We could make this review really short by just listing the Onkyo SKS-HT510's vital statistics: you get a pair of full-size bookshelf speakers, a center-channel speaker, three smaller surrounds, and a 150-watt powered sub--all for a list price of $300. This is a 6.1-channel system; that is, it includes an extra surround to take advantage of the center-back channel found on newer receivers.
The left/right speakers are big, standing 16.5 inches tall. They each sport dual 5.25-inch woofers--a real rarity among budget speaker packages--and a 1-inch dome tweeter. The center speaker measures 15.25 inches wide; its two 4-inch woofers flank a 1-inch tweeter. Each 10.5-inch-tall surround uses a pair of the same drivers found in the center unit.
The 30-pound powered sub has a downward-firing 8-inch woofer and a 150-watt amplifier. Its connectivity is limited to just one line-level input, so you must hook it up to a receiver with a line-level subwoofer output; most A/V receivers are so equipped. The sturdy sats are finished in a black-oak, vinyl veneer and feature nonremovable contoured grilles. The build quality of the package as a whole is especially impressive, considering the price.
The wonderful Frida DVD fully exercised the Onkyo ensemble. Early in the film, Frida is in a bus accident, and the sounds of the collision and the following fantasy sequence swept us away. Dialogue was especially well served by the center speaker; male and female voices had just the right body and presence. Some center units that cost as much as this entire system couldn't keep up with the HT510's.