What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Thu, 4 Jan 2007, 5:00pm

Audica AVS-1

Tested at £1250
100100
5

Judge it for what it is – you’ll be impressed by this kit. It looks great, performs well and is hugely appealing

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For

  • Clever, stylish and capable
  • thoughtful support and mounting options

Against

  • Front speaker array can lack stereo width
  • no rival for same-price separates

If you're going to compete, you need to be inventive. Hats off to Audica, then, for developing such a thorough solution to the home cinema conundrum.

For your £1250, the Audica set-up gives you a 6.1-capable surround receiver, the AVR-1, and a complete speaker package.

If you're wondering ‘where are the front speakers?', worry not: they're housed in a cunning LCR (left, centre, right) speaker, the CS-LCR, which delivers all three front channels of audio.

Bass comes courtesy of a 100w active subwoofer, the CS-Sub8, while surround signals are catered for by conventional, and diminutive, CS-S1 rears.

AVS-1 has more than just a pretty face
It's an elegant collection of kit, made all the more stylish by the optional floorstand shown here. But, as we commented when we tested the speaker element of this package back in 2005, there's more to Audica kit than mere looks.

The receiver, for instance, includes a DVD drive, complete with HDMI output and 720p/1080i video scaling, and while it won't rival conventional separates kit for drive or muscularity, it gives a perfectly good account of itself sonically.

Also a surprise is that the system's overall balance is pleasingly lush, given the modest dimensions of each speaker; where you might expect the brittle edge of a typical home cinema in a box, you're instead presented with a decently smooth, forgiving balance.

It's still exciting enough to be interesting, though, the CS-Sub 8 subwoofer giving decent bass depth with big action sequences.

Weaknesses? The HDMI output on the DVD receiver is good, but not dramatic: a DVD player such as the Denon DVD-1930 (£250), will outperform it. The unusual LCR-type front speaker can lack some sonic width, too, although in fairness, that's to be expected.

Audica is fabulous for a style system
So, this Audica isn't perfect – but it's bags better than many style systems, offering true substance behind its living-room friendly facade.

That'll be five stars, then.

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