6 years ago

Onkyo HT-S3100 5.1 Channel Home Entertainment System Review!

 Onkyo HT-S3100

I was in the market for a new 5.1 Surround System for my personal computer with the old one have had a few too many falls and not performing to my expected standards. I was checking with a couple of friends about what system to go in for and had more or else decided on the Creative Inspire T6060 based on a very good friend’s recommendation. It was at this juncture that another good friend suggested that I should look to upgrade to a Home Theater System and get a move on from Personal Computer Sound Systems which even though are pretty good these days are still no patch for a professional Home Theater System. Armed with this updated information, I made a decision to look into Home Theater Systems.

Incidentally at the same time I was also in the market for a new DVD player that played DivX media and off of a USB stick since my old set of DVD players did not support DivX media and I was tired of watching DivX content on my 17” monitor and wanted to watch them on the 29” Panasonic CRT. A friend and I ended up at Reliance Digital, a new electronics mall from Reliance, shopping for my new DVD player and as we were looking over different DVD players our eyes fell on the Home Theater section where the Onkyo HT-S3100 5.1 Channel Home Entertainment System was on display and this even had a deal with a Philips DVD Player DVP3986 coming free with it. Once we had a demo of the Onkyo HT-S3100 we both knew instinctively that there was no turning back and we were both in fact sold on the Onkyo Home Theater System. The Onkyo HT S3100 is a great entry-to-mid level Home Theater System providing great output, if not the very best, at least in its class and segment and for the price involved. Of course, there are very few competitors to it at this price range and with the specs involved so that does make things a whole lot easier and also a lot of sense in going for the Onkyo. We did listen to a couple of other Home Theater Systems, but either they were way too expensive or the output was pathetic to say the least. The HTIB (Home Theater In A Box) is a great concept, but really leaves a lot to be desired on the performance front. Also, you are always running the risk of having obsolete equipment should the DVD player/AVR give out since both are bundled together and this will leave you with a 5.1 speaker system that will be useless for anything else. All things considered, a dedicated Home Theater System is the way to go especially since it gives the freedom of upgrading specific components and also replacing worn out/damaged components. I must say though that in a way I too did end up with a HTIB since the Philips DVP3986 DVD Player was thrown in free along with the Onkyo. Now moving on with the Onkyo HT S3100!

