Home Theater In A Box Reviews http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com Home Theater in a Box reviews, news, and support. Fri, 11 Feb 2011 18:56:59 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.0.5 Onkyo Announces New 7.1 and 5.1 HTiB Systems http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/2011/02/onkyo-announces-new-7-1-and-5-1-htib-systems http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/2011/02/onkyo-announces-new-7-1-and-5-1-htib-systems#comments Fri, 11 Feb 2011 18:55:29 +0000 Charles Jefferies http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/?p=1158 HT-S5400

Onkyo has announced two new home theater in a box (HTiB) systems: the 7.1-channel HT-S5400 and the 5.1-channel HT-S3400. The receivers feature four HDMI inputs and one output plus support for 3D video.


The receivers of both systems also support Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio plus an Audio Return Channel. Both receivers also support Audyssey Dynamic EQ and Audyssey Dynamic Volume, which automatically level the volume of loud TV commercials.

The HT-S5400 7.1 system has the most extensive feature set of the two systems. Thanks to two extra audio channels it can support Dolby Pro Logic IIz which improves surround sound performance plus has better quality audio circuitry. The HT-S5400′s receiver also has a USB port on the front for direct connection to an iPod/iPhone. Both the HT-S3400 does not include the USB port. Both systems include a subwoofer.

Pricing and Availability

The Onkyo HT-S5400 and the HT-S3400 will be available at retail in April for MSRP $599 and $379, respectively.

Onkyo USA Website

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harman kardon Announces HKTS 60 Home Theater System http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/2010/10/harman-kardon-announces-hkts-60-home-theater-system http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/2010/10/harman-kardon-announces-hkts-60-home-theater-system#comments Fri, 29 Oct 2010 13:28:31 +0000 Charles Jefferies http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/?p=1150
harman kardon announced its HKTS 60 home theater in a box system, featuring 5.1 surround sound and an 8-inch 200-watt subwoofer.
In addition to the subwoofer, the system features four identical 2 1/2-way dual-driver satellite speakers and a matching central speaker.
harman kardon says it was able to reduce distortion and enhance imaging through the use of a two-way crossover network and flat-panel driver technology.

The company says “home theater systems don’t come any easier.” It comes with the required cables to connect the speakers to your receiver or preamp/processor and amplifier.


The harman kardon HKTS 60 is available now for $1,199.

harman kardon Product Page

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Onkyo Intros First 3D Home Theater with THX Certification http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/2010/07/onkyo-intros-first-3d-home-theater-with-thx-certification http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/2010/07/onkyo-intros-first-3d-home-theater-with-thx-certification#comments Fri, 23 Jul 2010 19:16:15 +0000 Charles Jefferies http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/?p=1137 Onkyo HT-S9300THX HTiB System
Onkyo has introduced the first 3D-ready home theater in a box (HTiB) system with THX I/S certification.
Onkyo HT-S9300THX Receiver - Front

The HT-S9300THX home theater system includes seven loudspeakers, a subwoofer, and a receiver. The receiver has four 3D-ready HDMI v1.4a inputs and can upscale video from any input source to 1080p full HD resolution. Other technologies included in the receiver include Dolby & DTS high definition audio processing, Dolby ProLogic IIz height channel processing, and other sound processing features from THX, Audyssey, and Onkyo.
Onkyo HT-S9300THX Receiver - Rear

The HT-S9300THX has THX I/S certification. The system’s front loudspeakers have THX-developed dual-woofer arrays. The THX Surround EX feature has various listening modes for music, movies, and games, and THX Loudness Plus is a volume-control technology that helps maintain surround impact at low listening levels.

Onkyo claims the HT-S9300THX has easy surround sound speaker setup. It features Audyssey 2EQ room acoustics correction technology.

A proprietary rear-panel Universal Port can be used to connect an optional Onkyo UP-A1 dock for iPod/iPhone and UP-HT1 HD Radio tuner module.

The Onkyo HT-S9300THX will be available at the end of July for MSRP $1,099.99.

