Pros + Easy setup, surround sound is amazing
+ USB connection with iPod/iPhone for direct playback
+ Amazing speaker and sub sound quality
+ Onscreen GUI is great - clean and simple
+ Lots of I/O Ports
+ Full Functional Remote
+ Packaging very well done
Cons - Speaker wire will not suffice for surround speakers
- Does not play AC3(AAC) Multi-Chanel audio files
- No Video-Upscaling
Summary First off, you don't need an HDTV thru HDMI to enjoy the Onkyo HT-S5400. When I got this system, almost a year ago--still smiling!--, I had a 29" Sony Wega TV (man, that thing was heavy!) connected to it via component video and was able to do everything by reading the display on the Onkyo receiver.
Second, you don't need Blu-ray to enjoy it either. I used to have a Sony DVD player hooked up to this via coaxial digital audio cable, and that was all it needed to sound its best.
Third, you don't need space behind your viewing area: placing the back surround speakers as front heights is all you need when you have Dolby PL IIz. I did have the back space, but first required wall/ceiling speaker mounts to take advantage of this, so I first used front heights and, man, do they more than compensate--made me think twice before deciding on getting those mounts! Oh, and yes, you will need longer cable runs if you want them behind you--a minor caveat, considering front heights do the trick just fine.
Fourth, you don't need an extra-large living room, though you DO want that kind of power, and power it delivers! I think the volume can go up to 70, but I've never needed to go further than 50-something, and at that point it sounds real juicy, my friends! Plus, you can always upgrade this to more powerful higher-end speakers if you find that's your thing sometime in the future, it's built for it--I haven't found that necessary, though, these speakers are a treat!
Fifth, you don't need a dedicated piece of equipment for playing sweet-sounding music. This thing is packed with multiple options for that as well, regardless of the source--simply...sweet!
Finally, and most importantly, you don't need to be rich. Under 400 bucks, hey, what have you been waiting for? Sure, there's a newer version about to come out, but it'll cost you more. The only difference is the newer one comes with Onkyo's own WRAT technology for cleaner sound. I would not pay the extra 150-200 bucks for it sounds superb without it, IMHO. BTW, the design is about the same; only visible difference is the receiver will now include the WRAT logo on the front, and the glossy top panels on the front speakers and side panels on the center speaker are of a slightly different design--really, not much of a distinction to win one over the other in the looks department. The 5400 already looks plenty stylish!
My point being that you ABSOLUTELY have to get the Onkyo HT-S5400, no matter what, because what you DO want is a system that gives you a real movie experience AS WELL AS one that delivers the goods for playing all your music and gaming needs at a good price. You don't even need fancy cutting-edge equipment hooked up to it to get it sounding awesome, and you can always get all that later on since it is ready for it as well! That's what I did...let me elaborate:
Before this, I had owned two HTIBs, the type that includes the DVD player with the amp and 5.1 surround--first a Samsung, and later a higher-powered Sony. Trust me, you don't want to get any of that. The former didn't turn out that good, and the latter did sound better with movies--or so I thought!--but didn't have a fair enough sound when it came to playing music. All in all, I found those HTIBs lacking pizzazz (I couldn't even hook up our PS2 to enjoy the surrounds while gaming, for one thing). I then saw some advertising in a movie magazine that told me the best way to go was to get a home theater receiver and hook up separate stuff to that. I didn't know the Onkyo brand back then but wanted it, based on all that convincing publicity, so I started to save up for an upgrade...
I did a ton of research and was now doubtful on whether to get 5.1 or make the jump to 7.1. I chose the latter since--of course, pricing WAS a factor, but most importantly,--I had always wanted to get the most out of the more sophisticated DVDs in my collection (no Blu-ray Discs back then) which included better soundtrack options than DD 5.1 or even DTS. E.g. The Lord Of The Rings Special Extended Editions all contain DTS-ES 6.1, Star Wars Episodes I - VI all have Dolby EX 6.1 (the packaging reads 5.1, but the Onkyo's display will tell you it's actually 6.1!), and most PIXAR movies (WALL-E, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille) also have that 6.1 channel capability, which you could not enjoy UNLESS you have a home theater such as this.
