What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 3:00pm

Sony DAV-IS10

Tested at £600
100100
5

A blindingly innovative and effective solution to one of home cinema’s perennial problems

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For

  • The most ridiculously small satellite speakers we’ve ever seen
  • great usability
  • very good performance

Against

  • Some price rivals with bigger boxes can beat it for scale and detail

'Outrageous'. While that might seem a strange word on which to begin a review of a home cinema system, it's an appropriate epithet to pin to a product that induced in our reviewing team varying degrees of gob-smacking, jaw-dropping shock.

We've long been accustomed – especially in this more style-oriented part of the market – to speakers of compact, discreet design (as a way of getting around the inherent problem of asking your nearest and dearest to allow five speakers and a subwoofer into their lovely lounge).

Incredibly small surround speakers
But here's the thing: the satellite speakers that come with the DAV-IS10 are SO much smaller than any surround speakers we've ever seen performing at anything like this level that we were, frankly, stunned. When we saw them, we almost laughed. When we heard them, we could only say: ‘outrageous'.

The Sony's main unit, though less shockingly titchy, is a pretty compact unit itself: measuring 21cm wide, it scales DVDs up to 1080i, and uses Sony's Digital Cinema Auto-Calibration system, making setup as quick, easy and accurate as you could possibly hope for.

Active subwoofer fills the gap
The active subwoofer is fed by the main unit by a single umbilical cable, driving all the speakers with a total output of 550w.

This sub, given the itsy-bitsy size of the speakers, needs to do a lot of work, so it's a dual-driver unit with the extra driver helping to cover lower frequencies that the satellites can't get down to. And it all works extremely well.

Spin any choice of your favourite discs and the Sony displays a fine, stable picture with rich colours and good definition.

The sound, though, is the real killer: with speakers so small they practically disappear into the room, yet the scale, detail and dynamics they muster is astonishing.

Of course, the Sony isn't perfect. Some rivals get more midrange body and detail – from far bigger boxes. But what the DAV-IS10 achieves is, frankly, outrageous.