Sony DAV-C900 Part of Sony's popular Dream System series, the DAV-C900 compact A/V rig is exceedingly stylish, and it offers impressive value for the price. The company seems to have made the right compromises to put this package together for $1,000. The entire design, from assembly and appearance to operation, holds out the promise of a completely satisfying home-entertainment experience.
The left/right front and surround speakers, shaped like truncated ovals, are about as tall as a DVD case but less than half as wide and deep. The center speaker is about a third larger and every bit as stylish. Each has a 5/8-inch dome tweeter, dual 2-inch dome midrange drivers, and a ported enclosure. Looking like a pumped-up version of one of the satellites, the subwoofer is a nonpowered model with an 8-inch driver that fires downward and radiates through a slot all around the bottom of the cabinet. The three front speakers fire forward, and you can adjust the angle of the horizontally oriented center speaker within its shelf/set-top stand to aim it at your prime listening position. The surrounds, totally wrapped in sheer dark-gray grille cloth, have side-mounted drivers that fire toward the listening position.
All the other speaker cabinets have a brushed-aluminum finish to match the DVD player/receiver - a remarkably compact electronics package rated to deliver 70 watts to each of the satellite speakers and 100 watts to the sub. A five-disc elevator-style changer mechanism lets you swap out four DVD, CD, or Super Audio CD (SACD) discs while a fifth disc plays.
The system literally goes together in a snap. All you have to do is follow the full-color setup poster - which is so good that you might not even have to open the competently written, 82-page manual. The left/right front and surround satellites have rubber feet so they can be placed on shelves or tables, but you'll probably want to snap them into the supplied single-piece floor stands shown on page 42, which have wide, nontipping circular bases and measure 41 1/2 inches tall with speakers attached.
I connected the supplied speaker wire to the bottom of each stand, which routes the signal to the speaker atop it via internal, integral conductors - no need to snake wire through the stands or to let it droop from the backs of the speakers down to the floor. The speaker wire is terminated in plastic connectors that snap into jacks on the receiver's rear panel. At the speaker end, bare wires mate with spring-loaded terminals. All the connections are color-coded, so it would really take an effort to hook things up wrong.
Besides the simple, neat connections, there's another bonus if you use the stands: more bass from the base. The port on the bottom of each L/R satellite mates with a port in the stand for a slightly fuller sound. (The setup menu includes separate equalization settings for using the satellites with and without the stands.)
The DVD receiver exhibits the same tastefully modern styling and user-friendliness as the speakers. The beveled top edge contains all the disc-player controls, while half of the front panel is the disc-loading drawer. Most of the rest showcases the fluorescent display, with only a handful of controls below it for sound field, radio band, and function. At right are the large volume knob and headphone jack.
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