Sony DAV-IS10

The Sony DAV-IS10 is a likeable system with incredibly tiny speakers but it stops quite short of a hearty recommendation.


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Ty is a journalist with 15 years experience in writing for IT and entertainment publications. He is in charge of the home theatre category for CNET Australia and is also a PC enthusiast. He likes indie music and plays several instruments. Twitter: @tpendlebury


Design
While quite possibly the smallest speakers we have ever seen, the Sony DAV-IS10 is actually a very effective parlour trick. What you get in the box is a set of five speakers measuring at just 4cm square, with a small, Apple Mac Mini-sized head unit. In addition to these svelte components you also get a rather large, but unassuming-looking bass unit. Yes, the five satellites do pump out some information, but most of the work is done by the subwoofer.

In our First Take video (on the right) we mentioned you could put the sub behind the couch, but this is apparently a no-no. The manual is very specific about its placement -- "do not place the subwoofer under a desk", for example -- and for a very good reason: there is actually a mid-range speaker in the top of it. While this solves a lot of problems associated with tiny drivers and the limited frequencies they can produce, it also causes all sorts of new ones as you'll soon see.

Features
The DAV-IS10 is based around an upscaling DVD player and includes other audio inputs for your TV, optional iPod dock and consoles. For this, there is one each of optical and coaxial digital inputs, an analog input, and a connection for an external FM antenna.

The player will upscale to 1080i via HDMI and plays many of the expected formats including DivX, MP3 and JPEG files. However, as the TDMIP1 iPod dock (AU$249) doesn't come with the system, the only way to replay them is if they're burnt onto a disk. There's no mention in the manual if it's possible to read JPEGs from an iPod, but your music library will certainly be navigable and playable.

As we explored in our Ask US video, lip-synch can be a problem with the amount of post-processing done with modern home cinema systems, and Sony's AV Synch feature aims to help you correct this.

Unfortunately, the DAV-IS10 lacks any form of video input, including HDMI, and means you'll need to do video switching through your television. However, video outputs consist of S-Video, composite, component, and the aforementioned HDMI.

Our only other gripe about the system is that, with the lack of included stands, it's quite difficult to install properly. Though the satellites are weighty they can be dragged around or off their perch by weight of the cable that connects them.

You'll also come across the problem of hiding the speaker wire -- as it's physically connected at the back of each speaker. Plus, it's bright silver! For a system that's designed to be "heard and not seen" the lack of a wireless option is a pity.

Performances
Despite our misgivings about "directionality", in use the Sony DAV-IS10 simply sounds good. Playing a DVD like King Kong, surround effects are handled quite well, while dialogue is clear and concise. Of course, our initial fears proved true when at several times during our testing the voices seemed to come from the subwoofer and not the screen. This improved when we moved the sub from beside the TV to behind it, but this was naturally at the expense of some mid-range definition. All in all, though, the Sony communicated a good sense of surround sound. However, due to the system's size, if it's bass energy you want or ear-splitting volume, then this isn't the system for you.

It was only in video reproduction that the Sony really faltered. While detail, black levels and colour were sharp and well defined, it was in the unit's handling of motion where the problems actually arose. We've seen aliasing artefacts in Sony's TVs before -- the KFE-42A10 and the KLV-26S200 come to mind -- but this is the first time we've seen them on one of their DVD players. Scenes featuring movement, and particularly ones with high contrast, were subject to horizontal lines across the screen. This proved to be very distracting, and certainly not what we'd expect from a simple system worth one-and-a-half grand.

Music, however, was quite well served, and certainly better than the single speaker options we've seen from Yamaha and Philips. Neutral Milk Hotel's King of Carrot Flowers from the excellent In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was a little reticent but incredibly natural sounding. Only the bass threatened to become a little boomy once it kicked in after the second verse. Stereo imaging depended on the music though, with rock in particular sounding a little all over the shop.

Lastly, external sources were reasonably well served, on the other hand, and feeding a Monster optical cable to an external tuner demonstrated that dialogue from digital TV was intelligible, but perhaps a little thin.

