Sony's affordable tabletop 'hi-fi' system
The $150 Sony CMT-MX500i might serve as a terrific starter hi-fi or holiday present; either way the Audiophiliac thinks it's a sweet little system.
Very few nonaudiophiles have hi-fis anymore, but if you would like to listen to music at home over something better than iffy computer speakers without breaking open your piggy bank, Sony's nifty little CMT-MX500i might be worth checking out.
The three-piece system comes with a pair of two-way bookshelf speakers mated to an attractively styled combo CD player/iPod dock/FM tuner/stereo amplifier. The speakers measure a tidy 5.5x9.4x7.9 inches, and the amp is 12x11x5 inches. The wood cabinet's speaker wire is permanently attached, and uses a proprietary plug that goes into the amp. System hookup is supereasy, but the proprietary speaker connectors thwart chances to hook up other speakers to the amp: it's a closed system. The amp's bass and treble controls allow for on-the-fly tonal balance changes, and I preferred the sound with the treble nudged down a little, and the bass boosted two steps. The CMT-MX500i comes with a full-function remote.
Arcade Fire's new "Reflektor" CD unleashed a big sound, and the band's bouncy beats were well played by the CMT-MX500i. True, the sound is a far cry from what you'd get from($129.99 a pair) matched to a decent $200 or $300 receiver, but the two Sony speakers, placed 6 feet apart, can create a room-filling stereo image. Which is, after all, the way the engineers mixed the music in the first place; too bad you'd never hear true stereo over a .
The CMT-MX500i's iPod dock uses the classic Apple 30-pin connector, not the current iPod Classic, and it worked fine. If you don't have an iDevice, just run a $3 cable between your phone or any portable music player and the CMT-MX500i's front-panel, 3.5mm input jack. The FM tuner pulled in my favorite college stations no problem., but most older iDevices will be compatible with the CMT-MX500i's dock. I tried my
So this little Sony package really might be ideal for folks who want to enjoy tunes at home without relying on a computer. It doesn't have a turntable input, but if you're into vinyl go ahead and buy an inexpensive phono preamp and plug it into the CMT-MX500i's front-panel input jack.
Amazon is currently selling the CMT-MX500i for just under $140.