Review Price £300.00
TrustedReviews was recently invited to Onkyo’s headquarters in Osaka, Japan to check out the products on the slate for the coming year, including this rather swanky-looking DAB-equipped mini system, the Onkyo CS-555DAB.
Described as a "quality personal audio player loaded with high-end technology but offered at an eminently affordable price", the CS-555DAB boasts a CD player, FM/DAB/DAB radio tuners and an iPod dock mounted on top. It’s due out in July for £300 without the optional D-055 bookshelf speakers, the price of which is yet to be confirmed.
Onkyo’s engineers proudly unveiled the system to us behind closed doors at its new HQ in Osaka’s Kitahama district, after sharing their game-changing concepts for the future (the details of which are "super confidential", sadly) and details of more AV receivers due out towards the end of the year.
But the CS-555DAB was strictly on the record, and after the cloth came off our first impressions of the design were overwhelmingly positive. Available in black or silver (we peeped the glamorous silver version), it features a chunky front panel affixed to a sturdy 1.6mm thick chassis. Build quality of the main unit and speakers is uniformly superb.
The design is compact and effortlessly classy too, with a look that seems simultaneously modern and retro – timeless, in other words. The flat front panel is prudently peppered with buttons and dials, as well as a large LED display and a USB port that lets you connect an iPod or iPhone, or play MP3, WMA and AAC from flash memory devices – but sadly there’s no support for FLAC.
On the back are two sets of analogue stereo inputs, line output, optical and coaxial digital inputs (which take a 96kHz/24-bit signal and pass it to the system’s 192kHz/24-bit DAC), a 3.5mm minijack input and a subwoofer pre-out for those who want extra oomph in the bass department. A DAB/FM antenna input and RI remote control complete the line-up.
On the inside the onkyo CS-555 uses the same three-stage inverted Darlington amplification circuitry found inside Onkyo’s premium hi-fi separates and AV receivers. This proprietary tech uses a symmetrical uniform layout for each channel, with short signal paths between amp and power supply to reduce interference.
Another key feature is Phase Matching Bass Boost, which is designed to enhance low frequencies while avoiding the phase shifting effect that can muddy the sound. That keeps midrange elements like vocals or strings sounding clear.
Aside from that the system boasts 40 station presets and throws out 22W of power (into 4Ω).
As mentioned the system is available with D-055 speakers. These two-way, bass reflex speakers feature 12cm woofer cones made from N-OMF (New Onkyo Micro Fibre), a material that uses moulded layers of aramid and lightweight non-woven cotton to gives it the requisite stiffness. In the centre of the cone is a bullet-shaped equaliser designed to minimise vibration, while 2.5cm soft-dome tweeters handle high-frequencies.
A £400 version of the system with network capabilities (CS--N755) is also being launched in September, which will allow you to access Spotify and other services via a Wi-Fi adapter. It will also support the FLAC and Apple Lossless formats. Again, speakers are optional.
Onkyo’s engineering team played us a few tracks on the CS-555 and the sound has a wonderfully smooth quality, with an excellent sense of rhythm plus clean, tight high frequencies. That said, Phase Matching Bass Boost did make the bottom end seem overly thick and overpowering, but the system’s natural punch means you can happily turn it off and still be bowled over. We'll be back with the full review soon.