Mini hi-fi system reviews

These combination MP3 and legacy music players pack greater punch and more features than speaker docks.
 
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03.Profiles

Profiles - What to buy

LG FB163

LG FB 163Price: $260
Sound quality: Very good definition and presence. Good bottom notes, sound response and bass tone. Full-sounding and handles rigours very well. Good balance and brought out percussive elements.

Good points
  • CD and DVD player with component and composite video outputs.
  • Consumes less than 1W on standby if switched to power save mode.
  • USB port.
  • Plays CDs in MP3, WAV and WMA formats.
  • Surround-sound effect.
  • Can record from audio CD to USB in MP3 format.

Bad points

  • Front panel touch volume control is not very responsive.

Sharp XL-DK227NH (A)

Sharp XL-DK227NHPrice: $329

Sound quality: Reasonably bright and pleasant, with clearly defined sounds. Not lots of bass but good voice quality and space.

Good points

  • Easy to use remote control and on-board controls.
  • Consumes less than 1W on standby.
  • Subwoofer output.
  • Plays CDs in MP3 and WMA formats.

Bad points

  • None to mention.

 

Profiles - The rest

Sharp XL-DK257NH (A)

Sharp XLDK257Price: $369

Sound quality: Lead vocal is clear with good balance, mid-range is a bit muddy. Bass, while present, is not well defined.

Good points

  • Good sound quality.
  • Easy to use remote and on-board controls.
  • Consumes less than 1W on standby.
  • Subwoofer output, for example to an amplified subwoofer.
  • Plays CDs in MP3 and WMA formats.

Bad points

  • None to mention.

Sony HCD-BX20i (A)

Sony HCD-BX20iPrice: $399

Sound quality: A diminished sense of space and more low to mid-frequency presence. Smooth sound although not much bottom end and depth.

Good points

  • Good sound quality.
  • Easy to use on-board controls.
  • Consumes less than 1W on standby.
  • Plays CDs in MP3 format.
  • Surround-sound effect.

Bad points

  • No preset equalisation choices.
  • No bass enhancement function.

Panasonic SA-PM38 (A)

Panasonic SA PM38Price: $299

Sound quality: Good clear sound, pretty good tone and sense of space. Not much bottom end or bass in general.

Good points

  • Good sound quality.
  • Very easy to use remote control and easy to use on-board controls.
  • Consumes less than 1W on standby.
  • USB port.
  • Plays CDs in MP3 format.
  • Surround-sound effect.

Bad points

  • No line in socket for plugging in an external analogue sound source.

Grundig DMS601/SAA (A)

Grundig DMS601SAAPrice: $499

Sound quality: A good vocal definition complemented with a bright sound.

Good points

  • Very good sound quality.
  • Easy to use on-board controls.
  • CD and DVD player with component, S-video and composite video outputs.
  • Line out socket for connecting to an external sound system.
  • USB port.
  • SD/MMC slot.
  • Subwoofer output, for example to an amplified subwoofer.
  • Digital audio optical output for connecting to an external sound system.
  • Plays CDs in MP3, WAV and WMA formats.

Bad points

  • Keys on remote are well spaced but small, and most are indistinct in a grid layout.

JVC CA-UXGP5 (A)

JVC CA UXGP5Price: $329

Sound quality: Rich vocal presence, full sounding with a good frequency range.

Good points

  • Very good sound quality. 
  • Easy to use remote and on-board controls.
  • Plays CDs in MP3 and WMA formats.
  • Surround-sound effect.

Bad points

  • No preset equalisation choices.

Philips DC146/79

Philips DC14679Price: $180

Sound quality: A very low level, which lacks body. It has very soft volume but nice tones. Not much bass.

Good points

  • Good sound quality.
  • Easy to use on-board controls.

Bad points

  • The earphones/headphones socket is at the rear of the main unit.
  • Unable to play CDs in MP3, WAV or WMA format.
  • No bass and treble controls or preset equalisation choices.

DGTEC DG-KW1005IR (A)

Digitec DG KW1005IRPrice: $499

Sound quality: While it has a reasonable sense of space, the rhythm is murky and it lacks bass.

Good points

  • Good sound quality.
  • USB port.
  • SD/MMC slot.
  • Plays CDs in MP3 and WMA formats.
  • LAN port and Wi-Fi, and can play music files stored on a PC.
  • Internet radio.

Bad points

  • Does not have an AM radio.

Thomson AF3iP

Thompson AF3iPPrice: $99

Sound quality: Distorts a bit at the lower end and sounds tinny. Sounds a bit hard and there is not much depth. There is good stereo separation but lacks space and dynamics.
Good points

  • Good sound quality.
  • USB port.
  • SD/MMC slot.
  • Plays CDs in MP3 and WMA formats.

Bad points

  • Most remote control keys are small and indistinct in a grid layout.
  • Main unit slides (too lightweight) when a control is pressed.

(A) Discontinued, but may still be available in some stores.

 

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