Customer Review

244 of 250 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you know what you're looking for, you're in luck, January 8, 2011
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This review is from: Onkyo CS-445 CD Receiver System (Electronics)
The key to being truly satisfied with this stereo is first knowing what you want from it. If you're looking for a full surround solution, this isn't it. If you're looking for a simple stereo with wall-trembling bass, keep moving. If, however, you're looking for a clean sound to enjoy in a single room, you're in the right product page.

I bought this strictly for music listening; not as part of a home theatre set up. As you know by now, all decent speakers should be allowed a burn-in period before being judged for their merit. And the included speakers on this unit are no exception. That said, though, these sound crisp (not sharp) and deep (not boomy), which fits the receiver's output optimally.

I loved the sound straight away. And after about 10 minutes using the stereo, I was reminded again why Onkyo doesn't run in the same circles as Sony, Panasonic, Sharp, and many of the other disposable consumer electronics manufacturers. It's all better here.

I bought a Polk Audio subwoofer to complete the low frequencies that this one just isn't made to provide, and already I've taken a great compact system and elevated it to a class that should be considered outstanding (especially once I adjusted the Onkyo's tone, increasing the treble to full throttle, and reducing the bass output to about 30%).

I'm looking at a pair of BIC bookshelf speakers to upgrade from the "free" set that came with this stereo, but I want to let these burn-in first and see how badly I want an upgrade. Already, though, this is a very good sounding set up.

A few other noteworthy things:

-subwoofer hookup is stupid simple with the pre-out on the back of the receiver

-though Onkyo has been careful not to make any promises regarding the receiver's compatibility with the new iPhone4, I have one and it plays/operates seamlessly via the built in dock

-the remote is well above par for intuitive layout and reception range

-it would have been nice to have an integrated USB port, and given the growing adoption of this feature on even lesser compacts, its absence is peculiar

All in all, you won't have any buyer's remorse about this stereo as long as your expectations are realistic. That is, the customers most likely to regret this purchase are those who have eaten up the propaganda that bass dBs and watts are the real measurement of sound quality.

The rest of you will enjoy this little powerhouse.
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Tracked by 5 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 23 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 21, 2011 8:06:21 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 21, 2011 8:31:41 PM PST
C. H. Chan says:
This is an awesome review, thanks! I also have the previous generation of this system, the CS-325 coupled with the Bose Acoustimass 3 that I purchased at Sam's Club. I also gave it high marks for the receiver here on Amazon. Needless to say, I found the low end needing much more oomph and thus like you, purchased a Polk Subwoofer to go along with the system. I purchased the Polk PSW10 at a great bargain and WOW it elevates the system to another level specifically for music listening. However, I'm not too fond of the Bose AM3 and quite frankly, bought the package specifically for the Onkyo receiver since it was such a bargain at Sam's. Since you mentioned about adjusting Onkyo's tone, I'm very curious as to what your settings are specifically (treble/bass increments on system), since I know our receivers do not have an easy-to-adjust crossover function. Would you care to share these settings? BTW, what's your opinion on the Direct function? I almost always use the Direct function to bypass the DAC tone controls for a more "pure" sound.

Of course, I'm getting quite tired of the Bose AM3 since there is such a lack of midrange frequencies. I finally bit the bullet after countless research and decided to get two Definitive Technology ProMonitor800 speakers as another upgrade based on size and audio fidelity, which should be coming in the next week!

Thanks for your response, it's much appreciated! Glad to see someone who knows what they are talking about.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2011 10:00:18 AM PST
Thanks for the kind words, Clifford, and the interest in this. I don't know if I mentioned the model, but the sub that I just purchased and hooked up was, in fact, the Polk PSW10--and it indeed sounds great with this receiver. As I might have hinted at in my review, I did also upgrade the stock Onkyo bookshelf speakers with a set from B.I.C. America (here at Amazon, the DV62si). There's a noticeable improvement, especially in the upper frequencies, which is where I wanted more quality.

The tone settings I've been using (and I admittedly monkey around with them way too much) are typically at Bass: -2 and Treble: +4. I don't know why but I've always leaned more toward the treble end of the spectrum, and desired crisper, sharper highs than most stereos afford.

Anyway, adding the Polk sub allowed me to turn down the overall bass significantly and remove a bit some of the "muddy" sound I think I'm hearing. That's not a complaint, though. These BIC's are terrific speakers and come at a great deal.

The Polk subwoofer is set at about 50-60%, and my BIC bookshelf speakers are set about 10 feet apart. I really, really like the sound of this system. If I could add one more feature that, unfortunately, seems to be absent from almost all receivers these days, it would be a third tone adjustment for "Mid" along with the bass and treble.

At the end of the day, if I don't keep my fanatical "tweaking" in check, I'll never be satisfied, and I'll turn into the kind of pretentious audiophile we sometimes read blogs from--the ones who spend more on their audio equipment than I'll spend on cars in my lifetime. That said, this little system is one of the best purchases I've made.