Actual System And AV Components And Cables – The Onkyo HT-S3100 comes in silver color and there is a black variant available for the United States and other markets aptly titled Onkyo HT-B3100. It comes with the AV Receiver HT-R340 and the Speaker Package of HTP-360 (North American and Asian models) and HTP-318 (European models). The entire package consists of 2 front speakers, 2 surround sound/rear speakers, 1 center speaker, 1 subwoofer (passive), 1 AV Receiver and 1 wireless remote to control all the functions on the AV Receiver. Pretty much everything you would want to go the Home Theater route, but one thing I found lacking was a decent coaxial cable or an optical fiber cable. The Onkyo HT-S3100 supports 1 coaxial cable input and 2 optical fiber cable inputs, but no HDMI support. This is really not an issue since only the very high end AVRs will do any audio processing via HDMI and all entry level and mid level AVRs will only pass through the audio signals via HDMI. The catch here though is that Dolby Digital and DTS modes are activated only when a coaxial or an optical cable is used to connect a DVD player to the Onkyo AV Receiver. The standard RCA cables will only output 2 channel upmixed to 5.1, but not really process Dolby Digital or DTS content available on the DVD. Obviously this goes without saying that the DVD player itself should support Dolby Digital and DTS and also have coaxial and/or optical cable output, which is pretty much the norm in even budget DVD players of today. Unfortunately the Philips DVP3986 DVD Player that came free with the Onkyo HT S3100 only supports coaxial cable output and no optical fiber cable output. In fact Philips as a company itself does not support optical fiber cable output and only provides coaxial cable output and HDMI so this should be something you should keep in mind next time you are in the market for a Home Theater System and an upgrade of your DVD player. I do have a Sony DVP-NS50P DVD Player that supports both coaxial cable and optical fiber cable output, but unfortunately this model does not support DivX format media and another older Philips DVD player I have also only has only coaxial cable support inbuilt. Reliance Digital did throw in a digital coaxial cable free, but we purchased two Home Theaters so I had to invest in additional cables, a Philips 24K gold plated connections digital audio coaxial cable 1.5 meters model number SWA3797NZ/97 and also a Component Video Cable for better picture quality. The coaxial cable connects from the DVD player output to the Onkyo AV Receiver input and the Component Video Cable connects from the DVD player output to the TV input. As per the Onkyo manual the Component Video Cable should connect from the DVD player output to the Onkyo AV Receiver input and then again from the Onkyo AV Receiver output to the TV input. Since I was not aware of this beforehand and also short of one Component Video Cable having purchased only one, I went with the DVD player output to the TV input. I will really need to check Onkyo’s recommended way to connect the Component Video Cable before I can provide any information/feedback on the picture quality it delivers, but I can say that the Component Video Cable I have connected from my DVD player output to the TV input really delivers crisp images and makes for much better viewing pleasure. The digital audio coaxial cable is an altogether different ballgame and enables Dolby Digital and DTS sound modes on the Onkyo AV Receiver and playing DVD media with Dolby Digital and DTS is a real blast and gives near theater sound FX right at home. I would definitely recommend getting a digital coaxial cable or an optical fiber cable since this really enables the Dolby Digital and DTS modes on the Onkyo Home Theater System and this is what a Home Theater System is all about. Using default RCA audio cables will only provide 2 channel output that will be routed/upmixed to 5.1 channel output on the Home Theater System via the Onkyo AV Receiver and it will not be genuine 5.1 channel output. The only choice you should look to make is between the digital coaxial cable and the optical fiber cable unless of course HDMI is an option and which if it is would be the best route to go. The optical fiber cable is more expensive, but after reading through a lot of forums and reviews most say there is absolutely no difference in terms of output between both of them especially for short distances like in your hall or bedroom where the Home Theater System will most likely be setup. The optical fiber cable was not an option at all for me since the Philips DVP3986 DVD Player only supports a digital coaxial cable output, but you should read up and make your own decision between a digital coaxial cable and an optical fiber cable, but I will definitely say stay away from RCA stereo cables. I did compare the digital coaxial cable and digital optical fiber cable (borrowed from a friend) on my Sony DVD Player DVP-NS50P and to tell the truth there is very little to differentiate between the both of them. Coming to the Component Video Cable, this will deliver superior picture quality in terms of color, picture sharpness, crispness, etc. and is definitely recommended.

Onkyo HT-S3100

Setting Up The System – Actually I waited for the technician from Reliance Digital to come and install the Home Theater System, but installation itself is very easy and a totally non complicated process. Of course the speakers can be wall mounted, but this did take an additional couple of days for the electrician to come in and set it up with his drilling machine and also resulted in major room rearrangement for me personally. On the whole though you can personally go ahead and setup the system all by yourself. Wiring is standard, the user manual lists everything in detail and it is much better if you do spend time reading the user manual before unpacking and setting up the system.

Connectivity Options –

  • The system supports 3 digital audio inputs, 2 optical and 1 coaxial for audio where a CD or a DVD player can be connected.
  • A Component Video slot where a DVD player, TV, or other component that supports component video can be connected here.
  • An AM Antenna slot for connecting an AM antenna.
  • An FM Antenna slot for connecting an FM antenna.
  • Monitor Out – The composite video output should be connected to a video input on your TV or projector.
  • CD In – These analog inputs can be used to connect a CD player with analog outputs.
  • Tape In/Out – These analog inputs and outputs can be used to connect a cassette recorder, MiniDisc recorder, or other recorder with analog inputs and outputs.
  • Video 1 In/Out, Video 2 In & Video 3 In – The Video 1, composite video, and audio inputs and outputs can be used to connect a VCR. The Video 2, Video 3, composite video, and audio inputs can be used to connect another video source (e.g., cable TV, satellite TV, or a set-top box).
  • DVD In – The Front, Surround, Center, and Subwoofer jacks can be used to connect a component with an analog multichannel audio output, such as a DVD player with a 5.1-channel analog output. The composite video input should be connected to a video output on the DVD player.

