Micro Hi-Fi systems make an interesting option for those who have a slightly smaller living room to fit in a full 5.1 channel system or alternatively, for those who have a slightly bigger personal room. They always had a small niche for themselves and have predominantly been used as more of a lifestyle product that performs fairly well in video as well as audio performance. Sony recently launched their new WHG-SLK20D Micro Hi-Fi system for the Indian market. Let’s have a look if this one’s worth the money.

Music playback

A music player, a video player? Read on..

Design and Build Quality

The SLK20D Hi-Fi system looks like it’s gone through the best of the designers at Sony, because it’s crafted extremely carefully and nicely. It comes in a single colour, black, and has just the right combination of the crystallised matte finish and glass frame that makes it stand out in comparison to the other Hi-Fi players out there. This system instantly looks like something you’d love to have in your living room and it gets full marks in the looks department. It  consists of the main deck with the LCD panel where you can connect your external peripherals, and the two separate speakers that reside on either sides of the unit. The important thing to note is that they don’t fit into the main unit, so it’s three separate panels and not one single sound bar. 

Limited connectivity options

Limited connectivity options

The front consists of the LCD panel and the touch buttons, while the top has the usual connectivity options that include the CD/DVD player, the SD card slot and the USB slot. The top of the glass frame consists of the Power button on one side and the Eject and volume button on the other side. The back consists of the composite in, composite out and the two audio connectors along with an option to connect your cable TV cord. Sadly though, the player doesn’t come with an auxiliary input or an HDMI connection. Build and design is brilliant, but limited connectivity options left us wanting for more.

Buttons have a good feedback

Buttons have a good feedback

Features

The SLK20D Hi-Fi System shouldn’t be mistaken for a Blu-Ray or a powerful 1080p video player, because it’s not that. Yes, video support is there, but it’s quite limited. Let’s have a look at the features in the audio department first. The CLK20D is capable of playing MP3, AAC and WMA audio formats and comes with a range of customizable options like EQ presets, bass booster and surround sound settings. The speakers have an RMS power output of 90W x 2 and have an in-built 130 mm woofer and 40 mm tweeter unit. 

The back

The back

Video format support via USB includes the simple profile DivX and MPEG-4 codecs and JPEG for image playback is supported. Since the CLK20D doesn’t have HDMI out, your video playback options are quite limited.

The interface is a tad slow

The interface is a tad slow

The player comes with the touch interface next to the screen and it’s quite sensitive, but could have been a little better in terms of response. For example, you need to press the Enter key everytime to go into a sub-menu, since you can’t use any of the directional keys. Also, you can’t traverse quickly through your playlist at your own speed. That said, the touch keypad and the buttons have a nice feedback and the physical buttons on top have a good feel as well.

Performance

Lets start off with the cons. Firstly, the whole point of a screen is negated because after a point the screen is too small to be viewed and hence it nullifies the point of having a remote. Also, the interface cannot be accessed via a TV, while playing music so like it or not, you’ll be stuck with the small screen. Next up, if you attach more than one external peripheral the chances that the player will slow down or throw up an error are pretty high. The errors we faced ranged from no device connected, not recognizable to a rather absurd over current (!) warning. The only turn around was to restart the device. The interface is quite erratic – it’s responsive at times, but rather glitchy sometimes with abrupt song shuffles, when you’re already playing a song and want to change to another track. 

Remote pointless when screen can't be viewed after a particular distance

Remote pointless when screen can't be viewed after a particular distance

Sony has been doing this over the years and this time as well, they’ve hit the mark in audio performance. The speakers dish out pretty loud and clear music. The bass sounds quite punchy and there isn’t any distortion even at maxed out volume levels. Even low bass is handled pretty well at higher volumes. The tones are crisp and clear and the various equalizer presets work pretty well. The bass could have been a tad stronger, but the problem is with the mid tones. By default i.e. with a flat equaliser, the frequency response is a bit high for both the bass and the treble, but it lowers down in the mid section. What this means is that you’ll get the crunch in your sound, but it’s not the exact rendition as the mid tones are slightly lower than normal. Another problem is the volume levels. The level increases gradually till it reaches 25, but there’s a massive leap in the sound level from level 26 to maximum (32) and more often than not, you’ll be listening to your music in that frame of levels. 

Could have worked better as a set of speakers

Could have worked better as a set of speakers

Sony have included the bass booster groove settings and the surround sound as well, but the difference isn’t as noticeable. We tried a few other formats than the ones supported and none of them, including the lossless FLAC codec are supported.

Video playback comes with its own set of problems. You cannot play videos via SD card and the video interface appears a little shrinked and warped. It’s restricted to play the older codecs and neither 1080p or 720p are supported, which automatically means that video playback via your LCD TV is quite pointless. Whilst videos appear quite nice on the small screen, it really beats the point to view movies on such a small screen. 

Stylish and sexy

Stylish and sexy, but worth it?

Verdict

The Sony WHG-SLK20D Micro Hi-Fi System is priced at Rs.19,990. We’ll quickly cover the main cons – a flawed interface, redundant video playback options and a pointless LCD screen. At that price, it’s an expensive device. Plus, it’s not going to impress audiophiles. If you’re looking for pure sounding music, the SLK20D won’t blow your mind. It’s powerful, no doubt, but its spruced up with all the jazz and frills. To round it off, it’s an expensive set of two channel stereo speakers with limited connectivity options and at such a high price, we wouldn’t recommend this, unless of course, you’re just looking for a pretty set of speakers.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,