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Pioneer HTP-220-S (Silver) review:

Pioneer HTP-220-S (Silver)

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The Good Inexpensive; 100-watt-per-channel receiver; 5.1 Super Audio CD/DVD-Audio input; five compact, two-way satellites; 100-watt powered subwoofer.

The Bad Speakers' silver finish isn't all that slick; satellites sound somewhat unrefined.

The Bottom Line This budget system sounds great with movies and rock music and is potent enough to fill midsized rooms with sound.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.2 Overall

Pioneer's clever product planners targeted the HTP-220-S at the sound-conscious, budget-minded home-theater-in-a-box buyer. The company must have assumed that a lot of this system's potential audience already owns a DVD player since it focused its resources on producing a kit with a well-appointed A/V receiver, two-way satellites, and a powered subwoofer. Pioneer's clever product planners targeted the HTP-220-S at the sound-conscious, budget-minded home-theater-in-a-box buyer. The company must have assumed that a lot of this system's potential audience already owns a DVD player since it focused its resources on producing a kit with a well-appointed A/V receiver, two-way satellites, and a powered subwoofer.

The basics and more
At this end of the price spectrum, we were surprised to see that the 220-S features one of Pioneer's better entry-level receivers, the VSX-D411, which sends 100 watts to each of the five channels. You also get a subwoofer preout that delivers bass signals to the 220-S's powered sub. Dolby Digital, Pro Logic II, and DTS surround processing are handled by the sort of sophisticated chipset that we usually see in upmarket receivers.

The receiver's generous connectivity options will accommodate even fairly complex systems. Audio inputs include DVD-Audio/Super Audio CD 5.1 connections and two digital-audio jacks, as well as S-Video and composite-video switching. Component-video switching is all that this kit is missing. While we prefer binding-post speaker connectors, we were satisfied with this receiver's sturdy, locking clamps; they securely grasp bare-wire or pin-type connectors.

The speaker package includes five 6.5-inch-tall sats with 0.75-inch tweeters and 3-inch woofers. The little speakers share their silver-toned look with a 100-watt powered sub, which is fairly compact considering that it houses an 8-inch woofer. If you don't like silver, this system also comes in black.

Pioneer's Quick Set-Up procedure is intuitive, and the remote is fairly easy to use. We felt that the receiver's finish--Pioneer calls it Silver Cosmetic--looked low-rent, but at least it's an alternative to the ubiquitous black styling of other receivers.

Room-filling sound
The 220-S strutted its stuff on the Moulin Rouge DVD. On chapter 23, the kit belted out a supercharged tango version of that great, old Police song, "Roxanne." This DVD has humbled many a system, but the 220-S didn't run out of gas. And the Changing Lanes DVD tested the kit's visceral mettle with a couple of screeching car crashes; loudness capability was more than adequate to annoy our neighbors. This movie is also chock-full of realistically ambient office scenes, and the 220-S's surround-staging abilities were above par.

The sub's low-frequency definition was nice and tight, and it really poured on the charm when we settled down to listen to some of our favorite jazz CDs that feature the upright bass. We heard every juicy pluck and strum; even expensive kits with nonpowered subs nearly always bungle that.

Ah, but the 220-S's sats weren't as refined as the sub, and they sometimes sounded a little harsh--nowhere near as clean and pure as certain Onkyo sats that we've heard lately. Midrange magic was lacking on The Blind Boys of Alabama's gospel-infused CD, Higher Ground; the band's rich voices sounded hollow and lightweight. Yet the sats' affinity for higher-energy music could not be denied, as the little guys cranked out Springsteen's "Further On" from his new CD like a set of much larger speakers.

Don't let those persnickety remarks throw you off the track. With a street price of around $300, the HTP-220-S's powerful sound and abundant feature set add up to an attractive offering for those who already own a DVD player.

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