LS3100

Product Review: Onkyo LS3100 Envision Cinema 2.1-Channel Bluetooth Speaker System

Looking to beef up your home theater system, but don’t have a ton of room or a few thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket? Onkyo is here to help.

To prove it, here’s the LS3100 Envision Cinema Speaker System, a three-piece setup that’s as simple to set up as its sound is beefy. Designed to combat “thin sound” using “an immersive 3D soundfield using just two speakers,” it’s a sleek mid-priced alternative for folks who aren’t in the market for a true 5.1/7.1 system, but who are still looking for something more powerful than their television’s speakers. Perhaps more impressively, it’s also a good fit for people whose tech skills run toward the Luddite end of the spectrum.

How simple is it? I had my LS3100 wired up within 10 minutes of opening the box, and that includes taking out the parts and connecting the wires. For your money, you get a receiver, two satellite speakers (designed to sit on sculpted stands that can also be used to mount them into the wall), and a wireless subwoofer; just wire the satellites into the receiver, plug everything in, pipe the receiver into your television, and voila — you’re done.

And when I say “you’re done,” I mean it — not only will the LS3100 start blasting sound as soon as you’ve got it powered up, it’ll also wake itself up automatically as soon as you turn on your TV. It’s got a remote you can use to adjust the volume, but there’s no need to hit the power button on the unit — as soon as it hears a signal from your system, it’ll turn itself on.

The sound itself is pretty powerful, too. As you’d expect from a system with a dedicated subwoofer, the LS3100 has a fair amount of boom; in fact, if you live in a building where you’ve got people on the floor under you, you may want to think twice about picking it up, because they’re liable to think they’re under attack whenever you turn on your TV. Unlike sound bars that use audio engineering voodoo to shoot sound out of tiny spaces, this system shows you exactly where it’s bringing the noise — the satellite speakers are small enough to rest on a few inches of shelf space, but the subwoofer is a decent-sized box, and it’ll rumble with the best of them.

But the LS3100’s coolest feature might be one you can’t see: the Bluetooth connectivity that allows you to glom onto it and use it as a streaming device for your phone, tablet, or laptop. It probably isn’t the kind of thing you’re going to want to use every day, but it’s definitely a nifty bit of added value, especially if you don’t have a Roku, or happen to own a non-“smart” TV or Blu-ray player; that extra functionality basically turns your speaker system into a Sonos-esque wireless outpost.

At $499, I don’t know if it’s appropriate to call the LS3100 a “steal,” but it does offer an admirable amount of bang for the buck, and it’s a fair bit cheaper than some of the comparable options on the market. If you’re wiring up a small space — and you don’t mind rattling the rafters in your basement — it’s an investment well worth making.