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Sony DAV DZ860W

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      04.08.2009 12:42
      Very helpful



      One of the best Surround Sound kits around, especially if you have a Bravia TV!

      I bought this Sony DVD home cinema system with the express purpose of being able to play Blu-Ray disks on my PS3 and get the full surround sound experience, and I have to say it was an excellent purchase.

      Set-up: Installing the system was fairly simple. There are a lot of wires to connect for the 3 front speakers and the woofer, as well as SCART and/or HDMI to your TV, and either Optical/Coaxial audio from the TV to the surround sound system. Unlike some home theatre systems, there is only one power cable for the device; however, this does mean the whole system needs to be powered even when listening to an external audio source.
      For the rear speakers, Sony supply an S-Air module. This uses radio signals to transmit the rear sound from the amplifier to the rear speakers, which are separately powered by the S-Air receiver. Here you just have a frequency module to plug into the decoder and the receiver, and then speaker wires to the two rear speakers. There are three channels available, with the option to specifically pair your devices, so there's little risk of your neighbour picking up your surround sound.

      A nice feature here is a headphone socket on the rear speaker receiver. When used, this mutes all sound from all 6 speakers, and gives 2 channel audio on your headphones. The headphone socket on the DVD/Decoder works in the same way (but is probably less convenient for listening).

      Video: The video quality of this DVD player is excellent. When connected by HDMI, it up-scales to 1080p, but even over SCART the quality is as good as you would expect from an expensive DVD player.
      The remote control is a bit fiddly - it's designed to also operate a Sony Bravia TV, so it has a bit of a poor layout for DVD watching - but has good range and reception. More importantly, it is responsive; no pressing a button and waiting 10 seconds while the DVD player loads the menu you've picked.

      Audio: I'm not an audiophile, but the sound quality to me is excellent. There's no noticeable problem with the wireless rear speakers - the quality here is as you would expect, and there is no encoding/decoding delay noticeable.
      When used from an external source (specifically, my PS3) the Dolby sound seems to work correctly, with all the channels allocated and sounding crisp and clear.
      The sub woofer is powerful enough to shake my room above the TV, but there is also a "Night Mode" button that reduces the volume while keeping dialogue clear.

      Extra Features: The FM radio is a bit of a pain - I would have expected DAB at least - but works well enough. Tuning is fiddly - you have to hold the button to auto-scan - but accurate enough. The device picks up RDS, so station names are shown, but the "Radio Text" often seen in car stereos appears to be missing. You can also name the stations yourself.

      My model included a connection for an iPod - this does allow you to view pictures and videos as well on your connected TV.

      The USB connection also allows using other (non-Apple) data sources - I've used a Sony MP3 player and a generic memory stick with excellent results. The system will play DivX and MP3s without any trouble.

      Overall, this is an expensive device, but very good quality and worth the money.


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