Onkyo HT-S3200 Home Theater System First Look
Front L/R/C/Surround: 110 W/Channel (6 ohms, 1 kHz, FTC)
Dynamic Power: 160 W (3 ohms); 125 W (4 ohms); 85 W (8 ohms)
THD (Total Harmonic Distortion): 1 % (Rated power)
Damping Factor: 60 (Front, 1 kHz, 8 ohms)
Input Sensitivity and Impedance: 200 mV/47 k-ohms (Line)
Output Level and Impedance: 200 mV/470 ohms (Rec out)
Frequency Response: 20 Hz–50 kHz/ +1 dB, -3 dB (Direct mode)
Tone Control: ±10 dB, 50 Hz (Bass); ±10 dB, 20 kHz (Treble)
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 100 dB (Line, IHF-A)
Speaker Impedance: 6 ohms–16 ohms
FM/AM Preset Memory: 30 stations
Power Consumption: 3.4 A
Standby Power Consumption: 0.1 W
Dimensions (W x H x D): 17 1/8" x 5 15/16" x 12 15/16" (435 x 151 x 329 mm)
Weight: 17.6 lbs. (8.0 kg)
Front/Center/Surrounds: Full-range, bass reflex
Subwoofer: Bass reflex, passive
Front/Center/Surround: 3 1/4" (8 cm) cone
Subwoofer: 8" (20 cm) cone
Front/Center/Surrounds: 80 Hz–20 kHz
Subwoofer: 30 Hz–150 Hz
Front: 82 dB/W/m
Center: 85 dB/W/m
Surround: 81 dB/W/m
Subwoofer: 82 dB/W/m
Front/Center/Surround: 6 ohms
Subwoofer: 6 ohms
Dimensions (W x H x D)
Front: 4" x 10 3/4" x 4 3/4" (101 x 273 x 121 mm)
Center: 10 3/4" x 4" x 4 3/16" (273 x 101 x 106 mm)
Surround: 4" x 6 7/8" x 4 9/16" (101 x 175 x 116 mm)
Subwoofer: 11 5/8" x 16 5/16" x 11 3/4" (295 x 414 x 299 mm)
Front/Center: 2.2 lbs. (1.0 kg)
Surround: 1.5 lbs. (0.7 kg)
Subwoofer: 15.2 lbs. (6.9 kg)
The prices for surround sound have absolutely plummeted over the past decade. If we were proving this in a court of law, Exhibit A would have to be the Onkyo HT-S3200 5.1-channel system which includes a full A/V receiver and complete 5.1 speaker package. While clearly marketed as an entry level package, the price of the HT-S3200 makes it a compelling buy for those looking to eke their way into the surround sound experience. The package includes the dedicated A/V receiver, an 8-inch down-firing subwoofer, three identical front speakers and a pair of smaller surround speakers. It's a highly upgradable system, though there are some things you'll want to watch out for, and we indicate those below. With a system like this you'll need to keep your expectations in check since Onkyo had to release a feature set that kept to the target price point for this product. At less than $400, it's hard to be too disappointed at the lack of on-screen display, automatic setup mic, or HDMI audio. If you are using several types of inputs you'll need to be aware the for each type you use, you'll need to run that cable from the receiver to your television or projector. There is no video upconversion, so composite in = composite out, component video in = component video out, and HDMI in... well, you get the point. If you want a single input to use on your TV, you'll need to upgrade to the $899 Onkyo HT-S7200... or be content to press that little "Input" button on the TV remote (bet you didn't know that button was worth $500!)
Let's analyze the primary components on their own:
Onkyo HT-R370 A/V Receiver
This dedicated receiver features three HDMI pass-through inputs for high-definition video up to 1080p. This is a super-convenient solution that allows you to connect all of your HD video sources into the receiver for simplified switching. Since the HDMI inputs are pass-through, this means they do not retrieve the audio from the HDMI signal. With no analogue inputs, that means you'll be limited to Dolby Digital and DTS audio signals for Blu-ray discs. You simply will not be able to listen to the high resolution uncompressed audio tracks available on most discs. The good news is, however, that with this system you probably won't even notice - it's simply not geared towards those high-end formats. This also means that you'll need to run separate audio cables into the HT-R370 to get surround sound.
The system also includes Audyssey EQ, Audyssey Dynamic EQ, and Audyssey Dynamic Volume which levels out the volume between program material and overly compressed commercials. You can even integrate an iPod or MP3 player via a front-panel 1/8-inch input. Onkyo’s new DSP modes are optimized for gaming and there are four modes: Rock, Sports, Action, or Role Playing Game (RPG). Neither reduces lag time, but since the Onkyo receiver doesn't provide video processing this isn't necessary and DSP can focus, instead, on environmental effects and immersive DSP.
