Saving Private Ryan’s Omaha Beach landing scene demonstrates these qualities perfectly. Machine gun fire has the perfect levels of attack and aggression but without the harsh, brittle edge that makes your ears hurt. Surround effects are delivered sharply, the frenzied shouting easily cuts through the melee (hats off to Clear Voice) and there’s a real sense of width to the soundstage.
However, the system’s Achilles Heel is the subwoofer, which is too wild and undisciplined to make this a completely enjoyable listen. Even when it’s turned down to its lowest setting, it overpowers the soundstage and fills the air with poorly controlled, boomy bass that prevents you from losing yourself in the scene completely. You want tight and punchy; you get loud and flabby.
With music, the wood cones lend themselves perfectly to the hi-res stylings of DVD-Audio, delivering a mature performance a range of test discs. It retrieves lots of detail, nimbly handles fast rhythms and makes vocals and solos sound warm and natural. CDs sound great too and you can really hear the extra sparkle added by the K2 processing.
As for picture quality, the NX-F7’s 1080p upscaling is impressive, drawing fine detail with a steady hand and reproducing bright colour palettes with real panache. Skin tones are natural, contrasts are distinct and tricky detail is visible during dark scenes. Some noise and jaggies are in evidence but for the most part the NX-F7 is an admirable picture performer.
The big question is whether or not the NX-F7 justifies its hefty price tag, as it’s a lot more than you’d normally expect to pay for a 2.1-channel system, and the answer is ‘not quite’. Though the superb build quality, generous features and excellent wood cone speakers almost make it worth the cash, unfortunately the over-zealous subwoofer spoils an otherwise impressive audio performance – and at this price we expect better.
Score in detail