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Pioneer HTP-4600 Home Theater Review

by May 24, 2005
Pioneer HTP-4600 Review: HTiB System with Wireless Surround Speakers

Pioneer HTP-4600 Review: HTiB System with Wireless Surround Speakers

  • Product Name: Pioneer HTP-4600
  • Manufacturer: Pioneer
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStar
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStar
  • Review Date: May 24, 2005 20:00
  • MSRP: $ 650


  • Room setup
  • Sleep timer
  • FM/AM Presets (30 stations)
  • Power requirements: AC 120V, 60Hz
  • Power consumption: .5W
  • 96kHz/24-bit DAC
  • Warranty: 1 year parts & labor
  • 3 analogue audio inputs
  • 3 digital inputs (2 coax, 1 optical)

Power - Stereo Mode
334 Watts (Din Music, 10% THD @ 6 Ohm) 250 Watts (1 KHz, 10% THD @ 6 Ohm) 200 Watts (FTC 200 Hz - 20 KHz 1 % THD @ 6 Ohm) Subwoofer: 10% THD @ 100Hz

Power - Surround Mode
1,000 Watts (Din Music, 10% THD @ 6 Ohm) 750 Watts (1 KHz, 10% THD @ 6 Ohm RMS) 600 Watts (200 Hz - 20 KHz 1 % THD @ 6 Ohm FTC) Subwoofer: 10% THD @ 100Hz

Front Speakers

  • Drivers: 2-3/4" Cone, Front Stage Surround or Conventional Wall Mounting, Magnetically Shielded
  • Dimensions: 9-7/16 x 37-7/8 x 9-7/16 inches
  • Weight: 7 lbs. 15 oz.

Surround Speakers

  • Drivers: 2-3/4" Cone, Front Stage Surround or Conventional Wall Mounting, Magnetically Shielded
  • Dimensions: 4-1/8 x 5-1/2 x 3-5/16 inches
  • Weight: 1 lb. 3 oz.

Center Speaker

  • Drivers: Large 2-3/4" Cone, Magnetically Shielded
  • Dimensions: 9-7/16 x 3-7/16 x 3-1/8 inches
  • Weight: 1 lb. 14 oz.

Digital Wireless 2.4GHz Surround Speaker

  • Transmission: 2.4 GHz Digital Transmission (DSSS)
  • Power Handling: 18 Watts x 2 (Din Music 10% THD @ 1kHz), 10 Watts x 2 (RMS, 10% THD @1 kHz)
  • Drivers: 2-3/4" Cone Woofer x 2
  • Dimensions: 18-3/16 x 6-15/16 x 3-3/4 inches
  • Weight: 6 lbs. 6 oz.


  • Drivers: 6-5/16" Cone, Passive
  • Dimensions: 7-1/2 x 14-3/16 x 12-7/8 inches
  • Weight: 11 lbs. 1 oz.


  • Super simple setup
  • Nice aesthetics
  • Convenient wireless surrounds
  • Optional 3-point front surround
  • Optional detachable rear surround speakers
  • Good overall sound quality


  • No video switching
  • Lack of inputs
  • No subwoofer out
  • Limited Frequency extension of bass module
  • Spring clip speaker terminals


Pioneer HTP-4600 Technology Overview

Pioneer_HTP4600_surrounds2_lg.jpg The world of home theater has practically exploded over the last several years, with everyone scrambling to purchase AV systems to bring that theatrical sound into their living rooms. Whether you choose to credit (or perhaps blame?) Hollywood or rising ticket prices for the new trend, home theater is certainly becoming a realization for more and more families. But what happens when you introduce these surround sound systems into existing living rooms? Among the many other issues, educated Audioholics readers combat on a day-to-day basis, the simplest problem may be finding a way to place your surround speakers in a room that was not initially designed to support them. Pioneer's new HTP-4600 provides an innovative solution to this problem - taking the wiring out of the equation and freeing up the consumer to enjoy surround sound without the hassle and inconvenience of running cables through the ceiling or under carpet. Just affix the surround module, plug it into a power source, and presto! Instant surround sound.

