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on November 7, 2005
This was my first experience installing a pre-configured system. In the past it has always been individually picked components. I have to say for the price, this system is PERFECT. $439 frankly is too low of a price. The only thing I would change is that the bass could stand to be a little stronger, however I think it would be adequate for most people's taste. The reciever never stopped surprising me with what it offered, such as THREE Optical inputs, and 3 Video inputs. As well as the abiltiy to still hook up an existing Tape deck, and seperate CD Player.

Configuration was the simplest I have ever seen, simply tell the unit the distance each speaker is placed from where you will sit to watch the TV, then run a sound test to make sure each speaker is equally as loud, thats all. And best of all the unit IS NOT made in China or Taiwan. I would highly suggest the system to anyone who doesnt want to spend the time or money on a custom configured system. I think it will impress you, and if not you can always return it!
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on November 16, 2005
Ok, this is not a high end multi-thousand dollar system. It is a well priced, excellent sounding system for anyone. I installed the system in my "home theater" room and the sound it generates is excellent. When all 7 channels get to cranking in a movie or Xbox game (especially HALO2) well let's just its a complete immersive experience. The 5.1 to 7.1 converter capabilities really do a great job. The hookups are plentiful and well marked. The only negatives would be: included speaker cables are a bit short for in the wall or ceiling wiring; and no DVI or HDMI interfaces are included so you have to use component video hookups for HDTV. The included manual is a bit weak on helping you decipher how to optimize all the available settings and surround sound settings, but the ONKYO website has some help available there. The included remote will control just about any other device including TV, DVD, etc. If you are installing in a cabinet with fron glass door, you may want to measure the depth; but this is also true of most a/v receivers I looked at before I bought this one. I've had this installed for over a month now and I am absolutely happy with this purchase!
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on February 19, 2006
OK, if you are looking at this review you are probably the owner of a room that you are calling your "theater room" or the like and you are looking for a good system for around $500 or less. Well, I have good news, you just found one.

Before I go into more details about the highs and lows of my experience with this Onkyo system, let me address who this system is not indented for (and who will not be happy with this system). If the room that you are installing this system into is really large, let's say bigger than 30ft. x 30ft., then you might consider something with more power and bigger speakers. If you are a highly critical audiophile who has much, much more than $500 in aftermarket sound equipment in your car, you might consider something a bit more inline with your taste.

On the other hand, if you simply want the best sound and quality for the money and you only have $500 burning a hole in your pocket, this is the system for you. Here are my findings after purchasing this Onkyo system for my home theater:

1. As you will read elsewhere, the speaker cables are sub-par. I found a great deal on woot.com for a 5.1 home theater cabling system from Monster. $35 after shipping. Can't beat that. But you need two since this is a 7.1 system. If you are lucky you will find that deal on woot again soon. If not, definately find better cables somewhere. I mean, you can use the stuff that comes with the Onkyo system, but the sound quality difference is slightly perceivable if you have a good ear.

2. I would not say that the speakers in this system are the best... in fact, they are far from it. Are they adequate? Absolutely. And the best part is that there is a pre-defined equalizer setting in the amp that is specially designed for the speakers that come with this system. It works really well and essentially makes up for the lacking sound quality that these speakers exhibit.

3. You will need to position the speakers carefully. You should do a lot of research on proper placement for surround sound systems and analyze your room to figure out exactly where your speakers should go.

4. My recommendation for anyone/everyone (whether you buy this system or not) is that you should at least attempt to soundproof your home theater room as much as possible. The sound quality of any system will be dramatically improved if operated in a properly designed room.

Overall, I can assure you that you will not be unhappy with this purchase. Do your research and will almost certainly come back to this system again and again due to the unbelievable price and the overwhelmingly positive reviews on every site that sells this system.
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on December 19, 2005
Outstanding system for a modest budget. I purchased this system for 400 and tax from Circuit City. The handling of dvd surround is superb and it brings movies to life; as is stereo music from CD. The radio receiver is also outstanding. I'm listening to my CD collection with new ears. It's my first home theater purchase and this is a terrific system for under $500.

It has plenty of inputs for component connectivity: 4 digital audio, 3 video (each with component, s-video and composite), analog 5.1 surround inputs, analog inputs for cd and tape. The remote has a large number of functions and controls my existing tv/dvd player/vcr after entering the appropriate remote codes (listed in the Onkyo manual). It takes a little while to get used to but it's very functional.

I have yet to try out all the DSP modes but PLIIx Movie for Dolby encoded DVDs sounds great. CDs sound just fine in Stereo or All Channel Stereo. The subwoofer is rated from 30Hz to 150Hz and certainly seems to be doing its job right. The center and front speakers sound great right through the spectrum. The front and center speakers are on the big side (compared to other comparable systems) but the sound is big too - I guess the wooden speaker cabinets help.

The included speaker wire may be a bit short to run the wires along the sides and up the walls. In addition to what's in the box, you'll need to buy cable to hook up your dvd player with surround at a minimum (buy coax digital, you can get good cable for under 10 dollars).

One thing to note is that it will not switch video formats - e.g., if the input is component video it will output component video and if you switch to another input in s-video then the output will also be s-video. So video switching really makes sense only if you have all your video sources capable of component video. You might as well leave it connected to your TV and just route the audio through the receiver.

This is a great treat for my family and I this holiday season, and if you buy it I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
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on February 23, 2006
I did plenty of research prior to buying this product. Depending on your specifications this is, in my oppinion, the best mid-range priced system available. It arrived in a 4 1/2 foot tall box and in good time from the distributor. Getting the unit put together is easy and took about an hour once I got started (everything is color coded). Once hooked up I was ready to roll.

