The remote control is about the same size as the Sony system's, but it has slightly larger keys in a much greater variety of shapes and colors, so it's easier to use. The remote can control a TV, a VCR, a satellite receiver, and a cable box in addition to the player/receiver. While it has more buttons than are really needed for normal operation, it's intelligently designed. My main gripe is that the button for switching between stereo and surround modes is too small and poorly marked. And the selected audio mode is indicated only on the front-panel display, not in the onscreen display, which clearly shows you everything else you need to know.
The Unity setup procedure lets you adjust individual channel levels with the built-in test tones, but it doesn't have time-delay adjustments to compensate for the varying speaker distances. However, unlike the Sony, it includes Dolby Pro Logic II (DPL II) processing, which can create a credible 5.1-channel listening experience from two-channel stereo or matrixed Dolby Surround program material.
When I returned to the jungle in Apocalypse Now Redux, the Unity system brought the horrors of the Vietnam War home in all their morbid glory. It also added a slight high-end emphasis, bringing out the turbine whine of the choppers, which hadn't been as noticeable in playback over the Sony system. The Unity subwoofer's output was impressive - so much so that my couch shook whenever a bomb exploded. Watch out for your fine china and crystal.
Even amid all the battlefield mayhem, the dialogue came across clearly. And when the boat crew hears the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" over their portable radio and the soundtrack briefly expands the music to full fidelity instead of transistor tinniness, I was wowed by the Unity system's wide dynamics and accurate reproduction.
Played over just the front L/R speakers and the subwoofer, stereo music lacked the edginess I heard on movie soundtracks. Dire Straits thundered from the speakers with satisfying, adrenaline-producing sonics - especially with DPL II processing engaged - and the Brahms concerto sounded rich and full. Overall, the Unity system supplied plenty of sonic satisfaction.
Onkyo HTS-L5 In contrast to the Sony and Kenwood/Boston entries, Onkyo's HTS-L5 looks much more like a conventional component system. And in one sense, it is, since the electronics consist of the full-size TX-L5 digital surround receiver, which is rated to deliver 22 watts apiece (into 6 ohms) to five channels, and the DV-L5 DVD player (they're also available separately). Onkyo even supplies separate manuals for each component and the speakers as well as separate remote controls for the receiver and DVD player - you'll need both for setup, but either will control both components.
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