Pioneer HTiB817S

A capable home theatre system

Pioneer HTiB817S
  • Pioneer HTiB817S
  • Pioneer HTiB817S
  • Pioneer HTiB817S
  • Expert Rating

    3.75 / 5

Pros

  • Powerful amplifier with plenty of connectivity, well-built speakers

Cons

  • Difficult to set up, lacks mid-range

Bottom Line

If you have the spare time to set it up, Pioneer’s HTiB817S is a competent home theatre system.

Would you buy this?

Pioneer's HTiB817S is an easily expandable home theatre system that delivers impressive audio at a reasonable price. It might be too complicated for novice users to set up, but once configured it's a good choice for a high-level sound setup.

The system is divided into three boxes, with the subwoofer, satellite speakers and VSX817S receiver bundled separately. The huge array of connections means that you'll have to have a bit of know-how to get everything up and running.

The receiver comes in either black or silver and is sold separately as Pioneer's VSX817S unit. It has a vast array of connectors on the rear and would be suitable as the basis of any serious home theatre system. Three S-Video ports, three component inputs and a whopping four composite inputs cover video, while audio is channelled through three analog RCA inputs, two optical and two coaxial digital inputs.

The speakers, while relatively light, are well built and have a simple silver finish. They're also wall-mountable with optional brackets. The unit's subwoofer is quite sizeable and its cube shape means that it is difficult to hide. However, it is quite a stylish unit, with a similar finish to the speakers.

The five satellite speakers connect to the receiver using regular speaker wire and the subwoofer is attached with an RCA cable. The advantage of this is that if you have a non-standard placement for the amplifier, you can easily buy longer lengths of cable. No other leads are supplied, however, so you will need additional cables to connect the HTiB817S to a DVD player and television.

As previously mentioned, the HTiB817S doesn't include a CD or DVD player — the only audio capability out of the box is an inbuilt AM/FM tuner. We connected it to a Samsung BD-P1000 through component to test DVD, Blu-ray and CD video and audio.

When watching The Matrix, we found that the speakers performed capably. A crisp, cinematic sound was produced, with clarity and good detail at both low and high volumes.

Treble was consistently clean and had a very crisp feel. The satellite speakers are largely focused on higher range frequencies, meaning that treble has a very noticeable volume boost over mid-range audio. They can sound slightly tinny and harsh at high volumes, but at a comfortable listening level in a large room the sound was balanced and rich.

Mid-range was the downfall of the speaker system. The subwoofer isn't flexible enough to reproduce these higher notes and the satellites are too small to give any kind of power to mid-range without distorting. As a result, the system has a very noticeable frequency gap, especially obvious when listening to acoustic and classical music.

Bass from the subwoofer was a nice addition to movie audio. Generally bass lagged slightly, with a slow decay creating long, booming bass even at lower volumes. This gives an impression of powerful bass which is great for movies, but anyone listening to music may find the bass distracting and overpowering.

Volume levels were more than acceptable and were easily enough to fill a large room. No evident distortion was heard at normal listening volumes, but there was some mid-range distortion when listening at higher volumes. The VSX817S amplifier is a suitable system for running these speakers, with plenty of functionality including twelve surround sound modes, support for standard audio formats like Dolby Digital EX and DTS-ES, and other adjustments like dialogue enhancement and volume normalisation.

If you already have a dedicated DVD player and some spare time to spend hooking up all your home theatre components through the receiver, then the Pioneer HTiB817S is a decent option.

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