Remember this scene from Footloose? This is exactly what the Sony MHC V81D is meant for, albeit in the modern era.
The gigantic speaker is aptly called a "party speaker" by Sony and it has a singular focus, to keep the party going. It has the looks, the sound and even the lights that would go with one wild night. But if you want a speaker for anything else, the V81D is not the one for you. And the audio experience has a lot to do with that.
There are seven speakers fitted into this. Up front, there are two tweeters on the top and two more on the back. There are two mid-range drivers below the front tweeters, followed by the 12-inch woofer at the bottom.
While this makes for powerful and extremely loud audio, it also isn't meant for the audiophile. The MHC V81D routinely sways towards the highs and lows, muddling the mids in the process. This happens especially in volumes above 50.
So, the twang of a guitar will sound excellent and energetic, while the thumping bass will keep you dancing all night long. However, more detail in music is certainly lacking. Which makes sense, given that no one really looks for audio detail when they're out (or in) and dancing.
That said, the MHC V81D can still be used for solitary listening at times, if you're playing music that doesn't require much detail. For instance, Edelweiss from Sound of Music (the movie) is comprised of a single semi-acoustic guitar and vocals. On lower volumes, you won't be very disappointed, unless you have tuned audiophile ears. Another example would be Frank Sinatra's New York, New York, which is basically driven by Sinatra's baritone.
Another kind of music that works here is Slow Hands, by Niall Horan, which would fall in the funk-pop category. While that song requires higher audio detail, it's driven by the bass, which the V81D handles well.
However, at volumes above 50, the bass in all of these tends to overpower vocals and other instruments. At around 60, you may even discern the bass being distorted by a bit, which increases as you increase volume. You can reach higher volumes if the "Mega Bass" mode is turned off.
The MHC V81D is meant for EDM, Techno, Trance and more. Bass-driven Bollywood tracks are well done too. Essentially, think of the kind of music you dance to at a club and imagine if you could miniaturise the audio setup into that.
These gigantic tower speakers are meant for those who have huge living rooms, like in penthouses and bungalows. It's not meant for the average colony apartments. In fact, we'd recommend against playing it in a regular flat, unless you want a noise complaint against you.
There's one last thing to note here - if you're playing via Bluetooth, the volume control on your phone doesn't control the speaker's own volume. So, you'll have to toggle each device separately to hit your sweet spot.
The bells and whistles
If you've read all of the above, you're probably wondering why Sony wants a whopping Rs. 51,990 for these speakers. And that's because the company has literally thrown the kitchen sink at this one.
The MHC V81D has a DVD Player (yes, you read that right), FM Radio support, Bluetooth and NFC connectivity, karaoke (if you have a mic), gesture-based flanger for when you want to try your hand at DJ-ing. And we've just scratched the surface. You could actually write an entire article simply explaining the functions and features that the button console on top of these speakers allows. Instead, here's a photo of the remote for good measure, and you can control this via Sony’s app as well.
And if all that wasn't enough, there are the lights. The MHC V81D has lights in tweeters, woofers and more, producing not only 360-degree audio but also 360-degree lighting. They can keep up with the beats in most cases and strobe if you want to. When you're REALLY partying, this speaker alone can turn the room into a club/disco.
Build and design
The MHC V81D isn't meant for average households. It's meant for those who have large rooms, not just because of how loud it is, but also because it is huge. My television console stands at about 4 feet tall and the MHC V81D is slightly taller than that.
Since it produces 360-degree audio, placing this in one corner of the room would be counterproductive. Best results would be if you have a more central location so that the 360-degree audio can be reflected off the walls.
I can honestly think of few people who have homes big enough for these speakers. In fact, one of the reasons it took me a while to review this one was because I waited to take it to a 14x14 room and test it out.
If you like your speakers to strobe and glow, the MHC V81D is right down your alley. The all-black look is stealthy, so it'll mix with most living room setups and not attract attention unless you have the lights on all the time.
Should you buy it?
If you have a big enough room, party a lot and are not particularly picky about absolutely high-end audio quality, these are the speakers to buy. In fact, a few of these put together would probably make better speakers than the local speakers they use at weddings in India.
Essentially, the V81D is for those who party...A LOT. If that's what you're looking for, go right ahead. It's a ton of money for a ton of partying.