Onkyo Website

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Onkyo Intros Two 3D Home Theater Systems http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/2010/07/onkyo-intros-two-3d-home-theater-systems http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/2010/07/onkyo-intros-two-3d-home-theater-systems#comments Fri, 09 Jul 2010 14:14:36 +0000 Charles Jefferies http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/?p=1131 Onkyo HT-S7300 Home Theater System

Onkyo HT-S7300 Home Theater System

Onkyo has introduced two new 3D-ready home-theater-in-a-box systems. The HT-S6300 and HT-S7300 have HDMI v1.4 inputs, 1080p video upscaling, and various sound processing technologies.
The HT-S6300 and HT-S7300 have the following features in common:

  • Four 3D-Ready HDMI v1.4 inputs
  • 1080p video upscaling
  • Lossless Dolby & DTS high definition audio
  • Dolby height processing
  • Audyssey automatic room equalization
  • Seven home theater loudspeakers
  • Subwoofer
  • Audio-video receiver
  • Audyssey calibration microphone
  • Onboard iPod/iPhone dock
Onkyo HT-S6300 Home Theater System

Onkyo HT-S6300 Home Theater System

The main difference between the S6300 and the S7300 is that the S7300 features a pair of black 41-inch tall floor-standing speakers, each with dual vertically-arrayed woofers. The center channel has the same drivers as the stereo speakers; it also features four compact surround sound speakers.
The S6300 by comparison has six 1-foot tall boookshelf speakers and a horizontal center speaker; all use the same four-inch two-way driver.
Both systems include a 290-watt subwoofer and a receiver with seven 130-watt 6-ohn amplifiers.

The Onkyo HT-S6300 and HT-S7300 are available now for suggested retail prices of $749 and $849, respectively.

Onkyo HT-S6300/HT-S7300 Product Pages

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Best Buy Announces New Insignia 5.1 System http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/2010/06/best-buy-announces-new-insignia-5-1-system http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/2010/06/best-buy-announces-new-insignia-5-1-system#comments Tue, 22 Jun 2010 17:50:57 +0000 Charles Jefferies http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/?p=1122
Best Buy announced its new Insignia 5.1 home theater audio system with Audyssey audio technology.

The Insignia Home Theater System is a complete 5.1 surround sound system with 110 watts per channel. It includes five speakers and a 120-watt subwoofer. It features three HDMI 1.4 inputs and one HDMI output which supports the new Blu-ray audio and 3D video formats. The system also includes a pre-programmed Universal remote.

The system’s Audyssey technology automatically adjusts quieter sections of movies and TV shows and levels out the sounds of loud commercials.

The system is now available exclusively at Best Buy for $399.

Best Buy Press Release

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Bose Announces New Home Theater Systems http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/2010/05/bose-announces-new-home-theater-systems http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/2010/05/bose-announces-new-home-theater-systems#comments Tue, 25 May 2010 15:31:33 +0000 Charles Jefferies http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/?p=1112 Bose Lifestyle T20

Bose Lifestyle T20

Bose has introduced its latest home entertainment systems, the 5.1 surround sound Lifestyle V-Class and T-Class. The new systems feature Bose’s Unify intelligent integration system, which simplifies initial setup and the overall entertainment experience.

Bose Lifestyle V25

Bose Lifestyle V25

The Unify integration system uses a combination of hardware and software to improve the entertainment experience. Setup is simplified with an on-screen guide with step-by-step instructions. The Unify system also makes it possible to use just one remote for the entire entertainment system; the V-Class and T-Class systems accommodate up to six HD sources. The Lifestyle remote is claimed to operate almost any entertainment device including Blu-ray players and cable boxes.

Bose Lifestyle V35

Bose Lifestyle V35

The three announced systems include the V35, V25, and the T20. All feature five speakers and a hide-away Acoustimass bass module. Bose ADAPTiQ technology automatically calibrates the sound system depending on the room size.
The T-Class systems feature Virtually Invisible or Direct/Reflecting speaker arrays and a universal remote control; the V-Class ups the ante with Jewel Cube or Direct/Reflecting speaker arrays, a built-in AM/FM tuner, iPod dock, and a more advanced universal remote control. All systems have a central console for connecting sources and automatic video upscaling.

