Network streaming, iPod compatibility, internet radio access and AirPlay are all very well and good when it comes to hi-fi spec sheets – but sometimes you just want to bung in a CD and press ‘Play’.
It’s a bonus, then, that this attractive little Sony system – yes, it has a CD drive – will do all of the above, too.
The main unit is dominated by a clear display and tone/function/volume controls, while there are also navigation buttons, a headphone out and a USB socket for hard drives and portables.
At the back are speaker terminals (which also take banana plugs), DAB, FM and AM aerial connectors, two sets of RCA inputs and the wi-fi antenna.
Punchy, easygoing sound
With the speakers placed back against the wall on suitable stands, grilles off and with a slight toe-in – and a remaster of Led Zep’s The Song Remains The Same spinning in the CD drive – the sound is creditably punchy and easygoing.
There’s a decent amount of separation, with instruments sitting happily in their own space, and the airy presentation makes the most of Robert Plant’s vocals.
Our only minor gripes are that the bass is less precise than we’d like and there’s a little top-end brittleness. But careful speaker positioning can help here.
Browsing files on our NAS drive, and on a USB stick plugged into the front, was easy thanks to the search feature on the remote, although we can’t help thinking that a dedicated smartphone app would make this easier.
Good results with AirPlay
That’s doubly true when it comes to trawling through internet radio stations. Switch to AirPlay and results are good, with all the usual quality caveats that come with wireless streaming.
Radio, likewise, is fine – the unit finds stations quickly, grips them tenaciously, and noise is low.
If you’re after a do-it-all system that won’t tax your ears (or bank account), this Sony should definitely be on your list.
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