Customer Review

39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Convenient, sounds good, with some limitations, October 10, 2013
This review is from: Onkyo LS3100 ENVISION CINEMA 2.1-Channel Bluetooth Speaker System (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
The Onkyo LS3100 is a good 2.1 speaker system, but it doesn't blow me away. When you are able to send a Dolby Digital 5.1 signal to the unit, it does an excellent job of rendering it with a good pseudo surround experience. For all other signals, including 2-channel sources, it doesn't sound as warm and filling as the Bose Cinemate II GS (which is now at a comparable price point). Listening to 2-ch sources on the Onkyo for prolonged periods can actually cause ear fatigue. However, despite the limitations and keeping aside comparisons, this system is convenient and sounds very good, so its still the right choice for me.

Pros:
1. Wireless subwoofer is very convenient and allows a small footprint in a small city apartment, which is where you would usually pick a 2.1 sound system anyway. I have mine between my couch and papasan chair where it is virtually invisible.
2. Compact speakers that are very efficient. I'm sure the sound levels would be very adequate for a living room twice as big as my 15x20 living room.
3. Multiple positions possible with the speakers. I use them vertically since that's all the space I have on either side of my TV.
4. Bluetooth input, which works well and produces above-average sound quality. Don't buy this unit simply for the Bluetooth capability however, since you can get Bluetooth audio adapters that support higher sound quality aptX for very cheap now, and can hook them up to any speaker system that supports 3.5mm Aux input.
5. Multiple TV input options - coax, optical and 3.5mm. Only one can be used though, you cannot switch between them on the fly.
6. Very powerful subwoofer. I had to add a foam board under it to tone it down in my smallish apartment. There are 21 levels (-10 to +10) of adjustment possible.
7. Very easy to hook up and comes with all cables needed. The optical cable looked cheap though so I used my own.
8. Does an excellent job of rendering a close-to-surround experience with Dolby 5.1 input. As good as the Bose, if not better.
9. It has a dialog mode, apart than the normal mode, which is useful for toning down the bass. We use it when our toddler is watching toons.
10. Volume control is compatible with most TV remotes. I use a harmony, so this feature is not of use to me.
11. Auto-power on, which is a big plus in my book. Especially when using a universal remote, this makes one less device to turn on. Many competing systems have auto-power-off, which is particularly annoying if they don't auto-turn-on, since you need to fiddle with the menus of your harmony remote to get them back on. Try explaining that to your spouse or guests.

Cons:
1. Does not support DTS (Bose doesn't either). DTS and 2 channel sources sound good, but not great. You tend to expect more for the premium pricing. The lows and highs have a slight harshness and this can cause ear fatigue after long periods of listening. This doesn't happen with the Bose, which does the best post-processing for 2-channel sources that I've heard yet. Note that I'm not an audiophile and prefer warmth over accuracy, so this is very subjective. Audiophiles generally do not recommend Bose for the exact same post processing that I like, but then audiophiles would frown upon any 2.1 system that tries to simulate a 5.1 surround experience.
2. Receiver has no display. You cannot see the current volume level, or what signal it is receiving.
3. Receiver only has one optical input, which you would invariably need to connect to your TV. Many TVs do not pass-through surround sound to the optical port. I had to hack my LG TV through the service menu to get it to pass them through. Even with that hack, many hooked up devices will read the EDID of the TV as 2-channel and only send 2-channel sound to the TV via HDMI. I've been able to force my PS3 and FiOS set-top box to send 5.1 audio to my TV but not my PC. I use a nVIDIA GTX 670 graphics card and it takes more hacking (EDID spoofing and registry changes) to force it to send 5.1 audio to my TV, which I haven't yet gotten around to doing. All this trouble could have been saved if the Onkyo's receiver either had multiple optical inputs or a HDMI switch (to extract audio from source). The far cheaper Onkyo HTX-22HDX had HDMI switching, DTS support and an information display, so I don't know why Onkyo decided to cheapen out here. With the lack of a display, most people won't even know if the Onkyo is not receiving a 5.1 signal from the TV. I would've bought the Onkyo HTX-22HDX if didn't have mediocre speakers and a wired sub. I'm considering the purchase of a Monoprice 4x1 HDMI Switch w/ TOSlink & Digital Coaxial Audio Output (Audio Return Channel/3D/CEC Support) but it means more device clutter, not to mention the added expense.
4. Cheap looking credit-card bubble-button remote.
5. Speaker cables are very thick and white in color. There are also no wire channels in the back of the speakers that would allow the cables to be channeled down to the base of the speakers. I have my speakers oriented vertically and the speaker cables stick out from the top third of the speakers and it doesn't look pretty.
6. External power adapter, similar to that of a laptop.

Compared to Panasonic SC-HTB350 (same as SC-HTB370 other than looks):

Panasonic (+): Supports DTS, has 2 optical inputs, speakers are extremely good looking when they flank either side of the TV in vertical mode, speakers wires are thin and channel down to the base for a non-existent look, very competitive price

Panasonic (-): Sound quality is not as good as Onkyo especially for 2-ch sources, Bass too boomy even at the lowest level for 2-ch sources, annoying auto-power-off and no auto-power-on (this was the reason I returned it), bluetooth sound quality significantly poorer than Onkyo, large receiver for a 2.1 system

Compared to Bose Cinemate II GS:

Bose GS (+): Best post-processing of 2-ch sources (very subjective) making them sound very warm and full-sounding

Bose GS (-): No bluetooth, large 19" deep WIRED subwoofer that becomes even deeper once you hook it up (this was the dealbreaker for me since my TV unit is only 15" deep), auto-power-off and no auto-power-on, no vertical option, needs speaker stands for optimal sound which are sold separately, slightly more pricey

Compared to Bose Soundlink Mini (for bluetooth feature only):

Bose SL Mini (+): Bluetooth music sounds much more pleasant for long periods of listening despite the diminutive size

Bose SL Mini (-): No remote control for volume

Overall, if like me, you value aesthetics in a small/medium living room and convenience as much as sound quality, this is a solid choice.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 3, 2013 12:07:52 PM PST
Hello Ramkumar, we at Onkyo USA and its Product Support department appreciate the feedback you provided. We also want to inform you that we also have a 24 hour Product Support department available via phone (800) 229-1687, email (onkyoadmin@us.onkyo.com) and support forum (forums@onkyousa.com) to further assist you with any questions or concerns you may have on your new Onkyo unit. Thank you again for choosing Onkyo.
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