I'm interested to know your thoughts, too!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2011 10:02:56 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 22, 2011 10:21:00 PM PST
C. H. Chan says:
Thanks for the quick reply D.R., that's so funny that we both coincidentally got the same Polk subwoofer! The subwoofer without a doubt adds some real quality and depth to the sound system, even though I'm using measly satellite speakers compared to your BIC bookshelfs! The DV62si are great from what I've read, and I'm sure you're enjoying them quite fully for their excellent bang for the buck. I too was contemplating on whether or not to get bookshelf-style speakers, but in the end went with the satellite-style since space is a huge concern and priority in my small bedroom (not to mention I just also love the curve-vacious designs of some cool satellites out there...lol).

As mentioned before, my setup consists of the Bose AM3, which are also spread out 9-10 feet apart. This really gives some good imaging and presented soundstage. Haha, I must tweak my system at least 6 times during a listening session to the point of being obsessive compulsive, so that's totally understandable to keep the "tweaking" in check LOL.

My personal taste in musical tonality is almost always having everything balanced, so I try not to use any additional EQ provided by DAC of the receiver. I try to reference everything to my Audio Technica ATH-M50 headphones. I somehow always subconsciously think that DACs EQs introduce artifacts and noise to the overall quality of the sound even when set at flat, somehow degrading the overall product when using EQ. Although this may not be true with quality receivers, I just love the DIRECT function and to me frequencies across the board sound more rich or accurate. However, I have a suspicion that I might need to resort to using the tone control when I get those Definitive Techs in!

I for the most listen to my system at a very comfortable volume of 15. What's yours? Dial it past 22, and I swear that picture frame on my wall will eventually rattle off from the subwoofer haha ;). The Polk paired to the Bose really put out some great music, but I'm confident that I'm still missing out on some quality mid-range. In terms of calibration, I've searched high and low, and from what I've found out, I think our receivers are set to crossover at 80hz in relation to the subwoofer pre-out. I might be wrong but I'm judging this by the bass-boost and tone settings under the receiver's specifications where system changes tone in +3/-3 dBs for the bass at 80hz (at least on mine, the CS-325). As such, I have the Polk's crossover setting turned all the way clockwise to create the LFE output according to the Polk manual. I think the only thing I ever tweak with the system so far is the bass volume. For now, the best multi-purpose bass volume setting for me is at 40-45%, and I listen to basically everything from classical, jazz, techno, trance, drum and bass, dance, hip-hop, rock, metal, etc. This bass volume setting coupled with the Bose and DIRECT function to me sounds the best so far. Although I might decided to change my mind tomorrow for the 100th time haha, but seriously I think it sounds pretty balanced in my room. I forgot to also mention that I'm sitting like 6-8 feet at these settings.

I guess if I'm going to be even further nit picky about it, I might just invest in a good decibel meter and further calibrate the speakers and subwoofer at the 80hz tone. I'm trying really hard to not though!

I did check out something interesting though online and it was called Room EQ. It's a free program that can do calibrations and whatnot, although I still haven't really taken a good look at how people are using it.

In the end, yes, I completely agree that our systems are putting out and replicating quality material for a relative small price after a few upgrades that can certainly rival larger systems. I'm almost content with my system and after the Definitives come in, I'm just going to call it and be ultimately happy with it! I just hope I don't get the upgrade bug again, it's gonna cost!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 24, 2011 1:12:20 PM PST
Great comments and points. There's more I'd be curious to know--and share. Anyway, for now, I'm usually listening at a volume of about 22. These BIC bookshelves take a lot more to get up to the relative volume of the stock Onkyo speakers. I'd love to hear this system with smaller, more dedicated tweeters like you probably have in your Acoustimass set.

Posted on May 29, 2011 9:42:02 AM PDT
E. Miller says:
Great post and comments!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2011 1:24:32 PM PDT
DR I'm expecting this system from Amazon tomorrow and I want to be able to set it up with Pandora. I'm really not an audiophile but I under stand there are differences between I Pod Touch generations which gen will work best with this system?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2011 1:48:07 PM PDT
I can't speak from experience about using iPod Touch with this system, I'm afraid.

I've only tried my iPhone 4 with it, but if it helps, it worked great. I have used the Pandora app on my iPhone while docked on the Onkyo, and there were no problems. It worked great, and transformed the receiver into an Internet radio with terrific sound.

I hope this helps a little. If I had to venture a guess, I'd be pretty surprised if your iPod Touch had any problems working with the built-in dock. Good luck!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 26, 2011 9:11:44 PM PST
JK Bronco says:
Quick question. Does it charge the iphone 4 as well?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2011 11:40:33 AM PST
It does. In fact, I'm charging mine via the dock as I sit here typing this. I haven't run into any issues using my iPhone 4 with this stereo. So far, it's been a solid purchase. Best wishes, JK!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 5, 2012 4:24:40 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 5, 2012 4:27:25 AM PST
CHC:

Yes, you ARE missing out on all kinds of things with that Bose hunkajunk...trash it immediately! You would do tons better with even a cheap entry level pair of Polk Monitor 40 speakers (about $130 shipped from newegg dot com), let alone better speakers in the $200-400 range like the Ascend CBM-170s, Usher 520s, etc. Bose is the running joke of the audio industry, inspiring such poetry as "Friends don't let friends buy Bose," "Bose blows," "No highs no lows, it must be Bose," "Bose: Better Sales Through Marketing," etc.

Look here:
http://www.firstadopter.com/fa/archives/001749.html

The best thing about Bose is that you can usually get decent resale value for them on eBay...because the world is full of suckers who've bought into all that mass advertising BS.
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