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HolidayBuyer's Guide

JBL SCS145.5S review:


The JBL SCS145.5S's tiny speakers have the fullness we associate with larger speakers. Stand-up acoustic bass, for example, usually sounds anemic on smaller sat/sub systems, but the SCS145.5S perfectly nailed the instrument's sound on clarinetist Don Byron's Bug Music CD. Bass was full, without shortchanging definition, a feat not always within the grasp of minisubs. The CD's piano and horns were beautifully handled by the SCS145.5S; again, we'd be hard-pressed to name another similarly sized and priced sat that sounded as nice as these little guys.

Aerosmith's Honkin' on Bobo CD wasn't as solid--we were more aware of the sub and sats working hard, which made the satellites' size limitations more apparent. That said, as long was we didn't push the volume too hard, the SCS145.5S sounded decent on rock music.

We started our home-theater auditions with the A History of Violence DVD. The movie's tense atmosphere and throbbing score were well served by the SCS145.5S, and when gunfire eventually erupted, it was loud enough to make us jump. Our one quibble was with the center speaker, which made male voices sound slightly hollow and thin.

Next up: the Flight of the Phoenix DVD. We've used the DVD's desert crash scene to test the stamina of many a speaker system, and the JBL SCS145.5S was moderately successful. We noted the subwoofer's moderate distress/distortion when it reproduced the massive impact of the doomed plane, but the sats ably communicated the sound of the plane's shuddering metal fuselage. The system's limitations were apparent; it will suffice in small rooms of less than 300 square feet, but if you watch a lot of effects-heavy movies, you'd be wise to consider one of JBL's larger systems such as the SCS300.7.

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