Onkyo TX-NR1000 Digital Surround Receiver
The M1A1/M1A2 Abrams main battle tank. It's 32 feet long, 12 feet wide, and 8 feet high. It weighs 69 tons. Its gas-turbine engine generates 1,500 horsepower and propels it at 42 miles per hour. The crew of four is fully protected against nuclear, biological, and chemical hazards. A round from its Rheinmetall 120-mm smoothbore cannon can destroy reinforced concrete up to 8 feet thick. The Abrams is the armored fist of the U.S. military as well as that of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Australia. It's considered the best battle tank in the world.
To my knowledge, Onkyo does not manufacture tanks. Instead, it makes the TX-NR1000. This THX Ultra2-certified surround beast is 17 inches wide, about 9 inches high, and 19 inches deep. It weighs 73 pounds. Its seven amplifier channels can each generate up to 150 watts. It provides all the current THX, Dolby, and DTS processing modes. It bristles with high-tech interfaces, including HDMI, i.Link (a.k.a. FireWire or IEEE 1394), RS-232, and Ethernet. As you'd expect, it's built like a you-know-what. And it is undoubtedly one of the best receivers in the world.
But the TX-NR1000 is something the Abrams tank is not: future proof. While all military hardware will one day be destined for the scrap heap, the TX-NR1000 is, literally, built to last. Its most innovative feature is its modular construction, which makes it hardware-upgradable. Take a look at the photo of the receiver's backside. You'll see the faceplates of removable modules that contain key input/output interfaces.
Much like PC Cards that plug into a computer, these modules can be pulled and replaced with other modules, including those for future interfaces that might not be invented yet, or perhaps source devices or processors that add new capabilities. For example, by early next year Onkyo expects to release new modules for adding digital HD Radio and XM satellite radio reception. (Release dates and prices have not been announced.) Internal software to support new modules or surround modes can also be downloaded and stored via the receiver's RS-232 terminal.
Onkyo currently offers 12 different modules, all of which come loaded in the TX-NR1000. They accommodate all the traditional audio and video inputs and outputs, the digital interfaces mentioned earlier (more on those in a moment), and an FM tuner module. Given how quickly digital connection standards evolve these days, this kind of protection from obsolescence is one of the best features a manufacturer can deliver.
KEY FEATURES Of course, there are plenty of other amazing details here, all spelled in this monster's 151-page instruction manual. Space prevents me from describing all of them (see the short list above). But start with, by my count, 42 listening modes, most of which can be tweaked to your personal taste. Then add in three-zone multiroom capability, with the option to power Zone 2 with the back surround amplifiers, which lets you do a home theater in one room and stereo in another without an external amplifier. Onkyo has also taken the traditional speaker A/B switch to a new level, providing two full sets of speaker outputs for all seven amplifier channels - you can set up two 7.1-channel systems in different rooms and flip from one to the other.