The Lifestyle V35 and V25 are available now from Bose for $3,299 and $2,499, respectively; the T20 is available for $1,999.

Bose Website

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Sony Intros 3D Soundbars, Surround Sound http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/2010/04/sony-intros-3d-soundbars-surround-sound http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/2010/04/sony-intros-3d-soundbars-surround-sound#comments Wed, 21 Apr 2010 17:16:44 +0000 Charles Jefferies http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/?p=1104 Sony today announced three new sound solutions supporting 3D audio, including 3.1 soundbars and a 5.1 surround sound system.
All of the new systems feature 3D passthrough with HDMI repeater (three inputs/one output) and standby passthrough for audio and video devices connected via HDMI. Supported features of all models include lossless linear pulse code modulation (LCPM) Blu-ray audio support via HDMI input; BRAVIA Sync for controlling similar devices with one remote; Sony’s Digital Media Port for iPod; lastly, two digital audio inputs (coaxial and optical).

HT-CT150, CT350 Soundbars

Sony HT-C150 Soundbar

Sony HT-C150 Soundbar

The HT-C150 and HT-C350 sound bars offer 3.1 sound. The C150 is a 340W system (85W x3 channels and 85W subwoofer) while the C350 is 400W (100W x3 channels and 100W subwoofer). The C150 is designed to complement Sony’s 2010 BRAVIA 32-inch HDTVs.

Sony HT-C350 Soundbar

Sony HT-C350 Soundbar

The C350 includes a bracket that allows it to attach directly to several 40-inch plus sets (wall mounted or table top).

The HT-C150 and HT-C350 will be available this may for $300 and $400, respectively.

HT-SF470 5.1 Surround Sound System

Sony HT-SF740 5.1 Surround Sound System

Sony HT-SF740 5.1 Surround Sound System

The HT-SF740 is a 1000W 5.1 surround sound system (157W x5 channels and 167W subwoofer). It has floor-standing front and rear speakers; S-Air wireless technology is optional.

The HT-SF740 will be available this June for $550.

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Aperion Intros Slim Soundbar for HDTVs http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/2010/04/aperion-intros-slim-soundbar-for-hdtvs http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/2010/04/aperion-intros-slim-soundbar-for-hdtvs#comments Thu, 15 Apr 2010 16:58:32 +0000 Charles Jefferies http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/?p=1098 Aperion Audio SLIMstage 30 Soundbar

Aperion Audio recently introduced its SLIMstage 30 Soundbar for flat-screen HDTVs; it is designed to produce theater-like sound in a small space.

The SLIMstage 30 is aimed at customers that desire high-quality audio in a secondary viewing locations such as bedrooms and dens that may not accomodate a traditional 5.1 surround sound system. The company claims it is simple to connect out of the box but also allows audio enthusiasts to tweak the sound to their likings.
The SLIMstage 30 includes Dolby Digital and Digital DTS Surround for virtual surround sound effects.

The SLIMstage 30 is rated for 140W of output; it has four main 50x50mm speakers and two woofer arrays, including one 3″ magnet woofer and two 3″ bass radiators.

Aperion SLIMstage 30 Soundbar with Bravus 8A Subwoofer
An Aperion Bravus 8A subwoofer can be paired with the system; it provides 100W of RMS power.
The Aperion SLIMstage 30 soundbar with the Bravus 8A subwoofer is priced at $799; the SLIMstage 30 soundbar unit alone is priced at $599. Both are available now at Aperion’s website.

Aperion Audio Product Page

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Yamaha Announces New HTiB, AVRs w/ HDMI 1.4 Support http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/2010/04/yamaha-announces-new-htib-avrs-w-hdmi-1-4-support http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/2010/04/yamaha-announces-new-htib-avrs-w-hdmi-1-4-support#comments Mon, 05 Apr 2010 19:20:02 +0000 Charles Jefferies http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/?p=1089 Home Theater in a Box Systems

Yamaha today announced five new Home Theater in-a-box (HTiB) systems supporting HDMI 1.4 and 3D video passthrough.

