As we noted on the BDV-E870, disc loading is ultra quick (Terminator Salvation took just 35 seconds) and picture performance is superb. Insightful and incisive, it produces meticulously detailed pictures with our Dark Knight Blu-ray, even during the movie’s frequent gloomy scenes. Images boast wonderful clarity and complete freedom from noise, plus bright colours like the Joker’s purple jacket and yellow school buses are vibrant yet natural. Top marks too for the system’s DVD upscaling, which is clean and sharp enough to breath new life into your SD discs.
These top-drawer pictures are backed up by exciting, dynamic 5.1 sound quality. Like most cost-conscious all-in-one systems, the quality is inevitably compromised in places and lacks the power and poise of separates. But there’s a lot to like – The Dark Knight’s jaw-dropping Batpod chase scene is conveyed with plenty of enthusiasm, pinging effects around the expansive soundstage with verve.
Roaring engines are suitably meaty and sensitive high-frequency handling results in a detailed sound. Those tower speakers deliver a more mature sound than the price would suggest, and show Pioneer’s BCS-707 package how it’s done.
We’re also impressed by the way it conveys loud effects without excessive hardness, an unusual feat for a one-box system. The sound of colliding cars at loud volumes is bracing but won’t make you wince.
If there’s a downside it’s the subwoofer, which dominates the other speakers when it should be underpinning them and lending cohesion, and as a result the sound is slightly unbalanced. It also lacks the tautness and control needed to give explosions the requisite punch. It’s not a deal-breaker but if you’re a serious bass junkie you might want to consider splashing out a little more on separates with a powered sub.
However, SACD playback is fantastic, thanks to the system’s way with detail, and it also does a stand-up job with CDs.
The BDV-E870 continues the great work of its cheaper sibling with respectable sound quality, excellent pictures and a feature list that puts most of its rivals to shame. Sure there are flaws and some HDMI inputs would have been nice, but in most respects the BDV-E870 represents excellent value for money.