Pioneer is certainly a company that has been raising the bar when it comes to price and performance. One terrific example of that was the DV-563a universal DVD-Audio/Video/SACD player they introduced in 2003. It was a superb player for the money that had very little competition at the time. Now they are introducing an affordable home theater-in-a-box system with wireless surround sound. This targeted system is positioned as a grand solution to consistent problem faced by home theater' s newest adopters.

If you are new to home theater and are looking for a wireless surround sound solution, you should continue reading this review to see if the new Pioneer HTP -4600 is the right product for you.

HTP-4600 Description & Build Quality

Pioneer_HTP4600_3point_lg.jpg The Pioneer HTP -4600 is a 5.1 home theater system with digital wireless surround speakers operating at 2.4GHz (coincidentally this is the same frequency used for wireless 802.11g as well as many cordless telephones). The Front main speakers are a slim line 2-way design. They include detachable/pivoting surround speakers for optional 3-spot surround. 3-spot surround is an optional configuration that Pioneer includes for those situations where placement of wired or wireless surrounds is not practical. It consists of connecting the optional detachable/pivoting front surrounds to the rear surround speaker terminals and pointing them at the side walls. Pioneer also suggests using the front surrounds in conjunction with the wireless surrounds to enhance the overall surround effect. However, I could only find that information on their website and not in the user manual.

The center speaker is a very small two-way design with a footprint so tiny that it should fit easily on top of most displays. Add some Velcro and it could fit on top of most plasma displays as well. The sub-woofer contains a 6 1/2 inch driver that is a passive design. The sub receives its power from the receiver, unlike active subwoofers that contain a built-in amplifier.

The receiver has 6 channels and is rated at 125W x 6 RMS (10% THD@1kHz). Build quality is good considering the overall cost of the system and the consumer it is targeted for. Fit and finish is good all around and it has the appearance of a more costly surround sound package. The front main speakers are mounted to a heavy base plate, which makes them very stable. This, combined with the all-plastic speaker enclosure, makes them child- and pet-proof. The wireless rear surround unit can sit on a shelf or can be mounted to the wall; the optional surround speakers can be wall mounted as well. The silver colored speakers, the latest trend in home theater design it seems, matched my display perfectly.



Pioneer_HTP4600_surrounds_lg.jpg The standout word for this system is simplicity . This entire package was designed with the novice user in mind that has little or no knowledge of home theater. I was able to setup the entire system in about 20 minutes without even referring to the manual once, including unpacking the parts and performing loudspeaker level calibration. I typically recommend users always thoroughly read through the manuals to ensure that proper setup and maximum performance are achieved. The instruction manual included in this system was clear and concise. While simplicity certainly has its drawbacks with respect to configurability options, most can be overlooked considering the cost and the intended consumer to which this system is targeted.

The front main speakers are in three sections and offer an optional cover plate if you are planning on using the removable small surrounds as wired loudspeakers in a 5.1 configuration. Setup consisted of attaching the base plate to the lower section, connecting the middle section, then fastening the small speakers on top. Everything is held securely with screws.

All of the speakers, wires and terminals on the receiver are color-coded to make for a no-brainer type setup that even the most technically challenged will find easy. The wireless surround transmitter attaches to the back of the receiver via RCA jacks and has an AC adapter. The wireless loudspeaker section plugs directly into an outlet and has a tuned indicator, power indicator and power button; once turned on, it auto connects. The manual states if you notice any interference you can switch channels on the sending unit. I had no such issues on the first try, but there are four channels in case of conflicts with other appliances (wireless phones, networks, etc) one might have around the house.

Pioneer_HTP4600_rear_lg.jpg    Pioneer_HTP4600_front_lg.jpg

Looking at the back of the receiver, one will notice the lack of connections. There are three digital inputs, two analog inputs, one analog output, speaker outputs, wireless surround outputs, and AM/FM antenna inputs. There are no video inputs and no subwoofer out. This system is designed to work together and not be upgraded. If you are someone looking for a starter system to build upon, this is not the system for you.

Pioneer_HTP4600_remote_lg.jpg Once everything was connected it was time to go through the audio portion of the setup. The remote is simple and well laid out. Pressing the room setup button on the remote starts the process. There are settings for room size, distance and speaker level. The use of a SPL meter is needed to get accurate channel levels and is a little tricky with this unit because it cycles through the tones rather fast. Once you have room size and levels set you are done with the setup. The digital connection you choose depends on the DVD player being used. I tried both toslink and the coax and in each case the auto detect worked perfect with DTS, Dolby Digital and PCM source signals.

