The first thing you notice about the JVC TH-L1 cinema package is its old-fashioned design. The antique feel extends to the fact that there’s no DVD player included, so the £300 price-tag is a little misleading.
Compact and connected
But for the money, the TH-L1 is pretty well built and has a decent array of connections: two HDMI ins and one out, the same for component video and digital audio inputs, plus USB and iPod sockets.
Thankfully they don’t bulk the unit out. The surround speakers are smartly compact units that can be shelf-mounted or hung on your wall.
All good so far, but then you come to the subwoofer – usually a make or break point in a speaker system – and sadly this one is a wrecking ball. In an attempt to make it compact and discreet it loses its bass ability.
Bomb the bass
The bass from that little sub is not only slow and fairly inaccurate, it also struggles to get down to the depths we expect. The result is a bass performance that’s thin and nasal.
A reedy rendering for some fairly honky lower mid and upper bass frequencies are brought out to compensate for the lack of the real thing.
No upscaling either
Picture quality is totally acceptable for the money, although there’s no HDMI upscaling. And the satellites, while hardly setting the world alight with detail, are fairly forgiving and cohesive for their size and price.
But the damage has been done. The JVC is a flawed system, which isn’t competitive enough in this fierce market. Blame the bass.