In the past, we haven't been terribly impressed with Sharp's high-tech home-theater systems (see the SD-AS10 or the SD-HX500, for example), but the company may finally be on to something good with its SD-SP10 virtual-surround home-theater system. Not only does the amplified speaker system feature Dolby Virtual Speaker technology (used in conjunction with Dolby Digital, DTS, and Dolby Pro Logic II processing), the $350 rig is the first virtual-surround speaker system we've reviewed that incorporates Audistry, the latest surround technology from Dolby Laboratories. If that sounds like a whole lot of digital audio chemistry, it is, but thanks to right mix of technology and solid overall design, the SD-SP10 sounds equally accomplished when playing CDs and DVDs, and actually surpasses some higher priced single speaker-plus-subwoofer alternatives.
The Sharp SD-SP10 is a two-part, satellite/subwoofer system. The speaker houses all of the amplifier channels and system processing electronics. It measures 4.1 inches high by 17 inches wide by 10.75 deep and looks like any number of center-channel speakers we've tested over the years. But closer inspection reveals this is no ordinary design. First, a yellow/orange LED readout behind the speaker's metal grille displays volume level, subwoofer volume level, surround mode, mute, or the selected source. On top of that, small green LEDs indicate various processing choices such as Dolby Digital, Dolby Virtual Speaker, and DTS, as well as the Audistry suite of sonic options. These include Sound Space spatial enhancement, Natural Bass low-end booster, a mono-to-stereo synthesizer for older movies, and Intelligent Volume, that boosts quiet sounds and lowers louder ones for late night listening. Unlike most 5.1-channel home-theater systems, the SD-SP10 requires absolutely no setup adjustments or fine tuning--it's a true plug-and-play system.
The speaker is magnetically shielded, and while we didn't experience any problems with the speaker affecting the picture on our direct-view TV, the SD-SP10's users' manual mentions that interference may occur; if it does, you obviously need to shift the speaker away from your TV. It's worth noting that the two-channel speaker has a pair of 2.5-inch woofers and 2-inch tweeters; each channel is powered by a 35-watt digital amplifier. The speaker also houses a 70-watt amplifier for the included subwoofer.