Home Theater on a Budget? Try Onkyo's TX-DS484

Are stratospheric equipment prices bumming you out? Onkyo has something guaranteed to cheer you up: a new home theater receiver with multiple inputs, Dolby and DTS surround processing, five channels of high-current power, and an incredibly low price. How low? Try $330.

Calling its latest release the "most affordable digital home theater receiver to date," Onkyo's TX-DS484 packs a lot of performance: 5 channels of amplification at 55 watts each, a line-level subwoofer output, inboard decoders for Dolby Digital, DTS, and Dolby ProLogic surround sound formats, and--unheard of at this price--high-resolution 24-bit/96-kilohertz digital-to-analog converters for maximum detail from every digital source. Three addressable digital inputs (two coaxial and one fiber optic) are standard on the TX-DS484, which the company says is compatible with the emerging DVD-Audio format.

The unit's high-current amplifier stage uses small amounts of overall negative feedback for ultra-wide frequency response; the discrete output devices are mounted on extruded aluminum heatsinks. Such features are adopted from high-end designs and are usually not found on products in this price range.

Another bonus is the inclusion of Onkyo's proprietary High-Definition Digital Signal Processing--an equalization system that allows users to optimize the characteristics of their home theater systems for their rooms. A "late-night listening" mode keeps dynamics under control so that action movie fans can enjoy their favorite films without irritating their neighbors or family. The TX-DS484 also offers plenty of flexibility with inputs for multiple analog video sources, as well as for analog audio-only sources such as CD, tape, and phono. An inboard AM/FM tuner completes the package.