The quality of your home theatre’s sound is pretty critical to the enjoyment of any entertainment on any medium, you’d have to admit. I mean, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got the biggest honking 4K TV with all the bells and Internet-connected whistles if the sound is flat, muted and uni-directional. A true home theatre is supposed to mimic the experience you get going out to the movies (minus the sticky floor and guy talking on his cellphone) and that includes booming sound that comes from all around.
In the past, “home theatre in a box” (HTIB) usually meant a disc-player central hub, some surround sound speakers and – if you were lucky – a subwoofer. The packages were meant for those just entering the home theatre market, who wanted an all-in-one that was easy to set up and enjoy. However, despite many delivering decent enough sound, they still didn’t compare to systems assembled with various more expensive components and wired yourself (or an audiophile friend). Well, the Onkyo HT-S7800 5.1.2 Channel Dolby Atmos Home Theatre System has completely altered my impression of what an “all-in-one” can be – and here’s my review.
Onkyo Home Theatre in a Box…Out of the Box
Right away, I can tell this is going to be good. I expected an all-in-one to be flimsier. The Onkyp HTIB is solid. It feels like it means business. In the 80lb box, you’ll find the A/V receiver, five speakers, a powered subwoofer, coloured speaker cables and a remote.
The subwoofer is huge! And I totally mean that exclamation point. I’d put two if it wasn’t overkill. But, seriously. It’s huge! And as with the five speakers, the cabinet is made of some sort of pressed wood. The finish is really nice, and they feel really solid. I somehow expected plastic speakers. My own home theatre audio system is made up of five little plastic speakers and a subwoofer (old remnant of a HTIB I’ve yet to upgrade), so the Onkyo speakers felt very luxurious to me. The speakers and subwoofer are also covered by a nice black mesh in the front. I’m totally experiencing speaker envy.
The receiver is polished black, with a nice fluorescent display that is easy on the eyes. It features eight HDMI inputs, so you can hook up all your game consoles, Apple and Android TVs, BlueRay player, and everything else with ease. I also like that there’s also a front input on the receiver, offering easy access for when friends come over and want to hook up their own systems or media. The included remote is pretty standard. I might even call it too simple. But, overall I’d say out of the box the Onkyo HTIB looks really classy, yet understated at the same time.
Setting up the Onkyo HTIB
Considering the 5.1.2 Onkyo HTIB is 4K-ready, can conveniently convert standard high-def into 4K, and is totally state-of-the-art/cutting edge with Dolby Atmos (and it supports DTS:X), you’d think this was going to be tricky to set up, trying to figure out which channels go where, and how to set up that acoustic sweet spot in your home theatre room.
Not so with the Onkyo HTIB. Where once you’d be daunted by all the wires and speakers laid out on the floor, Onkyo makes setup a simple task with colour-coded wires corresponding to each speaker. Onkyo’s Quick Start Guide will also show you how to set up your HDMI cable, and give recommendations on where to set up your speakers for optimum sound. The package also includes a mic, which you can connect to the front of the unit to calibrate your speakers (through the on-TV setup screen) for the best possible sound in your room.
The receiver is pretty versatile, too. It offers Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Ethernet connectivity, as well as the ability to use the Onkyo mobile app to control the whole system from your tablet or smart phone. It also supports all your streaming media favourites, from Spotify and SiriusXM, to Pandora and Tunein.
Onkyo HTIB Sound and Performance
Considering I’ve been using cheap plastic speakers and a half-assed setup for years, the Onkyo HTIB kind of blew me away. It takes a standard 5.1 system and adds two up-firing Dolby Atmos enabled speakers (built into the two front speakers) that bounce sound off your ceiling to recreate the experience of having two speakers embedded in your ceiling. How does it sound? Well, pretty darn immersive, to be honest. I played a couple of Dolby Atmos movies, and when the action was thick, you could hear the debris flying overhead, zipping from the front of the room to the back. You really felt like you were inside the action, and every speaker got a workout. Even if you’ve experienced a Dolby Atmos system with real speakers in the ceiling, you would be hard pressed to hear a difference. The Onkyo HTIB really shines when it comes to delivering that fully immersive audio experience you want from a home theatre system.
Listening to music on the Onkyo was impressive, as well. The system really balanced out the sound, drenching the room in a rich soundstage. The oversized subwoofer chews up the bass, too, giving you that oh so satisfying thudding, in-your-guts pulse. Hey, I like my bass, what can I say?
The Final Word
I was both surprised and impressed by the Onkyo HTIB. This is one of the only affordable all-in-one Dolby Atmos and DTS:X-supported home theatre audio systems out there. It is solid-looking, pretty even in its classiness. I wouldn’t only recommend it for those just wanting to set up a home theatre system easily and affordably, but even for anyone who wants to upgrade an old system (like, say, old cruddy plastic speakers) or step up to the new generation of Dolby Atmos without having to embed speakers in your ceiling. If I had one complaint, it would be for a more vigorous remote.
Overall, I’d most certainly check this out if you’re in the market for a new system. You can find the Onkyo, and other systems online in the Best Buy home theatre section.