While the Onkyo HT-S9400THX isn't the least expensive all-in-one home theater kit available, reviewers say you get a lot for your money. Critics and consumers alike say this 7.1-channel system provides excellent audio and video performance. It's one of the few to carry THX I/S audio certification, which means the sound you enjoy in your living room will be the same as you'd get in a movie theater, as long as your room isn't too large.
Few compromises. Most owners and experts give the Onkyo HT-S9400THX a thumbs-up. It carries THX I/S Plus certification, designed to evaluate the audio prowess of integrated systems such as an AV receiver and speaker bundles. The electronics and speakers together should deliver the same listening experience in smaller home settings -- sitting 6 to 8 feet from the screen -- as you'd enjoy in a movie theater.
Praise isn't uniform, however. While one expert agrees that this Onkyo all-in-one outperforms similar options, he's disappointed in the speaker quality. He says those willing to strike out on their own can do a little better, albeit at a price that's now a bit higher than what the HT-S9400THX streets for.
On the video side, the Marvell Qdeo processor is top shelf, more typical of something found in sophisticated video components than an HTIB. Its features include the ability to upscale video to 4K, making it compatible with ultra-high-definition projectors and TV sets due to be rolled out in 2013.
A little extra effort. Because the HT-S9400THX uses standard connections, setup can be difficult for home theater novices. However, Onkyo equips the speakers with color-coded binding posts and supplies color-coded speaker cable to make things easier; that also makes upgrading or replacing cables or speakers down the road a simpler task. Yet those speaker cables are a main source of user complaints, with several saying they're too thin.
Although balancing speaker levels to produce a believable surround-sound field is a challenge for some, experts say the included Audyssey's 2EQ automatic speaker setup system does a pretty good job of automating the process for the best sound quality and surround-sound effects in any room.
Lack of a Blu-ray player is disappointing. Despite the Onkyo's price tag, you'll need to budget a little more for a Blu-ray Disc player because the kit doesn't include one. Network connectivity and DLNA compliance are part of the feature set, allowing you to get media from your personal computer. However, some users complain that Internet streaming sources are limited to radio stations and a few audio-only content providers.
The HT-S9400THX's receiver more closely resembles a mid-range component-class home theater receiver than the electronics normally found in all-in-one HTIB systems. It supports almost every decoding format you'd need for excellent home audio. Those include all of the major Dolby and DTS formats, such as Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio used on Blu-ray Discs and Dolby Pro Logic IIz, which lets owners substitute two front height channels for the two rear-center channels in a seven-channel surround-sound setup. Audyssey Dynamic EQ and Dynamic volume are also onboard.
If you want a home theater system that'll disappear in a room, the HT-S9400THX isn't it. The speaker cabinets are substantially sized, and the receiver is a serious piece of home electronics.
You pay for convenience and performance. Aside from some
high-style systems from makers like Bose, the Onkyo HT-S9400THX sits
toward the top of the price range for HTIB systems. For the
same money, you can select a component-grade home theater receiver
and a set of
strong-performing surround-sound speakers and build a system that
good or better, and with a stronger features lineup sans THX
our reports on
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1. Home Theater Magazine
Review Credibility: Excellent Wilson calls the Onkyo HT-S9400THX a "competent" HTIB that's a cut above similar systems. However, speaker performance is disappointing compared to some systems you can pull together yourself at near the same price, keeping it from earning the site's Top Pick award.
Review: Onkyo HT-S9400THX Home Theater in a Box, Kim Wilson, Jan. 26, 2012
Review Credibility: Excellent While this "first look" review is based only on Andry's interpretations and impressions of the Onkyo HT-S9400THX's specifications, he offers a ton of insight into the brawn and brains behind the system. "The message is clear -- this is a product that defies its price point," he says.
Review: Onkyo HT-S9400THX Networked HTiB First Look, Tom Andry, May 4, 2011
Review Credibility: Very Good Silva's review of the HT-S9400THX also appears to be based on his interpretation of its features and specifications rather than any hands-on testing. He does a great job of describing what the different functions, decoders and connections mean to home listeners. "With the HT-S9400THX, Onkyo takes the typical home theater-in-a-box system up a notch," he says.
Review: Onkyo HT-S9400THX 7.1 Channel Home Theater-in-a-Box System -- Product Profile, Robert Silva, Not dated
Review Credibility: Very Good Most of the nearly 20 users who weigh in at Newegg.com rate the Onkyo HT-S9400THX highly, although one complains about the build quality of the speakers. Everyone calls the system massive, and its sound and easy setup are singled out for praise. Many dislike the thin and short speaker wire, however, and some warn to keep sound volume expectations reasonable.
Review: Onkyo HT-S9400THX 7.1-Channel THX Certified Network Home Theater System, Contributors to Newegg.com, As of January 2013
Review Credibility: Good There are more Onkyo HT-S9400THX reviews at Amazon.com, but user satisfaction follows a similar pattern. Words like "amazing," "powerful," "great" and "love" are prevalent when owners describe the system's sound and connectivity options. Only a handful fail to rate the receiver either 4 stars out of 5 or higher.
Review: Onkyo HT-S9400THX 7.1-Channel Network A/V Receiver/Speaker Package, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of January 2013