Inputs and Outputs
The Onkyo HT-R370 (which is almost identical to their TX-SR307) has the ins and outs you'd expect on a basic A/V receiver. First off, the three HDMI pass-through inputs will switch three HD sources effortlessly to the single output. Dual component video inputs means that legacy products will also be able to get tied into this receiver. In order to use both, you'll need to connect both component and HDMI to your display since the receiver does not offer any video upconversion. There are also three other composite video inputs, but no S-video connections (which is just fine with us). In addition to these video inputs there are dual stereo inputs for CD and Tape (hey, what's that?) and two optical and one coax S/PDIF connections.
Note the lack of dedicated LFE/sub line level output
In terms of speaker connections, the main left/right speakers get 5-way plastic binding posts, but center, surrounds, the passive subwoofer and B speakers get spring clips. This is not uncommon at this price point, but it does limit the type of speaker cable you'll want to use. Spring clips of this type do best with 18 gauge or higher (smaller) cable. Of primary significance here is the lack of a dedicated subwoofer/LFE line level (RCA) output. While the similar TX-SR307 has a dedicated subwoofer/LFE output, the HT-R370 removes this in favor of powered outputs. That means that any aftermarket subwoofer you buy as a future upgrade will need to have the ability to accept speaker level inputs. Examples of subs with this feature include the Axiom Audio EP125 ($375), Aperion Audio Bravus 8A ($319), and the Yamaha YST-SW216 ($139.95).
Main Left/Right and Center Speakers
The front three speakers in this system are identical except that the logo on the center channel is placed so that it can be placed on its side, which is the most commonly used orientation in systems like this. Each speaker is just 10.75" tall and 4" wide, so they are easy to place in any home. These speakers use a "full range" bass-reflex (ported) 3-1/4" driver that produces frequencies, according to Onkyo, down to 80Hz. In this case full-range is merely an indicator that there is no dedicated tweeter in the cabinet rather than a statement that it reproduces all audible frequencies. With the single driver you'll need to be careful to keep the speaker within its output capabilities. This is a factor of the amplifier's distortion limits as well as the rating and capability of the speaker. If you drive it too hard it will go into distortion - that's where you'll experience the music getting muddy and sounding not nearly as accurate as you'd expect.
The surrounds are identical to the mains and center except that the cabinet size is nearly 4" shorter (adding a tiny bit more to its depth to compensate). They too utilize a single 3-1/4" driver and are ported. The front speakers weigh in at just over 2 pounds while the surrounds are about a pound and a half.
The included sub is passive, meaning it must be powered by the A/V receiver, and contains an 8" down-firing driver. We like down-firing drivers in systems like this because they offer greater placement flexibility. They also, for practical purposes, protect the driver and port from little prying hands of curiosity that we encounter in young families. The box itself is roughly 12" x 12" x 16.5" making it a pretty easy product to hide away if necessary. We'd recommend keeping it up front if possible and moving it around to find the location that yields the best low frequency response. This is a solid sub, and we've seen many subs in similar systems come with a 6.5-inch driver - which is often not big enough (in an inexpensive passive system) to go down to that critical <35 Hz range. Onkyo claims a frequency response of 30Hz with this sub, but provides no specs on how it came to that measurement. It would be safe to assume that the sub is at least 3dB down at this frequency, if not more.
Remote Control RC-735M
The remote that comes with this unit is sufficient enough to handle most basic systems (TV, DVD player and the AV receiver) but don't expect to have it operate your DVR or more sophisticated cableTV functions. It works via preprogrammed codes and cannot learn commands from other remote controls. The layout is intelligent, with direct access over inputs and the four listening modes (which can be further toggled by repeatedly pressing each button.) There is no backlight on this remote, so plan on using it during the day or learning where everything is for nighttime use. A good universal remote should land this thing in storage pretty quickly - and that's our recommendation for most entry level remotes.
Overview of Features
- Total 660W (includes 5 channels plus sub channel)
- 5 speakers with 3-1/4" drivers
- Down-firing 8-inch subwoofer
- 3 HDMI "switching" inputs (no audio)
- 4 DSP gaming modes: Rock, Sports, Action, and Role Playing
- Audyssey Dynamic Volume
This is an impressive little 5.1 system that is priced right. What we like about it most is the fact that for $379 you get what is essentially a $299 A/V receiver. That means that you get 5 speakers and an 8-inch down-firing subwoofer for just $80. That's not bad and we doubt you'll do too much better shopping for components separately. This is a system that can easily be upgraded. While the Onkyo HT-370 receiver lacks a dedicated sub/LFE output that isn't powered, there are plenty of solutions on the market that can handle this type of powered output just fine. This receiver also features Audyssey's Dynamic Volume feature which we've experienced and found to be very helpful indeed when watching movies on systems and in rooms that simply cannot reproduce theatrical levels of dynamic sound. Because of its value we feel that this system will appeal to a lot of people. If you have a lot of sources, you might want to hold out for something that upconverts analogue video to HDMI, or you'll need a good universal remote control that can switch your TV's inputs as needed to handle the various sources. This isn't a deal-breaker, but something consumers need to be aware of so they don't have false expectations when they unpack and set everything up. Definitely recommended.
Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.
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