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Lifewire / Andy Zahn
Fantastic sound quality
Tons of input options
Excellent connectivity options
Audio cables are too short for particularly large rooms
The Onkyo HT-S7800 offers all the bells and whistles you could ask for in a surround sound system. The superb audio quality will bring both your music and your movies to life.
The Onkyo HT-S7800 represents the higher end of typical consumer level surround sound stereo systems. At this end of the spectrum of audio systems you should expect a high level of quality—a system that will last you many years and sound marvelous while doing it.
The HT-S7800 comes in no-nonsense packaging, and that’s representative of what to expect from this system as a whole. There’s a real focus on core quality—nothing flashy or unnecessary, which is just how we like it.
The included HT-Rd95 receiver is the heart of the system, a behemoth of gleaming metal that stands proudly on its sturdy legs. The top of this impressive unit is an open grille with a sticker cautioning that this surface can get hot, and it certainly does after pumping out several hours of audio.
On the front panel is a big, bright display. This shows all the data you need at a glance, and makes changing inputs and other settings a breeze. The speakers are paneled in a high quality MDF composite with a premium black wood grain finish that is very attractive, while the speaker grilles are covered in a plush looking cloth mesh. The two rear surround speakers are diminutive, while the front surround speakers and center speaker are somewhat more bulky. The front surround speakers are noteworthy for their upward firing speakers, which are responsible for the implementation of Dolby Atmos.
When you take the excellent sound quality and extensive feature set into account, the price tag starts to sound a lot more reasonable.
The subwoofer is a beefy unit with a big downwards firing element that sends vibrations rumbling through your floor. Pumping out heavy bass, it’s a pretty intense sensory experience. The black wood grain is used lavishly here as well, while the front element is made of glossy plastic that is unfortunately prone to picking up dust and scratches. This is the only real flaw in the otherwise sterling build quality of the HT-S7800.
The included six channel wires are helpfully color coded, and the HT-S7800 also includes an AM and FM antenna, as well as a microphone for speaker calibration. The back of the receiver is crammed full of input and output ports, though the bewildering array here is benefited by clear labeling on the receiver itself.
The system includes a large remote control with many buttons, though on closer examination the purpose of each is fairly obvious and intuitive, and we had no trouble getting to grips with the control scheme. Batteries for the remote control are also helpfully included.
Any surround system can be complex to set up, especially one with as many wires as the HT-S7800. Luckily, there are some clear and detailed diagrams and instructions to assist with the process.
Your first task is to insert all the included six channel wires into the receiver. Ports on the back of the receiver must be twisted open, the corresponding wire inserted, and then the port twisted back into place, clamping the wire down. This process must be repeated twice for each of the eight wires, and the process is really time consuming and difficult, especially if you have large fingers.
We found the speakers to be much easier to connect. The ports on each have a little lever that you push down and then release once a wire is inserted. The color coded wires help tremendously in the setup process, though the labelling of the six channel wire ports on the receiver can be a little misleading.
Once you have everything wired up, you can connect the receiver HDMI output to a monitor or TV and begin the guided setup process. The system then guides you through an automated speaker calibration process that takes some time and involves connecting the included AccuEQ microphone and placing it in the center of the surround sound area.
Everywhere you look on the HT-S7800 you will find a wide array of input and output ports. On the front you have ¼ inch stereo jack, AUX 3.5mm jack, AUX HDMI input, and a jack for the setup mic.
On the back you have your speaker terminals, and plenty of them! They are clearly labeled by which speakers should be attached where. There are ample input and output ports across a huge range of standards, and it would be hard to imagine an entertainment system that could not be accommodated by this menagerie of connectivity options.
The HT-S7800 immersed us in the awesome and terrifying soundscape of Dunkirk. This is a film that particularly benefits from surround sound, and it’s practically a requirement for viewing. The movie really tests the limits of what a good sound system can do, a test the HT-S7800 passed with flying colors.
The opening scene is quiet save for the constant ticking that drives the movie forward, and the stealthy sounds of soldiers fleeing the enemy advance. When a soldier dropped his helmet and left it spinning on the ground it sounded as though it was spinning right in front of us, and we jumped in shock as the first shot was fired. The Dolby Atmos integration really comes to life through the HT-S7800.
Whatever your medium of choice, the HT-S7800 will render it in beautiful (or terrifying) clarity.
In the scene with enemy planes rumbling in to bomb the beach, we could feel the shuddering throb of the engines in the floor and the explosive thump of bombs crashing into the ground. Later, we could feel and hear every footstep of the soldiers running down the wooden jetty.
When playing 2Cello’s excellent cover of “Thunderstruck,” every searing strain of the cello was crisp and clear, from the soaring high notes to the thundering bass. Opera is similarly impressive. Ian Bostridge’s performance of “Ich habe genug” by Bach brought the swelling emotion of the piece to life. Whatever your medium of choice, the HT-S7800 will render it in beautiful (or terrifying) clarity.
The Onkyo HT-S7800 includes a wide variety of impressive features and connectivity options. Bluetooth and WiFi are both included, and enable playback via several different methods. You can play music from a computer or mobile device via Chromecast or Airplay and the free and fully featured mobile app. This app also enables you to manipulate system settings without the aid of a TV or monitor.
You can also access network enabled applications directly through the receiver through menus on your connected display, including internet radio services such as Tunein, Spotify, and Pandora, or stream music files stored on a home computer or NAS (network attached storage) device. You can also play music directly from an attached USB storage device, or stream music to and control a separate speaker system elsewhere in your house via a wired connection.
With an MSRP of $899 the HT-S7800 is kind of pricey, but when you take the excellent sound quality and extensive feature set into account, that price tag starts to sound a lot more reasonable. You can find 5.1 surround sound for far less, but not at this level of quality and fidelity.
There is no doubt that the HT- S7800 is a superior system in every way to Logitech’s Z906, and if you can afford it you won’t regret picking up the HT-S7800. That said, the Z906 is less than half the price of the HT-S7800, and it offers a satisfying (if not as impressive) 5.1 surround sound experience. For small rooms it’s more than adequate, and it’s a great option if you’re shopping for a surround sound system on a tight budget.
The Onkyo HT-S7800 delivers an awesome audio experience.
It’s a powerful and expensive system that more than justifies its high price tag. Through its implementation of Dolby Atmos, its Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity, and its versatile suite of connection options, the HT-S7800 delivers incredible sound and a best-in-class sound stage, regardless of what medium you’re hearing. It’s a perfect anchor for any home theater setup.
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