Price Paid: $399
Purchase at: Curcuit City
Its a 5 disc changer that plays DVDs, CDs, CD/Rs and CD/RWs, SACDs, VCDs, and even homemade VCDs (burned with software like Roxio or Nero). It has a 6 channel “S-Master” Digital amplifier and a 550 Watt total RMS rating (90 Watts RMSx5, plus 100 watts RMS subwoofer). It has extremely capable decoding capabilities: MP3, Dolby Digital, DTS Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, and Sony’s proprietary DCS and Multi Channel SACD decoding. All of these features are packed into a neat little package thats half the size of your VCR. It aslo has a digital optical input, thats perfect for an HD, digital satellite receiver, or a digital cable box, or even a Playstation 2. It has two video inputs and one video output for connecting a vcr or dvr. It comes with all of the necessary cables(including color coded speaker cords and speakers), and a diagram of how to place the speakers to get the best sound out of them.
As one would expect in a package deal, there is no room for upgrading. The speakers are of 3ohm impedance, which prevents upgrading or swapping in older ones. The speaker cable system uses a proprietary system developed by sony, so you can only extend the length of the wires without cutting them. Not that you would ever need to upgrade them in a million years. These are all complaints that audiophiles would cry over, but its important to know that not everyone needs to waste money on pointless things when they can get a damn good system for $500 like this one. This is not designed for those types of people. This is designed as being several steps above entry level.
On another note, this maybe why sony discontinued the s master line, but you have to turn the volume way up to get a decent level. This usually leads to hissing and overpowering of higher frequencies.
The important part of when looking for a home theater in a box is to not compare it to other regular component sound systems. Component HiFis are universaly upgradeable. HTIB setups, especially sony’s, are designed to need nothing more than a television. thats where they get their name. Unless you work in a recording studio, theres no way that youre going to live in an audiophile’s idealist world. This is a system for the rest of us.