The LS-T10 TV speaker system is a member of Onkyo's EnvisionCinema family of compact, self-powered speaker systems. It caters to consumers looking to get the most efficient use of space in their living area or home theater. It is intended to perform as well as a traditional soundbar and subwoofer combo, but without the need to dedicate floor space to a sub, or shift the TV back to fit a speaker bar. It can support the weight of most flat panel TVs and has a built-in subwoofer to give you the full range of sound while taking up almost no space. Like the rest of the EnvisionCinema lineup, the LS-T10 has the features you need, without being cluttered by the ones you do not need. Cables are included for the essential connections and a simple remote adds the convenience of complete control from your couch. TV speakers like the LS-T10 are increasingly popular, and for good reason - they offer a lot within a relatively small package.
Design, Build Quality, and Aesthetics
The Onkyo TV speaker is sized to fit below a typical flat panel display base, and sturdy enough to safely support its weight. This creates ideal positioning of the speaker relative to the screen, and makes it easy to connect audio cables in the back. Front facing drivers create the main soundstage from left, to center, to right, while additional drivers mounted on the sides of the unit produce the 3D surround effects. The mini built-in subwoofer utilizes a down-firing driver and takes advantage of the larger cabinet size to produce deep bass which would otherwise require a separate subwoofer. The LS-T10 can accomodate both digital and analog audio inputs via one TOSLINK optical input, one coaxial digital input, and a 3.5mm stereo analog input. It is also capable of playing digital audio files from a USB drive, and streaming audio from Bluetooth devices such as mobile phones, laptops, and tablets. Onkyo has included a basic remote which can be used to control all of the features of the LS-T10.
Overall, the LS-T10 appears to be well constructed with good quality materials. Fit and finish are above average for many of the soundbars I have seen at or below the $500 price point. The touch sensitive control buttons on the top of the unit are a nice feature and functioned reliably, although I occasionally perceived a brief delay in response. They seem to prefer a firm touch, as opposed to a tap. The weight of the unit suggests sturdy construction, but it is not too heavy to be easily moved around by just about anyone.
Although the look of a TV sitting on top of a big flat speaker is somewhat awkward to me, the appearance of the LS-T10 itself is attractive. The matte black finish is plain and somewhat generic, but also helps it to blend in with most dark furniture. From the subtly curved front grille and rounded edges to the satin fabric covered side panels, the overall design is very clean. In my opinion, the cost of designing and constructing a speaker like this should be focused on performance rather than aesthetics. Onkyo balanced the two aspects well in this case, maintaining good performance and styling that will appeal to a wide range of customers.
Setup and Operation
If you have read my review of the LS-B50 (the soundbar/sub combo from the EnvisionCinema lineup) you know setup was a breeze. Well, it is even easier with the LS-T10 due to the lack of a separate subwoofer. Placement options are pretty much limited to one: under your TV. It does not get much more simple than that. Plug in the power adapter and connect the optical audio cable to your TV's optical output and you are ready to rock. Since my TV is mounted to the wall I do not technically have a need for such a speaker, but I conducted my review with it sitting on a shelf mounted directly below my TV (where my center channel speaker normally resides). One might argue that the weight of a TV could effect the sound characteristics of a TV speaker like this. Maybe so, but to be honest, I do not believe it would be significant enough to investigate. One more thing I want to point out is that the 3D sound field produced by the LS-T10 is somewhat dependent on the shape and size of your room and the proximity of objects close to the left and right sides of the speaker. I would recommend that you avoid placing furniture or decor within a few feet of the speaker on either side. You should also avoid placing the speaker inside a cabinet or entertainment center with enclosed sides. Be careful when moving and carrying the unit as the down-firing subwoofer driver is completely exposed and could easily be punctured or otherwise damaged due to mishandling. I would have preferred to see at least some minimal protection here, even if for no other situation but un-boxing it.
