Customer Reviews: Onkyo HT-S3500 660 Watt 5.1-Channel Home Theater Speaker/Receiver Package
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on April 15, 2012
Update 4/18/14:
It's now been two years since I purchased this system, and it's still going strong. My review below still accurately displays my feelings about it. In addition, I now have a seven month old baby, so at night I sometimes listen to the receiver through headphones. I have an extension cable with one of the big headphone jacks (1/4 inch) that plugs into the system, and then I plug my headphones into the 3.5 mm jack on the end of the cable. It works quite well.

Update 5/8/12:
I've now moved into my new house and have this system set up and wall mounted.
A few things:
-Attaching these speakers using mounts is a pain. They only have a keyhole mounting option, and the mount set I bought which said it was compatible with keyhole speakers did not work. I had to buy some additional nuts and washers to get it to attach. I decided to only mount the rear speakers with the mounts, and have the front speakers hanging on wall screws. Mounting directly to the wall with screws actually works pretty well though. I attached some adhesive felt pads to the back of the speakers to eliminate any possible vibration against the wall.
-The ozone smell I mentioned initially is mostly gone.
-Low volume listening is still a bit of a pain. I find myself upping the center channel to make the voices stand out more late at night when the wife is asleep. The sound is great at higher volumes, though.
-Edit- I fixed the low hum, it was a ground loop caused by my cable line. Completely unrelated to the speakers.

I'm still happy with the purchase. The price is cheaper now than what I paid, I think it's a pretty good deal.

Original review:
This is Onkyo's new entry level 5.1 system for March 2012. I was a little wary about buying this system because of the problems with the previous generation HT-S3400, but have not had any problems so far.

First off, this is my first ever surround sound system, so I do not have a lot of history to compare it to.

-Initial setup was very easy. Just unpack the receiver and speakers, and hook them all up. The speaker wire it comes with is color coded for each speaker, and is shorter for the front speakers and longer for the rear. I have a PS3 and HD Cable. I just hooked those into the receiver via HDMI, and ran the HDMI cable from the receiver to the TV. Done.
-The on screen setup is very convenient and fairly easy to use. The options in each category are not always intuitive though.
-Several different listening modes, pretty easy to cycle through and try them all.
-There is a convenient USB port in the front for hooking up an IPOD for music playback. You can then control the music through the receiver remote.
-The speakers are nice and clear. The sub is passive, but puts out a decent amount of Bass. I had to turn it way down as I live in a condo with neighbors below.

Cons (none of these concern me too much, but could be important to others):
-Like most systems of this level, the included speaker wire seems fairly cheap. It works for now, but I will probably replace.
-The receiver puts out quite a bit of heat, make sure you have some ventilation space above it. There is a sticker on top that warns it can get quite hot.
-With the heat is coming a bit of an ozone smell while it is running. I think this is beginning to fade, and hope it will not be noticeable after some more time. (Update: This smell disappeared over the course of a few weeks.)
-The speakers do not have any threaded screw holes for mounting at all. There is only a hole and slot for hooking over a bolt. I'm probably going to get stands with adhesive to mount these.
-The wire inputs in the back of the receiver and the speakers are all spring loaded clips. Again, I think this is fairly standard for this price range.
-The setup menu is not always intuitive to use. I read through most of the included manual (on cd) to figure out all of the more advanced settings. The good news is the manual is well written and does a good job of explaining everything.
-There is a night-time (dynamic compression) option, but it only works in Dolby 5.1 mode. My wife goes to bed very early at night, so I need to use this quite a bit for low volume listening. Depending on your component/source Dolby 5.1 is not always a listening option with the receiver, though. For example, my cable is transmitted in 5.1, but On-Demand programming does not appear to be. So I can use the night-time listening with live TV, but not On-Demand. Frustrating.
-No equalizer. You can adjust Bass and Treble, and calibrate each speaker by raising or lowering the decibels, but you cannot adjust the individual frequencies (that I have found at all anyway).

