Soundbars and pedestal speaker systems have become increasingly popular in home theater applications because of their space-saving, cost-saving, and ease of use. Convenience is king when it comes to these designs. The subject of today's review is one of Onkyo's new EnvisionCinema offerings, the LS-T10 speaker system, which carries an MSRP of $499 but can be found for $350 to $400.
The Onkyo LS-T10 EnvisionCinema is a 6.1-channel, 3D surround sound system with six full-range cone drivers and a down-firing subwoofer with a discrete digital amplifier, all inside a rectangular black box. Four of the drivers are on the front, two are on the sides, and there's a 21-watt subwoofer underneath. The LS-T10 is powered by AuraSphere Digital Signal Processing (DSP) technology. Onkyo claims the AuraSphere DSP works by optimizing driver output to create a 3D surround effect from stereo sources, therefore expanding the ideal listening position - keeping the listener is in the center of action, no matter the seating position.
The LS-T10 can decode Dolby Digital and has three dedicated sound modes: Movie, Music, and News. Basically, the modes affect bass output, with the News selection having less bass and more focus on dialogue/vocals. The unit offers a variety of connection options. You can stream to it using Bluetooth, connect via the digital audio inputs (Toslink and coaxial), or use the 3.5mm analog audio input for tablets, smartphones, or portable music players. USB is also an option, and the LS-T10's remote control allows you to play, pause, or skip tracks when using the USB input. Speaking of the remote, it is really tiny and wafer-like; if you have a cat, you may find (as I did) that it loves to play with the remote. The remote is small enough to be easily lost; if this is an issue, the Onkyo system is pre-programmed with IR codes for quite a few major television brands, so it will respond to your TV remote's volume commands.
Unlike a traditional soundbar that is designed to sit above, below, or in front of your TV, a pedestal system like the LS-T10 is designed so that your TV can sit directly on top of it. The LS-T10 has a weight limitation of 77 pounds and, unfortunately, my 58-inch Samsung plasma was too heavy to make the cut. However, the system should be able to accommodate most of today's lighter LED/LCD TVs.
Performance-wise, the LS-T10 did a decent job of extending the sweet spot. Granted, it was not the same as having dedicated monitors for each channel, but remember that the all-in-one convenience factor is key here. I plugged in my MacBook Pro via optical cable, but found the connection to be too jittery. When I used Musical Fidelity's V-Link 192 to connect my MacBook Pro using the coaxial input, the quality was better. I demoed the LS-T10 in my kitchen for music, in my office to watch Star Wars on Blu-ray, and in my home theater with various movies to see how the system handled the larger room. Its dynamic ability and soundstaging were admirable in my home theater room but, generally, the LS-T10 was better suited to filling the space in my office and kitchen. In larger spaces, it may not provide the oomph that some desire.
• The Onkyo LS-T10 saves space by putting six speakers and a subwoofer in one cabinet that allows you to place your TV on top of it.
• The system offers a variety of connection options, including Bluetooth streaming.
• The speaker system lacks the ability to equalize and fine-tune the settings.
• Bluetooth can be a bit spotty if you get too far away from the Onkyo system.
Comparison and Competition
The Onkyo LS-T10 has a lot of competition in this growing segment of pedestal speaker systems - including SpeakerCraft's CS3 ($399), ZVOX's Soundbase lineup, Bose's Solo TV Sound System ($399.99), Klipsch's SB 120 ($399), and OSD Audio's SP2.1 ($450).
For $399, the Onkyo LS-T10 proves to be a pretty good performer that can provide a healthy step up in performance from your TV speakers. In many ways, the pedestal speaker system is even less intrusive than a traditional active soundbar system, because it integrates the speakers and sub into one larger cabinet and lets you put your TV right on top of it - provided your TV is not too heavy. If you don't want the hassle of individual components in a secondary location like a bedroom, kitchen, or den, the Onkyo LS-T10 is worth a look.