Onkyo HTX-22HDX £250
13th Aug 2010 | 09:00
A classic, future-proof 2.1 speaker system
For years, Macs have shipped with headphone/speaker sockets that are actually rather clever: as well as serving traditional analogue audio, they can also pipe out pure digital audio over an optical link.
This is good not only for techy reasons – it keeps the audio in your Mac clean and digital until the very last minute when it's converted to analogue for your speakers – but because it disables your Mac's volume control and forces you to set volume on the speakers. (For more, see here.)
Few amps and hi-fis have optical inputs, however, which is one of the reasons we love this 2.1 system; it has two, plus coaxial and analogue inputs.
There's another reason to like optical: surround sound, something not possible over the Mac's analogue audio out. You might think this is irrelevant for a 2.1 system, but the HTX-22HDX has connections for adding speakers to transform it into a 5.1, or even 7.1, setup.
It has three HDMI 1.4a inputs that let you connect up everything from Apple TVs to Blu-ray players or PS3s, with a pass-through to your TV.
Setup is straightforward, and though sound is excellent out of the box, there's lots to tweak, either with an overlay on the screen if you're outputting visuals, or on the embedded screen.
Audio is genuinely impressive in all respects, making this an expandable, user-friendly system we can fully recommend for the home.
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