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Loves2Watch 12-12-2007 09:29 AM

Onkyo HT-SR800 HTIB review
 
Onkyo HT-SR800 Home Theater in a Box
By Darryl Wilkinson • Home Theater Magazine - June, 2007

Multiple sweet spots from one sweet system.
It's hard to get too excited about most inexpensive HTiBs. That's not to say a system has to cost a lot to be a great value. In fact, there are plenty of one-box-fits-all systems that pack a lot of punch for what you pay. But there's usually so much emphasis on quantity of features that the quality often suffers. In some cases, the system is a hodgepodge of gear thrown together by a manufacturer that sees how popular HTiBs are with the general public and doesn't want to miss out on grabbing its share of the pie.
So when an HTiB system comes along that's both reasonably priced and spanking good in terms of sound quality and loaded with useful features, I jump up from my perch on the couch and scream, "Praise the Lord and pass the remote!" (This is followed rather quickly by other members of my family yelling at me to sit down and be quiet.)
Onkyo's new $599 HT-SR800 7.1-channel Home Theater System is one of those exclamatory systems, and anyone interested in a system with serious substance rather than fancy fluffiness needs to take a look at it. Here's why.
First of all, it's a full 7.1-channel system. That alone makes it somewhat unusual when it comes to HTiBs. More unusual is the fact that it comes with all seven of the necessary bookshelf speakers, plus a powered subwoofer, to make a complete 7.1 system. But Onkyo doesn't lock you in to using it or losing it if you decide you'd be happier with a 5.1-channel system. The HT-R550 A/V receiver that's part of the system let's you configure it to run the "extra" pair of speakers and amp channels as a separate stereo pair in another location in your home or apartment.
As a matter of fact, you can also set up your main home theater as a 7.1-channel system using the included speakers and wire an additional pair of speakers to the Speaker Set B connections. When the Speaker Set B button on the front of the receiver is off, you'll hear 7.1-channels in your home theater. When Speaker Set B is turned on, the main system drops to 5.1. Based on past experience, I don't think a lot of people will take advantage of this feature; but the fact that it's even there is a clue to how much thought Onkyo put into the design of the system.
Although it is part of an HTiB, the HT-R550 is designed first and foremost as a full-fledged A/V receiver, with plenty of A/V inputs and outputs. It includes plenty of digital audio inputs, component video inputs, and even a full set of multichannel analog audio inputs for use with an SACD or DVD-Audio player. It would have been nice to see pre-amp outputs for all channels, but at least Onkyo included a subwoofer pre-out. Regardless, the amplifiers are substantial enough to use with a variety of other speakers when you're ready to move up.
Another big bonus with the HT-SR800 system is the inclusion of switching for two HDMI sources. Of course, switching for a lot more HDMI sources – more are headed our way every day – would have been great, but at least you can switch between two. Plus, both HDMI inputs support up to 1080p resolutions. You can only use the HDMI inputs for video (that's pretty standard for gear in this price range at the moment), so it's a good thing the receiver has those four digital inputs (two each optical and coaxial). [Just note that neither Toslink optical nor coaxial digital audio connections are capable of carrying next-gen audio from Blu-ray or HD DVD at full resolution, either as native bitstreams or multichannel PCM signals- Ed.].
The HT-R550 is also XM and Sirius satellite radio ready, so all you have to do is add the respective (optional) antennae and subscribe. XM sometimes broadcasts Neural Surround-encoded material, and the Neural Surround decoder built into the Onkyo receiver will let you hear those broadcasts in all their discrete-5.1-channel glory. For iPod owners, Onkyo makes an optional dock that provides control of the iPod from the receiver.
There's one more major, and I mean really major, feature built into the receiver, but since it affects the speakers let's move on to them first. As I've mentioned, the system comes complete with seven satellites and a subwoofer. All of the speakers, except for the subwoofer, of course, are designed to be used on either stands or shelves, or they can be wall-mounted. The three two-way front speakers are virtually identical, as are the four single-driver surround/back speakers. The subwoofer uses a down-firing 10" driver in a front-ported cabinet.

