on September 20, 2007
After having had this system for a week, I am now utterly impressed with it. Once you get all the speakers calibrated, replace all the speaker wire with some 14 gage, and get your room setup properly you'll find this system blows you away too.
Strait out of the box you will not be impressed. But that will be the case with any sound system. They need to be properly setup.
I HIGHLY suggest replacing the wire with METRA Ltd S14-100 MTA 14 Gauge Clear Speaker Wire. It really does make a world of difference. I was thinking the speakers were not as clear as I would have liked, until I installed the new wire. Now everything is extra crisp and clear.
After doing tons of research, Onkyo was the only one I could find that consistently got great reviews. I can see why!
on September 10, 2007
Update 5/2/2008: I am still exploring the various capabilities of this HTiB, I received an HDMI cable box from COX and enabled the Dolby through the optical output, using the EX mode, the sound became astonishing. If you are using BluRay, it is better to leave it on PCM, but for regular DVDs, Dolby and DTS make an amazing contribution. This receiver is amazing, and still only one drawback, it does not process the audio coming from HDMI cable, it routes it to the TV (why would you want that?) but does not output through the speakers.. For BluRay, you might need a different receiver, but for upscaling DVD players, its wonderful (bear in mind one digital output cable!)
I have been researching for a decent enough HTiB for almost 6 months now. I had bad experiences with Panasonic, LG, and Yamahas (Not a particular model). They didn't impress me much and I always wanted to be blown away before I see the "Max Volume" on the screen. I was going to buy the HT-SR600 due to ONKYO's reputation but by the time I decided the new SR800 was released. The built-in 230W subwoofer and powerful satellites made me go with the 800 vs 600. However it becomes harder to mess with 7 speakers versus 5. I received the product and I was happy (not as much as I expected after reading the reviews). After testing it for 2 weeks, finally I replaced the wiring with 14AWG speaker wires and audio cables with Fiber Optics (or digital COAX). I had no clue that could make such a difference. I am no longer able to turn the volume all the way up and I see no distortion whatsoever. Endless input/outputs and amazing quality for the price. Highly recommended for people who want to stay below $500 and still be proud of their system.
on April 20, 2008
I'm new to home theater and haven't bought a receiver in over 10 years, so I spent a few hours on the Internet researching home theater systems (what everybody calls HTIBs, "home theater in a box"). What convinced me to buy it was the cnet.com editors' video review, but the impression I got from reading about 50 reviews were:
1. Skimpy wires (true, but may not matter)
2. Auto-calibration makes setup easy (true, and is a must-do)
3. More inputs than you need (true)
4. HDMI issues (true, but by design)
5. Awesome sound (true)
6. Unit gets hot (false)
I got my unit from Vann's for $420 (no tax nor shipping), and it arrived in Texas from Montana in about 5 days in the manufacturer's box. I read in one review that the box was the size of a refrigerator, so I expected a monster package, but it turned out to be more the size of dorm refrigerator. However, it was still too bulky and heavy for me to carry by myself or fit in a mid-size car. The box was also crumpled, torn up, and taped back together, but with 2-3 inches of styrofoam on the inside, none of the contents were damaged.
Like a kid that can't wait to try out his new toy, I wanted to set it up without reading any instructions and turn it on as quickly as possible. The speaker wires that come with the unit are pretty skinny, but are nicely color-coded to the inputs on the back of the receiver and on the back of the speakers. This made it easy to keep track of the 15 speaker wires I rushed to hook up to speakers I placed side-by-side.
By the way, for some reason, it didn't occur to me that the unit has a built-in AM/FM tuner, because all the reviews kept mentioning that it doesn't come with a DVD player and is strictly an amplifier. That was a nice surprise.
When I turned it on the first time, no sound came out. After a few seconds of panic, I read from the instructions that you have to push a button to turn on the "A" speaker outputs. (Incidentally, there are also "B" speaker outputs for some different Onkyo product that uses the same receiver. Do not turn on the "B" speakers.) After turning on only the "A" speakers, still no sound. It turned out there are AM and FM antenna wires (included) that you have to plug in. The unit will mute the sound instead of playing radio static. Whew, I finally heard sound, however, it didn't sound so spectacular like everyone said.
Thinking radio quality isn't too good a source, I quickly plugged in my DVD player to the HDMI-in and my muted TV to the HDMI-out. Got a picture, but no sound again. Small panic once more before remembering a review that mentioned the unit only passes HDMI in to out, which I now understand to mean that it doesn't play sound from the HDMI input. I plugged in audio cables from the DVD and was relieved to hear the soundtrack from the receiver. The sound was pretty good, but not spectacular.
There's a setup microphone that you plug into the front of the unit, which automatically activates the auto-measuring. The first time I tried this, the unit displayed an error. My fault once more, because I placed all the speakers side-by-side to "test them out". After positioning them around the listening area, the auto-calibration completed successfully. Note this takes about 10 minutes, because it sends test sounds to each of the 8 speakers 3 times. After this, the sound improved immensely to what I consider awesome, but not spectacular yet.
I proceeded to hook up my HD cable box and DVR with component cables to get video pass through (mine don't have HDMI connections). This time, I get audio, but no video. A little more reading through the manual, and I learned that if you use component inputs, then the video only goes to the component output, not the HDMI output. So it turns out that the HDMI issues aren't really problems with the units being defective, but rather that it's kinda poorly designed for the HDMI connections.
