The Gadget: Jamo's A405HCS5 5.1 home theatre speaker system.
The Price: $1,699 RRP, although you can pick it up with a DVD receiver for $2498.
The Verdict: Originally, the reason I wanted to check out this surround speaker system from Jamo was the design. The stylish silver and black colour scheme was a perfect match for the 50-inch Panasonic plasma I picked up last year. Seriously, it's like the Danish designers had a one night stand with Panasonic's design team and this was their audio offspring, the two are so similar in style.
I had some immediate concerns after taking the speakers out of the box – the primary one being that the wiring connections aren't exactly premium quality. A few years ago when I was editing T3 magazine, I spent my Christmas holidays wiring up my loungeroom for surround sound, and used some pretty high quality cable to do it. When the time came to connect these Jamo speakers however, the thick cable struggled to fit into the tiny connections on each of the speakers. Not only that, but the thick rubber shielding on the wires meant it was impossible to reattach the speakers' bottom covers. That wasn't too big a deal aesthetically, as you don't tend to look underneath a speaker anyway. But the cover does act as a kind of rudimentary cable management system, and without that cover the wires tend to dangle a bit.
Audio quality is solid without being mind-blowingly great. You definitely get a huge benefit from the surround sound – playing Fable 2 was like immersing myself in the world of Albion with people talking to me from all directions. Watching Blu-ray movies is equally beneficial, but the sound seems to be slightly lacking in the higher end, especially in softer scenes. The subwoofer does a good job at delivering lower frequencies though, and when you crank up the volume the whole setup seems to improve dramatically.
For $1,699 RRP, you definitely get a decent sound and stylish design. But if you consider yourself a bit of an audiophile, the weak connections and lack of punch in the higher end will definitely hold you back. Although if you really are an audiophile, you probably won't be looking at a $1700 speaker system at all, will you? For the rest of us, the combination of solid sound reproduction and a reasonable price is enough to warrant a recommendation.