While there's no shortage of sleek lifestyle systems on the market, most of those trendy packages shortchange you on sound. That's why we're such big fans of Onkyo's component-based home theaters in a box (HTIBs), such as the HT-S667C. It combines a 100-watt-per-channel receiver, a separate six-disc CD/DVD changer, and an overachieving ensemble of five speakers and a subwoofer. The kit, listed at $700, delivers astonishing performance and value, but if you want to set up one in the living room, your significant other may need some convincing.
The receiver and the six-disc carousel changer look and feel like separate components. In fact, the changer is sold on its own as the DV-CP701. It's 16.7 inches deep, and when we placed the receiver on top of it, the stack stood 9.25 inches tall. They consume a healthy chunk of space, so make sure your shelving can handle them.
Inconveniently, the system comes with two remotes: one for the receiver and a very similar one for the DVD player. We weren't thrilled with either; the buttons are tiny and too close together. The setup-menu ergonomics are typical of standalone components.
The black-oak-finished speakers look huge compared with the puny HTIB models we usually test. The main left/right speakers stand 15.25 inches tall, the center is 15.25 inches wide, and the two surrounds are 8.5 inches tall. The 20.5-inch-tall subwoofer is a substantial beast with a build quality that shames most HTIB subs.
The receiver packs 100 watts into each of its five channels and offers all the standard surround-processing modes: Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, and DTS. If you want 6.1-channel sound and Dolby EX or DTS ES processing, you'll find those features in the Onkyo HT-S767C, listed at $800.
The S667C's changer can play DVDs, DVD-R/RWs, CDs, and MP3-encoded CDs, as well as JPEG- and Kodak-picture CDs. Its back panel has composite, S-Video, and progressive-scan component outputs; stereo analog-audio outputs; and an optical and a coaxial digital output.
Although the receiver's connectivity contingent is skimpy by standalone-component standards, it's generous compared with the offerings of the system's HTIB brethren. You get A/B speaker switching, SACD/DVD-Audio 5.1 inputs, four A/V inputs (three with S-Video), and two audio-only inputs. That should be adequate for most people, but the receiver lacks component-video switching, and its speaker spring-clip connectors aren't as secure as binding posts. Oh, and there are just two digital inputs: one optical, one coaxial.