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Sony DAV-DZ830 review

Bland, unexciting, average and occasionally irritating Tested at £500.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

A stylish system that offers reasonable pictures but only average sound. You can find better for less

Pros

  • +

    Wireless rear speakers

  • +

    good picture performance

  • +

    stylish looks

Cons

  • -

    Unexciting sound delivery

  • -

    fussy infrared signal to rears

  • -

    poor auto-calibration

This is the bigger brother of the DAV-DZ410, which received a decent four-star review in our May 2007 Supertest. So given that this has added HDMI and wireless rear speakers, why only three stars?

For one thing, the 'DZ830's menu system is the same ugly, confusing mess as its sibling's. The auto-calibrator for the speakers is also fiddly to use and – when checked with a sound-level meter, rather inaccurate. Not like Sony at all.

DZ830 looks like Sony but in other respects is off character
Far more Sony-like are the kit's stylish looks, with tall, sleek satellites and a compact centre speaker and subwoofer.

However, diminutive size can hamper sonic ability: in this case, bass from the sub is soft and tubby, and the centre speaker (responsible for so much of a movie's soundtrack) just doesn't have the guts to convey any real drama or passion. Speech in particular is rather bland and monotonal.

Using infrared rather than radio frequencies to transmit sound to the rear speakers also has flaws. Any obstruction to the beam (think waving hands, toilet breaks) can make the rears cut out temporarily. Highly annoying.

You can actually opt to wire the rear speakers, but then why would you pay a premium for a wireless product? Also remember that if you do go wireless, the left and right surrounds still need to be connected to each other and the mains.

It looks better than it sounds
Pictures fair much better than sound, with good detail, contrast and black levels. There is rather more motion blur apparent than there should be and the colour palette is a tad bleached, but generally images are pretty good.

Overall, the DAV-DZ830 isn't a bad system, it's just rather bland, unexciting and average – three stars all over, then.

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 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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