Onkyo Liverpool Series MS5LX

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Onkyo Liverpool Series MS5LX
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Original look, sounds excellent, incredible number of inputs

Cons

  • Painful setup

Bottom Line

A wonderful home theatre experience. If the buyer can match it to their living room and has a spare few hours to set it up, it is one of the best choices available.

Would you buy this?

We are always on the lookout for something a little different at the Good Gear Guide offices, and Onkyo's range of wood textured home theatre systems fits the bill nicely.

The Liverpool Series L-MS5LX is a 5.1 system consisting of the standard front, rear and centre speakers; a subwoofer; a receiver; and a DVD player. All the speakers and the sub are made of a solid, wood-textured plastic rather than following the conventional matte black or silver motif. In the right environment, we think the system would look great.

The two front speakers are tall, freestanding units that thankfully required no screws to set up, while the back speakers are small, suited for resting on a shelf or wall mounting. The DVD player and receiver don't appear to be part of this matching set, as they are a silver colour with judicious use of blue and red LEDs. They are quite small, and would fit nicely in a stacked home entertainment cabinet.

Setting up the system took a lot longer than we would have liked. After finding the system was screwless, we expected a relatively painless setup, but that was before we discovered that the receiver and front speakers use an extremely irritating connection system. Rather than just using a standard switch system, Onkyo has opted for a screw-based connection, where you must unscrewed a plug, insert the cable, and then keep it in place while screwing it back together. It is an entirely unnecessary set of connections that just make setup a much bigger pain than it has to be. There are no clear markings on the speaker cables to tell you what goes where, and it took some hunting before we sorted it out.

This system has a massive number of inputs and outputs, supporting pretty much any number of devices. For the consumer with a lot of AV equipment, this system is a great choice. It has three digital inputs (two optical, one coaxial), three S-Video inputs and two outputs, two component inputs and one output, five composite ports and five RCA connections. Onkyo could have removed something to make space for a DVI or HDMI connection, which would really make this a complete receiver system, but even without it, it provides more than enough options for most people.

Sound from the system was subtle, yet strong. We were very impressed. The clarity was nothing short of exquisite. The speakers allowed us to feel every crunch, every kick in the sound perfectly. That is not to say it was overpowering, however. At no point was it what we would define as loud. For those that like their car chases loud and their explosions louder, this may not be the right system, but for a more subtle experience that really hits the listener in the face at the right moments, it's hard to go past the L-MS5LX.

There are a total of 16 surround modes, tweaked to suit specific different target devices, such as music or games. There is also a "late night function", which is designed to raise the volume of quiet sections of sound and balance out the soundfield such that you can watch a program on low volume without missing parts. The receiver was let down a little by only having seven DSP soundfields, including orchestra and unplugged. Some receivers come with as many as 15 or 20 of these, so it is a shame Onkyo couldn't squeeze in a few more here.

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

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