Onkyo CS-515UK (with spkrs) review

This is a very fine, well featured micro system: reasonable speakers as an option, though it's good enough to witthstand even better boxes Tested at £300

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

A terrific micro with loads to offer: respectable Onkyo speakers are an option, but it'll withstand an upgrade to even better boxes


  • +

    A musical and entertaining performer

  • +

    good speakers


  • -

    No USB input

  • -

    buttons on the remote are poorly laid out

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Does living in the UK make you feel special? Well, Onkyo thinks you are. Its engineers have apparently tuned the CS-515UK micro just for British tastes.

Whether it's specially tuned or not, we don't care. What we do know is that the CS-515UK sounds great. Great by micro system standards, and more than decent when judged against budget separates, too. When you consider that a system of hi-fi separates with equal functionality would cost at least £600, you begin to understand the scale of Onkyo's achievement.

It helps that the CS-515UK's speakers are good. Frequently, we suggest you dispense with a manufacturer's own speakers in the case of micro systems, and buy a pair of Tannoy Mercury F1 Customs instead, but not in this instance.

An additional £70 (the base unit CS-515UK cost £230 without speakers) buys a pair of lively and entertaining Onkyo boxes. They're not the most refined or immaculately finished speakers you'll ever come across, but they still work very well in this context.

Broad range of talents
Listen to the complete package, and you're in for a musical treat. With a wide variety of music, from Beethoven to Bob Dylan, the CS-515UK combo performs with a huge amount of skill and no small degree of finesse. Good timing is rare in the world of micros, but this system has it pegged. The unit punches forcefully, too, and sounds convincing with hard-charging tunes from the likes of Massive Attack.

Switch to radio, and the performance with DAB is good, though the heavily compressed nature of most of the broadcasts doesn't really show off the Onkyo's strengths. If the quality of digital radio isn't all it's cracked up to be, you can always switch back to good old analogue. FM and MW performance is more than respectable, provided you can feed in a good-quality signal.

Feature-packed fun
The Onkyo is a well-equipped unit with tone controls, a ‘direct' button to bypass those tone controls for the hi-fi purists, a headphone socket, clock/alarm and remote control. If you have an iPod, you can also invest in Onkyo's £65 DS-A2 dock, which will not only recharge your portable player, but also allow you to navigate and control the iPod using this system's remote.

Build quality is solid and the finish is neat, and with four line inputs round the back for adding other sources, you'll find the unit comes with all the facilities you'll need.

So are there any flaws worth mentioning? If we're being picky, we'd like the remote control to be laid out more sensibly, and a USB connection would be handy, too - but that's all.

The conclusion is simple: the CS-515UK is a terrific product. Thanks to Onkyo for being so considerate towards us UK music fans.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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