Sony NAS-SC500PK Gigajuke
Walkman-friendly HDD-based Wi-Fi Hi-Fi
Reg Hardware never got up close and personal with the original Gigajuke so we can't say whether or not the new system is an improvement in terms of sound quality. What we can say is that while it’s unlikely the vast majority of users will take issue with the main server amplifier and speaker combination that pumps out a respectable 2 x 50W of well-controlled and solid sound with plenty of tight and punchy bass. Yet the same can't be said of the wireless receiver, which sounded rather stunted and confined compared with the similar devices from Logitech and Philips that we have tested.
This Sony delivers a satisfying sound from the main speakers
The difference in sound may have something to do with the fact that the main unit is fitted with Sony's DSEE or Digital Sound Enhancement Engine sound modification software, which compensates for the higher frequencies lost during compression and generally does a decent job of making the soundscape brighter and more spacious. The receiver on the other hand has to make do with DSEE's stupid rural cousin Dynamic Sound Generator X-tra or DSGX, which seems to do nothing more than make the bass more woolly.
As you may expect, the Gigajuke is not what you would call cheap, but we found it for under £650 on a popular on-line retailer's web site and, at that price, we think it’s pretty good value for money. The basic two-room Sonos BU150 package will set you back around £100 more. Although the Sonos has definite advantages as a wireless system, it does presuppose you already have all your CDs digitally encoded and you will need for cough up for extra amplifiers and/or active speakers, if you don't already have a decent hi-fi system in each room.
A Logitech Squeezebox Duet and Boom will set you back around £480 and this will also get music into two rooms, but suffers the same drawbacks as the Sonos regarding the need for additional audio kit. The Duet does come with a very nice remote control though.
The sound produced by the main unit is very good, it provides a wireless network for those who don't already have one and the new Walkman dock will come in very hand for people who have the latest Sony players. However, the remote control units are cheap and messy, the wireless receiver can't compete with competing devices on sound quality or screen size, while system codec support really isn't broad enough for this day and age. Grumbles aside, you stlll get a lot of kit for your money and, out of the box, it’s a very comprehensive multi-room music system. ®
What were we saying about the Gigajuke needing a Sonos-style remote? Well, Sony has just announced the NAS-7200iR, an iPod dock with just such a device. We'd put money on the same remote cropping up on the next generation Gigajuke sometime next year.
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