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Kenwood HTB-705DV review: Kenwood HTB-705DV

Kenwood HTB-705DV

Steve Guttenberg
Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.
Steve Guttenberg
3 min read
For most folks, the home-theater-in-a-box quandary comes down to choosing between a cool-looking yet space-efficient system or a kit that delivers the best possible sound quality. Thanks to its truly exceptional satellites and a beefy, full-sized subwoofer, Kenwood's midrange HTB-705DV will appeal to buyers in the second group. Style-conscious folks will probably look for a smaller and racier system, but they'll be missing out on an excellent value. Kenwood's engineers know that size still matters when it comes to speaker design. So yes, this kit's 10-inch-tall, black-plastic speakers are a bit more imposing and solidly constructed than most sats, but they sounded bigger, too. The sub is no poseur at 12 by 13 by 18 inches. The receiver's petite 12-inch depth helps ease placement hassles, but the DVD changer's not-so-trim 17.25-by-5-by-17-inch size may be a tight fit in your furniture or shelving. While it might not be the most distinctive-looking package on the block, the 705DV's good overall build quality makes up for its generic appearance.

The system comes with two remotes, one for the DVD changer and one for the receiver. We never even bothered with the first miniremote since its tiny buttons are poorly laid out and too close together. We much preferred the receiver's large, comfortable remote, which handles the DVD changer's functions well enough. While many kits, even fairly expensive ones, are handicapped by miniature, single-driver satellites, the 705DV's five sats are all woofer/tweeter/woofer models (the Philips MX5000D is the only other similarly equipped kit that we've seen). Kenwood didn't scrimp on the sub either; this handsome, black-veneered cube boasts an 8-inch woofer.
The 100-watt-per-channel receiver incorporates basic Dolby Digital, DTS, and Pro Logic II surround decoding, and its connectivity choices are far more generous than the sort that we usually see in sleek DVD player/receiver-based kits. The audio (including 5.1 Super Audio CD and DVD-Audio), video, and digital jacks will easily accommodate modest systems. The sub runs off of the receiver's internal amplifier but unfortunately lacks a line-level subwoofer output for use with powered models.
The five-disc DVD changer offers a full complement of outputs for composite video, S-Video, and progressive-scan-capable component video. The player also delivers audio to the receiver via a coaxial digital output. The Minority Report DVD's futuristic soundtrack was a wild ride over the 705DV. Tom Cruise's car-hopping episode and subway-train excursion in chapter 8 get played out over densely orchestrated effect tracks. And in chapter 14, the pitter-patter of the police reconnaissance spiders skittering around sounded, well, creepy. We next perused the Fight Club DVD and were impressed by the way that the 705DV dished out the film's hard-hitting dynamics--dialogue avoided the pinched, nasal character of systems equipped with minisats. This kit has enough juice to fill even moderately sized rooms of up to 300 square feet with sound.
We cranked bluesman T-Model Ford's amazing new CD Bad Man, and the master's pile-driver grooves gave the 705DV's sub a workout. The sub/sat blend was good, though we noted that the sats' sound coarsened and thinned out as the volume increased. This was more noticeable on CDs than with DVDs.
While the 705DV's sub is the most powerful and best-defined nonpowered model that we've heard, it's no match for the powered units found on Onkyo's HT-S650 and HT-S653DV kits. Kenwood's own 805DV also offers a self-powered sub. We would rate the 705DV's overall sonics superior to that of the aforementioned Philips 5000D.
The DVD changer required 16 seconds to exchange discs and played all of our MP3s. Navigating the tunes was more difficult; the filenames are displayed out to only eight characters, so we had a hard time differentiating files that all started with the artist's name. The DVD changer does allow programmed, random, and repeat play of MP3 files. Our DVD-Rs, DVD+Rs, and DVD+RWs played fine, but the changer balked when it attempted to spin our DVD-RWs. As always, your mileage may vary with recordable DVDs. One mildly annoying quirk: The receiver mutes the sound for a couple of seconds whenever you skip ahead DVD chapters.

Kenwood HTB-705DV

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8