Onkyo SKS-HT540 7.1 Speaker System
Easily the cheapest 7.1 system of reasonable quality on the current market, Onkyos HT540 system can be found below $300 easily and is an incredible bargain at that price. The HT540 offers a very natural timber and spacious soundstage that is typically found in systems north of $500, and gives the Klisch HD500 a very good run for its money in terms of absolute sound quality and detail, despite being half the price; in fact, I think many people will prefer the HT540 to the more expensive system from Klipsch unless enhanced bass and treble response, Klipschs notorious house signature, is your particular flavor. The HT540 have a very dynamic sound for the price, positioning instruments well and giving a great sense of space and power, which makes movie watching movies especially immersive; this is something one can expect from most 7.1 systems, but they are rare at this price, and the fact that the HT540 is so cheap and still manages to produce balanced, natural sound is very impressive. Its woofer is capable of producing positively chest-thumping bass, and while it isnt as deep, tight, or well-textured as more expensive units, and can sound slightly hollow at higher volumes, it is a very strong performer considering the price, and doesnt suffer quite as much of the usual midbass bloat that can obscure dialogue in lower-end systems, as in the case of the HD500. Overall there is little not to like about the HT540: it sounds very natural and balanced, even compared to more expensive systems, and offers quite a bit considering it can easily be had for under $400, sometimes even under $300.