As we unboxed the 330DV, we couldn't help but notice the sheer bulk of its receiver/changer--this 21.5-pound bad boy measures 16.5 inches wide, 5 inches high, and 17.5 inches deep. The curvy, silver plastic screams low budget, but the unit feels nice and solid. The front-panel display imparts easy-to-read information about the disc in play and the surround modes, and using the receiver's controls is likewise simple. The disc-changing mechanism went about its business smoothly and quietly.
We eventually learned to load the tray carefully; a disc won't play unless it's sitting just right in the carousel. Twice we had to reopen the tray and reposition a disc, after which it worked fine. The onscreen displays and the navigation logistics were only fair.
Standing 9.25 inches tall, the front speakers are sizable by budget-HTIB standards, but the subwoofer, measuring only 7.25 inches wide, is one of the smallest we've seen in any home-theater package. The dimensions of the 12.25-inch-wide center speaker and the 6-inch-tall surrounds are closer to average.
We love the midsize remote so much that we urge every other HTIB manufacturer to copy its design. All the frequently used buttons are logically placed, and you don't have to switch modes on the remote to control the DVD and receiver functions.
The receiver/changer comes equipped with the usual assortment of surround-processing modes: Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, and DTS. The changer plays every type of recordable DVD, CDs of MP3 and JPEG files, and WMA (Windows Media Audio) discs. Each of the six amplifier channels is rated at 62 watts. Connectivity choices are pretty sparse: just two ins and one out for stereo audio; one coaxial digital-audio input; and the standard DVD video outputs, including a progressive-scan component out.
The front-left and front-right speakers are two-way designs with 4-inch woofers and 2-inch cone tweeters. The center and the surrounds each have a single 3-inch driver, and the sub gets its rumble from a rear-firing 6.25-inch woofer. The 330DV's shipping box claims that the subwoofer is powered, but it's actually driven by one of the receiver's 62-watt amps.
We played all sorts of CDs and came away impressed with this kit's musicality. Most entry-level packages cramp Chris Isaak's style, but his big voice came through nice and healthy over the 330DV. And the system passed muster with jazz and even classical discs, again unlike many competitors in this affordability range. Also noteworthy is the 330DV's ability to generate equally full-bodied audio in both stereo and surround--a skill very few HTIBs share. The front main speakers' rich sound always delivered the goods.
When the 330DV played the Spider-Man DVD, which gave the kit quite a workout, the wrestling scene's body slams had the sort of impact and punch that we associate with pricier HTIBs, and the disc's surround mix sounded spacious. Yes, we could quibble about the subwoofer's inability to reach as low as most powered models, but in 300-square-foot or smaller rooms, the 330DV's sub will suffice.
We conclude this review with a bit of advice: if you already have a DVD player, scoot over to our review of Onkyo's HT-S760 HTIB. This package, listed at $500, offers an accomplished 6.1-channel receiver and, sound per dollar, the best speaker system we've ever heard. Its sonics are more refined and powerful than the 330DV's. Just remember that the Onkyo doesn't include a DVD deck.