Review | Sony MHC-V81D all-in-one audio system

Sony is a brand that needs little introduction and has a long-standing history in home audio. We’re going to take a look at their all-in-one audio system, featuring hassle-free Bluetooth connectivity, and a plethora of other functions. We’ll see how it stacks up against other speakers, and whom it’s intended for. 

Features

To say that MHC-V81D is feature-packed is putting it lightly. At the core, the unit is a speaker rack, with 4 tweeters, 4 mid-range drivers, 1 sub-woofer, and a built-in amplifier. The positioning is such that there is a 360-degree field of sound.

Connections include the now must-have Bluetooth and USB, as well as analog and HDMI cable options. And if that wasn’t enough, the unit includes an old school disk tray that allows for CD and DVD playback. (The latter of-course requiring a hook-up to a TV).

Controls are through a spill-proof touch-sensitive top surface, which also has air gesture controls. TAIKO mode allows for the use of the top-panel for drum-beat play along. The same also doubles up as a party game when you have company over.

Interestingly, with all that covered, we are still just scratching the surface. If you enjoy karaoke, there are two mic inputs, as well as a guitar input.

No party would be complete without lights, and the unit features party lights, which do a great job of lighting up the room. There is also a DJ mode for various effects, beats, and voice cheers. Connecting to other home audio devices, it’s possible to create a party chain of sorts, with synchronized playback across devices. 

USB Port and Mic Input

The Sony Music Center app allows for control from your mobile device, as well as deep customization of the lights and other features.

Need to move the device to your TV room to enjoy the live basketball telecast? It’s as simple as wheeling it over, with its in-built handle and castor; truly making the MHC-V81D a handy all-in-one device to have at home.

Design and Aesthetics

Over the years, Sony has designed several good looking Hi-Fi home audio systems, and this new interesting tower form factor is no different. It looks ultra-modern and is a clear indicator that you’re serious about sound. Place it in your living room, and it won’t go unnoticed. I remember the first time I saw it at the SM Appliance store, and it instantly caught my attention.

At just under 4 feet in height and around 26.5kgs, it isn’t tiny. That said, with the inclusion of the wheels and handle, it’s easy to move between rooms. Putting it into its packaging though and moving it between levels is an ordeal; probably a task for two persons.

Wheels at Base

The party lights look really good and can transform a room. The light effects have a few presets and allow for additional customization via the app.

Performance

The MHC-V81D sounds good and gets quite loud without distorting if you crank it up. Sony lives up to its 360-degree listening experience, wherein sitting anywhere around the unit sounds good. That said, sitting directly in front of the device does make the vocals more prominent.

Bass is powerful thanks to the included subwoofer and sitting a few feet away on the couch, I could feel the bass reverb on the couch surface. Sony’s included Mega-Bass mode lets you crank up the bass and set the mood for the party.

Rear Connections

While it’s unfair to compare such a unit to high-end dedicated speakers, if you’re an audio purist and like clear accurate reproduction, this isn’t meant for you. Comparing it to my daily setup, which are Signature Series speakers from Polk Audio with a Yamaha receiver, there is a very noticeable difference in quality.

In addition to the reduced fidelity which I expected, my main gripe was the all-round lack of depth to the music. Note though that the entire MHC-V81D device with all its bells and whistles retails for the same price as just a pair of the Signature Series speakers, which are dependent on a lot of other equipment to be music ready. 

Similarly, compared to a dedicated 5.1 home theatre, the latter would surely mean better positional sound, thanks to the separated speaker placement. But it would also entail a lot of setup and wiring work, versus the ease of use of the Sony MHC-V81D.

When there is no input for a prolonged duration, the device goes into standby mode, which is convenient. After the initial pairing, the unit is quick to reconnect to known devices when you enter the room. In terms of ease of use and connectivity simplicity, the Sony MHC-V81D is just outstanding. 

Gesture Control

Value

At an SRP of P29,999 Sony is giving you a lot of device for the price. The feature list is quite exhaustive and leaves little to be desired. It’s ideal for parties, but can also be used around the home with a TV for movies and shows, or a computer for gaming. 

Also, it would be a great addition to say an events room at a hotel or restaurant for music playback or karaoke. Which could also quickly convert to a disc player for, say, presentations for office events at restaurants. Given the feature set, the possibilities are endless.

Closing Words

At the end of the day, it comes down to what you’re looking for. If you need an all-in-one device that’s easy to get playing, you can’t go wrong with the Sony MHC-V81D. In terms of its long list of features, and easy connectivity it’s unbeatable. Needless to say, if you’re an audiophile and demand the highest fidelity, this isn’t for you. The icing on the top is the legendary Sony brand, which guarantees a quality product.

Model: MHC-V81D

Price: P29,990

Verdict: Feature-packed, and easy to use; expect the beats to be playing in no time!

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