Onkyo has included the cables needed to accommodate the most common home entertainment configurations. The included optical audio cable is just long enough to reach your TV’s audio output without adding clutter to your wiring. Keep in mind that many TVs with HDMI inputs and an optical audio output will down-mix the multichannel audio from the HDMI inputs to 2-channel stereo for the optical output. An alternative would be to connect your digital sources (Blu-ray player, media streamer, DVR, etc) directly to the soundbar's optical input, allowing it to receive the unmixed multichannel audio. The catch is that many soundbars (including this Onkyo) only have one optical input. For that reason, I conducted my review in what I would consider the most common and practical configuration: using my TV's optical audio output for all sources.
Operation of the LS-T10 is straightforward and simple, as is the goal of any soundbar or TV speaker. Using the buttons on the top surface of the speaker, or the compact remote control included with the system, you can turn it on or off, adjust the volume and bass level, switch inputs, or select one of three sound modes. The EnvisionCinema system can be configured to turn on automatically when it senses that your TV has been turned on. It will also go into standby after a delay if it stops receiving an audio signal. In general it is intended to work pretty seamlessly with the rest of your entertainment system.
This is going to read just like my impressions of the LS-B50 since the two systems are functionally almost identical, with the exception of the separate sub in the LS-B50 system. With the two speakers installed in the same configuration, I repeated my listening tests/evaluation with a lot of the same content and ended up with essentially the same set of thoughts and comments after both reviews. I will clarify that the reviews were done separately, so the two speakers were not installed simultaneously (i.e. I did not do any A-B switching for quick comparison).
In terms of installation, setup, and learning the functions and controls, the LS-T10 did not present me with any major challenges or frustrations. Once I had it all unboxed, it was connected and operational in just a few minutes. In fact, the bulk of my setup time was spent trying to reach the optical audio jack on the back of my TV...
The first thing I did was simply watch some TV while rotating through the sound modes and playing with the different remote functions. Functionally everything works smoothly and intuitively. Again, my initial gripe about the LS-T10 is that it is difficult to see which input and/or sound mode is active without walking over to the unit and looking closely at the labels and LED indicators. This may not be a big deal for most if they only use it with a TV, and stick to one sound mode. I regularly switched between the TV input and Bluetooth, and found myself jumping around to the different sound modes. I understand it is difficult to provide clear visual feedback without being a distraction (especially when viewing TV in a dark room). The best bet here would be to decide which sound mode you like best and stick with it. Beyond that it would just be a matter of turning it on and off and adjusting volume.
The EnvisionCinema TV speaker produces a much more rich and full sound, with better clarity than most built-in TV speakers. The integrated down-firing subwoofer is an obvious benefit here without question. The frequency range and dynamic range are also much better, but the most noticeable difference between the LS-T10 and LS-B50 was the bass performance. Although both utilize what Onkyo calls a subwoofer (LS-T10: 5" driver/LS-B50: 6.5" driver), the LS-B50 system was the winner in terms of depth and punch. Although the LS-T10 did not quite stack up to the LS-B50 in the bass department, it was no slouch either. For such a small driver and cabinet, it did surprisingly well for most music I played through it, and still added a good amount of impact to action movie soundtracks. Of the two systems, I generally preferred the LS-T10 for music. For movies, the LS-B50 definitely provided more rumble.
I will move on now to the AuraSphere DSP. It comes in the form of three preset sound modes: music, news, and movie. Each mode activates a unique EQ preset and adjusts the 3D sound field to enhance different aspects of the programming for the best clarity and impact. This brings me to my second gripe: AuraSphere cannot be turned off. Let me clarify, the AuraSphere DSP modes do a great job of producing a 3D sound effect from a single source (including 2-channel input signals) for music and movies, but sometimes I just do not want that. During TV and movie viewing, dialog tended to sound as though it was coming from behind the soundbar rather than being up front as I would expect. In some cases, for casual TV watching, I found myself preferring the TV sound (when surround effects were not needed). While listening to music with the music sound mode selected, I noticed that the imaging was not as precise as I would have liked, although the soundstage did extend beyond the physical length of the soundbar itself.
