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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We just got an HDTV for christmas and I'm looking for a nice, but reasonably priced sound system to go with it. Onkyo seems to have systems that fit the bill and have a great reputation.

There is only an 80$ difference right now on amazon. I was reading some other threads, and the only real difference I could find was the 4100 has a powered sub.

If anyone can shed some light on whether the 80 bucks is worth it for the s4100, that would be tremendous. Or even offer another alternative I haven't looked at.


Edit: budget is about 350 at the most, the 4100 is 319 on Amazon atm.

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An aside - check out B&H photo. May be cheaper w/free shipping, but it looks like it's backordered. I got it from them a couple weeks ago.

A few things swayed me from the S4100, my original choice:

1. Backordered

2. Price

3. Live in apartment, decided against powered sub as unnecessary.

One thing I've heard about powered subs is that it auto turns on and off. Now, let's say the sub (LFE channel) has been inactive for a while, and some bass-sounds come on. By the time the sub re-powers on, wouldn't you have missed a second or so of audio? May not be a big issue, and many subs come powered. But for me, the passive sub sounds fine and potentially mitigates any break-in-sound-problem I've come across regarding powered subs. That and you never have to worry about the sub-amplifier breaking (I figure, have all the electricals in one receiver, it's all-or-nothing if it breaks)

The total wattage of this is 700w, compared to S4100's 750w. The difference is that the S3100's receiver delivers 125W of bass via receiver, and the S4100's powered bass delivers 200w. However, for the other channels, the S3100 is slightly more powerful. The S4100 has maximum 110w/channel (5x110 = 550, plus 200w for powered sub = 750 system wattage) while the S3100's receiver puts out a bit more (115 w/channel = 115 x 5 = 575w, + 125w receiver powered sub = 700w system total). What does this mean? I'm not sure. I know that the S4100's receiver is a standalone item in Onkyo's catalog, but the S3100's receiver isn't (since it amplifies the sub as well, whereas the S4100 receiver is just a pre-out).

Overall, if you want to get more bass, go for S4100. I keep my S3100 system's bass cranked (both on the "tone" setting for bass...max that, and on the channel setting for subwoofer...max that too) and it's fine. I don't listen to a lot of music, but when I do, hip hop sounds alright on it. On a scale of poor,fair,good,great,excellent (based on my expectations) I say the S3100 sounds great/excellent. I am in the process of upgrading the speaker wires to some Acoustic Research 16 gauge wire I got to see if that improves the sound. Even with stock wires, I get good sound from the sub for movie effects; when I max the bass level/sub channel all the movie rumblings sound pretty good, meaning I don't have to crank the main volume to get some deep tones.

Circuitcity.com also has lots of reviews (mostly postive) on the S3100, but not the S4100. If you want to be absolutely sure you can get a ton of bass, maybe S4100 is good choice. However, the S3100's 8" (vs S4100's 10") subwoofer sounds really good, and is adequate to me given that I crank it to its max. Not sure if that's taking power away from the other speakers as everything is driven from one receiver's amplifiers.

PS - I was new to HTIB's a couple months ago. I was initially hoping for one with DVD (that's why the Onkyo stayed at the bottom of my list, given the Samsungs/Sonys/Panasonics out there). However, after a bit more due diligence, I soon realize that the Onkyo is a GOOD thing (I can hook up my Nintendo, tape, VHS etc to it...can't say the same for other HTIBs). Also, the weight of the receiver and speakers/sub is heavier than its competitors, which is a GOOD thing. Good bang-for-buck for under $300. I got a cheap $70 upconverting Sony DVD player and it works well.

Final note - I run a Toslink from my Samsung plasma to get 5.1 sound from TV shows. However, my TV does not pass through 5.1 sound. So I have my DVD hooked via digital coax to get 5.1 sound into the Onkyo. Ditto everyone's suggestion of Monoprice for cheap cables. May want to get some upgrade speaker wires from there too. I'm not sure what the before/after will be with the new wires. The stock ones sound fine, but I read that replacing the wires is better.
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