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Onkyo HT-S5500 7.1-Channel Home Theater Receiver/Speaker Package Preview

Onkyo HT-S5500 Home Theater System

Onkyo HT-S5500 Home Theater System


  • Product Name: HT-S5500 Home Theater System
  • Manufacturer: Onkyo
  • Review Date: March 11, 2012 20:15
  • MSRP: $649 (HT-S3500 $399)
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!


  • 4in/1out HDMI Supporting 3D Video and Audio Return Channel
  • Direct Digital Connection of iPod®/iPhone® via Front-Panel USB Port
  • Total 1030W with a Powerful 10-inch 120W Powered Subwoofer
  • Dolby Pro Logic IIz Adds New Dimensions to Surround Sound
  • A Suite of Audyssey Technologies for the Ideal Listening Environment


  • 4in/1out HDMI Supporting 3D Video and Audio Return Channel
  • Total 660W with a Powerful 8-inch Subwoofer
  • Decoding of High-Definition Surround-Sound Codecs
  • Convenient Overlaid On-Screen Display via HDMI
  • Direct Digital Connection of iPod/iPhone via Front-Panel USB Port

Okay, we know what you think about Home Theaters in a Box (HTiB). You know what we think about them. Convenient. Inexpensive. Often a great starting point (Read: Gateway 'drug' to a lifetime of upgrading). So many of us started off with HTiBs. Frankly, when you are first thinking about upgrading from your TV speakers to something external, a HTiB is a very attractive option. Figuring out what components, which cables, what connections you need? It can be daunting for a newbie. HTiBs take all the thought process out of it (though you often have to buy some cables in the end).

One thing we've always liked about Onkyo's HTiB offerings is their penchant for including full receivers. No funny proprietary connections, no funky speaker wires that can't be changed or lengthened, just a simple receiver connected to inexpensive speakers that a user can, later on down the line, swap out for something better. This is the perfect solution for the newbie and we often recommend Onkyo HTiBs to our friends that won't listen to reason.

Onkyo has some very high-end HTiBs and some that are very budget-minded. The new HT-S5500 is a middle-of-the-pack offering (with regard to price) with a lot of very attractive features. First, the HT-S5500 commands a fairly meager $649 MSRP. But for this price you get a full featured receiver with speakers enough for a 7.1 system. Starting with the receiver, we find a 120 watt per channel at a fairly impressive 18.5 pounds. It features full 3D decoding including all the latest audio codecs plus the new(ish) Dobly ProLogic IIz for height channels. Audyssey 2EQ is also on board with Dynamic Volume and EQ.

There are six HDMI inputs (one front mounted) and one output. All are HDMI version 1.4a supporting 3D and Audio Return Channel and an overlay OSD. There are two component video inputs but analogue to HDMI conversion is not supported so you'll need a separate video connection for each input type to your display. The receiver on the HT-S5500 is iPod ready through a front USB port for a direct connection to your iDevice. Like newer Onkyo offerings, the HT-S5500 utilizes their WRAT (Wide Range Amplifier Technology), a proven amplification concept that reduces signal noise and provides large amounts of controlled power instantaneously. Top-quality TI Burr-Brown 192 kHz/24-bit DACs on all channels, a powerful 32-bit DSP processing chip, and discrete output-stage components—not inexpensive ‘all-in-one’ amplifier chips—contribute to exceptionally good audio performance. 

For the speakers, we find larger two way front speakers with 5" OMF woofers. The center sports two of these woofers. Both have tweeters. The surround are all a single "full range" speaker design. Any audioholic worth their salt realizes that the majority of the money for the HT-S5500 is going for the receiver. But having these speakers at hand makes for a quick and easy install and, knowing Onkyo's commitment to providing standalone components in their HTiBs, we know that users that are dissatisfied with their speakers will be able to upgrade them rather than being forced to throw out the whole lot because of proprietary connections. Lastly, a gloss-finished 120 W powered subwoofer with a 10" driver provides the low end.


For those looking to save a bit of money ($399 MSRP), you can go with the HT-S3500 - a 5.1 system. While the receiver has a bit less power (110 watts per channel) and sports only five channels of amplification, it weighs in at a substantially less 14.1 pounds. Most notably different with this package is the lack of Audyssey Room Correction (or any room correction), the smaller subwoofer, and, of course, two less speakers. HDMI 1.4a is on board so 3D and Audio Return Channel are still all supported as is an OSD overlay. This receiver also has 4 in 1 out HDMI connections plus two component video. Again, analogue to HDMI upconverstion is not supported. The surrounds for the HT-S5500 are all around on the HT-S3500 (meaning a single driver in each enclosure) and the sub only has an 8" driver.


It's pretty clear that these two HTiB packages target different consumers. The HT-S3500 is a true budget offering that is providing a 5.1 channel receiver with HDMI 1.4a and 3D and throwing in some speakers. The larger HT-S5500 may cost more ($649 vs $399) but for that you get two more speakers, two more channels of amplification, Dolby PLIIz, Audyssey 2EQ room correction, a larger subwoofer, and better front and center speakers. That seems like a deal to us. With native iDevice connectivity built in to the front mounted USB port on both offerings, we have a feeling that this might be the HTiB offerings to beat. Also, if you are looking for simplicity of connections or you have lots of legacy (non-HDMI) devices, you might want to consider upgrading to the $799 HT-S7409 which offers HDMI upconversion. That way you can plug anything into it and get it on your HDMI-equipped display.

For more information, please visit www.onkyousa.com.

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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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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