Sony SAVS300H 6.1/7.1 speakers review: Sony SAVS300H 6.1/7.1 speakers

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The Good Very stylish. Decent dialogue reproduction. Full 7.1 capability.

The Bad Limited range. Terrible for music. Weak sub.

The Bottom Line For the price, these Sony speakers look great and sound OK, but the same money can get you a better set, or even a whole system.

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6.2 Overall

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The Sony SAVS300H delivers both "power and style" according to the Sony Web site. Well, we'll certainly agree on the latter point: these are very snazzy looking speakers. All of the satellites, though not the subwoofer, are built from aluminium alloy and are pretty solid.

It's a 7.1 system and was submitted to us as part of a HTIB solution (with the STR DA3200ES receiver) for the new Sony PlayStation 3. But as we found, these speakers are the weak part of that particular chain.

For your money you get six identical satellites, a centre channel and a subwoofer. Also included is the wiring to hook them together and brackets to connect the optional rear channel stands. Though the DA3200ES receiver Sony included will handle 7.1, for most home cinemas this is overkill -- particularly in smaller rooms. On the other hand, 5.1 is a much more satisfactory solution.

The satellites are magnetically shielded -- which means they can be used next to a CRT -- and are quite sensitive at 81db. This will, in turn, give you more power output than most speakers, and they are rated to handle a maximum of 150W.

The subwoofer itself features a down-firing, six-inch driver, is also rated at 150W, and comes with a modicum of controls, including bass boost, volume, phase and an "auto power on" control.

"Powerful" is probably the best word you could use to describe the sound of these speakers, as subtle they are not. They are best suited to movie soundtracks where dialogue is delivered relatively clearly, and surround sound is exciting as it should be.

The problems we have is there's not much of an "image" created by these speakers -- they're pretty one-dimensional. But this isn't surprising given they are seemingly designed more for style and "bang" than for performance. This is especially clear if you play music through them, as all of the musicians seem to come out of the one muddy place somewhere in the middle of the speakers. There's very little treble detail or "presence" to these speakers.

The other problem is that the subwoofer is the odd one out in this relationship. The only way to get a decent amount of sound out of it is to crank all the dials to maximum -- again, subtlety be damned.

For electronics, Sony is definitely one of the world leaders, but in speakers they are evidently not. This set will enable a moderately entertaining movie session, but if you want finesse then try the Wharfedale Diamond 9 HCP 5.1 system. It's available for the same price (AU$1299) and includes a better subwoofer -- try your local hi-fi shop.

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