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Pioneer HTS-GS1: surround sound for your 360

Pioneer HTS-GS1: surround sound for your 360

At a pre-E3 press event, Pioneer showed off its new HTS-GS1, a home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) system that's specifically designed to match the Xbox 360. The HTS-GS1--which has been available internationally as the HTP-XGS1--emphasizes style and aesthetics, utilizing a white design (with gray speaker grilles) that will perfectly complement your Xbox 360. Except for the sizable subwoofer--which houses all of the system's electronics and connectivity jacks--the components are downright tiny, with five small speakers and a minuscule head unit that controls the system. Because it lacks a built-in DVD player (on the assumption you'll use the 360 for movies), the head unit is far smaller than the 360 itself. In fact, I'd venture to say that it's smaller than the 360's mammoth power supply.

The HTS-GS1 offers 155 watts of total power on the more stringent FTC guideline scale and features the same Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration (MCACC) autosetup system that's found on Pioneer's A/V receivers. That means you need only attach the included microphone to the system, and it will automatically calibrate the speakers to the sonic needs of your room. The HTS-GS1 also borrows the Front Stage Surround mode from earlier Pioneer HTIB models, so you can place all the speakers in the front of the room and use a virtual-surround effect in lieu of running wires to the back. Connectivity options are limited to three digital inputs (two optical, one coaxial) and a single analog stereo input; there's no provision for video switching. Pioneer didn't have the final remote to show but pledged that it would be Xbox 360-centric as well.

At $500, the Pioneer HTS-GS1 is far from the best value in the HTIB market, but the system's Xbox 360 look and feel may put it over the top for those who want an attractive surround-sound option for their Xbox 360. While I wouldn't recommend the HTS-GS1 as a primary home-theater system, I could see it working well in the sort of cramped spaces to which gamers are often relegated: bedrooms, basements, dorm rooms, and dens. We'll have a full hands-on review of the Pioneer HTS-GS1 when it ships in June.