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Philips MCi900 review

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Philips MCi900
  • Philips MCi900
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  • Philips MCi900
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  • Philips MCi900
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  • Philips MCi900
  • Philips MCi900
  • Philips MCi900
  • Philips MCi900
  • Philips MCi900
  • Philips MCi900
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  • Philips MCi900
  • MCi900/12 Wireless Component Hi-Fi System

Summary

Our Score:

9

We're no strangers to high-priced, high-end streaming-audio systems (or to love), but there's no denying that the Philips Streamium Wi-Fi component Hi-Fi system MCi900, to give it its full name for the first and last time, is about as far from cheap as watching the X Factor is from a good time. Even being able to find it online for nearer £900 than its £999 MSRP doesn't exactly make the MCi900 the bargain of the century - that's still over £100 more than a Sonos BU250 bundle; which makes up for its comparative lack of bundled speakers by offering multi-room streaming capabilities.

If you're still wondering what the Philips MCi900 could possibly offer to justify its £900 price tag you clearly haven't seen the system because, well, "wow" just about covers it, to be frank. The MCi900 is available in either a silver or titanium finish; the latter being our favourite. Of the two central units what isn't aluminium is glossy black plastic - which manages to look elegant, not cheap - whereas the speakers use matt plastic at their base. It's a massive improvement over the MCi500 system we’ve previously looked at - and that was hardly a disappointment.

The non-speaker component of the MCi900 is split into two parts, joined by a proprietary connector which is too short to allow these segments to be anything but stacked atop one another. The lower half has a CD/DVD tray at its front and the upper half a set of on-device controls up top, in front of a 3.5in colour LCD. We're not so sure the fixed display is good idea - we'd have liked this to be foldable to both hide and protect it when not in use - but it does its job.

At the rear is a particularly comprehensive set of inputs and outputs, along side the MCi900's Wi-Fi antenna. The top segment houses the power input, a phono audio input, a USB port and an Ethernet port alongside the speaker connection points. Gaining another mark in its favour, the MCi900 uses cinch connectors for attaching the speaker cables, rather than the nasty, cheap spring-clips we so loathe the presence of on lesser audio kit.

The lower half of the MCi900 is home to HDMI, Composite and Component video outputs, an FM antenna connector, and a coaxial digital audio output for connecting the MCi900 to a separate speaker system - although this only works for disc playback, not audio streaming. Aside from a headphone output and an aux-in we can't think of anything that's missing. If you're not going to need these outputs, and don't care for disc playback, it's possible to disconnect the lower segment of the MCi900 and use the streaming-capable top section by itself, saving a little space.

Paul 7

August 12, 2010, 4:20 pm

How about comparing some second hand high-end gear with the same-priced new stuff? I can't be the only person who reads reviews of equipment like this and the Onkyo and Teufel kit and wonders whether I'd be better off spending the same on a Naim pre/power, or some older Linn/Rega kit. You 'd hope newer transistors etc. would mean cheaper equipment could match the quality of more expensive older stuff by now.

CSMR

August 12, 2010, 10:34 pm

I think you've been conned here. At least this article doesn't have the information that makes for an informative audio review. I'd take this on board because TR has really high standards usually.





There are no measurements. Nothing about frequency response, distortion, noise floor. Just subjective opinions. Therefore the idea that by using a stylish and unconventional design, obviously chosen for visual appeal, they have a better approach to audio engineering than standard ones is not supported. The subjective claim that they sound good, without objective backing, could as easily reflect the price tag or the design as actual fidelity of sound.





There is also no recognition that sources and speakers are separate and should be treated separately. Here there is a source/amplifier combination that does some nice things and no doubt a good choice for some people. And some unusual speakers. Imagine if instead of desktop PC reviews and monitor reviews sites only treated whole systems: the usefulness of the information would be much lower. Same here.





For this price you can get excellent systems. I would generally recommend professional active speakers. Easy to find good ones for any budget between 200GBP and 3000GBP. The consumer and audiophile markets are filled with snake oil, marketing, placebo effects, and reviews like this one.

smodd

August 12, 2010, 11:51 pm

The design remembers me the MirageSpeakers...


http://www.miragespeakers.com/...

Andy Vandervell

August 13, 2010, 2:08 am

@CSMR: Please bear in mind we are not a high-end audio review site. We try to keep things accessible, while also offering a depth of insight into the quality of the product. Could you get better quality out of a separates system, most probably, but that's not what everyone wants. Likewise, we could spend 10 pages exploring the frequency response scientifically, and measuring using pro-equipment, but not a lot of people want to actually read that.

stranded

August 13, 2010, 10:12 am

@CSMR


I agree, nothing really good in consumer and "audiophile" (big laughs) section.


This is a design for 10/10? Philips design? More suitable for 5/10.


As Andy Vandervell said, TR is a CEs site. Many people like to read such reviews.

Hugo

August 13, 2010, 3:28 pm

CSMR - I'm at a complete loss as to understanding what your point is. I suppose all of your food is bought based purely based on its price versus its nutritional value? Perish the thought that anything so subjective as personal preference should colour the decision.





Reviews are inherently subjective; there is no such thing as an objective opinion. And of course, assuming you've never heard this system yourself, you're dismissal is based on an even greater lack of objectivity.





stranded - Philips has plenty of well-designed products. For instance just about every TV made by the company in the last 5 years.

CSMR

August 13, 2010, 10:23 pm

@Andy Vandervell:


I'm not advocating anything more physically separate, just separating speakers and source in reviews. I'm not suggesting extra boxes. Or spending more money; you can certainly get a very good system at under half this budget.


You don't need 10 pages to do a technical review. A frequency response graph, a distortion figure at a couple of power levels and a noise floor measurement are enough. Good manufacturers will provide these measurements or they will be available on forums where people in audio production discuss these things.


If you don't want to do this, I'd recommend you stay within the scope of your expertise and not make judgments about say audio quality or technical design without some backing (if not measurements then expert opinion found somewhere else). Otherwise you will just get mislead by marketing.





@Hugo


Certainly how good the speakers look is subjective. It's the sound reproduction that is not. I did not dismiss these speakers, although passive designs are not ideal (they save a couple of power cables though).

Ilse05

August 15, 2011, 3:16 pm

I was wondering if it would be possible to replace the speakers with the bose acoustimass 5 (subwoof + 2 double speakers). I prefer the sound of Bose but I like the system with harddisk like MCI900 of Philips, however I can't find anything on using other speakers with this.

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