Audiovox vs. Onkyo HTIB

I just bought a refurbished Audiovox 5.1 home-theater-in-a-box made in 2002 for $144 (original price $299). I can still return it and wonder if there is a better option at this price point. I found a refurbished Onkyo HT-S3300 for about $300 and wonder if it is worth the extra $150? I have a new LG 42-inch flat-panel LCD TV in a medium-size family room. I have no idea if the Audiovox for $144 is a good deal or not. I couldn't care less about Blu-ray or 3D, but I want good sound. Can you give me any tips or suggestions?

Sheridan Long

Audiovox is known for low cost, not high-quality sound. I suspect the Onkyo HT-S3300 (shown in the lower portion of the image above) probably provides much better sound quality—Onkyo's HTIB systems have consistently performed very well, though I haven't heard that particular model. I would wager the S3300 is well worth the extra $150. Plus, the Onkyo is a 7.1 system, giving you two more surround channels than the Audiovox.

You say you couldn't care less about Blu-ray, but you do want good sound, and Blu-ray provides the best possible sound from movies on disc. Even better, the Onkyo HT-S3300 can decode the latest Blu-ray audio formats, including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. You don't specify the model of the Audiovox, but if it's the DV1201 (shown on top above), it decodes only Dolby Digital and Dolby Pro Logic II, which do not sound as good as the more advanced formats. The Onkyo has no disc player, while the Audiovox includes a DVD player, but I still think the Onkyo is a far better choice—just add a Blu-ray player when you're ready for the best possible movie experience.

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jnemesh's picture

Home theater in a box products are generally substandard! Save your money...I know $300 seems like a lot to you, but really, how much is that as a percentage of your income? Save your cash up, spend a bit more, and get a QUALITY system that you will enjoy for years! Your $300 purchase is almost guaranteed to end up in a landfill within the next 2 or 3 years...why not spend a little more and get something that will last?

If you are looking for a quality system on the cheap...take a look at the Martin Logan "Motion 2" satellite speakers for the front and rear speakers (Amazon has them at $199 ea) add the Motion 6 center channel for $299 and a Dynamo 500 subwoofer for $495. For the AVR, I would go with the Onkyo TXNR509 at $249. The whole system as described would be $1839 plus tax. That is a lot compared to the $300 you said you had to spend, but in the grand scheme of things, is very little. You could probably afford a system like this if you saved up for just a few months. In exchange, you will have a quality system with FAR superior sound, that will last you and your family for YEARS. Also, don't be afraid to purchase a few parts at a time if you cant afford the whole thing at once! Get 2 speakers and the sub, then add the center and rear speakers later! You will get FAR more enjoyment out of a 2.1 system using these speakers than you will with 5.1 channels coming out of the HTIB products you mentioned!

Remember, unlike flat panel displays...which keep getting less expensive as the technology matures...with speakers, you get what you pay for. Cheap speakers will have cheap components and cheap enclosures and will sound tinny and thin. Good speakers need quality materials, more copper for the voice coils, bigger magnets on the drivers, and better materials for the enclosure. In other words, the more money you spend on a speaker (up to a certain point, it starts to get a bit fuzzy at the very high end) the better constructed the speaker will be, and the better it will sound!

The very best advice I could give you is to advise you to go to a brick and mortar store, LISTEN to what you are considering purchasing and then make an informed purchasing decision! BUT...if you go to a store, DO NOT waste the saleman's time if you are just going to purchase online! If you benefit from the store's demos and the salesperson's advice, pay them back by purchasing your gear from them!

unisenmedia's picture

I like the Onkyo HTB systems for the price. If it is the only thing within your price range go with it rather than the Audiovox. We would all love to have thousand dollar systems or a couple of thousand dollar systems but it will work. We have always told our client if they can not afford the more expensive systems then get one that will work for you now and build it as you go. The Onkyo system will allow you to do just that.

jnemesh's picture

If you HAVE to buy a HTIB, yes, go with an Onkyo, or another system that gives you a full A/V receiver that is compatible with ANY speakers. Dont buy anything that has proprietary speaker jacks or that is only designed to work with the speakers sold with the unit. That being said, I dont think $2000 is a lot of money these days. (and I take home less than $30k per year) $2000 will get you a 15 year old used car, or 100 DVDs, or a decent laptop computer. Think about what your money is actually worth, then think about how many hours you will spend listening to music or watching movies and TV. Most people will spend 40 hours or more a week using their audio break this down to the ridiculous...One year's worth of listening would be about 2000 hours, assuming 40 hours a week. So you would be paying $166/month or about $5.50/day over the course of a year to get a $2000 system. I bet you spend more on coffee!

kousttav's picture

Hi There, really appreciate the hard work here.
just a little help, I am an average music / movie consumer but slightly inclined towards quality music, as in i can boast of my capability of identifying between good quality music versus cr*p.
having said that, i am planning to set up a HT system, in my living room ( size 350 sq ft), where the sitting arrangement is like we sit at the centre of the room, and the speakers can be equidistant diagonally ( the typical surround set up)
budget approx $ US 1500. ( Rs. 88,000 in India)
In this budget i can afford an HTiB - Onkyo HT S9300 THX, 7.1 system
(in India, prices are 40-50% higher than in Rest of the world)
would you recommend the above product, given my usage?
also, currently i am having an AVR of Harman Kardon AVR 132 with JBL ( 30 watts / CH) 5.1 speaker set up. frankly i am NOT getting that punch in it, will the upgrade to the Onkyo system solve the problem?

thanking you in advance