Other thoughts:
Overall I am quite happy with this system. It meets my needs, but might not be quite enough for some. There is no microphone or automated system for calibrating the surround sound, but you just go into the setup menu and adjust your sitting distance from each speaker to calibrate. It seems to work quite well. I was watching a war movie and had helicopters and bullets flying all around me. Initially I found the speech volume to be too low watching movies, but I just upped the decibels of the center channel, and now it sounds much better.

Note: I did not buy mine through Amazon, only because another retailer was offering free expedited shipping. I often reference reviews here though, so wanted to add mine.
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on March 1, 2013

This system sounds good and it has 5 speakers and 1 sub woofer. Hence 5.1 home theater system. The 5 stands for the amount of speakers and the .1 stands for the sub woofer. The front, surround and center speaker are about 6-7" big and the sub woofer is a big box looking thing about 1 1/2ft. on all sides. This system comes with its own speaker wire too but it's very thin. I suggest picking up 16 gauge speaker wire for it. The smaller the gauge the wire is the thicker it is. Do not buy higher than 14 gauge wire because if you do it will not fit into the clips properly. Also 16 gauge is more than enough for most situations unless you have a ginormous room and I'm talking gymnasium big. If you have a small room around 15-20ft. by 15-20ft. A 100ft. spool of wire should suffice. Make sure to measure the amount of wire you need 1st though before you buy it if that's possible. The speaker wire that comes with it is color coded so it is extremely easy to hook the speakers up to the right clips. If you order your own wire it will be a bit more confusing to hook up because the wire will be a different color. The length of the wire that comes with is as follows: 10ft. front speaker wire for ea. speaker, 10ft center speaker wire, 26ft. surround speaker wire and 10ft. wire for sub woofer. It has 2 extra speaker hook ups for another room. These are for the channel B speakers that do not come with the system. Channel A is the 5.1 channel speakers. Meaning if you have 2 extra speakers and you hook them up to the front B clips on the back you can listen to this system in a different room using channel B. Keep this system on channel A if you do not have these extra speakers as it will degrade your sound quality if you don't.


It has 4 HDMI inputs and 1 HDMI output, 2 component video in, 1 Component video out, 4 AV in, 1 AV out, 1 AV audio from TV in, a monitor out coaxial whatever that is..., a R1 remote control hook up again unknown to me..., A.M. and F.M. radio antenna hook ups with the antenna wires, 2 digital audio optic in, 1 digital audio coaxial in, a USB port, and the speaker clips for channel A speakers (12 clips) and front channel B speakers (4 clips).
The component connections on this device are video only. If your hooking a component device/ system into your TV you can still listen to its audio on this home theater system if you have a digital audio coaxial or digital audio optic cable that can hook up to both your TV and this system.
I love this system for the amount of connections it has. You can also hook up a MP3 player I-phone or I-pod device that has music on it and listen to your music using a USB cable on this home theater system. You can also hook headphones up to it if you want to listen quietly but I have yet to discover what kind of head phones to use with it as the head phone jack is big. Bigger than a ear buds plug in. It will take some time getting used to all the settings and some research if your new to home theater systems but its so much better having the sound all around you than just in front. It's a great learning experience. This device is CEC or RIHD compatible if you know what that means. I prefer to keep these settings turned off though. It annoys me when I'm trying to listen to music from one device and I go to turn my TV off to listen to just the music using my home theater system and it turns my home theater system off with it...
All in all this device is definintley worth the price and I suggest that if your new to home theater system this is a good place to start. The top does get a little hot when it's in use but the manual that comes with it states that this is natural. It also states to give the system at least 20mm of breathing room and keep it in an area with good ventilation. I assume this is to keep the system cool. I use this device with my PS1, PS2, and Xbox 360. It's supposed to be 3D compatable but I would't know I don't have a 3D TV so I could not put this to the test. It works with 720p and 1080p among other resolutions. It also has an on screen setup menu using the HDMI out.