Yamaha YHT-693 5.1 system

Yamaha YHT-693 5.1 system

The announced HTiB systems are as follows; all have HDMI 1.4 inputs/outputs and support 3D video passthrough (to be enabled with planned firmware upgrade):

  • $399: YHT-393BL
  • $449: YHT-493BL
  • $549: YHT-593BL
  • $649: YHT-693BL
  • $849: YHT-893BL

The $549 and up models add Yamaha Parametric Room Acoustic Optimizer (YPAO), which compensates for the acoustic qualities of a room; they also add an iPod dock (which is now iPhone-certified), return audio through HDMI 1.4, and decode all authorized Blu-ray sound formats. The iPod dock is compatible with all systems ($99.95); a Bluetooth receiver is optional ($129).
All announced systems are 5.1 with the exception of the $849 YHT-893BL, which is 7.1. Most of the differences between the models lie in the speakers.
The $399 and $449 model both feature a 5x100W amp, a 100W 8″ sub, and compact two-way woofers, but the $449 model has larger two-way woofers.
The $549 and $649 model use the same 100W 8″ sub but use a slightly more powerful 5x105W amp; the $649 model uses larger 6″ woofers rather than the 2.75″ in the $549 model.

Yamaha YHT-893 7.1 system

The top-end $849 model has a 7x90W amp, and a 100W 10″ sub.
A Blu-ray or DVD player is not included with any of the systems.

A/V Receivers

Yamaha RX-V567 7.1 receiver

Yamaha also announced three new A/V receivers (AVRs). The models are as follows:

  • $249: RV-V367: 5x100W
  • $379: RV-V467: 5x105W
  • $479: RX-V567: 7x90W

These receivers are Yamaha’s first to support 3D video passthrough and HDMI 1.4. Feature support includes automatic lip sync, HDMI repeater, 120Hz PC refresh rate support, and 30/36-bit Deep Color compatibility.
Only the top-end $479 model includes 1080p upscaling of analog input formats. The top two models support all authorized Blu-ray sound formats, and YPAO.


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Building a Home Theater PC Part 3 – Selecting and Installing the Components http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/2010/03/building-a-home-theater-pc-part-3-%e2%80%93-selecting-and-installing-the-components http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/2010/03/building-a-home-theater-pc-part-3-%e2%80%93-selecting-and-installing-the-components#comments Tue, 23 Mar 2010 18:39:25 +0000 Jesse Raab http://www.hometheaterinaboxreview.com/?p=1080 Editor’s note: This is part 3 of Jesse Raab’s three-part series on constructing your own home theater PC. This section covers the components selected and how to assemble them. Be sure to read part1 to learn more about the expectations and duties of the home theater PC and part 2 to see how the build went and the components used.

Test Time

With the new HTPC all put together it was time to fire it up and see how things looked. I started by just making sure it powered up and the machine could boot. After doing that successfully it was time to get an operating system and some software on it so I could start playing my content. I chose to make this a Linux-based HTPC because its free, will easily network with my server (which also runs Linux), and there are some excellent software options for HTPC’s on Linux. Both XBMC and Boxee have recently released updates in the last two months and eventually I will be fully testing both media center softwares but will start by running a minimal Ubuntu install and XBMC. I mostly followed the guide found here although I used Ubuntu 9.10 and installed the nvidia driver from Ubuntu. Alternatively, if you wish to install XBMC on top of a full Ubuntu installation, these set of instructions will help. Setup was pretty simple and I was able to accomplish these steps without any misteps. I have purposely kept everything off this machine that wasn’t necessary for playback via XBMC or Boxee. I don’t have a full desktop or full featured window manager on here and the machine to auto logs in to XBMC when the machine boots.

After following these steps I rebooted and was very quickly presented with the XBMC home screen. And when I say quickly I am speaking literally, it was so fast I had to do it again and time it. It took a grand total of about 40 seconds to go from pushing the power button to the home screen. Thirty of those seconds were spent getting through the motherboards power-on checks (I’m sure this can be further optimized). From the time I hit the loading grub text to the time I was in XMBC was 10 seconds. This made me incredibly happy, the extra money I spent on the SSD was going to be worth it, I may even need another one or two of these for my laptop and desktop. Seriously, it was that fast.

