Sony bravia kdl-60lx903 4

The elliptical speakers of the 60LX903 are tucked away in its base, and fire downwards as opposed to directly towards the viewer – hardly an ideal situation, but there's little else you can do with the design of flatpanel TVs.

Early displays had side-mounted speakers (generally optional) that were connected via spring-clip terminals. Your own speakers could be attached here, provided that they had the right electrical characteristics.

What a pity that the 60LX903 doesn't provide such connections, enabling you to make the most of the onboard 2x10W digital amplifier. There's a definite need; given the price, sound quality is a bitter disappointment. Even with the treble control at maximum, there's a distinct lack of sparkle.

Little bass is apparent, which is perhaps not surprising given those tiny drive units; with the bass control turned up, cabinet rattle and other unpleasant effects rear their ugly heads on occasion. There's also a noticeable mid-band colouration, which spoils dialogue with an unpleasant thrum.

Stereo separation is superior to that of the average flatpanel TV, largely because the size of this set means that the left and right speakers are spaced apart by a metre or so. And, provided the source isn't too bass-heavy, distortion at high volume levels isn't quite as bad as it could be.

Gimmicks – virtual-surround and a sound enhancer – are of little worthwhile benefit. If you want decent TV sound, then, an external audio system is essential. But how do you connect it? An optical digital audio output is provided, but - headphones apart - there's no dedicated analogue output (although you could probably obtain these signals via the single Scart socket).

Value

Impressive though the KDL-60LX903 is, it's very expensive. Much of what's on offer here is available in much cheaper sets, though few offer the impact or scale of this Sony flagship's monster 60in screen.

With suitable adjustment, pictures are very impressive. The accompanying sound is a disappointment; we've heard better from a budget iPod dock. Fine it may be for the odd soap or news headlines, but the on-board audio system just doesn't cut it in entertainment terms.

Then there's Sony penny-pinching attitude when it comes to 3D glasses. If you're interested in this monster TV, try to get the dealer to throw in some extra pairs as a deal-clincher. And if you don't already have a home-cinema audio system, consider buying one of these and press for a discount if you're buying the TV at the same time.