Nope I'm with ya man. Similar setup. Honestly the quality is high enough you don't hear the distortion you'd expect from lesser systems (sometimes can mistaken for being 'louder'). But yeah, for the reviews, size and price I expected this thing to make my ears bleed - and frankly while it can get pretty loud, it's not the same experience as being in front of a nice set of floor standers, or frankly my old panasonic 6-ohm bookshelf 50w speakers. My old Onkyo HT-S580 (why I decided to buy the HTIB instead of build) feels like it gets louder. And the sad thing is it's probably true (I don't have a db meter to test).
Couple factors here:
* Power output is 130w @ 6-Ohm load, only 80w at 8-Ohm which is what the speakers are rated at.
* Speaker sensitivity is 83db - that's reasonably inefficient, especially driven at the 80w. Need mor-powa!
* Speakers are acoustically sealed - meaning they lack porting. That makes them specifically more accurate to sounds reproduction at the cost of requiring more power to achieve the same amount of sound energy.
So to me - the receiver is matched with the wrong speakers, or the speakers are matched with the wrong receiver.
My old onkyo 5.1 setup is actually 100w RMS per channel, which does make a difference (speakers are same sensitivity). In effect my 2005 low(er) tech onkyo receiver has more power to drive the speakers than the included receiver. Also the HT-S580 system's speakers are ported plastic enclosures - very loud for what they are.
All that said - I'm perfectly happy with it, but the combo of low sensitivity speakers and lower than I expected power output left my a bit disappointed... except until I heard the subwoofer :-) Man that thing can shake the walls