Sometimes, smaller is better. Not everyone wants a full-sized home theatre set-up, whether it’s for lack of space, or purely aesthetics. While a multi-speaker surround sound system will certainly add a new dimension to watching movies and listening to music, sound quality doesn’t have to suffer on a system with less than five speakers. Bose’s 3.2.1 GSX DVD Home Entertainment System is a case in point. It’s small, simple, has just two speaker arrays and a sub-woofer, but performs like a much bigger system.
By size alone, you’d probably never guess that the 3.2.1 GSX is so capable. It’s an AM/FM radio, CD and DVD player, plus the 3.2.1 GSX incorporates a 40GB hard disk with the capacity to store approximately 200 hours worth of CD music. Considering this, the 3.2.1 GSX might be better described as a ‘media centre’ than a home entertainment system.
The base unit is sleek and minimalist in style, and connects to two small Gemstone speaker arrays and a large sub-woofer, called an Acoustimass module. The three speaker elements are designed to work in tandem with Bose’s TrueSound surround digital processing circuitry and Videostage 5 digital decoding technology to create a ‘field of sound’ similar to 5.1 speaker systems. Dolby DTS is also supported, plus Bose’s Videostage 5 can create room-filling sounds from any audio source including VHS, mono TV or CD. The system also plays CD-R/RW, SACD, MP3 CDs, VCD, and DVD+/-R/RW. One thing it won’t do however, is import MP3 music or DVD movies onto its hard disk. Bose uses its own audio compression technology for converting CD music to digital audio, so unfortunately, if you already have your music collection on MP3 or another format, you’ll have to covert it to CD-audio and import it this way.
Managing your music
Once imported to the hard disk, listeners can use Bose’s ‘intelligent’ playlist generator. Called uMusic, this ‘learns’ your musical tastes and plays what it thinks you’ll like. It does this by noticing the songs you listen to completely, the ones you skip, and with the special ‘+’ and ‘-‘ buttons on the remote control, you can indicate whether you like a song or not. uMusic also uses information from a database of about 500,000 songs to apply album, artist, genre and track names to your imported CDs without connecting to the internet. In addition to this data, other variables, such as mood, tone and a musician’s roots and influences are used to help profile your tastes.
uMusic supports up to nine different presets, so other people in your family can enjoy listening to a playlist customised to their listening habits.
There’s also a regular playlist option, where music can be added to groups by holding the ‘Playlist’ button while listening, or selecting content based on an artist, album, genre or track.
In addition to uMusic and playlists, you can jump to a stored CD, chose individual tracks and, with the special Encore function, tell the system to play all songs that most closely resemble the one you are playing.