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New HTIBs from Onkyo feature bonafide AV receivers

Onkyo has announced two new home theater system, both of which feature AV receivers with four HDMI inputs and onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.

The worlds of home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) systems and audiophiles are pretty much mutually exclusive, but Onkyo traditionally has come the closest to making it work. Unlike most companies, Onkyo tends to include separates-style AV receiver and full-size speakers in its HTIBs, eschewing the lifestyle-friendly tiny speakers that you see on systems from Sony and Panasonic. Onkyo has announced two new HTIB systems in this style, the HT-S6100 and the HT-S7100, and both are significantly more featured than your average HTIB setup. Let's take a look at their key features:

The Onkyo HT-S6100

Key features of the Onkyo HT-S6100:

  • 7.1 channels, 130 watts per channel
  • Seven satellite speakers plus a subwoofer
  • 4 HDMI 1.3 inputs
  • Onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio
  • 1080i upconversion for analog signals, using Faroudja DCDi Edge video processing
  • Audyssey 2EQ automatic speaker calibration
  • Available now with a list price of $700

The Onkyo HT-S7100

Step-up features of the Onkyo HT-S7100:

  • Two speaker stands included
  • Sirius-ready
  • Available in August with a list price of $800

As we said before, these HTIBs include real, separates-style AV receivers. Having a real AV receiver is great because it makes it easier to upgrade your speakers in the future or add additional components, which can be problematic on the AV receiver/DVD player combos that are included with many HTIBs. Even better, the included AV receivers are pretty well-featured, including four HDMI inputs, onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio and HDMI upconversion for analog sources. Videophiles should take note, however, that we weren't exactly satisfied with the analog-to-HDMI video performance of the similar TX-SR606, which also featured the same Faroudja DCDi Edge video processing.

From the information released so far, the upgrades on the HT-S7100 seem pretty paltry, so we'll be interested to see if Onkyo adds any additional functionality to make the $100 price premium worth it. In the meantime, we'll be doing our best to get our hands on a review sample of the HT-S6100 to see if has premium sound quality to match its premium feature set.