Ladies, look away — this is a home theatre for blokes. Sony's latest Muteki and Super Muteki home theatre in a box (HTIB) systems have, rather unashamedly, absolutely no WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor). As Sony puts it, these two systems are "for the boys who like big toys". Of the two imposing systems on offer, today we're wimping out and having a play with the "baby" of the pair. (The AU$1799 7.4-channel Muteki 8500 adds another two subwoofers for a grand total of four!).
Big boxes, multiple drivers, horn loaded tweeters, twin active subwoofers and power output handling in the thousands of Watts is what we're talking about here. Dedicated AV amplification and processing combined with 7.2 channels of loudspeaker. All you need to do is add a Blu-ray/DVD player or plug in your gaming console and you'll have a home theatre system to seriously impress your mates with.
Collectively, it looks big and brutish, but impressive nonetheless. We were just able to shoehorn the Muteki system into our reasonably big listening room, so the Super Muteki with four subwoofers and even more power amps really will need some decent living space to occupy.
The main front pair of floor stands and the substantial centre speaker all feature big horn-loaded tweeters, while twin 200-Watt 10-inch subwoofers provide the low stuff. These are active, but are powered by a separate power amplifier, while the rest of the speakers are driven by a 7x 185-Watt AV control amplifier.
This component also handles the audio and video processing, although it's a bit short in this regard without any on-board DTS-HD Master Audio or Dolby Digital True HD decoding. There are three HDMI inputs and one out — this is pass-through only and there's no HDMI 1.3 support, so bear this in mind when hooking up ancillary HDMI source equipment. If you choose to let a player such as the PS3 to do the encoding instead, it will handle Linear PCM audio via HDMI.
Once all nine speakers were in place, we let auto-calibration do the work for us and sat back amidst all the hardware preparing for the onslaught. We chose 300 on Blu-ray as the first disc to spin, which is appropriately blokey fare. Loud, yes; dynamic, yes; lots of bass, yes; unruly and messy with it? Surprisingly not. OK, so this is perhaps not the lightest AV system on its feet, but the Sony did pleasantly strike a balance between sheer movie muscle and nimbleness when necessary. We liked the way it handled the "wind through the corn fields" type scenes, when blood and gore weren't filling the screen.
That said, this system simply thrived on big-budget action blockbusters. It was made for them. Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Aliens, even the Back to the Future trilogy proved a great way to waste a few hours immersed in the Muteki's very cinema-like performance. With the volume up, the start of the first Back to the Future when Marty blows up the massive guitar amp had a similar effect when watching it. You could almost feel the air moving as the Sony delivered a massive dynamic blast. It was nice to note that at high volumes, the Sony didn't sound overly harsh or unpleasant and managed to keep things under control as the decibels increased. Nudging the reference level (around 105dB in the old scale), the system does have its volume limits, something your neighbours will be grateful for.
Saturday night footy. Just add VB and you're away. Sports fans will love how much substance and presence this system adds to a game, match or live event. One HD's sporting broadcasts sounded as good as the next best thing to actually being there.
It can do delicate as well, although we don't think this isn't the sort of system that's going to see much in the way of My Best Friend's Wedding, The Notebook or Bridget Jones's Diary. If such flicks do make it through, then the Muteki can sound suitably sympathetic. Central placement and handling of vocals was spot-on and subtle surround effects easily discernible from the mix; plus the Sony made the most of such peppy, feel-good soundtracks.
Music, preferably in "Music" mode, is perfectly listenable and the Muteki lapped up whatever rock we fed it — AC/DC, Soundgarden, Rage Against The Machine, it relished them all. A Brahms violin concerto wasn't entirely lost on the big system, but it's not exactly the sort of fine musical performer that's going to have you donning your slippers and lighting your pipe.
The HTDDW7500 is what it is — big, brazen and one for the boys. Yet it's not all brawn and no brains, as this Muteki HTIB system has a softer side when need be and is terrific value for money. If you fancy a home theatre system that looks like it's going to deliver the movie goods, this is one solution where size definitely counts.