The Onkyo 7.1 HT-S5100 Product Review. Is This Onkyo Surround Sound System Really Worth It?

Onkyo HT-S5100 (Silver)
Onkyo HT-S5100 (Silver) | Source

When shopping for a home theater system that you don't wish to pay an arm and a leg for, consider the Onkyo 7.1 HT-S5100 . I consider myself to be an extreme audiophile. I've been known to drop pretty pennies on ear buds, speakers, and anything that's sure to improve my listening experience. I'm particularly notorious for willingly sacrificing a great video experience for an exceptional audio one. A movie just isn't a movie minus the superb sound. Life got a whole lot better for me the day I decided to invest in the HT-S5100 . Since 1998 I have owned more home theater systems than I could handle. Sony, Panasonic, and JVC; to name a few.

I've decided to provide other audiophiles with unbiased home theater reviews of the Onkyo 7.1 HT-S5100 . I will try my best to give you everything I know prior to you going out and making the investment. Go ahead; relax and exhale. I think you'll be impressed with the company that brought you the world's first CD player. I made the investment in 2008, and wrote this Onkyo review in 2011. So you can say that I've had a chance to get in some experience with it.

Onkyo HT-S5100 (Black)
Onkyo HT-S5100 (Black) | Source

The Bad News

The day you get your new Onkyo 7.1 HT-S5100 home you'll notice one thing. This home theatre system is totally enormous. There's nothing about this piece of machinery that looks frail. An absolute rarity considering anything from Japan isn't know for being brute. Five of the seven speakers in this 7.1 set up are bulky. The two back speakers are relatively compact. If you plan to wall mount these Onkyo speakers don't expect some sleek and sexy look to blend into your walls. If you know anything about speakers, though, its the extra space in the box that gives you a rich sound.

Speaker Dimensions: (width x height x depth)

Sub woofer - 11 1/8" X 19 5/8" X 15 11/16"
Front Speaker - 6 1/8 X 14 5/8 X 7 13/16
Center Speaker - 17 3/16 X 4 1/8 X 5 3/16
Surround/Surround Back Speaker - 5 15/16 X 10 11/16 X 3 3/4

The receiver of the Onkyo 7.1 HT-S5100 isn't so sleek itself. It does get a little hot, so make sure that its not held in an enclosed shelf on your entertainment center. The HT-S5100 packs a total of 1200 watts so what else would you expect? Keep it cool and you'll have nothing to be overly concerned with. This doesn't mean that you need a fan pointing at it, but I wouldn't recommend resting something like a Bluray player on it. The receiver also has a loud ticking sound each time you toggle through a few of it's many listening modes. Again, not too serious, but it's surely not a stealthy Onkyo receiver.

There is one thing that I absolutely cannot stand about the Onkyo 7.1 HT-S5100. Each time there is a power outage due to one of our Florida thunderstorms, the system resets. This means that every time you unplug it the system saves nothing. It can become quite aggravating especially since I have to re-calibrate the seven speakers to take advantage of the optimal sounds of the Audyssey feature. This is a fantastic, yet addictive benefit that uses a supplied microphone to bounce signals around your room in order to determine the best viewing/listening area.

The legs of the sub woofer for the HT-S5100 are somewhat pointed so you'll have to compensate. You may want to place some slides or felt pads underneath each leg so that they do not damage your floors. The woofer is also huge and will be almost impossible to conceal. Try your best because there's a funny thing about sub woofers. Because of the low frequencies, the human ear can never tell where bass sound is coming from. Knowing that should help make you feel a little better when you see the size of the woofer of the Onkyo 7.1 HT-S5100.

Onkyo S5100 (rear)
Onkyo S5100 (rear) | Source

The Good News

Now that the negative is out of the way, allow me to let you know why I love this Onkyo surround sound system.  The audio that comes out of it is extraordinary!  I now see why the minds at Onkyo decided to join Lucasfilm to launch the first THX certified receiver in 1996.  Take the extra effort to set up your speakers correctly, because when you, "blown away" is all you'll be.  It didn't take long for me to get over the size of the speakers with the Onkyo 7.1 HT-S5100 once I got an audio sample.  This home theater system fills out my viewing area of approximately 300 sq ft with ease.  I am sure it can fill an area much larger, too.

All the options and settings on the HT-S5100 to choose from are very satisfying.  You can go with the traditional 5.1 Dolby Digital set up, or the more impressive DTS setting to activate 7.1 sound from Bluray discs.  There are at least six different listening modes, all of which are customizable.  Apple users will be happy to know that this Onkyo sound system also comes ready with an iPod dock.  Place your device in it and the receiver automatically detects its presence.  Love satellite radio?  The HT-S5100 is compatible with Sirius.

Of all the home theater systems I've owned, none has had more connections than this one.  The Onkyo 7.1 HT-S5100 is totally upgradable.  It boasts:

• 3 HDMI inputs and 1 output
• 1 Dedicated dock jack
• HDTV ready component video switching (2 inputs/1 output)
• Sub woofer per outs
• 4 Digital inputs (2 optical/2 coaxial/4 assignable)
• Color-coded 7.1 multi-channel inputs for Dolby Digital and DTS formats for HD discs
• 3 S-Video inputs/2 outputs

A family will enjoy these because you'll be able to connect multiple gaming systems, your cable/satellite conversion box, and even a DVD player.  All of these connectivity features are supported by a somewhat sophisticated and durable remote.  It's so detailed that you will even be able to adjust the dimming option for the light display.  The remote also comes pre-programmed to work with other Onkyo products in your home entertainment arsenal.

Other notable features on the Onkyo 7.1 HT-S5100 are:

• 40 AM/FM/Sirius presets
• iPod dock that charges device
• Audyssey dynamic EQ loudness correction
• A night mode for late night movie watching

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