Onkyo DRC500: receiver and 5-disc dvd/cd player in one: too good to be true?


I'm buying an all new home theater system on a budget (any more than $1200 and my wife will kill me). I have my speakers picked out: Polk RM6700 with the Polk PSW303 8" subwoofer. (My living room is 13x17.) That leaves me with about $500 to spend on a receiver, dvd player, and cd player. Ouch.

But lo and behold: here is the Onkyo DRC500:
It is a receiver and 5-disc player in one. For $500!

To be clear: I will be using this unit *primarily* to listen to music, including mp3's. My wife likes the idea of minimizing the number of components (for aesthetic reasons). But I'm leery about whether I'm sacrificing quality getting all-in-one components.

I can't seem to find reviews or discussions of this particular model anywhere. Does anybody know anything about it? Or, more generally, does anybody have any advice on how to maximize my $500? Should I buy separate components? Should I buy a nice 5-disc changer, continue using my current receiver (Denon AVR-600)?

The more research I do, the more confused I get.


Not too good to be true, simply, you get exactly what you pay for.

First off (no flames please) the Onkyo's of the past two model years have had QC problems with Dolby dropouts and quality issues in general. These issues are documented here and at hometheraterforum.com. So, you should know that.

Secondly, all-in-one units are generally not the best value for the money. It makes upgrading any single part of the system not only a b!tch but also almost an impossibility and you're stuck with sunk costs. Low-flying cliche--jack of all trades master of none--very true with all-in-one units and the price points that have to inhabit.

For $500 you CAN get two nice (aesthetically pleasing) components (an AV reciever and a DVD player that of course acts as a CD player as well) that will KILL just about every all-in-one on the market from a performance perspective and ultimately that's what you're after.

Take a look at the Denon 1803, Harman Kardon AVR225. Both are wonderful AV recievers that get glowing reviews and are great with both music and movies (might lean toward the HK for music but just slightly). They are both about $350 (do some shopping and haggling) and then you can get any number of quality DVD players right around $150. Many of those DVD may also play DVD-audio disks (as well as CDs). Check out units from Panasonic and JVC for excellent DVD performance at under $150.

Above all, use this board! We've all been in your position: wanting to get the most for the budget we have and not having buyers remorse.

Shoot us endless questions and we'll try to steer you toward what you're looking for.

Good luck!
*btw, that Polk system reviews well, but you may want to check sub/sat systems from Aperion audio, paradigm, Energy and even M&K. There are AMAZING values to be had in the internet-only direct-to-manufacturer world. In fact the Energy take 5.2 system may definitely be worth a look paired with a HK AVR225.


Thanks for the thoughtful response. I guess I'll cross the Onkyo off my list. The more I think about it, the more I think that I really want a music-centric system (although the sub/sat set-up is non-negotiable with the wife). With that in mind, two questions:

1. Is there any receiver/speakers combo that you think is better for music than any other? (I'll look into the speakers you mentioned, but they really have to come in under $800, and they really have to be small.)

2. I'm very concerned with getting a good 5-disc changer, but it almost seems on boards like this that the cd/dvd players get the least amount of discussion. I'm very concerned that the mp3 playback work well, and that it offers full 5-disc random playback. I guess I want a cd-centric disc player too. Any suggestions with that in mind?

Thanks again.

Phil Krewer
Hey Dave,

I'm not sure if you're looking to buy a DVD changer or a CD changer but the DVD changer that most of the posters at hometheater.com are hot after is the panasonic CP72. It retails for $280 but you could probably get it for about $200 if you shop around. It is progressive scan and MP3 compliant. It also has DVD audio playback and is suppose to have a great picture for the price. I'm not sure about its random playback, but what I have read its the best bang for the buck changer out there.

Not to piss anyone off, but I have heard that the Denons below the 2802 are not that good for music and I'm a Denon fan. If you like the sound of the HK I think that H1pst3r's suggestion of the AVR-225 is a good one. If money is really tight and you don't mind referbished Harman Audio is auctioning one off on ebay and you could probably get it for less than $300. One thing good about this is you are getting it direct from HK and it has a full two year warranty.

That would leave you about $700 for your speakers and the Energy's that H1 mentioned are about that price on line and there's a seller on half.com selling them for $479 shipped. They don't come with a sub, but I have read they are an excellent speaker set and seem to match well with HK. That leaves $200 for the sub. From what I've read the best bang for the buck sub right now in the Sony SA-WM40 which can be had for about $130. Most people are taking the driver off and filling it with polyfill as its suppose to be a bit boomy esp for music.

Another option, which IMHO is a very good one is to get a set of JBL NSP1s. It is a 5 speaker set that has been replaced by the NSP1 II because of a patient fight with Bose. The only difference is purely cosmetic. I just bought a set for my daughter after reading numerous good reports about them and HK owners who have them seem to be very happy. This set at one time retailed for $550 as does the newer version and after setting them up I was impressed with their sound. They are a tad bright, but most people find the HK a little dark so this should be a good match. I was able to get them from Harman Audio on ebay for 202.50 shipped. They are new in the box and come with mounting brackets. This would leave you with about $500 to buy a very nice sub.

I hope this helps.



As usual great advice. I now see what you decided to get your daughter for speakers...sounds like a nie choice and a really nice value. I may check out that NSP1 system for my wife's home office.

Dave, Phil's larger point is that there are some serious deals both online and through savvy shopping and haggling at places like circuit city.

Your next step is to go listen as look. Also check out hometheaterforum.com as they have a good following of dedicated posters.

Good luck,

*also, "disk players" these days make virtually no differentiation between CD and DVD. My point is that there's really no need to shop for an especially CD-centric player. A good DVD player (like the one Phil mentioned) is a great CD player compared to very good CD players just a few years ago.

Phil Krewer

Thanks for the kind words. Yeah, I was thinking about Yamaha NS-P610 set for $200, but it really got panned by cnet. She is really happy with the JBLs and I'm happy it didn't cost too much. What are you planning to hook up with the JBLs?


Paul B.

You're looking in the same price range and for the same type music/movie ratio as me. I just ordered what I think is a pretty good deal from www.onecall.com. They are advertising an Athena Point 5 system - (do a google search - some excellent reviews from both press and consumers) - its a sat sub system and paired with an Onkyo tsx600 receiver for $926 - I saw they had some refurbished HK AVR325's on the site with 2 yr warranty and asked if I could substitute that for the Onkyo and they said yes. The also had some refurbed Onkyo 600's and would let you substitute one of them and save $100 of the price. It's worth a look. Also, the Panasonic DVD-CP72 Phil spoke of is available at Crutchfield.com for $229 + $11 shipping and you can download a $30 rebate coupon.

I get my HK and Athena system Wednesday next week - if you're still looking I'll let you know how it works out. Good luck.


Nice score, Phil and I were just talking about that Athena system and we were impressed.

Couple of nice scores guys...both of you!



Phil Krewer

Great deal, I think the Athena 5 point system cost about $700 by itself here. It has one several awards and from what I can tell is a great speaker system.

Take Care,


Rick K.
How about this system combinatation Harman AVR325+ Atlantic Technology T70 System. It's about $1300at onecall.com?
I have a budget of about 1200 and that deals sounds good ot too take what Phil B did for $300 less.

Phil Krewer
I think you mean Paul B. I can't really say. I know nothing about the speakers you are talking about. I do know however and have heard on my own that the Athena point 5 system is excellent and has won many awards. If you like the T70 system better than that's what I'd get.

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