Currently I am not utilizing the 7.1 feature of this unit, although I plan to in the future when I get a longer room, as a result I ran into an interesting setup configuration dilemma. Perhaps it is common knowledge to most, however I had originally connected my 2 front speakers, center, subwoofer, and 2 BACK SURROUND SOUND SPEAKERS and when I watched a movie the sound was good but not great - once I changed the connection to the 2 SURROUND SOUND SPEAKERS the sound was awesome! Follow the manual for your specific reciever settings (as far as speaker distance from listening area, etc) and I think you will be very happy with this purchase.

Other suggestions - when you are able I would switch out the 18 gauge stock speaker wire for 14 or 16 gauge (12 is overkill) and get yourself some decent wall mounts for the speakers and you're set.
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on January 25, 2006
The spirit of my comments may also be applied to the cheaper ($299 vs. $499) Onkyo HT-S580 system as well, and also I see there's an intermediate Onkyo HT-S680.

I'll let others comment on their subjective reactions to this system versus other systems. Those comments are extremely important; however I don't feel qualified to offer contrasts, because I haven't carefully compared the systems. Instead I'm going to offer some broad observations, and you can get other insights elsewhere.

With multi-channel sound becoming common, I became interested a sound system that could render it, but I wanted a flexible system that was neither expensive nor junk. After surveying the turf, I gravitated towards the Onkyo boxed systems. Here's why:

First of all, I did not want a system that included a DVD player. It struck me as a bad idea to tie the sound system to a specific DVD player. I figure a DVD player, being mechanical, will have a shorter lifespan than a receiver. And I'd like to be able to upgrade my DVD player with a recordable unit or BluRay or whatever. So it's best to buy a separate DVD player, rather than a boxed system with an integrated DVD player. Let's focus here on decent audio rather than extras.

It would also be preferable to have a theater system where the individual components are not tied together. That is, I'd have the freedom to use different speakers or the like. It makes the system more flexible if the components can stand on their own. By way of contrast, I had looked at some of the Panasonic systems, such as the HT-15 or HT-17. I rather liked the look and convenience of these systems (e.g., integrated speaker stands); however I noticed that the speaker amplifiers resided in the subwoofer enclosure. There's nothing wrong with this, and in fact you might even prefer it: Your controlling pre-amp box is smaller and generates less heat, while the clunky amplifiers are set off in the corner. But this means you don't have the option of upgrading your subwoofer unless you're replacing the sound system entirely. (Of course, the logical extension of this idea is to buy separate components in the first place; however being a newbie to the theater idea, I was tempted by the all-in-a-box package.)

I'm amazed to see how cheap some of the low end home theaters are. For under $100, you can have 5 speakers, a subwoofer, and a receiver or maybe even a DVD player. Wow! Of course, these cheapest systems look sort of like toys. The speakers are tiny and have only a single driver, and the power isn't high. They probably won't produce great audio. But the price is very appealing. My worst concern is the cheapest units have cut so many corners that they'll fail soon, and the entire system will be trash.

So my eye was drawn to the Onkyo systems, which offered separate components that appear respectable. Note that the receiver included as part of this package can be had as an individual component, the Onkyo TX-SR503 (retail $299). I liked this receiver; it felt solid and its control scheme and buttons struck me as relatively intuitive. And the 7.1 speaker combination is also sold as a package, SKS-HT530, for retail $279. The subwoofer is a solid unit, with 230 watts and a 10-inch down-firing woofer (when buying a subwoofer, size matters). The front and center speakers are 2-ways, each with 2 midrange drivers and 1 tweeter; the rear and surround speakers are also 2-ways with a single midrange and tweeter. The speakers and subwoofer are in wood cabinets, larger and heavier than the plastic that's more typical. This perhaps makes them more "real" but less stylish. The whole package (made in Malaysia, by the way) seems a good deal, by price per pound if nothing else. Onkyo includes a 2-year warrantee, which is encouraging; nobody else offers more than a year.

I agree with others who note that upgrading to heavier speaker wires is a good idea. No point in paying for the Monster brand name; wire is wire as far as I'm concerned.

Bottom line is you end up with a respectable small audio system that should give you decent surround sound, and you can later upgrade or replace the individual components if you choose to.
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on May 14, 2007
The wiring set-up was a little challenging for me but I must admit that, after rereading the instructions carefully, the information was accurate.

The sound this system produces from DVDs is just like the movie theater - rich, detained and clear. This is most evident in loud action scenes. You actually have to get used to sounds coming from all around you.

However, the most startling is the incidental sounds that come from quite scenes. You think the sounds are coming from within your own house.

I also was surprised at the quality of the sound from television. By using a coaxial digital cable, you can get close to a DVD in sound quality from a cable broadcast movie or TV show.

The set-up process allows you to tailor the speaker response to the room. Adjustments are available for each speakers distance from you. Even if you have an odd shaped room you can get good balance.

Big plus (and price advantage) is that the 7 speakers are included.

I can't be more pleased with this system.
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on January 21, 2012
well well well i got this system for a christmas present (12-25-11)and i am still happy with the onkyo clarity i had a sony 5.1 but this onkyo 7.1 i LOVE it it's ok it don't have hdmi hook ups but my TV have 3 all i want is clear sounds with my big screen when i am watching a movie or playin football on my ps3 but my wife hate that she bought because now when i am home it's onkyo time
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