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Putmus
10
Rating
 

Putmus posted a review   

The Good:Size

The Bad:Price

I have had this system for the last 2 months, and I am deeply impressed. My friends are surprised when I fire up under Die Another Day, and the sound effects blasts through, without any visible speakers.

guerre
5
Rating
 

guerre posted a review   

The Good:Small size.

The Bad:Average audio performance.
Price.
Underpowered.
Sub-woofer has too much mid as a result of the small speaker size but this should be expected.

I bought this system 2 months ago for mainly for the size. I wanted something small and discrete for the living room since it is not my primary home theater system. My impressions are that it is not very powerfull, the volume control is almost useless for the first 30 dbs (max is 80). Speakers are very small but at a price since subwoofer supplies the mid-range and is consequently is directional (> 140 hz), no video switching so everything must be done through TV. The DM Port connection is fine for Ipods but I was quite dissapointed to learn that this port does not support video signals. If you are thinking about using your ipod to look at photos or videos, forget it, only audio is supported for the DM port. It comes with a microphone to automatically calibrate the sound levels and distances to speakers. It works fine but I needed to adjusted the sound levels for my personal taste after. The various surround modes offered are not very good when I compare to what NAD does with their EARS mode. Not a bad system but tailored for a niche where size matters (small size that is).

Sat
2
Rating
 

Sat posted a review   

The Good:Dont go for look! Go for sound quality!!

The Bad:Anyone serious listening to music or movies should not purchase tiny toy!!

Just sharing my opinion:
Previously I was using Bowers and Wilkins speakers with ONKYO TXSR705 due to some reason I have to sell these setup. Yesterday, I purchased Sony DAV IS10 home cinema kit and its very far away as compare to my previous setup. According to me everyone is looking for space not sound quality, if you want a sound quality then this systems is not the right choice. It is just a showpiece for me! I am also looking forward to sell these out, anyone fancy can offer me.
Thanks

andrewng333
9
Rating
 

andrewng333 posted a review   

The Good:Great sound separation. Bass, treble and midrange and be adjusted plus or minus. 5 golf ball speakers are hardly visible. Choice of surround sound settings.

The Bad:The price!

Noting the poor review comments i.e. Poor bass, midrange and treble, I was about to write this one off until I went to the showroom. It was so good that I bought one. I've had it for more than a month now, I'm still as pleased as chips!

trino
2
Rating
 

trino posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Super small, Good Looking

The Bad:Where do i start, many better options for small systems

Great size, i wish i could say the same about the sound, the subwoofer being only passive can not compensate for the bass, not only does it lack punchy bass but the midrange is no where to be found, and the trebble isnt much better

raian
9
Rating
 

raian posted a review   

nice piece of thing isnt it??ne ways i was actually wondering if ne one could help me to decide between BOSE lifstyle 48 and sony DAV-IS10.....my mail id riasatraiany2k@hotmail.com

craigrobbo
10
Rating
 

craigrobbo posted a review   

The Good:Looks sleek, space saving powerful sound (considering)

The Bad:may not apeal to all can lack a little bit of midrange at cetrin points

I went to a hifi convention today, and this nice bit of kit was there, and suprisingly the little speakers really do sound like full size speakers so much so i insisted that there was somthing hidden behind the cabient.
it really is brialliant and i think sony hit the nail on the head. in the show rom the speakers where on a shelf and the sub was on the floor to one side, i can assure that it certinaly didnt sound liek it was on the floor it sounded natural and they played it quite lound too so seems well up for it
hope this helps




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User Reviews / Comments  Sony DAV-IS10

  • Putmus

    Putmus

    Rating10

    "I have had this system for the last 2 months, and I am deeply impressed. My friends are surprised when I fire up under Die Another Day, and the sound effects blasts through, without any visible spe..."

  • guerre

    guerre

    Rating5

    "I bought this system 2 months ago for mainly for the size. I wanted something small and discrete for the living room since it is not my primary home theater system. My impressions are that it is ..."

  • Sat

    Sat

    Rating2

    "Just sharing my opinion:
    Previously I was using Bowers and Wilkins speakers with ONKYO TXSR705 due to some reason I have to sell these setup. Yesterday, I purchased Sony DAV IS10 home cinem..."

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