On the whole, the speaker package is okay, although nowhere near the high caliber of the receiver. That's okay because this system is obviously aimed at the consumer who's interested in value and performance, not glitz. Usually, such a person has thoughts of upgrading over time as his or her budget allows – and this is a system that's ripe with possibilities for upgrading.
When first set up, the speakers had a noticeable resonance in the mid-frequencies and were a bit aggressive and harsh in the high end. The subwoofer was nothing to write home about, but it was passable and equal in most respects to the quality of the rest of the speaker package.
This is where the really exciting part comes in. Onkyo says the HT-SR800 is the first HTiB system to use an Audyssey room-correction technology specifically designed for integrated systems. That's truly hot, and it gives this system the extra boost that catapults it over most of the competing systems on the market.
Audyssey technology, if you're not familiar with it, uses complex processing algorithms that tailor the system's sound to your particular room – and it provides a "sweet spot" for more than one listening position. There are various levels of Audyssey processing, and you can buy a standalone processor for several thousand dollars that will work with the most outrageous systems. This Onkyo HTiB uses a less elaborate version called Audyssey 2EQ.
Like other systems with built-in calibration technologies, the HT-SR800 lets you set up the speakers, place the included microphone in the listening position, and push the calibration button. The system takes care of the rest. There's no hassle with menus and setting speaker sizes, distances, and etc. Using Audyssey 2EQ, however, will take a little longer than most (about 10 minutes) because it needs to go through the entire calibration process for three listening positions – which means you have to move the microphone to each seat for separate testing.
The result of this little bit of extra work is well worth the effort. In this case, what starts as a lackluster speaker system becomes something that's pretty darn good – certainly better than the rest of the HTiBs I've heard in this price range. The aggressive highs were mellowed, the mid-bass resonance was greatly reduced, and the subwoofer, although still not spectacular, was tighter and had more oomph. In addition, the delays were right on, so the surround effects seamlessly meshed with the front channels. And, as promised, the sweet spot opened up from a center-of-the-couch position to one that encompassed the entire couch. (Of course, no one else could hear how good it sounded because I was still shouting about how impressed I was!)
Some will complain that $599 only buys a 7.1-channel receiver and the associated speakers. It's not really a Home Theater in a Box if it doesn't include a DVD player, right? Maybe so, but even if you add on $150 for a decent entry-level DVD player (and you can definitely find name-brand machines for less), you're still looking at – and listening to– one of the best HTiBs we've experienced for the money. If you are into performance and would like to have the possibility of upgrading, this one's highly recommended.
At A Glance
Onkyo HT-R550 AV Receiver
Power Rating: 110-Watts x 7 into 8 ohms
Processing Modes: DD, Dolby ProLogicIIx, DD-EX, DTS, DTS-ES, DTS-Neo:6, DTS 24/96, Neural Surround
Inputs
Video: two HDMI (video only), three component, three S-Video, four composite
Audio: two each Toslink optical and coaxial digital, one 7.1-channel analog, five analog stereo
Outputs
Video : one each HDMI and component, two each S-Video and composite
Audio: two analog stereo, one subwoofer pre-out
Onkyo SKW-550 (Powered Subwoofer)
Drive Unit: 10", bass reflex
Power Rating: 230-Watts
Dimensions (WHD): 10.875" x 20.06" x 16.44"
Weight: 25.1 lbs.
Onkyo SKC-550C (Center Speaker)
Type: two-way, bass reflex, with two 5" cone woofers and one 1" balanced dome tweeter, magnetically shielded
Impedance: 8-ohms
Dimensions (WHD): 17.06" x 6.19" x 7.625"
Weight: 8.58 lbs./ea.
Onkyo SKF-550F (Front Speakers)
Type: two-way with two 5" cone woofers and one 1 balanced dome tweeter, magnetically shielded
Impedance: 8-ohms
Dimensions (WHD): 6.19" x 17.06" x 7.63"
Weight: 8.58 lbs./ea.
Onkyo SKM-550S/SKB-550 (Surround Speakers)
Type: full-range closed box with one 3.25" cone driver
Impedance: 8-ohms
Dimensions (WHD): 6.13" x 10.5" x 3.88"
Weight: 2.86 lbs./ea.

Loves2Watch 12-13-2007 09:35 AM

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justsayno 01-29-2008 07:34 PM

the new guy
 
love2watch it seems to me like you know what your talking about so maybe you can help the new guy (that me ) figure this out!
i just bought a samsung hpt4254 "42 plasma and a onkyo sr800 htib
the guy at circuit city told me it was top of the line but after doing some review i found out that i need to buy a dvd player with a built-in decoding and a 5.1 or 7.1 analog output so that i woun't end up with a low-res dvd sound track also i need to connect a dedicated audio feed. ( what ever that means) because the hdmi jack are video pass-through so that a can get surround sound i need optical or coaxial digital or analog multichannel that because the reciever has no video conversion so for each video input type you use (composite,s-video,component or hdmi you'll need to connect to the corresponding output from the reciever to the tv then toggle the tv input in the tandem when you switch the av reciever source what does that mean. also they say this system will not work with blue ray is this true.i like the kiss approch ( keep it simple stupid )diagram would help also thanks in advance .:helpme

Loves2Watch 01-29-2008 08:26 PM

Connect the HDMI cable directly to the TV and an Optical digital audio (Toslink) cable to the Onkyo. You will get great sound and an awesome picture. Any DVD player will work with this configuration, that is DVD, HD DVD or Blu-ray. Also if you want to hook up a satellite or cable box use the same audio connection and for video use either an HDMI connection or component. Simple enough?

