Onkyo TX-SR606 A/V Receiver Page 2

Once you’ve made your connections, the next step is calibration. When you plug in the supplied calibration microphone, the onscreen display automatically shows you the setup menu.

The Audyssey auto-calibration system works by sending test signals to each speaker to make its measurements. It then adjusts the channel-level and time-delay settings for each speaker. The Audyssey 2EQ circuit measures acoustical output for up to three different positions and provides an EQ setting that is optimized for the room, not just a specific seat. Also, the TX-SR606 is one of the first AVRs to employ the Audyssey Dynamic EQ algorithm, which selects the best frequency response and surround levels as the volume changes.

You can also make manual adjustments to tailor the speaker configuration, levels, and distance. For my left and right channels, I use PSB Image T65 loudspeakers, which have three woofers each. Most auto-calibration systems designate my speakers as large, which sends them full-bandwidth audio. In my room, full-bandwidth audio to the main speakers and a subwoofer is overwhelming. The system sounds smoother when the subwoofer picks up the bulk of the LFE and other low-frequency information. Most AVRs, including the TX-SR606, let you change the setting to small. This sends the LFE information and frequencies below the crossover points of the small channels to the sub. Moreover, it provides a range of crossovers from 40 hertz to 200 Hz.

I’ve tested a number of calibration systems, as many manufacturers prefer to use a proprietary scheme. However, I’ve found that Audyssey is a system I can always count on to be simple to initiate, with results that require little improvement. In all the instances I’ve used Audyssey, it has provided pleasing, natural sound.

Evaluation
The TX-SR606 upconverts analog video signals (component, S-video, and composite) to 1080i at the HDMI output. The Faroudja DCDi Edge deinterlacing circuit eliminates jaggies that can be introduced to diagonal edges during deinterlacing. If you are using all HD (1080i/p) sources and your display’s native resolution is 1080p, you should set the HDMI output to Through, and it will pass the 1080i/p signal to your TV or projector. If you are upconverting other analog video sources, set it to Auto or a specific resolution like 480p, 720p, or 1080i.

I set my DVD player’s resolution to 480p, hooked it up to the TX-SR606 via component video inputs, and upconverted a standard-definition disc of The Departed. The receiver worked very well. I didn’t see a tremendous difference between the Onkyo’s upconversion to 1080i and my JVC projector’s upconversion to 1080p.

The TX-SR606 really sold me with how well it performed with simple two-channel music. Many lower-priced AVRs seem to get by with movie soundtracks, but all the flaws come out with two-channel sources. Will I go so far as to say the TX-SR606 is on par with high-end audio components that sell for two to three times the price? Absolutely not. However, this little AVR holds its own sonically and performed very well with all of my sources.

I recently ran across a unique remake of Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill. In 2005, Morissette re-recorded the entire album for a more acoustic, laid-back vibe. On Jagged Little Pill Acoustic, the angst-ridden classic “You Oughta Know” begins with a solitary drum kick that is tight, solid, and resonant. The acoustic guitar is light and delicate, yet it has strong presence that is beautifully balanced with the lead vocal. The soundstage extended well outside the boundaries of the speakers for a fullness and richness I wouldn’t have expected from an inexpensive AVR. On the other end of the spectrum, if you like hitting the dance floor, Madonna’s new CD Hard Candy offers plenty of deep bass, which the Onkyo reproduced with precise definition and sharp attack.

What could be more fun than the freeway sequence from The Matrix Reloaded on HD DVD? The TX-SR606 decodes Dolby TrueHD, and my Toshiba HD-A35 HD DVD player passes the TrueHD bitstream, so I auditioned this disc’s lossless audio soundtrack.

Once you start listening to the high-resolution audio formats, you’ll never be satisfied with Dolby Digital again. There’s a marked improvement in coherency that brings the soundtrack to life. The various film elements (dialogue, music, and effects) are more defined, and a fuller and more robust presentation in the center channel makes dialogue clearer and more intelligible.

The soundtrack on The Matrix Reloaded is incredibly dynamic, and the Onkyo’s 90-watt-per-channel amp handled the movie’s high-velocity car-chase scene extremely well. I turned it up pretty loud to see if I could get the Onkyo to distort or show signs of stress, and it never did.

I’ve become a fanatic of the PS3 driving simulator Gran Turismo. The game lets me work on my racetrack skills in a Ferrari F430. It’s fascinating how the game gets each car to respond differently. It seems accurate to the real deal. However, when I cranked up the volume on the TX-SR606, the experience became much more exhilarating. There was excellent separation and detail of the various sound effects such as road noise, engine noise, and the whoosh of the wind as you pass other drivers. In fact, the more I turned up the volume, the more intense the experience became. It sounded like all the sounds were around me and not localized in the speakers.

Conclusion
Isn’t it obvious? I really liked the TX-SR606. If this is any indication of the AVRs to come, the future is brighter and happily less expensive for a quality A/V experience. The TX-SR606 performs solidly with a feature set that is difficult to beat at $579. Audio reproduction was very good, with excellent dynamic range and channel separation. Video conversion of standard-def sources also impressed me. The TX-SR606 is squarely aimed toward the consumer who wants a reasonably priced AVR but wants to get the most out of their new HDTV and Blu-ray player. This is far and away the best AVR under $600 (heck, under $1,000) that I have had the pleasure to review.

Highlights
Four HDMI (version 1.3a) inputs provide access for up to four high-definition sources
Built-in decoders for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio
Exceptional sonic performer

COMPANY INFO
Onkyo
(201) 785-2600
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