JVC TH-S55 review

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Our Verdict

A formidable rival for every other budget system out there

For

  • sound

  • prog scan output

Against

  • No DD EX/DTS ES/DPLIIx or full DVD-A

  • volume needs capping

JVC has opted to carry all of the amplification for this setup in the subwoofer.This means that the main unit is slim and light, while the sub is fat and heavy. A classic case of swings and roundabouts but then again, you're more likely to hide the subwoofer away.

The TH-S55 boasts a power output (2 x 130W to the front stereo pair, and 140W for all other speakers) that is more likely to be a case of wishful thinking given the diminutive nature of the speakers.

The front and rear sats carry 80mm drivers,while the centre box has a pair of 55mm models. Frequency response is quoted at 80Hz-20kHz across the board.

The sub crams a 160mm driver inside its case to keep the amplification company, and can apparently rumble down to 30Hz, with a top end of 200Hz.

This all looks good, and there are some nice extra goodies as well that you might not expect to find on such a budget system.

There is progressive scan capability thanks to the component video outputs, an optical digital audio input for connecting other equipment and lo-res DVD-Audio playback - we would have liked to see the full Monty,but we don't believe such a system could really do justice to the high-end audio format anyway.

Compatible sound modes are limited to the 5.1-channel variations, with no Dolby Digital EX, DTS-ES or Pro-Logic IIx,which is something of a shame.

The TH-S55 reveals itself to be impressive in action and the picture certainly benefits from the progressive scan output. Pictures take on a more solid look when this is engaged, although the image remains excellent in RGB Scart mode as well.The detail resolution is excellent and colours are vibrant and realistic.

The sound system punches above its weight, although those power figures do turn out to be hopeful and we would highly recommend against turning the volume dial to 11.

The soundstage meshes well, with the subwoofer backing up the satellites effectively at sensible volume levels and not trying to run the show all on its own.

The rears have omni-directional, upward-firing drivers to create a diffused sound effect,which may or may not be to your taste.Some prefer a more specific contribution from their rear speakers.

If there is a criticism it is that the centre does tend to stand out a little from the rest of the soundstage - perhaps due to the fact it has different drive units compared to the rest of the sats.

Still, this remains an impressive all-in-one performance and a genuine contender for those that just want a simple way into the world of home cinema.