System Specs –

HT-R340 AV Receiver

  • 100 W/channel into 6 ohms (FTC)
  • 100 W/channel into 6 ohms (DIN)
  • 120 W/channel into 6 ohms (JEITA)
  • Dolby *1 Digital and Dolby Pro Logic II
  • DTS and DTS Neo: 6 *2 5.1
  • Optimum Gain Volume Circuitry
  • Massive High Current Power Supply (H.C.P.S.) transformer
  • CinemaFILTER
  • Non-Scaling Configuration
  • A-Form — Auto Format Sensing
  • OR-EQ (OptiResponse Equalizer) *3 function
  • 192 kHz/24-bit D/A converters
  • Powerful and highly accurate Analog Devices 32-bit DSP processing
  • 3 digital inputs (2 optical, 1 coaxial)
  • HDTV-ready component video switching (3 inputs, 1 output)
  • Adjustable crossover (40/50/60/80/100/120/150/200 Hz)
  • Speaker A/B terminal
  • Color-coded speaker terminal posts
  • RI system control
  • Compatible with RI Dock for iPod *4
  • A/V Sync control function

HTP-360 Speaker Package 
(North American and Asian model)
SKF-360F L/R 2-Way Front Speakers
SKC-360C 2-Way Center Speaker
(North American model)

  • 3-1/4" (8 cm) cone woofer
  • 3/4" (2 cm) ceramic tweeter
  • Max. input power: 120 W
  • Magnetically shielded
  • Color-coded speaker terminals and speaker cable
  • 6-ohm impedance

SKC-360C 2-Way Center Speaker (Asian model)

  • 3-1/4" (8 cm) cone woofer × 2
  • 3/4" (2 cm) ceramic tweeter
  • Max. input power: 120 W
  • Magnetically shielded
  • Color-coded speaker terminals and speaker cable
  • 6-ohm impedance

SKM-360S L/R Full-Range Surround Speakers

  • 3-1/4" (8 cm) full-range speaker
  • Max. input power: 120 W
  • 6-ohm impedance
  • Color-coded speaker terminals and speaker cable

SKW-360 Bass Reflex Subwoofer

  • 8" (20 cm) cone woofer
  • Max. input power: 130 W
  • Color-coded speaker terminals and speaker cable

All things considered, the Onkyo HT-S3100 5.1 Channel Home Entertainment System is a great buy coming at the price and with the feature set. It is certainly a great move up to the Home Theater segment especially for those who have never had a Home Theater per se and will satisfy even the most demanding with its performance. The only cons that I could come up with after using the Onkyo HT-S3100 5.1 Channel Home Entertainment System for the past month and that too watching at least a couple of movies everyday and with MP3, Audio CD content too thrown in is the lack of HDMI support, no Dolby TrueHD, no DTS-HD Master Audio i.e. in short no High Definition formats are supported. If you can live with this, mind you there is very little High Definition content available as it is, then the Onkyo HT-S3100 5.1 Channel Home Entertainment System makes perfect sense. If, however, High Definition at Rs. 1200 a Blu-Ray DVD is your cup of tea then you will need to look at the very high end of the spectrum for an AVR to do High Definition Audio and Video processing and not just pass through which is what most AVRs with HDMI ins and outs do these days. The Onkyo HT-S3100 5.1 Channel Home Entertainment System absolutely rocks at delivering great cinematic experience and great 5.1 audio for your CD and MP3 collection. If you are on a limited budget and want to check out the world of Home Theater then the Onkyo HT-S3100 5.1 Channel Home Entertainment System makes perfect sense. 

Rajiv Abraham

Hey there, I'm Rajiv, blogger, serial entrepreneur, and chicken lover. This is my space on the blogosphere where I talk about pretty much everything and anything. Love to have you here - stay safe, healthy, wealthy, and in love!