Sony HT-IS100 review

Sony has produced a home cinema speaker system that gives genuine surround sound to the speaker-phobic Tested at £410.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

This is genuine surround sound for the speaker-phobic – give it a try, you might just be surprised


  • +

    ‘Proper’ surround sound from unfeasibly small satellites

  • +

    tremendously simple to setup and use

  • +

    taut, chunky bass


  • -

    Subwoofer requires careful positioning

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    won’t decode HD audio

  • -

    mid-range lacks a bit of body

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In 2007, Sony's DAV-IS10 took home cinema by storm. Its astonishingly small speakers and accomplished performance won many deserved plaudits.

With Blu-ray's rise, DVD-playing systems like the 'IS10 are now less appealing, which is why you can now buy this player-less system, the HT-IS100.

Here the five golfball-sized satellites are accompanied by a subwoofer with built-in amplification.

Set-up is a doddle. Colour-coded speaker terminals and super-quick auto-calibration make things easy, while the connections – including three HDMI ins and one out – are very clearly labelled.

Stereo only with Sky HD via HDMI
If you're using HDMI, this is the way the 'IS100 will receive both video and audio. So, if you connect Sky HD via HDMI, you won't be able to get the sound via optical, which, thanks to the limitations of Sky HD, means you'll only get stereo. Grrr....

The 'IS100 is available as a package with Sony's BDP-S350 Blu-ray player. But, as the 'IS100 only accepts HD audio in the form of PCM (and the 'S350 doesn't decode Master Audio) this seems a strange pairing.

The Sony BDP-S550, which decodes all formats and outputs PCM, would make a great deal more sense to us.

Position the subwoofer carefully
The tiny size of the satellites means they rely heavily on the twin-driver subwoofer to fill-out the sound.

For this to work it must be positioned between the front left and right, while also paying attention to distance from the back wall – too far away and the sound gets thin; too close and bass starts to boom.

Get the balance right, and the system is impressive. There's some thinness to the midrange, but the presentation is fast, agile and articulate, while bass is taut and commanding.

Sure, there are systems from the likes of LG that are better all-rounders, but none involve such little physical intrusion into your lounge. As long as stereo music isn't your priority,the 'IS100 is a good option

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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