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Sony BDV-FS350 Blu-ray 2.1-channel Home Cinema System - Sony BDV-FS350 Blu-ray System
Starting with the system's sound performance, we gave it a run out with the Iron Man Blu-ray disc and although we can't pretend that the two channels do justice to its scintillating Dolby TrueHD soundtrack, you can certainly hear the high calibre of the speakers. With loud, busy action scenes like Stark's escape from the cave in the prototype Iron Man suit, they take the steady stream of snapping gunfire and bullets pinging off the metal bodywork in their stride, with the competent treble handling never making these effects sound overly hard or brash.
The climactic smackdown between Tony and Obadiah is also full of energy, with forthright dialogue, dynamic effects and a wide soundstage courtesy of S-Force, although inevitably it can't replicate the true sense of surround placement that you get from a proper 5.1-channel system.
But if we have one gripe about the system's sound performance, it's that there's simply not enough welly behind it. Power is rated at 40W for the speakers with 100W for the sub, but Iron Man's pulsating action scenes fall flat in the power stakes - big explosions, such as the one that blows up the Humvee at the beginning or the Jericho missile demo, make a minimal impact even when cranked up to near maximum volume, and the sub lacks the potency needed to fill the room and get your pulse racing.
Despite this, the system does a decent job at playing back music. Amy Winehouse's Frank on CD is conveyed with a richness, delicacy and cohesion absent from most one-box 2.1 systems, and the bass deficiency isn't so telling with music material.
Blu-ray pictures look fantastic, with bucketloads of detail, vibrant colours and convincing skin tones, with the dusty desert detail of Iron Man's opening shots looking razor-sharp. Motion is smoothly tracked and edges are sharper than a bag of lemons. Although its performance with the HQV Benchmark disc isn't flawless, its suppression of jaggies is very impressive.
If you like Blu-ray movies delivered with plenty of power then give the BDV-FS350 a miss - the weak sub and overall lack of potency might leave you feeling a tad underwhelmed when watching action-packed Blu-ray discs. The sub's lack of HD audio decoding is also a shame, as is the absence of Master Audio support.
But these issues aside, the speakers display impressive finesse with the other sonic elements and music playback is a treat. What's more the inclusion of the stylish BDP-S350 Blu-ray player means you get top-drawer hi-def pictures and a decent array of features to boot. Overall this is a decent option if you're strapped for space, but we suggest taking it for a test drive before parting with your cash.
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