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Onkyo SKS-HT870 review: Onkyo SKS-HT870

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The Good A 7.1 surround sound speaker system; excellent sound quality; subwoofer blends well with speakers; can fill relatively large rooms; relatively inexpensive, especially for a 7.1 system.

The Bad Relatively large speakers; boxy design; wood finish lacks refinement compared with other options; spring clip connectors.

The Bottom Line The Onkyo SKS-HT870 speaker package offers up tons of performance for the price, but it's not the most stylish speaker system.

7.3 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8

Onkyo is known for having speaker expertise, even though it's not primarily a speaker company. That's because of Onkyo's success selling home-theater-in-a-box systems (HTIBs), which combine a speaker system and an AV receiver in a single box, taking some of the confusion out of putting together your own system. The Onkyo SKS-HT870 is a 7.1 speaker system that is sold as part of the Onkyo HT-S7200 HTIB, but it's also offered separately. While the speakers packaged with most HTIBs wouldn't be worth buying separately, the SKS-HT870 is an exception, with excellent sound quality given its low price. Our only complaint about the SKS-HT870 is that it's boxy and a little unrefined, especially compared with a similar system like the Energy Take Classic. However, if you're looking to maximize your audio performance on a budget--and don't mind the SKS-HT870's look--the SKS-HT870 is a top choice.

Design and features
The SKS-HT870 features a pair of slender tower speakers, a dedicated center channel speaker, four surround channel speakers, and a powered subwoofer. It's a budget-priced system, but as with previous generations of Onkyo speaker systems, the SKS-HT870 is an incredible value.

Unlike many bargain speaker packages, the SKS-HT870 comes with full-size tower speakers.

All eight pieces feature medium-density fiberboard cabinets, nicely finished in wood-grain black, and the speakers have nonremovable black cloth grilles. The towers and center speaker's come with gloss black panels fitted to their tops and sides (respectively). The towers' circular metal bases are packed separately; you attach them with four screws each, and while you're assembling the speakers, take a peek inside the rear-mounted, bass-enhancing port. You'll see Onkyo's engineers used the speakers' full internal volume to maximize their bass producing potential (few HTIB towers do the same).

The surround speakers don't look bad, but the finish isn't as refined as some more expensive speaker packages.

The towers' bases are 10.3 inches in diameter and the speaker is 41.3 inches high; the center speaker is 16.9 by 4.5 by 4.75 inches; and the surround speakers are 4.5 by 9.1 by 3.75 inches each. The towers and center speaker are two-way designs outfitted with twin 3.25-inch woofers and a 1-inch dome tweeter. The surround speakers each have one 3.25-inch woofer, but no tweeters.

The center channel is sizable, so make sure you have enough room to comfortable fit it under your TV.

Speaker connectors are spring-clip types, which only work with stripped bare wire ends or cables terminated with pin connectors. In either case, spring clips don't provide all that secure a grip on the wires, so they can fall out with a slight tug. We prefer banana connectors, but they're probably too expensive to be used in this budget-priced system.

The matching subwoofer's gloss black front baffle makes for an upscale look; a large port on the baffle augments the bass supplied by the 10-inch down-firing woofer. A 290-watt amplifier drives the woofer and the sub's rear panel hosts a single RCA, line-level input and a volume control. Measuring 10.8 by 19.9 by 16.2 inches the sub qualifies as a full-size model; it weighs 25.6 pounds. The cabinet is well built, but when we wrapped our knuckles against the sides or top of the cabinet, it didn't feel as well braced as more expensive subs. Again, we're not surprised; in the context of a budget-priced 7.1 channel speaker/subwoofer system, the SKS-HT870 is a terrific bargain.

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