And, let me tell you, even when your DVDs' 2.0 or 4.0 or whatever inferior sound can be processed thru the 5400's 7.1 channels, it really shines when being fed native 6.1 sound--it does pay to finally hear what you've been missing. Besides, if the 6.1 track is there, why not be able to enjoy it, right? Of course, this IS the one thing that helped me decide on setting up surround backs instead of front heights: to listen to these fancier soundtracks the way Peter Jackson or George Lucas or Brad Bird etc had intended, and...they...sound...just...sublime! Don't worry, as I stated before, front heights sound really, really good, too.
Furthermore, it was a question of time before I got a large HDTV and Blu-ray to complement such a great home theater, though in the meantime it was fan-tas-tic! On a side note: I recently had the chance to make use of the 5.1 version at a vacation house we stayed in for a few days and was able to compare both and, boy, the difference is night and day both sound- and feature-wise. Made me even happier for getting the 5400 and all its 7.1 glory! So, don't hesitate to do the same!
Music sounds just as excellent--truly, truly excellent--, especially uncompressed (original studio) CDs and USB-FLAC audio. It'll really blow you away! Home stereos are a thing of the past for me now that I own this baby. Again, you can always connect a dedicated CD player to it if you think it'll help. And, iPod content cannot get much better! With the surround backs, the mode I enjoy most is "DTS Neo:6 Music" for most sources, and I toy around with treble, bass, and subwoofer levels to get it just right every time. At first, when I had front heights, "Dolby PL IIz Music" gave whatever I played an extra something--the same something "Dolby PL IIz Game" gave that PS2 when gaming--plenty of choices for your particular tastes.
Moreover, people complain the sub "isn't powerful enough." Well, consider THEY didn't want to spend more, and add to that the fact that YOU want to enjoy this system for yourself, not your neighbors (and they still may be complaining!). The bass is rich, period, and my family and I really like it. It's a pleasantly large, independently powered, active 10" sub, do you really need more? Not me! I also love how it turns on and off by itself as needed and switches its light from red to electric blue to red again--gorgeous!
Of course, by the end of 2011, I'd entered the realm of high tech video full throttle: I got my LG 47in LW5600 1080p LED Cinema 3D Smart TV (yeah, all that--what a beauty!) bundled with an LG 3D BD Player (nothing to write home about, but works well enough) and 4 pairs of Cinema 3D glasses ("passive" 3D rocks, BTW! In my POV, there's nothing "active" has that merits paying so much more, it's the other way around, in any case!). I got my High-Speed HDMI cables and threw in some 3D Blu-ray movies and--whoa! I'm so pleased I had this more-than-decent Onkyo to complete the experience!
For a taste, you should hear Francesco's engine roaring thru your living room with lossless 7.1 DTS HD Master Audio on PIXAR's Cars 2 Blu-ray!!! A bonus: the display can now show the "DTS-HD MSTR 7.1" and "DOLBY TrueHD 7.1" readings--how cool is that! Oh, and I didn't strike it rich or anything, I just waited for the right moment. I've been doing a fair amount of bargain-hunting for Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray movies since then and it's proven a fest for family and friends!
I don't know, folks. You're reading this, so get the Onkyo HT-S5400 while supplies last!!! You will not be disappointed. I hope you have the same great experience I'm still having...thank you, Onkyo!
For those interested, is this brand reliable? People seem to agree it is. Almost a year later, mine is working just fine...and, it does come with a 2-year parts & labor warranty, so I'm looking at 5 years of quality sound at the least. Add one more Onkyo devotee to the list! Thanks for reading! 5 Full-fledged Stars!!!
*Note: for low price if you're will buy the Onkyo HT-S5400, I suggest you have to check it before you decide at: Getlowprices.info/onkyo-ht-s5400/
Hope this review helpful.
"Sound excellence"on by rmaharaja
Pros Clarity + Audessey
Cons design (partially)