Last month I looked at the Teufel Concept E400 speaker set, which offered a complete surround sound solution on a budget. Today I'm looking at a similar system from Onkyo. The Onkyo HTX-22HD is, in fact a 2.1-channel system, but the optional SKS11 pack brings it up to full 5.1-channel status, and both parts of the puzzle still come in at under £400.
The big difference between this Onkyo system and the Teufel one, is that there is no need for a separate surround sound processor this time around. Onkyo has built a pretty feature rich processor into the active subwoofer. In fact the connection options and codec support offered by the Onkyo HTX22HD are more impressive than those seen on the Teufel Decoder Station 5.
The big news is that the HTX-22HD is equipped to handle the latest lossless surround sound formats found on Blu-ray discs. Unsurprisingly that means you'll find some HDMI 1.3 ports at the rear of the subwoofer - three to be exact, two inputs and one output. You also get two optical digital inputs and one coaxial, allowing you to connect up to five digital sources. Even if your equipment has HDMI connectivity you still may need the optical inputs, since devices like the Sky HD box and Xbox 360 don't output multi-channel audio over HDMI. You also get two sets of stereo inputs, in case you want to hook up something without a digital audio output.
So, the HTX-22HD has the right connections to accommodate pretty much any surround sound codec, but how does its support list look? The answer to that question is simple - very good indeed. The highlights are undoubtedly Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio, meaning that you'll be able to take advantage of the very best sound mixes on Blu-ray discs. As well as the lossless formats you also get Dolby Digital Plus, standard Dolby Digital, DTS, DTS Surround Sensation, Dolby Pro Logic II and a plethora of other DSP and virtual surround modes.
If Onkyo is trying to convince the average consumer of the benefits of surround sound, it needs to make installation as easy as possible, and thankfully that's exactly what it has done. Never before have I seen a speaker package that's so easy to install, and comes with pretty much everything you're likely to need in the box. As well as the subwoofer and five satellites, you get a remote control with batteries, a power cable, an optical digital audio cable and, most importantly, an HDMI cable. Of course Onkyo is assuming that you'll already have HDMI cables for your source devices, which is fair enough.