I go out of my way to avoid products like the Sony MHC-V50D as someone who loves audio and is willing to go the extra mile to fine-tune his aural experience. Its biggest sin (without even auditioning it) was the fact that it’s a single tower speaker.
Stereo speakers are the way to go as any audiophile will tell you. I wasn’t particularly keep on V50D when Sony offered to send me the model for a review, but since I had never experienced one of these single speaker units first hand, if for no other reasons than to confirm my suspicions then I thought it would be worth checking out.
The V50D was, in a word, spectacular! I am so very glad that I have decided to check it out. However, this speaker is for a more limited audience than the average audiophile.
Build and Design: 8/10
The V50D is not particularly heavy for a speaker. It is a little over 2.5 feet tall, though it does feel solid. The audio is pumped out by 2x 8 cm cone mid-range drivers, 1x 20 cm cone Mica woofer, and 2x 4 cm cone tweeters, that’s a total of five drivers. Probably with the intention of creating a stereo effect of sort, the mid-rangers and the tweeters are angled outwards. We will say more on this later.
The upper rear portion hosts all the I/O ports while the entire upper surface is given over a control console and display.
Except for the tweeters, there is a large bass vent at the bottom and all the drivers are protected by a metallic mesh. The device is very stable and sits squat on the ground.
It basically looks like your average tower speaker.
This device is packed to the brim with everything you will need when it comes to features. The device can play back audio from DVD, CD, DVD DL, multiple Bluetooth standards including LDAC, supports NFC for pairing, an HDMI output, a composite video out, A2DP, AAC, SPP, and AVRCP, an analogue input, an analogue audio output, two microphone inputs and a USB port, including one for guitar. This device even supports FM radio. There is also a feature to daisy chain multiple speakers for enhanced audio. There are also other fancy features which include equalizers, video equalizers, karaoke mode, bass boost, flanger, sound enhancements, flanger and isolator modes and much more. If you want to learn more about the entire list of features (since it’s too long to dive into) you can go ahead and simply head to Sony’s product page.
The supported video codecs include MPEG4 up to 720×576 and Xvid.
You will also get some epilepsy-inducing, weird, LED lighting modes that were so horrifying that you can leave it off if you would like to. This LED lighting might serve to enhance the atmosphere if you are into parties and karaoke and the /likes; but they did not sit well with me.
I simply was not prepared to be blown away by the audio quality of this thing when I made my initial trepidation, and if you could remember, it is quite clear. I did not bother with digging out my CD collection for testing (from wherever it was buried).
Armed with a subscription for the highest quality, and lossless playback option, I had simply fired up Tidal and started streaming the audio to the device. After all this speaker supports some very fancy Bluetooth modes. And to start my experience, I had Mark Knoffler’s Dire Straits album and subsequently settled down for what I thought would be a sub-par experience.
A silly little smile was plastered over my face, while sitting in front of the speakers with my eyes shut, because I did not expect I would enjoy the speaker this much. It was good because the music that emanated from that single speaker filled my house. The speaker rendered the notes of Mark Knoffler’s guitar works beautifully and incredibly.
Unbelievably so, every single track that I played on the speaker sounded amazing. Whether it’s Kelly Flint’s dulcet tones or the hauntingly beautiful voice of Sarah Brightman, everything sounded detailed and incredible. However, on my experience, I would say that when it comes to heavier tracks that is where the shortcomings of the speaker become apparent. Those tracks that failed are Metallica’s The God and Pink Floyd’s High Hopes, if will just listen carefully you will find that they just don’t have enough meat on them.
You can say that the audio is room-filling, however, the stereo separation just don’t happen and the punch from the bass is lacking.
The angled-tweeter and mid-range cones just can’t replicate a stereo image as well as stereo speakers, but they could help in spreading the audio around the room/house. The tracks with guitar solos and with heavy vocals sound amazing because they can sound as amazing as they can without the need for stereo separation; but other genres don’t sound that good.
I just wish there were two of them, don’t get me wrong, I loved this speaker, I just wish there’s another one.
Another thing for the low bit-rate MP3 files, don’t even bother playing it back on this speaker, it’s good enough to render all their flaws.
Note on placement:
This speaker is best placed in a corner of your house since it is a single speaker with drivers firing out at an angle. It would not work if you try to place it anywhere else. Thirty minutes of listening when I placed the speaker beside my TV, it left me with the feeling that exactly one of my eardrums had worn out.
Price and Verdict in India:
The MHC-V50D by Sony is a superlative performer. Its design do have some limits being a single speaker, however, it can truly shine in the right environment! I can see it nestled in a small flat, a studio apartment and even placed snugly in a bedroom. I honestly feel that it would be a waste of an incredible piece of hardware (and this goes for the party features for those so inclined to it).
In perspective view, I am running a pair of custom-built 150W RMS tower speakers that are powered by a Yamaha stereo amplifier. This setup gets its audio directly from an AudioQuest DragonFly DAC as well as from the TV.
For the legit audiophiles, the stereo is a stereo and the MHC-V50D just can’t compete. However, it can be a very capable option for everyone else.
The very thing that is holding me back from recommending this speaker to everyone and sundry is that Google Home Max and Apple’s HomePod are just around the corner.