Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
- Nice receiver layout, great in space constrained rooms
- Lacking high definition ports, few DPS features
A disappointingly ordinary home theatre system. Onkyo's 6.1 offering does things reasonably well, but fails to impress in any really important areas.
Price$ None (AUD)
After reviewing the excellent sounding Onkyo 5.1 surround system we were really looking forward to seeing what their 6.1 home theatre brought to the table. Unfortunately, the 6.1 system was not quite on the same level as Onkyo's previous offering, with very little to make it stand out from the competition.
The Onkyo 6.1 is a full home theatre system, offering both a DVD player and a receiver, as well as a 6.1 surround speaker system. Both systems are a fairly blocky, silver design and a little larger than we're used to these days. Conversely, the speakers are absolutely tiny in size. Barely more than seven inches tall, they don't take up much space , which makes them ideal if you want to install the system in a small room. Facilitating this is the ability to wall-mount the speakers, further conserving space.
One of the things we did like about the system was the layout of the receiver. The large design offers ample space with every function clearly labelled and having its own buttons. System options, ranging from input device to sound field to more advanced options, can be cycled through with ease. All of these functions can also be accessed via the remote, but we found utilising the face buttons to be on par and in some cases more efficient than doing it from a distance.
We found the speakers were relatively simple to setup, utilising the standard positive/negative split cable which are colour coded for easy identification. The back of the receiver was clearly marked and is also quite straightforward to set up, with the ports grouped according to channel (DVD, Video 1 etc).
The range of features present on the receiver was disappointing. As people who really like to play around with the sound field, the pitiful six DPS offerings was simply not enough. The presence of a good set of surround options, (including DTS-Neo:6, DTS-ES and Dolby Pro Logic II) went some way to compensating for this, but many of those are standard fare these days and ultimately the provided features came up a little short, especially compared to other systems we have seen.
We were also surprised to find no high definition inputs or outputs present. The receiver has a large number of connections, but most are standard RCA or s-video ports, with just a single optical and coaxial audio input. On a system designed to synthesise multiple input devices it is almost criminal to not include at least one component input and one output, if not more, and with HDMI/DVI steadily growing in popularity those connections would definitely not go astray either. We have not used plain RCA cables for video transmission in a very long time and were very disappointed that we were forced to in that situation.
The sound quality of the system also left a lot to be desired. With the incredible sound from Onkyo's 5.1 offering still ringing in our ears, we perhaps expected a little too much from this system, but overall we found it to be quite average. There was a certain crispness to some of the higher range, which was occasionally biting enough to be considered excellent but in general, the sound was a little flat and lacking in bass. The surround speakers in particular seemed almost non-existent. Whilst they are never supposed to be extremely loud, we could barely hear anything out of them on this system.
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