After rigging up a Blu-ray deck to the coaxial digital input, we popped Avatar in the disc tray and settled back. Flipping to the movie’s best test scenes (Battle for Pandora and Assault on Home Tree) the first thing that jumps out is how remarkably beefy the Z906’s sound is. It gives real body and depth to the frequent missile explosions and rat-tat-tat of machine gun fire, evoking a sense of power and aggression that makes us completely understand why THX gave it the thumbs up.
There also a reasonable amount of detail poking through the bangs and crashes, and some lovely high-frequency work that gives the sound a crisp, perky feel that’s certainly streets ahead of what you’d get from flatpanel TV speakers – a fact that in itself will be enough to persuade some people. This decent detail reproduction is also noticeable during quiet scenes, particularly Jake’s regular expeditions through the Pandoran forest. Listen closely and you can make out distant animal cries, gentle ambience and the rustling of leaves underfoot. It doesn’t tease out this information with the quite the same level of effortlessness and absolute clarity as dedicated home cinema speakers from the likes of Teufel, KEF or Tannoy but it’s a good effort.
Bass performance is excellent. The sub keeps low frequencies sounding tight and accurate, putting real punch and drive behind effects, plus it can muster a deep, sustained rumble without drowning out the other speakers. We’re also pleased with the clarity of dialogue which shoots through the busiest of scenes without any muddiness or excessive sibilance. It’s likely that you’ll regularly use this system to play music too, particularly if ifs rigged up to your PC, and if so you can expect a clean, dynamic reproduction of your tracks, anchored by nimble, rhythmic bass notes. Vocals enjoy surprising richness and high-frequencies aren’t thin.
Whether you’re using the Z906 in the office or living room, it delivers a very impressive sound with depth, punch and decent detail reproduction. And although its techy design is better suited to a desk than a TV stand, build quality is extremely robust and the inclusion of a control console is a convenient feature, despite its slightly cryptic quirks. There’s also a useful range of sockets, although the lack of HDMI inputs and Dolby True HD/DTS HD MA decoding is a slight disappointment and undermines the Z906’s status as a cutting-edge home entertainment hub.