HTP-4600 Multi-channel Listening Tests and Conclusion

The first thing I wanted to know is how the system sounded with music, so I grabbed one of my favorite recordings and put the system through its paces. The first disc I listened to was Donald Fagan' s "The Nightfly" on DVD-Audio. This disc is a superb recording and has an excellent DTS track. The first thing I noticed was that the speakers were fairly well timbre matched. Nothing drew attention to itself as being too glaring or too deficient. Treble was clean but lacked any real detail and sounded a little smeared at times. Midrange was clear but seemed forward. Bass was actually a little better than I expected. Even though I knew there would not be much bass, I also expected it to be boomy. To my surprise it was not. Due to the 6.5" woofer, bass was far from room shaking, however it was well blended with the rest of the system and should be more than sufficient for providing enjoyable low end in a small to medium sized listening room. The rear surround unit was placed high on a shelf in the back of the room directly behind the listening area. It conveyed a sense of depth but no real left and right separation. I suspected that this would improve a bit in a smaller room in which the side walls were a little closer to the surround speaker.

Sound stage and imaging were on par with a system in this price range. As always, we recommend placing these types of speakers in a more intimate, near-field environment to improve stereo separation and imaging. Smaller systems like this will rarely disappear into the room or provide an invisible surround field. This is more than acceptable performance for a system of this price range. The receiver has a couple of sound modes including one for games. I preferred all settings off with bass and treble controls set to neutral.

The next test was to see how the system performed with movie soundtracks, as this is what the system is intended for after all. The movie of choice was Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring (the Extended Edition). I chose the DTS track because it is superb and I am very familiar with it. Yes, I am a Lord of the Rings junkie. I started right off with the Shire sequence with Bilbo narrating. Dialogue was clear, but a little thin or hollow. This is due, no doubt, to the very small driver size of the center channel speaker. In a smaller room for which this system is suited for, it would be less of an issue. The background noises could very clearly be heard from the surrounds, but as I mentioned previously, it was difficult to discern left and right surround information. This configuration did provide a good sense of depth and all other sounds seemed well placed throughout the room. At this point I also listened with the optional front surrounds in conjunction with the wireless surrounds. As expected the rear surround stage collapsed and became even less discernable. I am sure this was due to the fact that my side walls are treated with DIY acoustic panels and not allowing much reflection of the front surrounds. I feel this optional setup would be very room dependant and would require further experimenting on the user' s part.

The next scene I listened to was the "Khazad Dum" Mines of Moria sequence. Here is where the small sub showed that it was the weakest link in the system. The small woofer could not generate the kind of low frequency energy and dynamics needed to convey the impact contained in the recording. It never sounded boomy or overly distorted but lacked any real power. In a smaller room this would improve a little as optimal speaker placement can couple with the room and generate some additional SPLs. The rear surrounds performed as before with good front to back effects and good depth. It was at this point I pushed the system hard to see where it would give out. At around 95 or 96 decibels on my SPL meter is where I started noticing the speakers compressing and distorting. I backed off a little and it cleared right up. That is plenty loud enough for any movie in a small room and totally in line for this type of theater system.

Final Thoughts

If you' re a person looking for a starter system with decent sound then this is a system to consider. Its wireless surround makes it stand out as an obvious option for those looking to get surround sound into a room that may not easily allow rear speaker wiring. With an MSRP of $650 (and the selling price from many online retailers being much lower) it is a good budget system. It offers believable sound, great aesthetics and a setup process your grandmother could handle. This Pioneer HTP-4600 would be a good choice for a bedroom or small apartment where disturbing the neighbors could also be a consideration. If you are looking for a system to upgrade or build upon, then this is not the system for you. The lack of inputs, video switching and no subwoofer output, make it a standalone unit that will satisfy until you want to replace the whole system with something more expensive. So with that in mind, I can recommend it but with reservations.

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
Analogue Audio PerformanceStarStarStar
Build QualityStarStarStar