Philips MCi500H review

The MCi500H can rip CDs to its 160GB hard disk, links to your wi-fi network for music streaming and internet radio, and delivers a big, bold sound Tested at £400.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

The MCi500H has great features and decent sound, but it’s still not the finished article


  • +

    Good looks and great display

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    simple and well-featured network-integration

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    CD ripping

  • +

    spacious sonic delivery


  • -

    Music Broadcast mode is limited

  • -

    MP3-only ripping is disappointing

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    bass is a little over-cooked

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The humble micro system is in danger of becoming extinct. To survive, it needs to evolve into a future-proof, all-encompassing music system – and that's just what Philips has done with the MCi500H.

The stylish unit boasts a big LCD screen for track information and the speakers are reassuringly chunky. But, of course, it's the spec that matters most, and here the '500H comes up trumps.

Not only can you rip CDs to the 160GB hard disk, but you can link the unit to a network for streaming audio from a PC and accessing internet radio, and connect USB devices. You can also have up to five zones in a multi-room system.

Music, come follow me
All very nice, but the highest quality format for ripping CDs is 320kbps MP3 and the process takes a while. Playing with multiple zones is also a bit disappointing, with the system refusing to skip forward or back in ‘Music Broadcast' mode.

However, ‘Music Follows Me', which sees the sound jump across zones, is handy.

Sound quality isn't bad, either. Music is big and bold, with plenty of weight and spaciousness. True, the bass is a touch flabby, but this is a pleasing, party-rocking delivery.

When you consider you can add a second unit for a total cost about the same as Sonos' superb BU-150, the MCI500H starts to make sense

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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