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Onkyo LS-V500C review: Onkyo LS-V500C

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The Good Elegant design; five-disc changer; A/B speaker switching; 100 watts per channel; component-video switching; two-way satellites; powered subwoofer; AM/FM tuner.

The Bad The receiver-cum-DVD player hogs shelf space; no bass and treble controls.

The Bottom Line While its receiver/DVD player looks distinctive, this kit's sonic performance doesn't quite meet Onkyo's usual standards.

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7.3 Overall

Review Sections

Onkyo's Envision Theater LS-V500C home-theater kit features a 100-watt-per-channel receiver/DVD changer teamed up with a slick-looking speaker package. We love the V500C's look, but it didn't quite match the performance standards set by the company's other top models. Onkyo's Envision Theater LS-V500C home-theater kit features a 100-watt-per-channel receiver/DVD changer teamed up with a slick-looking speaker package. We love the V500C's look, but it didn't quite match the performance standards set by the company's other top models.

Design
It seems like most current kits are either decked out with more chrome than a '58 Buick or go for a straight-edged, component look. The new LS-V500C kit's receiver/DVD player dares to be different; the undulating curves gracing the front panel are distinctive yet tasteful. It's too bad that the plastic feel of some of the controls breaks the elegant spell. The unit is also rather large and hogs 17 by 18 inches of shelf space.

The sats' fiberboard cabinets are plain, silver-finished boxes, but their gently bowed grilles add a touch of class. On their backs, you'll find keyhole slots for wall mounting, but since ports also grace their derrieres, these speakers sound best when positioned out in the open. These two-way sats boast 4-inch woofers and 1-inch dome tweeters. The center speaker is larger than the other sats and features a woofer/tweeter/woofer driver complement. A full-sized, 150-watt powered subwoofer--with an 8-inch driver--rounds out the group.

Features and connectivity
The potent receiver delivers 100 watts per channel and features Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS, and MP3 decoders. The carousel-style, five-disc changer welcomes DVDs, CDs, CD-Rs, CD-RWs, and MP3 CDs. Its smooth-running mechanism needs about 15 seconds to swap discs--that's pretty quick.

Connectivity options are lavish by kit standards. We noted component-video outputs and inputs, so you can connect another component-video device; such as an HDTV set-top box. Other useful jacks include A/B speaker outputs and S-Video inputs and outputs. Digital and standard analog A/V connections will accommodate modest systems, but the lack of front-mounted A/V inputs may frustrate folks with video cameras and game consoles. There's one other notable omission from the features list: bass and treble controls.

Performance
CDs, such as Peter Wolf's soulful new release, Sleepless, sound warm and sweet, with none of the strain that we usually hear from kits with tiny sats. Wolf's duet with Mick Jagger on "Nothing but the Wheel" was surprisingly laid-back, and the drums' and guitars' transient responses were muted. Since the V500C lacks even the most basic tone controls, there wasn't much that we could do to change the soft tonal balance.

We picked up our home-theater evaluations with the Spider-Man DVD and found that the V500C has what it takes to fill even large listening rooms such as ours with sound. In the boxing scene in chapter 10, we could almost feel the body slams and the punches, and we felt that the roaring crowd erupted from the surrounds with scary ferocity. On the downside, we thought that the dialogue, especially Peter Parker's narration, sounded somewhat chest-heavy and thick. Then again, that richness might appeal to some listeners.

A cruise through the Talking Heads concert DVD Stop Making Sense quickly demonstrated that the V500C's athletic sub runs deep and has definition that is above par.

The LS-V500C carries a suggested retail price of $900. While we liked this Onkyo's combination of features and style, we prefer the more detailed and alive sound of its slightly more expensive sibling, the HT-S755DVC. That utilitarian-looking system is built around a separate receiver, a DVD changer, and a larger speaker package. onkyo ls-v500c

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