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If Santa stuck a Blu-ray player in your stocking and you now want a surround sound system to go with it, Onkyo’s HTX-22HDX might be right up your street. It’s an affordable 2.1-channel solution that can be bumped up to 5.1 with the addition of the SKS-22X speaker pack. It’s an update of the HTX-22HD we reviewed back in 2009, adding the latest features and subtly updating the design.
In the HTX-22HDX’s box you get a pair of compact front speakers and a subwoofer with built-in audio decoding and amplification. The sub musters 5 x 25W for the satellites with 50W of bass grunt, and also houses all the connections you need to rig up the rest of your kit. In the SKS-22X box meanwhile, is an extra pair of matching surrounds and a centre speaker.
Looks-wise the system isn’t radically different to the previous version, but in its trendy black finish it’s undeniably more attractive. The front and surround speakers stand 161mm high and boast a glossy veneer on the sides, with a non-removable cloth grille on the front. The centre is similarly styled but turned horizontally to fit in more easily below your TV. At this sort of price build quality is always a concern but rest assured that each component feels solid and robust.
As for the subwoofer, its compact dimensions (217(w) x 337(h) x 310(d)mm should make it easy to accommodate. Unlike the forward-firing model of the previous system, this one is downward firing and as such stands on four chunky feet. Embedded into the front is a display panel, which shows crucial information like source, volume and audio format, and if you don’t have the remote to hand there’s a row of buttons along the top that control volume, listening mode and input selection. These buttons have been moved from the front, which makes them easier to access if it’s tucked down behind the TV.
On the back of the subwoofer is a generous selection of sockets. Most significantly, you get three HDMI inputs, all of which are specified as v1.4 and therefore support 3D signals (which are passed on to your TV by the HDMI output) as well as the Audio Return Channel feature, which means there really is no excuse for putting up with those awful flatpanel TV speakers.
These are joined by three digital audio inputs (two optical and one coaxial) plus two analogue stereo inputs and a port for Onkyo’s RI (Remote Interactive) function, which allows certain functions to be controlled from other Onkyo devices. The speaker terminals are all springclips, which is inevitable on a budget system but makes installation a little fiddly – although kudos must go to Onkyo for supplying all of the necessary cables.
I was recently looking for a second home theatre set up after moving into a new flat, the room is small so I wanted something that wouldn't look obtrusive or break the bank. Reviews seemed very positive on this product so I found one beings sold in the classifieds, it is pretty cheap already to buy new, and the guy accepted a very low offer and I was the proud owner of these speakersm(including the surround sound upgrade).
I am comparing them to a separates set up that cost 20x what I paid for these speakers, so they had stiff competition. Initial thoughts were the speakers are cheaper looking that expected, they're quite light, have slightly crap looking binding posts (just a hole to shove the wire through), and are generally plain looking. Also the grills are non removable so I don't know what driver array they are packing.
Bundled into the box was all tech requires speaker cable, but it was thin and weak looking so I upgraded to proper thick cable, I think it made a little difference to the sound quality too.
The 5 speakers connect to the amplifier which is located in the subwoofer, the amp/sub is a down firing unit and is very compact, there is an LCD display on the front and this tells you everything you need to know about the input source (I.e whether its dts/dd etc). There are 3 hdmi inputs, 2 optical, a digital coax, and some analogue inputs- more than most people will need but the 3 hdmi inputs are very welcome.
Initially I was unimpressed by the sound quality, in fact I thought about returning it, but I went into the menu and turned off all the processing, positioned the subwoofer in the corner of the room, and tweaked the levels. All of a sudden the system came alive and I was treated with great sound, not as good as my set up at home but perfectly decent for movies, with good rear effects. The speakers are small so the sub does a lot of work, meaning positioning is vital but careful it doesn't get too boomy (also make sure to set the crossover to 200hz), bass is good fro movies but don't expect the room to shake, and it isn't responsive enough to deal with heavy music (music sounds good but not hi-Fi quality)
The centre channel is perhaps the weak link, the systems overall lack of decent treble means that voices can sound muffled, maybe a better centre speaker would improve things but disrupt the sound field, maybe switching out all the speakers for better ones would be advantageous as the system is really neat and onkyo Amps are usually good.
Overall it's a good system, slightly complicated to use given its intended use for beginners, not sure why the include various setting that only serve to ruin the sound quality, but once set up its a nice system and a good choice for people in small flats