There is no shortage of affordable 2.1 speakers in the market but often one has to look hard to find a good one. Gone are the days when one could base a purchase on the reputation of a brand. Even reputed manufacturers such as Creative and Altec Lansing often come up with sub-par products these days that don't do their brand name justice.
Sony hasn't been a big player in this segment but it still enjoys an incredible brand value, perhaps more than any other player in this segment. They recently launched a trio of sub-5k speaker systems in the Indian market and today we will be taking a look at the most expensive one, the SRS-D8. Logic tells us that this should be a good set of speakers but we have been proven wrong before. Will this be the case with the Sony system as well? Read on to find out.
The SRS-D8 has a typical Sony design; simple yet attractive. The satellites use flat surfaces and straight lines to great effect to create an understated yet powerful design. Made from plastic, the satellites have a matte finish to them, with a hint of gloss surrounding the drivers. The drivers also sport a non-removable metal grille. The satellites have a 15 degree angle, which makes them point straight towards you when kept on a desk.
The left speaker is the hub of the system. Normally you'll see all the speakers going to the subwoofer but on the SRS-D8 they all go to the left speaker. On the back you will find outputs for the subwoofer and the right speaker. You will also find a 3.5mm stereo input as well as RCA stereo input. The latter makes it easy to hook up the system to the likes of a DVD player or a game console.
There is also a headphone jack at the back along with the input for the power brick. These are two of the main drawbacks of the system. The headphone jack location is quite inconvenient and the separate power brick also makes things a bit messy.
On the front of the speaker are the volume control knob and separate bass and treble controls. You can also see the power button on the front. One of the neat features of the SRS-D8 is that the system automatically shuts down when it does not detect a sound signal for a while and instantly turns on when it detects one.
The subwoofer is also quite attractive. It uses a forward-firing driver along with dual bass-reflex ports. The total system has a power output of 60W RMS, with each of the 2-inch satellite drivers getting 15W each and the 6-inch subwoofer getting 30W.
I tested the speakers with a PC with Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi sound card for music and a PlayStation 3 for movies and games.
When it came to music the SRS-D8 completely took me by surprise. As I mentioned before, I expected it to be good but it far exceeded my expectations. The satellites produced amazingly clear sound, with both mids and treble being doled out in just the right amount. I had to set the treble level slightly higher than the default center position for it to be perfect, which made me appreciate the presence of this control, often missing on most other systems.
The subwoofer, on the other hand, required no adjustment and produced deliciously tight and punchy bass. Unlike some other systems such as the Altec Lansing Octane, the subwoofer on the SRS-D8 is not boomy and does not drown the other frequencies. It instead produces a warm, controlled bass that has just the right amount of kick to it.
Overall the SRS-D8 has very good sound quality, with everything from the vocals and the instruments being produced beautifully. It also brings out small details in the music that most speakers in this price range would miss.
When it comes to background scores and FX music on games, the SRS-D8 doesn't impress as much. That is not to say it is bad but after the excellent music performance one tends to expect more from it. Here it could have benefited with a beefier subwoofer and slightly better imaging but overall it's still pretty decent.
At Rs. 4,990, the Sony SRS-D8 is a great buy! If you want something primarily for listening to music in this price range, the SRS-D8 gets my recommendation. If it's gaming you mostly do, then it would be better to spend a bit more and get the Logitech Z623 instead.