Sony SA-V900 Speaker System (Mania.com)

Date: Thursday, April 04, 2002



What They Say


The Review!
Sony SA-V900 Home Theatre speaker system

By Gregorio Cabaltica

Hardware features and specs

Sony has really put together an attractive all in one package with their top-of-the-line SA series 900. It boast nearly every feature you'd expect from a top tier "consumer level" DVD Home Theater system including:

PACKAGE FEATURES
-Stereo Mode Power Output 25 W x 2 + 75 W x 1, 8 ohms, 20 - 20 kHz
-THD at rated output 0.8%
-Surround Mode Power Output 25 W x 5 + 75 W x 1, 20 - 20 kHz, 0.8% THD
-Audio in/out (excluding Tuner) 1/-
-Audio/video in/out 2/1
-Video Monitor Output (S-Video) -(1)
-Optical Digital Inputs/Outputs 1/-
-Dolby Digital decoding
-DTS decoding Yes
-Dolby Pro Logic Decoding
-DSP
-Digital Cinema Sound� DSP
-3 Cinema Studio Modes
-Pre-programmed remote
-Unified remote control
-Rear channel stereo
-Station presets 30

DVD/CD Player (BUILT INTO LEFT SPEAKER) FEATURES
-Extra Large LCD display
-Disc capacity of 5 DVD/CD CHANGEABLE WITHOUT INTERRUPTING PLAY
-SmoothScan� fast search
-Dolby Digital, DTS, DPL decoding Built-in
-Precision Drive system

Front Speakers SA-VAD900L/R
-Driver Size 4x1 + 1" dome tweeter (102 x 25 x 25 mm)
-Dimensions, each (W x H x D) 9 1/2" x 44 1/2" x 14" (241 x 1131 x 351 mm)

Center Speaker SS-T900
-Driver Size 3" x 2 + 1" dome (8 x 2) + 2.5 cm

Surround Speakers SS-T900
-Driver Size 3" x 2 + 1" dome (8 x 2) + 2.5 cm

Subwoofer (Built-into right speaker)
-Driver Size 8 x 1"

When comparing the crowded field of out-of-the-box DVD Home theatre systems, it's easy to see that Sony spared no feature. Of course Advanced features such as ProScan, THX-EX, DD EX, and few others are Professional level features and have generally been restricted to separates

Installation/Packaging-A+
Better drive a Pickup, SUV, or pay the deliver fee cause this is a big Mutha'. The Box is about the size of my Big Screen TV. Installation was a snap. A simple matter of plugging a proprietary wire between the two towers, plugging in the 8ft RCA->speaker wire to the center channel, fastening the pair of 35ft speaker wires to the two rears, plugging in the S-video (sold separately) and Audio cable then attaching it to the TV via s-video. Plug it into the wall and Viola! The S-video is on a separate Bus so it must be consistent system wide to get the full S-Video compliment. There is a provision for optional wireless rear speaker system via a proprietary plug in the rear of the left speaker above the speaker connections. I have no experience with them and therefore cannot comment. It would seem convenient however.

Operation-A-
The menu driven on-screen programming customizability seems overwhelming. An example is the Sound field programming section which shows an actual living room on screen while casting light on each individual speaker during it's tweaking phase. The physical speaker placement such as height and position of the rear speakers can also be designated such as Side/High or Rear/Med in any combination. It certainly is the most elaborate on screen Home Theatre programming OS I've seen to date. Despite the On-screen options, the on-board menu very large and informative giving the viewer constant running time information such as the decoding, Audio control and levels, speaker utilization, etc. The control-all remote appears complicated at first, but closer inspection reveals a layout that makes sense with many clearly marked dual function buttons and the standard 5 button navigation system prominently placed near the bottom. As expected, the viewer can also toggle the language and subtitles without using the DVD's own menu screen. The remote also appears to be necessary for many of the advanced functions however. There are 5 individual buttons with multicolored LED status indicators with separate ejects that can eject an in-active DVD/CD without interrupting the active playing disc. There is a myriad of listening options beyond DD5.1 that almost become too confusing and requires too much experimentation to deal with. Once, before a movie, I mindlessly spent about 3 hours making tweaks that didn't make a lot of difference and actually degraded the sound when I compared it back to the default setting. Sometimes, just because you can doesn't mean you should.

Construction/Cosmetics-A
The system seems very solid for a predominantly plastic based exterior system. When the wooden floor stands are screwed on each tower speaker, it has as large of base area as I've seen. It certainly would be some quake to get these things to fall over . . . nearly impossible in fact. The speakers themselves seem solid and full, not having that plastic hollow feel so many electronics have nowadays. Likewise, the three identical channel speakers are heavy and constructed from plastic and particle board.

Performance/Value A+
Here is the first and foremost feature of any electronics in my mind. The 900 performs well in medium sized rooms and in squared or rectangle traditional layouts. However, the Sub (in the bottom of the right tower speaker) starts straining at higher volumes and begins to bottom out in low freq. bursts. The directional accuracy and rear presence is exceptional if not on par with some entry level professional grade equipment I've heard. As a Region 1 decoder it appears very accurate and has yet to misread a DVD/VCD/CD. I bought this one at Sears for 10% off the retail of $999.00 which bought it down to roughly $899.00 before tax and extended warrantee (a forum debate within itself). Any way you cut it, a deal in our current modern day pricing of comparable theatre systems.

GRIPE#1-This is picking straws, but when ejecting discs I can literally go grab a drink from the fridge and maybe catch the tray finally coming out on my return. It is slow but this is a gripe of convenience, not performance, so it is immaterial to some.

In closing this is about the 7th or 8th theatre system I've owned as I usually buy at least a new consumer level system every generation and try to choose wisely.

Other equipment used: Toshiba 55 inch Projection TV. Belogotti rear speaker stands. All in a rectangular room on concrete floor 14 inches thick.

Features


Review Equipment




Age Rating: All
Region: All Region DVD
Released By: Other
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Hardware Reviews