The Onkyo HT-S5200 is the second iteration of the well-received HT-S5100 home theater in a box. Purchasers of the original model almost unanimously agree that there was very little about the S5100 that needed to be improved upon. Knowing this, Onkyo kept the core features and components from the original model, while making some well thought out changes to the HT-S5200. Overall, this moderately priced home theater in a box is a great buy for several reasons. We no longer review home theater systems, but do assess the best soundbars for quality TV audio.
For starters, like the original model, the HT-S5200 remains a 7.1channel system, meaning it includes seven surround-sound speakers, with 3.25-inch to 5-inch drivers, and one 290-watt subwoofer with a 10-inch driver. Not only are the specs on these speakers impressive and powerful, but the fact that there are eight total speakers is a big deal. Generally, 7.1 channel systems are unheard of in the moderate price range; rather, they are a trademark of high-end systems. Moderately priced home theaters in a box typically only offer 5.1 channel systems. The more speakers you have strategically placed in your entertainment space, the better your sound quality and viewing experience.
The HT-S5200's control center houses a dedicated A/V receiver that boasts some small but convenient changes from the original model. The A/V receiver contains a whopping four HMDI pass-through inputs for video up to the full 1080p resolution. This makes for a very easy solution in regards to HDMI-switching capability since you can simply connect all of your HD video sources to the A/V receiver. The only downside is that the system does not contain any analog inputs, meaning you'll be limited to Dolby Digital and DTS audio signals for Blu-ray Discs. However, this is the audio format most users generally prefer.
The HT-S5200 has all the connections the biggest home theater buffs could want in addition to the said four HMDI inputs. The HT-S5200 contains dual component video inputs, which allows you to use legacy products with this receiver. There are also three composite video inputs, but unlike the original model, there are no S-video inputs, but most users do not miss this feature. There are also dual stereo inputs for CDs and, believe it or not, VHS tapes, as well as two optical connections and two coax S/PDIF connections. Lastly, there is a dedicated iPod or iPhone dock, which is always nice to have in a home theater in a box system since it eliminates some wire clutter.
Another huge selling point of the HT-S5200, like the original model, is the amazing sound quality. Independent testers and professional reviewers agree that the HT-S5200 offers just about the same sound quality as most high-end systems that cost a great deal more than the HT-S5200. The system uses Audyssey EQ, Audyssey Dynamic EQ and Audyssey Dynamic Volume sound technologies that adjust the volume levels between the programs or movies you're viewing and overly compressed commercials. The system also auto calibrates itself to the best sound setting for the type of program you're viewing, which is very convenient. Independent testers report that the sound is pure and that there is no distortion, even at high volume levels.
The speakers mark the only real potential downside. While the seven satellite speakers and subwoofer are big and powerful, the subwoofer measure a large 12 inches by 18 inches by 16 inches, making the system less than ideal for people living in small spaces, such as some apartment dwellers.
Like its predecessor, the HT-S5200 delivers amazing sound quality from a 7.1-channel system and loads of features for a lower-than-expected price. Just be aware that it is a physically large system and that it may not be the best choice for those living in smaller spaces. For something like that, consider the best smart speakers instead.