JVC TH-D7 review

A classic 5.1 setup, without a curved edge in sight

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Our Verdict

JVC certainly succeeds in the surround-sound department, but the cheap-as-chipboard speakers are a compromise

For

  • Real 5.1 audio

    Big sound for the money

    iPod control

Against

  • Not musical with CD

    Limited centre channel

    Grainy picture quality

This system certainly gives you a lot of box for your buck, with five separate speakers and an active sub in addition to the centre unit. You even get metal and MDF stands for the front speaker pair.

The centre component has lots of cool blue LED lighting across its fascia, but the hefty unit looks an awful lot like an old VCR.

There is plenty of cable included in the box and wiring up all of the speakers is the only really fiddly bit, particularly if you're connecting the TV via HDMI.

The onscreen setup menu and logical layout of the remote make it a painless process to modify the speaker levels, select your TV aspect ratio and so on.

You can choose between the inbuilt DVD player - which can read DVD-Audio discs, plus MP3s and JPEGs - and the AM/FM tuner, but there are two more source options on the remote control; iPod and a USB reader. The iPod connection is more than just a minijack audio input: it actually gives you control of your iPod library via remote control.

With its full quota of speakers, the JVC system does justice to a harrowing soundtrack like that of Saving Private Ryan (DVD). The beach landing in Chapter Two will have you diving for cover behind the coffee table when the German guns open fire.

The chipboard speakers are just substantial enough, especially when backed up with the thumping active subwoofer. The TH-D7 does a fair job of playing the big musical scores on the DVD too.

Having five speakers is less of an advantage when it comes to stereo music from CD, but try a multichannel DVD-Audio like The Beatles Love album and you can't help but admire the 5.1 remix.

Picture quality from the DVD is, on the whole, a little disappointing, even via the HDMI output. There is a noticeable level of grain on screen and some blocking in the background scenery. There is no upscaling option.

When the volume is up, this system - and particularly the centre speaker - strains and there is a distinct lack of midrange with music that gives away this system's budget roots. But, at the same time, it does deliver proper surround sound with loads of extras. Consider it good value for money.

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