Miggity 01-30-2008 12:50 PM

I have this Onkyo HT-SR800 and I love it.

Had it for about 5 months. Nothing but awesome.
Even more awesome is that I got it from Amazon when it was only $389.00

Make sure you rewire it though with something like 16 gauge wire. It comes with some pretty crappy thin stuff.

Loves2Watch 01-30-2008 02:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Miggity (Post 509451)
Make sure you rewire it though with something like 16 gauge wire. It comes with some pretty crappy thin stuff.

That is not necessary as the manufacturer supplies what will work. You will not get any "better" sound by replacing the speaker wire with a larger gauge. If that were the case, don't you think Onkyo would supply it since they want their system to sound it's best?

verseman 01-30-2008 03:04 PM

I have this unit as well, i love it. I had to replace some cables but only because i needed a longer length that what was supplied, I brought it at J&R in NYC for 399.00 thanks to some great advice from Loves2Watch as well!

Loves2Watch 01-30-2008 03:05 PM

Glad I was able to help.

truedamen 01-30-2008 06:41 PM

I helped a friend install this system and for the money it is awesome. You get room filling sound out of large speakers.

justsayno 01-31-2008 05:06 PM

alright guys so what your telling me is to take my HDMI cable and connect one side to the tv and the other side goes to the HDMI
output of the onkyo reciever or the onkyo dvd player
(2)the optical audio (toslink) from the reciever to the tv
(3) i guess am going to need audio from the dvd to the reciever so i have to get a digital coax audio cable to hook up from dvd to reciever
(4)to hook up my cable i need another hdmi cable from the box to the reciever? is that right?
by the way THANKS GUYS for all your knowldge and help!!!!

Chris1974 04-02-2008 06:55 AM

Anyone want to help or give me some ideas??

Here is what I have. I have a Samsung Plasma TV, Phillips DVD player, Onkyo HT-SR800, and a cable DVR box.

I have hooked it all up, but not really getting much from the surround speakers. Most all my sound is coming from the front speakers. So I am not sure if I have not hooked it up correctly. Below I have posted the product sites if you would like to see what I have exactly. The DVD players is basic. It has not optical or HDMI. The TV, DVR, and receiver do have them. I have cables running every direction and not sure if they are even in the right spots. I know that the Onkyo gives you a set up guide, but I got a little confussed.

Thanks for your help and I would appreciate any help you can provide.

hwyking 04-02-2008 08:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chris1974 (Post 574492)
Anyone want to help or give me some ideas??

Here is what I have. I have a Samsung Plasma TV, Phillips DVD player, Onkyo HT-SR800, and a cable DVR box.

I have hooked it all up, but not really getting much from the surround speakers. Most all my sound is coming from the front speakers. So I am not sure if I have not hooked it up correctly. Below I have posted the product sites if you would like to see what I have exactly. The DVD players is basic. It has not optical or HDMI. The TV, DVR, and receiver do have them. I have cables running every direction and not sure if they are even in the right spots. I know that the Onkyo gives you a set up guide, but I got a little confussed.

Thanks for your help and I would appreciate any help you can provide.

After running the auto calibration with the microphone I noticed my subwoofer could barely be heard/felt so I manually adjusted the level in the receiver. I decided I wanted to hear my surround speakers more as well so I increased the levels on those as well. Have you tried that? On the remote control at the bottom there's a button called "CH SEL" and next to it are "LEVEL -" and "LEVEL +". You can play around with those.

Marius3 04-30-2008 07:29 PM

correct “Listening Mode”
 
I recently purchased the Onkyo HT-SR800 Home Theater System. I have connected all seven speakers and the subwoofer. I have calibrated the speakers using the included microphone and your “Audyssey” system. All speakers seem to be working properly.

I have the Digital Audio output of my new Sony BlueRay DVD player connected to the coaxial Digital Audio input of the Onkyo HT-SR800 receiver. I am playing a BlueRay movie disc that is in 7.1 sound.

Questions:
1. Where on the Onkyo unit does it indicate that I am receiving 7.1 channel audio?
2. On the Onkyo unit, what is the correct “Listening Mode” for true 7.1 sound?

Sincerely,

Marius Perron


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