Onkyo TX-SR875 A/V Receiver Page 2

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The Short Form

Price $1,699 / us.onkyo.com / 201-785-2650
Snapshot
Late-generation HDMI, superb video processing, and outstanding audio complement truly useful features in this top-flight design.
Plus
• 1080p scaling to HDMI of all video inputs • Excellent 7-channel audio performance • Onscreen displays over HD • 4 full-function HDMI 1.3a inputs • Effective microphone-driven auto-setup
Minus
• Runs very hot
Key Features
• THX Ultra2 certified • 7 x 140 watts • 4 HDMI 1.3a (1080p-capable) • Transcodes composite-, component-, and S-video to HDMI; scales/deinterlaces 480i up to 1080p (via HDMI) or 1080i (via component video) • Decodes Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD, DSD from HDMI/bitstream input • FM/AM tuner with 40 presets • XM/Sirius-ready with integrated presets • iPod-expansion via optional dock • IR in/out, 12-volt trigger, RS-232 serial port • 17.1 x 7.6 x 18 in; 51 lb
Test Bench

I got stellar bench results from the TX-SR875. Noise and distortion were state-of-the-art, and frequency response was excellent -- though with an inconsequential rolloff of about 0.5 dB per octave above 10 kHz in all modes. Power results handily exceeded the receiver's ratings in all except 7-channel-simultaneous testing, which came very close (128 wpc). Bridged output measured in excess of 300 watts x 2 into 8 ohms. The receiver got quite hot during prolonged power testing, and the fan (which came on only under severe stress) was a bit noisy -- though with a program playing, users should never hear it. Full Lab Results

The Onkyo doesn't let you review the EQ settings that the Audyssey system dials in, but you can A/B them with EQ-defeat sound. The net change in my listening setup -- which is fairly flat and enjoys decent room acoustics to begin with -- was mostly subtle. For fun, I temporarily replaced my $1,000-plus Snell XA-55cr three-way center-channel speaker with a cheesy, $79 model I have kicking around and recalibrated. The Audyssey 'bot dutifully EQ'd this to a reasonable facsimile of the previous balance (though the qualitative differences remained!). If you wish, you can manually tweak seven-band EQ individually for each channel.

Auto-EQ systems in general are still a bit of a shot in the dark. You can get audibly different results every time you run them (because of small shifts in mike placement or other mysterious factors), and the results aren't always sonic improvements. But as I've encountered it in a half-dozen products (and now the SR875), MultEQ XT -- which averages measurements from multiple mike placements to minimize any such discrepancies and is arguably the most mathematically sophisticated system available in a receiver -- appears to be a superior example of auto EQ.

MUSIC & MOVIES Since I've a great deal to relate on the video side, space precludes much commentary on the Onkyo's sonic abilities. Suffice it to say, they were without audible flaw: The SR875 produced clean, loud, dynamic, and reliably excellent sound for everything I sent its way. Music tracks, such as Lang Lang playing Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 on a Telarc SACD recorded live at "The Proms," demonstrated the Onkyo's amplification with a big, big sound that boasted arresting dynamic range -- a sound that remained superbly defined and sweet even at real concert levels. Meanwhile, the opening music of the Denzel Washington action flick Inside Man (I'll watch anything that Spike Lee directs, and enjoy it) includes a super-low drum sound and rich scoring, and the film's more frantic scenes are plenty demanding. Everything was rich, lifelike, and compelling via the Onkyo.

On to video. The big news here is upconversion to 1080p, from HDMI, component-, or S-video inputs. Onkyo employs a new Silicon Optix HQV processor in the SR875, and this worked very well. It will make no silk purses from sows' ears, despite the misconceptions of too many consumers who believe you can magically make HDTV from standard-def. But you do get very watchable images, from all sources, via a single HDMI link to your monitor.

Moving up the food chain, 1080i cable-HD coming in on component video looked outstanding via the SR875's HDMI output, with scaling set to 1080p; so did 720p, when I set my Comcast/Motorola box to deliver this. In general, broadcast/cable HD material looked about as good as I've seen it on my system. Blu-ray Disc 1080p passes through the Onkyo untouched, as it should, and looked spectacular as usual.

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