After having its mettle well and truly tested with a run-through of Hellboy II: The Golden Army on Blu-ray, we’re pleased to report that the HTX-22HDX is yet another top-drawer audio system from Onkyo. Despite its modest-sounding power rating and diminutively-sized speakers, it conjures up a powerful and absorbing sound, carefully sidestepping the shortcomings that befall many all-in-one sound systems in this price range. It may not be up to the standards of Onkyo’s standalone receivers, but for the money there can be few complaints.
Much of what we love about this system is summed up in its reproduction of chapter 12, when Hellboy squares up to the Elemental in a crowded city street. It’s not the most potent or authoritative sub we’ve ever tested, but bass response is certainly satisfying – as the Forest God smashes up cars, the deep, taut thump makes a sudden but not overpowering impact. It blends with the other speakers seamlessly, creating a solid unified soundstage, and you can also hear its benefits during quieter scenes as it subtly underpins effects and ambience.
At the other end of the spectrum, high-frequencies sound crisp and clear. When the Elemental hurls a car at the helicopter, the collision is clean and controlled, not grating. Other delicate sounds, like tinkling glass and gentle rustling, are easily teased out by these competent speakers. Throw fantastically clear dialogue and clean surround separation into the mix and you’re onto a winner.
Picky hi-fi enthusiasts are unlikely to be bowled over by the quality of music playback, but everyone else will find much to like in its CD playback. There’s lots of energy and detail, plus vocals sound particularly clear.
With its solid sound quality, comprehensive support for HD audio and HDMI v1.4 inputs, the HTX-22HDX represents exceptional value for money. It’s the perfect way for those on a tight budget to get themselves a great-sounding system for their new Blu-ray player, and as an added bonus its compact design won’t make huge demands on your living space. That said, you’ll need the extra speakers to get the full-fat cinematic experience, but even with the added cost it’s still a bargain – that’s why the HTX-22HDX deserves our whole-hearted recommendation.