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Sony DAV-F200 Home Cinema System - Sony DAV-F200
The key factor in this kick-ass audio performance is the monstrous bass output from the excellent sub, which has enough muscle and presence to fill the room but not at the expense of control or cohesion. The scene early in the movie when Arnie's team raids a jungle base is packed with OTT explosions, and the F200 delivers them with staggering force and intensity. Once or twice it sounded a little flabby but as 2.1 system subs go, it's the real deal.
This is backed up by a polished performance from the main speakers, which deliver midrange and top-end frequencies with surprising transparency. Speech sounds authentic, with Arnie's classic one-liners ("Stick around") losing none of their comical impact during raucous action scenes, while the rasping shots from Arnie's rifle are delivered with a visceral punch. The movie's score also comes alive with superb reproduction of the pulsating jungle drums and piercing brass stabs.
Inevitably, the lack of rear channels makes the Predator track sound only half as enthralling as it would be on a decent 5.1 system, and despite the best efforts of S-Force Front Surround there's very little width to the soundstage. If you want to be enveloped by sound when watching a movie, then we suggest making room for a 5.1 system.
However, if you're looking for a system that doubles up nicely as a hi-fi, the F200 could be just the ticket. It handled a range of CDs with aplomb, from the floaty jazz-pop of Amy Winehouse's Frank to the clanging guitars of Coldplay's Viva La Vida, and when pushed hard it showed no signs of clipping or distortion.
The DAV-F200 also produces top-drawer pictures, as demonstrated by Star Wars: Episode III's crisp transfer. The abundant CG detail is sharply reproduced and steady, while colours are strongly saturated but look natural at all times. The lack of upscaling artefacts demonstrates the quality of the system's video processing, which produces richly textured picture quality on a 1080p TV.
Most people will probably snap up the DAV-F200 purely on the basis of its strikingly handsome looks, but those who care equally about AV quality can rest assured that it's much more than just a pretty face. The picture and sound quality is of the highest order, packing a punch when it comes to movie playback, and there are enough features on board to keep technophiles happy for years to come. It's no match for a proper 5.1-channel system but those seeking a space-saving solution will find the DAV-F200 to be an excellent alternative - and at under £300 online it's surprisingly affordable to boot.
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