Budget home-theater packages have a dirty little secret: most can't carry a tune. The better kits can play DVDs plenty loud, and their pint-size subs generate passable low-end drama, but everything falls apart when you switch from basic home theater to actual music. When you try to rock out, you suddenly become aware that the satellites are woefully bass-shy, the vocals sound as though they were coming from a cheap radio, and the high frequencies have turned harsh. That's why we're so jazzed about Pioneer's HTD-330DV system, listed at $450. It sounds swell with all kinds of music, and it doesn't neglect its home-theater duties one bit.
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.