The clever sound technology doesn’t end there. Clear Voice compensates for the lack of a dedicated centre channel by boosting dialogue, while JVC’s proprietary K2 processing improves the quality of CDs and MP3/WMA tracks by restoring lost detail.
Format support is excellent, and it’s particularly pleasing to see that the system will play DVD-Audio discs when so few manufacturers seem to bother these days. It’ll no doubt be welcomed by the four people who actually own DVD-A discs, but the deck’s 2.1 configuration means you don’t get the full multichannel experience.
It also handles most recordable DVD formats, including VR-mode DVD-RW recordings and DVD-R DL, but it doesn’t like DVD-RAM. Media file support is top drawer, with MP3, WMA, WAV, JPEG, MPEG-1, MPEG-4 (ASF) and DivX Ultra all supported – and the USB port means you don’t need to burn them to disc first. Lovely stuff.
Another nifty feature is the ability to rip tracks from CD into MP3 onto a connected USB device by hitting the ‘Rec’ button on the remote. Rips are made at 128kbps and you can’t change the quality, but you can edit the track names on screen.
So far so good, but with the system up and running we hit our first stumbling block – the terrible remote. It’s cluttered up with so many buttons and labels that it takes ages to find certain important functions and it’s not helped by their fiddly size. But the use of a shift switch on the side, which makes many of the buttons perform two functions, really rubs salt in the wound.
It’s a shame, as the onscreen presentation isn’t bad at all, with nice clear pop-up menus during disc playback and a wonderfully simple and responsive setup menu.
And with a DVD in the disc tray, the NX-F7 proves itself to be an assured performer on the audio front thanks to the excellent front speakers. Unlike many all-in-one systems, the sound isn’t thin or harsh – it’s consistently warm and full bodied, just the way we like it. Those wood cones deliver a smooth and precise sound, with superbly articulated treble and natural-sounding dialogue.