Choosing a compact audio system when you’re restricted on budget and space can be a challenging task to bother with. There is not a large number of companies that still offers compact audio systems. However, an audio company from Japan Onkyo exceeds at producing amplifiers, speakers, as well as audio systems that many companies gave up upon.

Onkyo CS-265 Review: Features

Nowadays it’s extremely hard to catch an audio system that is rich in features. However, that shouldn’t be the case with our Onkyo CS 265 review unit. There is a vast variety of features including Bluetooth and NFC connectivity. Additionally, there is a number of technical features that should enhance the system’s power and make it more scalable.

Various connectivity options

Although the speakers support the wired connectivity, Onkyo thought of those preferring the wireless connectivity can stream their Bluetooth and NFC-enabled devices, including smartphones, tablets, or laptops. It is safe to say that the inclusion of NFC brings a lot of innovation to the system.

What’s disappointing, though, is that Onkyo CS-265 is equipped with a Bluetooth 4.0 version which is an outdated version against the 4.2 found on the vast majority of modern devices. Nevertheless, the connection is strong, and users will be able to stream music from their phone, tablet or laptop in another room as long as it covers the 33 feet (10 meters) range.

Audio from a disc

Even though technology moved forward far from audio jacks, CDs and DVDs Onkyo CS 265 sports an audio jack for everyone who misses the early 2000’s songs playlist and really needs to play it on a party. The audio system is capable of running CD, CD-R, CD-RW and MP3-Encoded CDs. The system is also equipped with a front-panel USB Port that can connect Apple’s products, iPod, iPhone, and iPad as well as USB Flash Drives.

2-Mode Super Bass Function

Lows, bass particularly are of great importance to many audiophiles. That being said, Onkyo CS-265 supports a 2-mode Super Bass Function, which means that there are 3 Playback modes or profiles for CD (normal, random and repeat) as well as 3 repeat modes for CD (Disc, 1-Folder, Track.)

Full Digital Audio Processing

Digitalization of the music is of vast importance. Onkyo’s minimalistic system supports full digital audio processing followed by an Efficient Digital Amplifier, for which the company is well known for. The efficient digital amplifier supports the soundstage in a way that makes up for the clear and balanced soundstage, while the two-way speakers enhance the depth of the audio as well as the detail with a sound maximum input power of 30 Watts.

Onkyo CS-265 is rich in powerful features that can definitely come in use at those who seek the top end quality. However, the outdated Bluetooth version may appear unappealing to those looking for a flawless wireless connection. That’s why we graded the features of CS-265 with 4 out of 5.

Onkyo CS 265: Design

Onkyo CS-265 has an understated design. It is available in three color settings: black, white and red. Nevertheless, on Onkyo’s official website, there are more available colors that can flatter your audio system if you opt to pick it up. Let’s take a look at more of its design.

Glossy Finish

When it comes to the appearance, the Onkyo CS265 is not a looker. Nevertheless, of which color you choose, you will be greeted with the same glossy finish that, perhaps, is not everyone’s cup of tea. Various audio equipment manufacturers opt for sturdy and strong cabinets with the matte finish rather than glossy. Nevertheless, in the same price range, it would be rather difficult to find a system with more premium appearance, especially in such a wide color range.

Aside from the glossy finish, we noticed and admired curved edges sitting on both amplifier and speakers. There is also a simple digital monochrome display which displays the information regarding the music being listened as well as the connectivity mode being Bluetooth or NFC. Although monochrome, the display is very bright and clean.

You don’t have to worry about the system matching overall. As well as the receiver, the two accompanying speakers are also flattered in black, glossy, texture.


In some cases, users are worried about the ergonomics, especially when there is a need for transporting the device from one room or another for different occasions. That being said, with the overall system weight of 7.9 pounds you don’t have to worry when moving it to another place. At 12.5 x 10.8 x 8-inches dimensions, the system can fit even to the TV bookshelf or any area in particular, without stealing too much attention from furniture in your house or apartment.

In conclusion, there is not much to say about CS-265’s design, other than that it’s made to be budget-friendly. Even though it’s relatively light, it doesn’t mean that the cabinet isn’t sturdy. Nevertheless, the glossy, outdated finish is what earned it a prize of 4 out of 5.

Onkyo CS265: Performance

Performance of Onkyo CS-265 is what should set it apart from the average or weak. Glossy finish and outdated Bluetooth version are maybe something that hardcore audiophiles are looking for in audio equipment but when set aside, it is the quality of the soundstage and its synchronization with the bass that decides whether it is really a good buy or not. Before testing its audio capabilities, we ensured to gather as many input options so that we can test its performance with different options.

Sound Quality

Needless to say, CS-265 isn’t going to sound like audio systems or speakers above $1000, but it’s definitely worth a try in medium-sized apartment and houses. Our test units included USB flash memory, CDs and Bluetooth connection coming from a smartphone. We tested the soundstage with different options and experimented with the genres.

That being said, the soundstage is great for those that are restricted on budget. The bass is deep and dynamic, which is exactly what’s expected for this sub-$500 option. On the other hand, while acceptable, mids and highs need to be prominent and accepted. The different music genres used in testing include hip-hop, pop, and rock and while all played songs sounded acceptably accurate, it seemed like the sound struggled to stay precise.

Bluetooth Connectivity

Even with an outdated version, Bluetooth’s chipsets implemented into the audio system ensured to create a good and respectable quality of music. Its connection and reliability of connection were more than satisfying. Still, it is worth pointing out that the quality of the music, as well as the connection stability, were decreasing as an Android smartphone, a test unit, was getting away further from the point.

A remote

If manual monitoring and control of the music don’t fit you, there is a remote packed in the package, although its plasticky and modest-looking appearance may not appeal to you.

With the remote, the user can intuitively change the modes, connection, adjust the tone, volume, and control monitoring on the monochrome display. The remote can also be used for source selection and playback controls. The remote is, however, precise and fast and can be used when the audio system gets connected to the TV for switching between the sound profiles when watching a TV show or a movie and streaming audio on speakers.

Aside from the remote, there is a power cord, speaker cables, FM and AM antennae as well as floor pads to ensure that the speakers won’t jeopardize the wooden surface on the shelf.

For the satisfactory performance, this system earned 4 out of 5.

Value for the money

We believe that Onkyo CS-265 is very reasonably priced at $219. As mentioned above, there are not many properly working audio systems on the market, as consumers discover a different way to stream their music to TV, or other devices. It is also worth mentioning that is rarity finding a music system supporting either Bluetooth and NFC, which is ideal for smartphones, especially those supporting the Android operating system. CS-265 earned 5 out of 5 for value for the money.

Pros and Cons

  • Great variety of features
  • Many connection options
  • Satisfactory soundstage
  • Nice ergonomics
  • Great value
  • Cheap glossy finish
  • Outdated Bluetooth Version

Final Verdict

The Japanese company exceeded everyone’s expectation with Onkyo CS-265. Its balance in price and performance is what will attract most of the consumers looking for adequate sound quality, flexible ergonomics, and many connection options. If you find these factors important for your audiophile needs, then CS-265 can be worth checking out.

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Danica is a student of Applied and Computer physics with great passion to gaming, technology and science. She's spent a valuable amount of time researching and testing gaming laptops that can suffice the dreams of all ranges of gamers. Her hobbies are gaming, reading, writing, and drawing.