If you find this review helpful or not please vote. It took me alot of time to write this.
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on July 19, 2012
I bought the HT-3400 last year and it is virtually identical to this one. I had an initial failure within 3 days and had to get it replaced and so far this one is working, however Onkyo's quality is nowhere what it used to be. I liked the set up in the beginning because it was such an improvement over the tiny speakers that came with my TV, however over time I came to realize that much was lacking. What was lacking was a direct result of the low-end speakers that came with the system. It is difficult to expect 3 1/4 inch speakers to reproduce a lot of high quality sound. Even though they're listed as having a frequency response of 80 - 20 KHz they don't mention being measured at + or - 3 Db, which is the commonly accepted standard.

I ended up replacing everything except the receiver and sub woofer. Obviously money was a concern or I wouldn't have bought a HTIB in the first place, but now that I have Sony SS-F6000 towers in the front, and BIC DV62Si's for surrounds (great sounding speakers for little more than $100/pair) and a BIC DV52 center channel. The presence, imagery, and clarity are so dramatically improved that it is like going from mono to stereo. The sky is the limit when it comes to buying stereo equipment but good sound can be achieved without spending thousands. I wish that I had thought it all out before I bought the HTIB. I paid less than $300 for the HT-3400 and it wasn't bad for the money, but realize now that it could be a lot better.

One thing to consider is that if you come to desire better sound, then don't do what I did because your upgrade path is limited. Sure you can replace the speakers and get a much better sounding system, but the receiver and sub woofer are the sticking point. The receiver is fine as far as power and basic features, but I was unable to get it to get the HDMI to properly pass-thru both video and sound when the receiver was in standby mode despite that Onkyo said that it could. I had to add an active matrix 4 x 2 switch to be able to have everything work like it should have without the switch. However it all works well now since adding the switch. The thing that I didn't consider when buying this HTIB was that the sub woofer is unpowered which means that you really don't have the ability to upgrade it to something better because virtually all sub woofers of note are powered. So this creates an impasse where I can't get a better sub woofer without also replacing the receiver and that's more money than I want to spend at this point. Just keeping my fingers crossed that the receiver and sub woofer keep working so I don't have to replace both, at least for now.

The HT-3500 at under $300 delivered isn't a bad system, but it has its limitations and anyone considering this should weigh that against possibly spending more up front but being happier with what you end up with down the road. If you are considering building a budget home theater system then consider BIC America's line up of speakers as they are very good and much cheaper than your average "name" brand and often times also outperform speakers costing several times more. It all comes down to what you are willing to spend, and understanding that a very good sounding system will cost more than $300 but can be had for something well south of a grand.
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on November 11, 2013
First of all, I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 due to the microscopic, pre-cut length speaker wires that come with this set and the fact that there are no threaded holes for mounting the speakers, otherwise it would definitely be 5 stars based on performance.

I am brand new to the surround sound system world, so I spent significant time shopping and reading an exorbitant amount of reviews on different products. I ended up going with this set because it had pretty good reviews, it was in my price range, and I saw a lot of high-end sets that were made by Onkyo. I didn't want to spend $1,500 on my first surround system and not have a clue how to set it up to my liking and operate it.

I also, on the advice of other reviewers, went ahead and bought a 100-foot spool of 16-gauge speaker wire. I hooked it up at first with the dummy-proof color-coded wires that come with the system, and let me tell you that they are ridiculously tiny. I think they are 22- or 24-gauge, even for the subwoofer. After using it for a few days I traded the stock wire with the 16-gauge, and it made a substantial difference. So my advice is go ahead and spend another $13 to get a larger wire. I went with "Mediabridge - 16-Gauge 100 feet Speaker Wire with Sequential Foot Markings".

