JVC's premium home-theatre-in-a-box system packs in a raft of features and equipment that justify its place at the higher end of the price range. Named the QP-F70AL, this complete home theatre package arrives in an enormous box, as it comprises an RX-F10S home cinema control receiver, a DR-M10S DVD-recorder, an SP-XF70 six speaker surround system and an SP-DWF10 amplified subwoofer module.
All system components are finished in sleek silver plastic with aluminium and polished chrome details and very bright blue illumination. The AV receiver and the DVD recorder match in full size form factor and design, with multicolour dot matrix displays on the left side, source and function lights in the centre, and controls on the right. Many will find this somewhat utilitarian look appealing and quite suitable for contemporary lounge room settings.
The speaker package is functional and attractive with two fronts, a horizontal centre, rear centre and two surround satellites. Four stands are included for the front and rear surround pairs, however a fifth would have been nice for the rear centre speaker.
Both the AV receiver and DVD recorder have remote controls, but with the AV receiver remote able to handle almost every function, the need for the DVD remote is all but negated.
Where do you begin? With the exception of a digital TV tuner, the QP-F70AL package really does have the lot. The RX-F10S AV receiver is no lightweight, with stated power of 6 x 100 watts into 6 ohms at 1kHz with 0.8% THD. Speakers are connected via the spring terminals on the rear panel, which also houses the multiple audio and video connections. These include four analog audio inputs, two analog audio outputs, two optical digital inputs, one coaxial digital input and multi-channel analog inputs. There are three composite and S-Video inputs, two component video inputs as well as composite, S-Video and component video outputs.
The DR-M10S DVD recorder is compatible with DVD-RAM, DVD-RW and DVD-/R. In addition to these formats, you can also playback DVD-Video, SVCD, VCD, CD-R/RW and MP3/JPEG-CD. Connections include one SCART input and another SCART input/output; composite, S-Video and component video inputs and outputs, analog audio as well as optical and coaxial digital audio outputs. It also has an antenna input and output for use with the internal analog PAL TV tuner. The lower right panel of the front face also hides another set of audio and video inputs along with a handy DV input for devices that use IEEE-1394 (Firewire) such as digital cameras and video camcorders.
The satellite speakers are two-way designs with three drivers in compact bass reflex enclosures, using a 3cm dome tweeter and two 5.5cm midrange cone drivers. The front and centre speakers are in D'Appolito configuration, while the rear speakers are somewhat more unusual with one midrange driver underneath the tweeter and the other mounted horizontally above the tweeter for omni-directional dispersion. Matching the satellites is the very compact SP-DWF10 powered subwoofer unit that has an internal 100 watt digital amplifier running a 16cm cone woofer. The driver fires on the right side behind a non-removable grille while the rear-firing Helmholtz resonator is padded to eliminate chuffing. The satellites are rated at 6 ohm and like the subwoofer are magnetically shielded.
Setting up the QP-F70AL might seem a little daunting at first with all the components, but it actually is quite fundamental, especially as clear instructions are provided along with all the speaker wires and basic AV cables to get you started. The components are integrated by default, so there is no need to set up connections or remotes once past the initial set up, as everything just works. In this instance we tested it with both a widescreen SD CRT and an HD LCD projector using both component and S-Video connections.
Video quality was consistently good with vivid colour depth and crisp motion detail derived from the progressive scan output. Surprisingly impressive was the internal TV tuner, which automatically sets itself up when the system is first activated and performed admirably. For those without a digital STB this should suffice in the interim, such is the picture and sound quality. However, if you want to record very high quality TV programs then connecting a digital STB is the only option. The DVD recorder features are extensive and include video and audio recording quality options, G-Code timer programming, simultaneous recording and playback, and instant replay to mention but a few.
Audio performance was remarkable, considering the diminutive size of the satellites. Most digital audio formats are decoded including DD-EX and DTS-ES while DSP sound settings are also numerous. Reproduction was quite distinct in the two keys regions, being the vocal and bass frequencies. Dialogue was very clear and defined, even when hard-to-hear whisper scenes were tested. Bass is too heavy and high by default - some might prefer this - but I adjusted the crossover point from 150 to 100Hz and lowered the subwoofer level to a point where it rendered nicely tight and punchy bass. The power of the QP-F70AL belies its size and it really can reach lease-breaking volumes without trouble. Playing audio CDs or the radio using all-channel stereo on the DSP only reinforces this point of view. While at the higher end of the home-theatre-in-a-box price range these days, the feature-rich JVC QP-F70AL home theatre system still delivers great value with its enormous audio power, high picture quality and DVD recording capability.