At this point, I've got a jumble of wires and cables coming out the wazoo to get cable, DVD, and DVR sound. After a few minutes of thinking, the solution dawned on me. Unplug all the cables, and just connect the TV audio output to receiver. That way, no matter which source (DVD, DVR, or cable box) is playing on the TV, I only need one set of audio cables to the receiver. This took care of the wire jumble issue, but still not spectacular sound.
A little more reading of the manual, and I discovered that you have to use digital audio optical cables (Toslink) in order to get the most advanced surround sounds for all 7 speakers. Fortunately, I ordered a pair of those cables through Amazon, and now finally the sound is SPECTACULAR!
All in all, if you're new to home theater like I am, save yourself some time and read the setup instructions and operations manual before you start plugging stuff up. You'll save yourself some panic, frustration, and temporary disappointment. I have not noticed any heating issues. My 52" LCD puts out more heat than the receiver. Unless all your components have HDMI connections, the HDMI pass through will not save you any cables to your TV.
on November 29, 2007
First, the price of this system relative to other systems with exact and less features is UNBEATABLE. If you want to pay for the brand, such Bose/Sony for the same performance or less, by all means that is your choice.
Second, the surround sound feature with incredidable bass is just amazing. At first I said to myself that most media does not even emit 7.1 sound but only 5.1, particularly HD cable tv. This system, actually takes a 5.1 sound source and emulates it in 7.1 if you ask it to do so. The receiver gives you 15+ sound choices geared to your liking. If you want to switch the sound to just two speakers with no bass for some subtle quite or if you are watching the Transformers HD DVD and actually want to feel the base going through your body (I kid you not), all can be done in a flick of a button..it's that easy. Hence, flexibility is not even a question.
Yes, the HDMI connection does not carry audio as it 'should' in light of recent technology. But honestly, who cares! The one person on Amazon who left a feedback score of '1' for this system because of this, obviously is way too lazy to do a one time connection of an audio cable, that's all it takes! Use optical cables (the receiver has 2 hdmi and 2 optical) and there is NO loss in sound quality.
One thing people MUST do for ANY sound system is buy 14 gauge speaker wires. If you use the 24 gauge ultra skinny wires that comes with the package, you simply won't experience what I and others are experiencing. The 14 gauge wires are thicker than 24 gauge, hence it carries more voltage to the speakers, which means everything works to it's full potential because it is being powered accordingly. Logically, you know what this means for a surround sound system's overall performance involving 7 speakers. I could admit, that not including 14 guage wires is a negative aspect of this product, but realistically no home audio package provides you optimum speaker cables, which is the reason why there is an industry for speaker cables to begin with. If you can, replace the Subwoofer cable too. As for quality of the cables, do not bother with getting the highest quality simply because 14 guage cables is the same no matter what quality you get as they are the same thickness. Hey you're saving money on the system, use that to get the cables :).
Considering all, and considering I am a techy person, this is by far one of the top purchases I have ever made when it comes to electronics. This system has nothing but the highest user rating in every single website you may research on the net about it. So buy one, and follow the instructions me and others are leaving here. I am sure you will not be disappointed.
on May 16, 2007
Got these speakers at Circuit City for $470. I had the whole system set up in a couple hours and I have minimal HT experience. Push a few buttons and its calibrated. In terms of sound, the subwoofer packs a punch! I agree with the other reviewer about getting better speaker wire, but that goes for most other systems too. Overall the sound is amazing even with the wires provided, system is powerful and incredibly easy to use, good company, no cons so far at all. HDMI is a good feature, but I don't have the equipment to set it up yet. I'm real impressed - I wouldn't go with any other package.
This system is an incredible value. I have had it for a week now and am really enjoying even my regular TV viewing more. With DVD , or HD DVD/ Blu Ray playback it will rock your house.. The receiver can handle all your devices and then some. I currently have a MOXI DVR , an HD DVD player, a Hi Fi Stereo VCR/DVD combo unit, and a CD player connected with inputs to spare. The Dolby matrixes it provides cover just about any listening situation you may encounter. The custom Onkyo DSP presets are very handy as well, especially for watching old movies in mono or transforming stereo music into pretty realistic surround mixes. It will reprocess your Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks into Dolby Digital EX and give you a much enhanced surround experience. It really is a quality amp.
The speakers , while on the cheap side, are not too shabby. They are a bit large in size compared to other HTIB systems but they sound very good considering the price. The cool thing is, you can always upgrade your speakers at any time to any 8 ohm speakers of your choice , but this is by no means a necessity as the included speakers do the job quite nicely. My only complaint would be they are a little shy in the midrange, most noticeable during CD or stereo music playback. There is a 5 band digital EQ for each channel and you can make a custom EQ setting just for stereo playback and save it in the manual EQ section while keeping the Audyssey EQ curve for movie playback. There are many options for using this thing just about any way you can think of.
The sub is more than adequate unless very loud and booming explosions are what you`re after, and even then it is pretty darn good for that too considering the total cost of the system.. I would think this system would sound best in a mid sized room. I have it in my rather large bedroom , set up to Dolby Labs spec for the speaker placement with a Lazy Boy in the sweet spot. It is as good or better than I have heard in any of my local theatres and I don't feel I am missing out due to sub standard speakers.
As many of these reviews point out, the included speaker wire is basically garbage. TO hear the full performance of the amp you really do need to get some decent speaker wire. It is a bit of a pain to prep your own wire but really worth it once you hear how good this thing can sound.
All in all I totally recommend the SR 800 to anyone wanting a good cost effective surround sound system. It can really handle anything you throw at it and it sounds great! Totally worth the money!