I played with the crossover a bit, and I found that with it set at 150Hz there is a pretty good balance of low- and high-frequency speaker usage. If it is set to lower than 100HZ you will barely be able to tell that a subwoofer is in the system (perhaps this is desirable when people are trying to sleep), and if it is set to above 150Hz (which on this system there is only one option above, 200Hz) the subwoofer and low-frequency speakers try to produce sounds out of their capability and it sounds awful. Either way, the crossover is easily manipulated with a few button presses on the remote control.

The controls for this system are great. The system has an on-screen menu that shows up on the TV screen and is very logical. No fancy imagery or details, just the bare-bones, easy access functional menu. The remote allows you to easily navigate the menu, but it also has several direct buttons that allow you to control important features without having to scroll through the menu.

One thing that I noticed about the speakers that might bother some is that they are only set up for keyhole hang mounting. There are no threaded holes on the bottom or on the back, so if that is your plan, then beware. That is not an issue for me as I planned to mount them on stands. I got the "Atlantic Satellite 77305018 2 Speaker Stands (Black)" for about $35 per pair and they worked great, even came with some stout two-sided adhesive tape. These do the job, and they fit in with the speakers well enough that you don't constantly notice that they didn't come with the system.

Overall I think this is a great starter set for the audially immature such as myself, but I don't see myself getting rid of it any time soon because the sound is phenomenal. While I was hooking up the new 16-gauge speaker wire I had the sound playing through the TV, and it just sounded empty and dull. This system, at a great price, really woke my TV up and makes me feel like I'm right in the middle of the movie scene!


I had an issue at first where there would be a hum coming from the subwoofer at low to medium volume that would also appear in the speakers at high volume. This, of course, annoyed me, and I immediately dreaded having to repackage the system and ship it back to Amazon. I then took a step back, said "woo-sah", and began looking for a solution. I found that it was the shielding on the cable input to my set top box (which is connected to the Onkyo system via HDMI, then an HDMI from the Onkyo to my TV) held a bit of potential to ground (a couple of millivolts), and that it was essentially grounding itself through the amplifier. The way I found this out was I selected an input channel on the Onkyo that had no input and listened for the hum. The TV screen turned blue, I turned the volume up to about 30, and there was that annoying sound. I then reached behind my set top box and unhooked the cable line, and the hum disappeared.

I solved the problem by disconnecting the cable from my set top box, plugging that into the "cable in" port on my surge protector, then running a line from the "cable out" port of my surge protector back to my set top box. The surge protector grounded the shielding and completely removed the hum at any volume all the way up to maximum with no noticeable effect on the cable signal.
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on May 19, 2012
I don't write reviews too often, but I was stuck between this and the Sony model priced very similar. I am extremely glad I went for this, the build quality is fantastic, it is very user friendly! My only complain is that the receiver gets VERY HOT! I am not sure why they did not put some sort of fan in the back too ventilate the air but it almost burns when you touch it (granted mine is not in a very good spot right now).

When the package arrives, I was in sheer shock at just how large the box was. I saw the Sony system at Bestbuy in the box and this doubles the size. It was extremely well packaged on the inside, the sub-woofer is HUGE! The headphone jack is sadly not 3.5mm but there is an AUX in the back I will have too try for my android (I sadly do not own an ipod so the USB port is useless).

-Amazing build and sound quality for the money
-A TON of hookups, I don't think you'll fill this receiver up unless you own a ton of electronics.
-Speaker wire can be replaced and upgraded
-Easy setup, directions weren't too clear on what too put where but use common sense, its all color coded!
-On-Screen Display is very nice (must be over HDMI too see it)
-Packaging was very good, sadly amazon just shipped me the box so everyone could see what it was..would rather it have been placed in a normal box for privacy.
-Remote isn't over-cluttered.

-Manual must be read on a CD, no paper copy is given.
-Receiver gets HOT! Make sure you have it in a well ventilated area!

