After lugging Onkyo's HT-S780 into our listening room we dubbed it the HTIVHB, or home theater in a very heavy box. We're not kidding: the S780 weighs a solid 113 pounds and contains a 7.1-channel A/V receiver and a hefty eight-piece satellite/powered-subwoofer system. But all that weight gives this Onkyo bundle a physical and sonic gravitas that competing all-in-one home-theater systems can't match. To say the HT-S780 sounds far more substantial than its legions of pint-size competitors is an understatement. No, its blocky component design and boxy speakers won't blend seamlessly with your flat-panel TV. But with a list price of just $500, the Onkyo costs less, sounds better, and offers more features than most lifestyle-oriented HTIBs.
The Onkyo HT-S780 features a 7.1-channel A/V receiver that's a near clone of the Onkyo TX-SR503's receiver--one of the best budget receivers CNET has seen this year. It is 17 inches wide, 6 inches high, and 14.75 inches deep, and it weighs 20.7 pounds. Even before we cruised through the S780's setup menu, the sound balance was acceptable--you'll be able to live with the default settings if you'd rather not bother dealing with setup tweaks. Of course, we took the plunge and adjusted the sound balances, noting that the stock setting's subwoofer level was a tad low. As an aside, the receiver's partially backlit remote earns high marks for its layout and ease of use.
The front-left, front-right, and center speakers are full-size models, standing 17.1 inches high by 6.25 inches wide and 8 inches deep. The woofers and tweeter are mounted in raised silver-plastic housings that add a bit of style to the speakers' otherwise stark look. The four wall-mountable surround speakers are 11 inches tall but just 4 inches deep. The speakers' wood cabinets feel considerably more robust than the plastic shells most HTIB speakers have. The 30-pound subwoofer measures 20.3 inches tall, 10.25 inches wide, and 16.25 inches deep; its build quality is comparable to that of some of the $200 to $300 subs we've tested. The entire HT-S780 system is available in a black or silver finish.
If you're already happy with your A/V receiver and just looking for an amazing value on surround speakers, the S780's full 7.1-channel set is available separately for $249 as the(in black finish only).
The receiver component of the Onkyo HT-S780 is rated at 110 watts for each of its seven channels; it uses 192KHz/24-bit digital-to-analog converters and a powerful 32-bit DSP engine to provide a full suite of surround-processing options for Dolby Digital, Dolby EX, Pro Logic IIx, DTS, DTS-ES, DTS Neo:6, and DTS 96/24.