including an inexplicable inability to play MP3, WMA and DivX from discs and USB sticks – the BDV-E300 isn’t the kind of all-singing, all-dancing system you’d get from LG or Samsung. What’s more, the lack of Wi-Fi (as found on Sony’s latest players) further underlines the system’s outdated feel.

But the Sony makes up for this with the kind of performance you don’t normally associate with one-box systems. It’s powerful, sonically insightful and side-steps the harshness we’ve heard from some of its rivals, which might just be enough to win your favour despite the gaping omissions on the feature list. And it earns further Brownie points with the inclusion of auto calibration and a superb operating system, which Blu-ray newcomers will be really grateful for.

Overall Score

8

Scores In Detail

  • Performance 9
  • Value 8
  • Features 6
  • Design 7

PGrGr

February 23, 2010, 3:12 pm

I've said it before, and I'm going to keep on saying it until you give in...





Please can you run an tutorial article on Home Cinema and surround sound?!





Other commenters, join the chorus...

HDRE

February 23, 2010, 4:59 pm

And so say I

mistrip

February 23, 2010, 5:11 pm

What do you want to know? I'm sure you could probably ask on the forums.

betelgeus

February 23, 2010, 8:28 pm

passive sub=no thanks.

Jon Williamson

February 23, 2010, 9:00 pm

I agree - it would be great to see an introduction to AV - I am sure I am not alone in having collected a decent audio set up over the last 20 years, and am now confused as to how to integrate/ develop it into an AV set-up - questions such as:


- how does sound qualiy compare to decent hi-fi separates?


- can one share speakers between hi fi and AV?


- should one go from two channel to 2:1 to 5:1 to 7:1 or go make the jump all in one go?


- or should I just run my telly through my hi-fi amp?





There is a whole philosphical approach here that I just can't get my head round!

Pbryanw

February 24, 2010, 12:54 am

@mistrip - The Forums always seem to be temporarily closed when I check on them.

betelgeus

February 24, 2010, 1:41 am

@jonwill i am sure part of the decision relies on your wallet,if money is no object then go with a receiver,active sub and an 8 speaker bipolar set.





i myself would never reccomed a system such as this being reviewed due to the passive sub and "usually" all round loose sounding system.





for music a 2.1 system is almost always better as that is how stereo is set up,personally myself i think surround sound is one of the worst inventions of the era(too much of the audio is directed through one centre channel),so i spend more on a top of the range 2.1 system for the price of a mediocre 7.1.





its been a while scince i was into top end hifi but i do remember b&w kevlar and kef made some great systems but your talking over a £1,000.





i myself use a logitech z2300 which i bought from ebuyer for £80 about 3 years ago great sound plus thx approved,it isnt surround but then again my ears face mostly to the front anyway.

dev

February 24, 2010, 4:37 am

@betelgeus


I'm not sure if you've had a rubbish experience in the past but for gaming and movies, 5.1 is a must imho. Take for example Lord of the Rings or an action movie like 300. In surround sound, assuming you have even a half-decent setup, you can hear the sound of objects flying across you as you're watching it on the screen...I'm sure in LOTR somewhere an orc is chucked across the screen by one of the trees or an explosion or something and I almost burst out laughing at the combination of the sight and sound. Similarly with gaming you can hear a sniper round whizz across your face and ping off the wall near you...I'm more of a casual 2-3 hours a week gamer but I still love the immersion of surround sound.





I will agree that for music 2.1 is better...however I just switch my kit to 2.1 mode and make do...sure its not as good as if you have a £200 amp and £100+ speakers but can you really expect it to? If you think the centre channel is too heavy most decent set-ups will let you adjust the balance, just as you can with bass and treble.





Not to get too personal but I would be quite surprised if your ears did face mostly forwards...that isn't the usual shape of the things! Anyway the distinction of front/back/left/right etc is all done in the brain...where your ears are actually pointing shouln't make too much of a difference.





In summary, surround sound is awesome...we originally had an off-the-shelf system then my dad got fed up of tinkering with the various settings and splashed out on a bose system...quite pricey for the sound quality but for him the ease-of-use more than offset the cost. Also please do a surround sound article, I like my TR education :)

mistrip

February 24, 2010, 1:59 pm

@Pbryanw Yes, i noticed after i typed that comment that the forums were closed? Does anyone know when they will be back up.





Failing that AVforums is worth a look. A surround sound tutorial would probably be good though.





As for Passive vs Active sub thing, i think for cheaper all in one systems like thiss passive is perfectly ok. The sub in kits like this tends to be tailored to suit the rest of the system so it's not a major flaw.





Obviously if you have cash to splash around then go for separates.





As for the surround vs 2.1 debate, i'd go with surround sound every time, especial,ly for movies and games. I think you miss out on too much otherwise. For music just switch the rears off or use the direct mode if you amp has it (and you have full range speakers).

Jon Williamson

February 24, 2010, 3:18 pm

@betelgeuse - budget is obviously a consideration, but there mut be an establised upgrade path - the £500 2 channel speakers I have (whilst 15 years old) are almost definteiy better than the primary speakers in this set up - but how to use them? Similarly, my claass A amp is very nice for two channel sound, but how to make sure I don't lose music play back quality ...


I am currently pursuing this on AVforums, but it would be nice to have n impartial Trustedreviews view on this ...

betelgeus

February 25, 2010, 12:12 am

i had a similar system but from panasonic the sub wasn't so much a punch in the chest more like a fart in a bath.





no i dont think centres are to heavy it just the dialogue from a film is coming through one speaker with "to me" mostly incidental sounds from the other speakers.





a family member of mine is mad into surround and amps think he spent £10,000 on his system so i have experienced both sides.





incidentally i cant ever recall a time walking out of a cinema and saying wow the surround was great on that film.

ray blevins

May 16, 2010, 9:15 pm

Will it play CD's

Geoff Richards

May 17, 2010, 12:57 am

@ray blevins - yes it does. Every system like this does.

Rocky

May 20, 2010, 12:34 pm

its great but I carn't seem to get the network to work on it anyone got any ideas???

Otta

August 1, 2014, 4:38 pm

Even a fart would make me proud, but this is a toot. I don't understand how they make these home audio systems with no means of adjusting the bass or treble. I have a dynamic bass button that's on the remote simply for show. Oh, and my Sony's disc tray has decided to stop opening. I can use it for audio, but that's all. And the audio aint that great...

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