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AIWA AV-X100, £250

 

Why’s it here: Most manufacturers can be relied upon to make a bit of a fuss when they update a product in their model range. Not Aiwa, in fact they seem to be going out of their way to keep quiet about the new AV-X100 AV receiver. To throw us of the scent they’ve used the same model number as its predecessor. Admittedly the price basic specification are more or less the same, though the extras effectively make this a new model, and anyone considering upgrading their existing hi-fi and video equipment to a Dolby Pro Logic home cinema system would do well to take a look at it.

 

Any unique features: The remote control extender is a good idea; the unit comes with a small pear shaped module, that plugs into the back of the amp. It gets around the problem of IR signals from the handset not being able to penetrate smoked glass cabinets or blocked by racks and cables. RDS is a welcome addition, it displays station idents and programme information, plus it means the front panel clock display should be accurate as it is checked against RDS time signals every hour, on the hour. The remote handset can store a total of 30 IR commands, to operate various other pieces of equipment.

 

How does it perform: Functionally the AV-X100 it has everything most users will need to turn a VCR and TV into a well appointed home cinema system. Source switching facilities are clearly defined and easy to use, the DSP effects and equaliser modes are there, if you need them. The only noticeable omission is a manual bass and treble control; the five equaliser presets are fine, as far as they go, but the rather heavy-handed selections will not be to everyone’s taste.

 

The Dolby Pro Logic decoder is agile and reasonably responsive, however, the rear channel can sound a little muddy at times, and it is noticeably underpowered. We suspect Aiwa may have underestimated many movie fan’s thirst for gut-rumbling effects; bass  levels are fair, though the addition of a powered subwoofer will help to bring those heavily-engineered blockbuster movies alive. Centre and front channels are very clean; noisy effects are cleanly resolved and accurately placed within the soundfield. It copes well with quieter sounds too, though unlike most other DPL amps we failed to find a happy medium and had to re-set the surround levels more often, to suit different types of source material.  

 

The tuner works well too, it’s moderately sensitive and with a strong signal, noise levels are very low. RDS is a bonus, and becoming quite useful now that more radio stations are starting to make use of the facility. It’s probably not a feature we’d want to pay extra for, but since Aiwa appear to be throwing it in for free, it seems churlish not to welcome it on board.

 

Our Verdict: Once again Aiwa have demonstrated a keen appreciation of what the market wants, and what it is prepared to pay for it. Core facilities and general specification are more or less spot-on. The amplifier and DPL decoder work as well as anything we’ve tried this side of £400, the only minus point being the slightly thin back channel output. Extras, like the RDS tuner, learning remote control and remote control extender are definitely worth having and help it to stand out in what is becoming a rather crowded and highly competitive segment of the market.

 

Aiwa AV-X100

 

Features                     3 x 60 watts RMS (front & centre), 2 x 10 watts RMS (rear), Dolby Pro Logic, 4-mode surround (dance, hall, movie and live), 5-mode equaliser (rock, pop, classic, bgm), 4-mode bass enhancement, 3-band tuner with RDS, learning IR remote handset, sleep timer, IR extender

Sockets                       Composite video in, line audio in/out, sub-woofer  (phono), speakers (spring terminal), headphone and IR extender (minijack)

Dimensions                 360 x 153 x 330mm

 

Sound Quality            ****   

Build Quality              ****   

Features                     *****

Ease of use                 ****   

Overall value              *****

 

Competitors

Philips FR731             £250

Sherwood RV-4050                     £140

Yamaha RX-V390RDS            £300

 

Aiwa UK Ltd., telephone 0990 902902

 

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Ó R. Maybury 1997, 0705

 

 

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