First Look: Sony MHC-V90DW Muteki audio system

Technology writer Hadyn Green takes Sony's home party machine for a spin.

Sony MHC-V90DW Muteki

I thought the Sony MHC-V90DW Muteki was another dull name for a piece of tech, until I learned “Muteki” means “invincible” in Japanese. Once I laid eyes on it, I saw why.

The Muteki is a massive (1.7m tall, 50kg) tower of LED-lit speakers. It has four 5cm tweeters, four 13cm mid-range speakers, and two 25cm subs. Even with bass-boost turned off, this system has all the booming sound you need for a raging party. Your neighbours will definitely know when you’re playing music.

However, the Muteki has more than power in its bag of tricks. It also does karaoke.

I am a sucker for karaoke, and the Muteki makes it simple to do in the comfort of your lounge. It has inputs for two microphones (or guitars) and controls for adjusting pitch. It has a function for analysing music and lowering the vocal track. However, this didn’t work properly, muting most of the song, not just the lyrics.

Because the Muteki connects to your phone (or tablet) with Bluetooth, you can look up karaoke music tracks on YouTube. The audio plays through the sound system and the lyrics will be on your screen.

Adding to the all-round entertainment experience are the lights. Sony has made light-up speakers before, but the Muteki adds in more with two banks of rainbow LEDs on the back. In a dark room with the music going and the lights pulsing to the beat, it’s as close to a disco in a box as you’ll get.

Bluetooth isn’t the only way to play music through the Muteki. It has analogue and USB inputs, an FM radio tuner (though it makes for an odd radio), and a CD/DVD drive. This is the first device I’ve reviewed in years that could actually play a CD.

While it has an HDMI output, so you can play DVDs through to your TV, the lack of an HDMI input was annoying. I wanted to play YouTube on my TV through to the speaker, to improve the karaoke experience, but this just wasn’t possible.

The front of the Muteki has a circular section – this is the gesture control panel. In theory, you can move your hand over it to control the music. Swipe right to skip a track, move it in a circle to increase or decrease the volume, or add “DJ” effects such as record scratches or air horns. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work. In fact, it had so many errors I turned the gesture function off. Moreover, even if it had worked perfectly, I’d still have to stand directly in front of the Muteki’s very large and very loud speakers.

I found a better alternative was using Sony’s Music Center and Fiestable apps. Together they perform the same functions and a little more as Fiestable lets you control how fast the lights pulse and in what colours.

Size is literally the biggest issue with the Muteki. It takes up a lot of room, so you need a good spot for it. If you do need to move it, there are two small wheels on the back at the base, and a handle near the top so you can roll it like a trolley. However, you need to tilt it a long way to engage the wheels, which, combined with the weight, makes it difficult to manoeuvre through the living room.

Big also applies to the price. At $1400 it’s not a cheap Bluetooth speaker. However, it’s a heck of a party machine, and I had a lot of great Friday and Saturday nights singing along at the top of my lungs, with all the lights blazing.

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