elegant and old school Stereo with typical Sony style
Dec 2, 2009 (Updated Jul 23, 2010)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Crystal clear sound, ease of use, adaptable to many sources of music.
Cons:Remote-dependent, single CD tray, some controls are confusing and the manual is tiny.
The Bottom Line: This is a very nice small system that combines classic SONY audio style with some very current and useful features.
Here are some specs for this lovely and streamlined micro shelf stereo.
Recommend this product?
Front Loading Single Disc CD Player
CD, CD-R/RW and MP3
Simple plug-and-play integration with digital music players or PC's via a 3.5mm jack (analog)
AM/FM Tuner with 30 Station Presets
Remote Control With full iPod Menu Control
Built-in iPod dock (digital)
50W total power
Plays multi-format CDs
The satellite speakers have long cords that allow you to arrange them at some distance from the main unit. They're simple boxes which house the woofers and tweeters, but they're made of wood so they resonate bass pretty well. You can also join any other component speakers you choose through stereo wire connectors in the back.
The main unit has three things that you need to keep up with today's music choices: a CD player (they still make those, for now!); a stereo line-in jack (to analog connect any device you have with a stereo out; cassette player, various mp3 players, even a turntable with the right cord); and a secure iPod dock right in top/center.
There is a list of iPods the box claims to work with, mostly from 2nd to 3rd generation models. I was pleased to find that my Nano 4th gen. works fine even though it isn't on the list, and this stereo is one of the only docks I have that also charges the device as well as plays it (as Apple has dropped the firewire connections from their recent models, and that's what all the older docks were built for). I haven't even needed to use the supplied adapters to make it fit in the slot, as my nano is always in a bulky plastic case and fits just fine.
The remote lets you easily toggle through the function options of the device: CD, AM, FM, auxilliary in, iPod. When in iPod mode, it can control the iPod in a limited way, but you really have to know your iPod well and have the display (which is small and pale blue on black, like a lot of Sony displays) where you can see it to do things like search through your artists lists, pick the one album you want, etc. I'm happy enough just to plug it in already set up to a playlist or artist, and have it skip tracks I dislike with one button.
The MP3 capacity mentioned above is for listeners who save their music files to MP3 files on cds. I don't quite understand this, as I convert all my mp3s to to cdas for maximum versatility, but so far it has played all my homemade CDs as well as the storebought ones. It has options for looking into folders in a file tree if your CDs are so formatted, but I'll probably never use that. I'm learning the capabilities by trial and error as I go, and haven't been disappointed yet.
You can preset radio channels (far preferable to seeking through the whole dial), and you should use an external antenna (with a coaxial plug) for best reception of FM. I find most of my local stations are available, and crystal clear at that. A standard cheap dipole from radio shack works wonders.
The one CD tray may be a detraction for some, but I've had nothing but problems with multi-cd loaders. You can only listen to one at a time anyway, right? The remote will not open and close the door for you, weirdly. Some are also disappointed in the relative lack of connections in the back, and in having the audio-jack visible in front. But who wants to feel in the dark to plug in a portable device? This unit is for playing music, period, and so doesn't have video or HD or other connections. But it's singular purpose gives it a focus on just what I was looking for; ways to play all of my music in my office without using the overtaxed computer itself.
Volume and sound adjustments are possible (easier with the remote), so that you can somewhat tool the sound to your liking. 50 watts are divided between the two speakers, but that's loud enough for my small room use, for which this is ideal. There's an optional bass enhancer that sounds good to my ears.
I feel like I'm enjoying old CDs all over again, but can listen to new music on my iPod with complete plug-n-play ease as soon as I download it. I love the size and shape (the buttons are little squares artfully arranged in a grid atop the square central unit), and the SONY display has the same inherent logic of my much older SONY products, so it's familiar if you're already a SONY consumer. For me this replaced an old boombox past its prime; now it feels like I have an actual stereo again, one adapted to current media.
3 months later update: I find I seldom use the auxilliary line (though I could plug a cassette player in for example), but I'm liking the ipod connection more and more. The remote doesn't have an iPod control wheel, but it mimics it well enough with four directional buttons surrounding an "enter" button. If you're watching your ipod screen, you can move through your files just as you would in-hand.
Weirdly, the clock feature only displays when the iPod is in and the unit itself is off. Haven't been able to figure how to keep the clock on otherwise, though you can "call up" the clock when you want to for a brief seconds.
Also, a nice feature I just realized: if your ipod came with an dock adapter (the insert to fit the size of your device, not the full powered dock), the ipod tray on top of the unit fits the standard Apple sizes. Somebody at Sony thought this one through!
7 months later update: I've been listening to some of those new-fangled MP3 cds lately (the kind where you can burn several albums to one cd), and this machine interacts very well with the whole computer/folder/subfolder system. It requires a little effort to remember where you are in the track lists, but as long as everything was titled clearly on the disk, the remote works wonders getting you to the song or album you want.
If there's one caveat I have at all, it's that this system like all but one Sony I've ever had really doesn't like to shuffle. It wants to play the album tracks in order, and when you set it to do otherwise, it seems to use a very unwieldy means of doing so (it has to scan every single track on a disc every single time it wants to skip to the next one, it's just sort of goofy; let the ipod do it for you if you can).
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