With that bit of gushing out of the way we can get on to the rest of the initial testing. I did some initial setup to make sure my sound and video settings were correct. XMBC has a nice screen for adjusting overscan, which for some reason by default was absurdly high on my setup. I also set the video to be output via HDMI and the sound to be passed through my digital coaxial output. Next it was time to start adding some content. I added the folders on my server containing my music and my movies to the appropriate content sources and could play them just fine. I asked XBMC to scan the folders and it was able to grab covers, fan art, and information for about almost all of my movies and about three quarters of my music. I will be going back and renaming and reorganizing some of these folders a bit better to see if I can’t get a few more titles added with all the coverart. XMBC was able to get cover art for both mp3 and flac files that I have.


The system itself is not totally silent. If I turn off everything else and leave it on I can easily hear it from a few feet away. However, with anything playing or when sitting across the room the system is inaudible. Temperatures when idle were reasonable, and seem to stay in the low to mid thirties.

Movie playback was excellent. I went through and tested a number of clips I’ve been using to test some of the other media streamers we’ve reviewed lately. My rips of the Bluray versions of Quantum of Solace and Kung Fu Panda both played flawlessly without any stuttering or slowdowns. I monitored the system remotely from my laptop and cpu usage stayed under 25% on both cores and temperatures climbed only a few degrees above the normal 35 degrees I was seeing in this box. Interestingly, playing these same clips in Boxee gave me lower cpu usage by a wide margin. While playing Quantum of Solace I recorded usages below 10% of the cpu when in Boxee. The software are highly related, and I had assumed video playback would be equal between the two media centers, but clearly something was different during my tests.

Music capability of this device was priority number one for me. I know that seems kind of silly to most, but I love music. I listen to it all day while working. I come home and will listen there too. I might be backwards, but I still buy CDs, I still listen to complete albums from start to end frequently. I rip every disk I get to flac files as I find it much easier to browse for something interesting this way than digging through all my albums. I’ve tried a lot of music library programs and music playback program, but I’ve never truly found anything I fell in love with. I’m currently using Rhythmbox on my Linux laptop and foobar on my Windows 7 desktop, although I have a number of other options installed on both machines. Playback of music on through XBMC works well, and the sound quality out of this box is good and on par with my Windows 7 machine running foobar which I also have hooked into my main stereo. The interface is nice, and works but is nothing spectacular when using the included Confluency skin. I very briefly tried a few other skins but returned to Confluency for the time being. I have had some trouble getting shuffling to work correctly, and I would also appreciate a better handling of playlist creation. After I spend some time enjoying my new toy I expect to revisit the music playback aspect of this box and see if I can come to a more desirable solution.

Using XBMC’s plugin system I was able to add several Internet sources with varying degress of success. Apple trailers lite plugin worked excellently, and I spent a good hour just watching different movie trailers. I was excited to find a plugin for TED talks since this was one of the sources I had hoped to get working in my home theater. Unfortunately, when trying to playback this video I ended up with sound only and a unwatchable picture. A few sources resulted in playback errors and no video or audio. XBMC is not known for its ability to provide online content in the same was as its sibling software Boxee is, so I expected a bit of trouble trying to get these to work. I quickly tested some Internet sources on Boxee and as expected not only did the play back correctly, the interface is extremely slick. Searching for a partcular show will bring up options to watch it at the different online sources it is available through, such as Hulu and nbc.com. A little more trouble shooting will be necessary to get the plugin system working correctly.


With most things working, or at least somewhat functional I decided I would take a few weeks to just enjoy having this system up and running. Use it for a while with XBMC and Boxee and try to decide what is lacking or other features I really want and then try to get some of those. XBMC has tremendous support for other interface options (called skins) and both XBMC and Boxee have an active community of developers creating plugins to enhance the capabilities of these media centers. Overall I was very pleased with the ease of getting a basic XBMC and Boxee setup running. Video and audio quality was good, and I was able to playback most of the formats I wished to handle. More extensive testing will be needed to fully realize all the goals I had laid out.

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