Peter Oberth's picture
By Peter Oberth

Onkyo's new speaker systems stack up to competitors

Although Onkyo formed in Japan in 1946, a mere 4 months after rival Sony, they were never able to garner the massive commercial success and recognition with the general consumer the way that Sony has, mainly because Onkyo is a more high-end option to the other major brands available.  Regardless, all of that is about to change as Onkyo is positioning itself to be a force to be reckoned with as they release multiple soundbar systems.
LS-T10 EnvisionCinema TV Speaker System (Suggested Retail $499)

OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION: As a self-contained space-saving 3D-sound system, the LS-T10 features a six-channel digital amplifier to power the six-driver array, with four full-range drivers on the front, a speaker on each side, and an active subwoofer on the underside. AuraSphere digital signal processing manages output levels and equalization to create an all-enveloping 3D soundfield, complete with selectable Movie, Music, and News sound modes to optimize playback of various types of content. The unit also doubles as a powerful home hi-fi system, with Bluetooth wireless streaming technology and a USB port for flash memory storage devices loaded with MP3s. Best of all, installation and operation is easy: just plug in a single cable, use your TV's remote, sit back & enjoy the LS-T10's superior audio performance. You will be impressed. 

OUR THOUGHTS: The LS-T10 isn't technically a "soundbar" (nor is it advertised as such) but it is an all-in one unit consisting of a downward facing subwoofer.  The LS-T10 is pretty from the front but, as a whole, it's not the best looking device as it's extremely large and somewhat cumbersome.  It almost looks like an extremely large cable box (think of maybe 2-3 of them stuck together side by side).  It’s thin and clean, just big.  The largeness of the box doubles as a stand for your TV (up to 77 lbs).  This pretty much eliminates the ability to have your TV hung in most situations while keeping a clean look to your entertainment area but it’s a great option for those that have their TVs on a stand as it only takes up a few inches of vertical room below the set.  The sound is great with decently booming bass.  It doesn’t have the quality of a full speaker set and external subwoofer, obviously, but it’s a great space saver and mimics surround sound decently with front, left and right facing speakers.  The ideal place for this system would be in an entertainment cabinet that envelopes the sound and pushes it out to the viewer.  The Bluetooth and USB plug-in options are a great touch and work seamlessly and, as advertised, the system immediately picked up my television remote control volume controls (I have a late model Samsung LED).  

LS-B50 EnvisionCinema Soundbar System (Suggested Retail: $699)

OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION: If superb sound quality and easy operation are at the top of your soundbar wish list, the LS-B50 is the way to go. AuraSphere digital signal processing works with a six-channel amplifier, powerful wireless subwoofer, and eight-driver speaker array to seamlessly replace TV audio with rich and enveloping 3D sound. There are three sound modes to optimize movies, dialog, or music, and Bluetooth technology for wireless playback of almost any audio source sent from smartphone, tablet, and PC. This soundbar is very easy to install, with just a single cable to connect and a wireless sub you can place almost anywhere. It comes with a wall-mounting kit and an IR flasher for placement on an entertainment unit under your flat-screen display. Best of all, the LS-B50 turns on automatically and responds to volume commands from the TV remote, making it exceptionally easy for people of all ages to enjoy.

OUR THOUGHTS: We won’t lie, the LS-B50 is considerably more expensive than its counterparts (Sony, Vizio and Samsung models generally top out at $300), but you are paying for the quality, not the name (as is generally the case with Sony).  Due to the price, the LS-B50 is not for your average consumer but rather for those that are not content with “good enough” sound.  The LS-B50 has far superior sound, almost on par with far more expensive 5.1 systems and is hands-down the best I have heard for a “simple” soundbar.  The LS-B50 is truly plug and play, something rare in the high end audio market.  The wireless subwoofer connects immediately, Bluetooth connects to your phone or tablet with the touch of a button and MP3s can play directly on the system from a connected flash drive.  The speaker systems is a beautiful shiny black that is easily light enough to hang on the wall under your TV and the subwoofer is small enough to sneak under a table to behind a couch.  The system has a true surround sound feel that will leave guests in awe and leave you without regret for spending a little extra on a quality product.  The most difficult part of the setup is maneuvering the awkward L-shaped box in and out of doors and opening it.  Once everything is out of the box, you will be listening to surround sound literally within minutes.