JBL SCS160SI review: JBL SCS160SI

The hilarious Dogma DVD belts out the sounds of fire and brimstone, the song of celestial choirs, and ethereal special effects. The tiny JBL sats didn't mind; this system's sonics can easily fill rooms of up to 300 square feet.

For gunfire and explosions, we turned to the Hunted DVD. The ensemble produced remarkably dynamic audio, and the satellites didn't inhibit the action. Dialogue was fairly natural, and the center speaker only occasionally betrayed its diminutive size. Despite our best efforts to create a smooth blend, however, we did hear some discontinuity between the sats and the subwoofer.

Unlike many tiny speakers, the sats weren't bright or trebly, making for easy DVD listening. The sub sounded powerful. And the system can certainly play nice and loud.

Performance on CDs was much less consistent. The sats came across as anemic and small on our jazz albums, and the sub's rendering of the acoustic bass was somewhat boomy and sloppy. The system did redeem itself on less subtle music, such as Songs for the Deaf from Queens of the Stone Age. Dave Grohl's slammin' drum kit thundered in all the right places, and burning guitar riffs kept the energy high.

All in all, the SCS160SI lacks the refinement of, say, Polk Audio's RM6005 package, but the JBL outpaces the Polk on more visceral material.

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