That's all I can think of, I haven't had this more than 12 hours so I will attempt to update my review as time goes on. I cannot comment on the music optimizer. I cannot get it too work properly with my PC because my sound card is using DTS encoders.

Edit: I moved the receiver on top of my desk and now that it can breathe from all sides the heat situation has really gone down. I originally had it crammed into a small part of my entertainment center with almost the entire thing covered up (I figured this would be a problem). Doesnt get near as hot now, just make sure you give it plenty of room too breathe!
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on November 18, 2013
I have tried other more expensive sound systems and this one competes with all of them. At first, I had not planned on using it as an AVI switch, but it works so well and has separate settings for each channel that I only have one HDMI cable going to the TV now. There are allot more sound and input options than you may ever need. One particular point that many systems lack is a good sub-woofer. For the money, the Onkyo can thunder a movie impressively.

A few other pros:
1) Complete control profile exists for Logitech Harmony remote to control all functions.
2) Speaker sizes and distances can be calibrated.
4) Easily recognized by PC and PlayStation 3 with HDMI.
5) Video and audio sources can be combined to suit needs.
6) Separate "B" channel speaker outputs to run audio to other location( I ran speakers to my back patio).

A few Cons:
1) The receiver runs HOT. I read a few reviews mentioning that the heat killed it. My solution was simple. Buy a cheap laptop cooling pad(one with fans). I bought one for ten dollars that will fit underneath the receiver and plug it into the USB port on the front. This provides quiet but very active cooling to the whole unit. Really big difference now.
2) FM receiver/antenna is not very good. If you want to use the FM radio you will need an external antenna.
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on May 2, 2012
I bought this a few days ago while it was $280. I received it yesterday and set it up. So far, I am very happy with this system. For the price, you can't go wrong. I really like the Iphone/Ipod support. You can control your music with the remote as well as see the songs/albums/etc on the receiver. It also charges through the USB. One thing to note is that the receiver gets hot. I have mine located in an entertainment center cabinet, so I keep the doors open while it is on. I think I will also buy a little fan to get some airflow just to be on the safe side. I cannot speak for reliability yet, as I have only had it for 1 day, but I will try to update my review once I have owned it for a while.

-Great sound quality
-USB input
-Easy set up

-No conversion to HDMI from composite and component. You must wire each type up to the tv separately.
-Speaker wire is very light gauge, but it works and you can easily buy your own.
-Receiver gets fairly hot
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on December 5, 2012
I did a good amount of research prior to purchasing this home theater system and after about 3 months with it, I have no complaints. It's by no means the best sound system out there but if you're looking for an upgrade from your TV's built in speakers, are on a budget, and want to take your movie, game, and tv-watching experience to the next level, I don't think you can go wrong with this system.

The 5.1 speaker configuration puts out sound that is clear, loud, crisp, without any background noise, hum, or buzzing. The sub-woofer has plenty of power and makes its presence felt. I turn it down at night for fear that the neighbors below will complain. The receiver is large and has plenty of inputs and I haven't had any problems with connectivity with HDMI, Radio, optical, etc. Having said that, I would have liked an audio input for my laptop for when I watch movies from my laptop on my TV (there may be a way to connect the sound to my TV and then have that signal go to the receiver but I haven't figured this out yet). I like the menus on the receiver and its format. Options are clear and the menu makes the entire system very customizable. For example, I can set the volume (dB and distance from center) on each individual speaker which helps since I don't have the rear speakers spaced equally apart from the center of the room.

Overall, I think this is a outstanding starter home theater system, and for about $280, it's the best value out there. I'm sure there are other systems with better sound, quality, and overall performance, but I'm not sure the average person on a budget can justify that slight increase in quality for nearly twice the price (5.1 complete Samsung/Pioneer models go for around ~$600-700)
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on June 21, 2012
I received my Onkyo HT-S3500 today through one-day Prime delivery in order to use it with my new LG 3D TV. When the TV arrived, I was sad to see that my old Philips sound system couldn't be connected to it (oh, the days of analog audio outs), but this system actually makes me wish I had switched much earlier. Here is a review broken down into steps. Please keep in mind, I have only owned this unit for one day, but will update my review after a few weeks of testing it out!