Given the three DSP options, I will say that they lined up with my preferences for the different types of content. Meaning, I preferred music mode for music, movie mode for movies, and news mode for most casual TV watching. The differences are not subtle either, each sound mode has a very distinct characteristic.
Having said all of that, we did spend a good bit of time casually listening to music through the Onkyo system, mostly via Bluetooth from our mobile phones. It does a nice job of filling the room without being harsh or boomy. AuraSphere does help prevent the perception that the sound is coming from a small speaker, and rather disperses it nicely throughout a typical living space. For movies, there really is no comparison between the LS-T10 and the sound coming from a flat-panel TV. The Onkyo system provides so much more of that full sound and impact you expect from action and adventure movies, and can definitely enhance your daily TV viewing experience as well.
Glee Cast - In Your Eyes (In Your Eyes, 320Mbps streaming/Bluetooth)
I know, it is probably blasphemous to cite the Glee performance over Peter Gabriel's (which is still my favorite version), but I was hooked on this version for a while during my review of the LS-T10, and therefore listened to it quite a few times via Bluetooth (using Music DSP sound mode). It does have a nice range of vocals accompanied by rythmic clapping and percussion and instrumentals that hint to the original. There are many details to be heard, given the somewhat complex vocal arrangement. The LS-T10 presented the song with a fairly good balance between voices and instruments, although I found myself wishing for more lifelike vocals. Rather than being focused at the center of the front soundstage, they were dispersed in all directions, presumably as a result of AuraSphere processing the 2-channel input. Bass was sufficient for casual listening, while treble tapered off at the high end.
Pacific Rim (Blu-Ray)
Overall clarity of vocals, music, and effects was very good during movie playback (using the Movie DSP sound mode). Dialog was always intelligible though not exaggerated. Effects were reproduced with a nice amount of impact, but not quite to the point of really being able to "feel" the action. The drivers in this speaker are very small, and I would say they provided a decent "theater" experience considering their size. Scenes with heavy action mixed with dialog and background music were balanced in a way that no element was too overpowering or disappointingly weak. As I've said, I like the LS-T10 more for music than movies, but 3D DSP does help make movie viewing more immersive.
For Onkyo's asking price of $350, there is a pretty wide range of soundbar/sub combos and TV speakers which aim to offer the same type of performance as the LS-T10 delivers. To me, so many of those options appear very "cheap" compared to the Onkyo EnvisionCinema system. The Onkyo build quality is above average for this class in my opinion, and the features offered by the LS-T10 are certainly competitive. While it will probably not blow you away in terms of bass performance, it still provides a good bit of depth and fullness, and the AuraSphere DSP delivers a 3D soundstage that extends well beyond what can be seen on the TV screen. Also consider the fact that some compact (although arguably much more portable) Bluetooth speakers costing upwards of $200 will not come close to the output offered by the LS-T10. Bottom line: this speaker is appropriately priced, considering features, quality, and performance.
Conclusions and Recommendations
For most people, the highlights of the LS-T10 system will be convenience and simplicity, with a hefty boost to audio performance from their TV. Setup is about as easy as it gets. It can take some time to adjust to the AuraSphere sound modes, and they may not be appropriate for all types of content. Having said that, they do a nice job of stretching flat sound into three dimensions. If you cannot devote any floor space to a separate subwoofer but wonder if this compact TV speaker will be a worthwhile upgrade, the answer is yes. Set your expectations appropriately, as this speaker is not intended or priced to replace a true surround sound system with separate speakers, and you will find that the LS-T10 goes beyond just making your TV shows sound louder. It is definitely worthy of your consideration if you are tired of bland, weak sound in your living room or home theater.
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