Setup was not as hard as I had feared, although I have to admit that I am only using HDMI devices. Plugged my XBox, BluRay player, Apple TV, and cable box into the HDMI In's (there are 4 of them), plugged the TV into the HDMI out, turned the unit on, pressed the Cable/Sat button, and voila, I had cable reception on my TV. The picture looked as crips as a direct connection, only now I have a single cable running up to my TV instead of four - certainly improves the look of my wall.

The sound didn't work at first, but a quick look into the manual (on the accompanying CD) explained that I had to set my TV to allow for HDMI sound output in order for the sound to work. Never knew this option even existed before, but proved to me that the manual has decent trouble-shooting. I did have sound output now, but only the L Front speaker would work. I fiddled with the wires a bit, reconnecting them on all the speakers and one by one the speakers started working. This is my only ture point of criticism, as the wires are very flimsy and certainly not up to par with the receiver or the speakers. The wires tend to slip out of their connection and getting a good connection at first is just a bit more difficult than it should be. Once they are connected, they stay put and since they are so easy to replace, this won't be an issue in the long-run. Still, some bigger gauge wires would have been appropriate to include.

The system overlays it's menus right onto the TV screen, making it easy to change settings and fine-tune the output. The menus are easy to navigate and no function is unnecessarily hard to find. There are also some buttons on the front of the unit (along with an iPod In and headphone jack), that allow some manipulations while using the unit for pure audio output, but the menu is easier to use and more comprehensive. The manual once more does a good job of walking the user through the steps and I had no problem setting up my sound system to accommodate my room layout. From adjusting the distance of the speakers to the TV, to fine-tuning the treble of selected speakers, there are many possibilities to get the sound just right.
The only negative comment I would like to add about the on-screen menu is the fact that when the system is muted, there is a reminder message on the bottom of the screen that cannot be turned off. It blocks out the score of ESPN-broadcast basketball games, as well as any new-tickers. Why this bar is not blended out automatically, I don't know. This is not a huge issue, but you gotta pick on something and it is an annoyance that is hard to explain.

Will be added after some more testing!

Opinion thus far:
- Easy setup
- Manual has decent trouble-shooting advice and walks user through setup well
- On-screen menu makes it easy to change settings
- iPod connector and head phone jack are located on the front for easy access
- Many options to customize sound settings, especially for surround options

- Flimsy speaker wires that really should be of a larger gauge
- Message bar overlies bottom part of the TV screen when the system is muted
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on September 16, 2014
It's OK, but won't blow you away. This is just about as cheap as any 5.1 home theater system can be sold for without being complete garbage. I did have this for about a year and a half and enjoyed it while I had it, but since upgrading the difference is night and day. The receiver is halfway decent, and the HDMI passthrough is by far the best part of this entire system.

If you use it to play loud music on a regular basis, the speakers will die on you in a few months. When mine died, I took them apart to see what the internal construction was like and how they were made. My advice would be to not use any wire smaller than 18 or 20 gauge to wire this system (like the ones provided) because the wires on the inside are very very thin and cheap.

The sound you get from this system is really not bad considering how inexpensive it is. The satellites are very compact and almost completely lack the low end of the sound spectrum, which the subwoofer does its job to make up for. Taking the subwoofer apart after it blew out on me was the most disappointing part of the whole system. Theres no foam, the internal wires are very cheap and the speaker leads between the voice coil and the driver leads are uninsulated and kept shorting themselves out (which eventually fried the receiver).

Overall, its a decent starter system, but you could probably do better if you got a cheap receiver and set of speakers separately.
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