Test Report: Onkyo TX-NR727 A/V Receiver Page 3

Test Bench

DOLBY DIGITAL PERFORMANCE

All data were obtained from various test DVDs using 16-bit dithered test signals, which set limits on measured distortion and noise performance. Reference input level is –20 dBFS, and reference output is 1 watt into 8 ohms. Volume setting for reference level was 75. All level trims at zero, except for subwoofer-related tests; all speakers were set to “large,” subwoofer on. All are worst-case figures where applicable.

Output at clipping (1 kHz into 8/4 ohms):

  • 1 channel driven: 173/279W (22.4/24.5 dBW)
  • 5 channels driven (8 ohms): 45W (16.5 dBW)*
  • 7 channels driven (8 ohms): 45W (16.5 dBW)*

*Self-limited following brief (~100 msec.) higher-power output

Distortion at 1 watt (THD+N, 1 kHz):

  • 8/4 ohms: 0.02/0.03%

Noise level (A-wtd): –74.6 dB

Excess noise (with sine tone):

  • 16-bit (EN16): 2.4 dB

Frequency response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz +0, –0.1 dB

STEREO PERFORMANCE, ANALOG STEREO INPUT

Reference input & output level: 200 mV; volume setting for ref. output: 79.

  • Distortion (THD+N, 1 kHz, 8 ohms): 0.03%
  • Noise level (A-wtd.): –83.8
  • Frequency response: <10 Hz to 155 kHz +0, –3 dB

STEREO PERFORMANCE, DIGITAL INPUT

Reference level is –20 dBFS; all level trims at zero. Volume setting for reference level was 78.

  • Output at clipping (1 kHz, 8/4 ohms, both channels driven): 152/200W (21.8/23.0 dBW)
  • Distortion at reference level: 0.02%
  • Linearity error (at –90 dBFS): 0.05 dB
  • Noise level (A-wtd): –75.7 dB
  • with 96-kHz/24-bit signals: –86.6 dB
  • Excess noise (with/without sine tone) 
    • 16-bit (EN16): 2.2/1.8 dB
    • quasi-20-bit (EN20): 8.5/8.0 dB
  • Noise modulation: 0.6 dB
  • Frequency response: <10 Hz to 20 kHz +0, –0.1 dB
    • with 96-kHz/24-bit signals: +0.2, -1 dB, <10 Hz to 46 kHz

BASS-MANAGEMENT PERFORMANCE

  • Measured results obtained with Dolby Digital test signals.
  • Subwoofer-output frequency response (crossover set to 80 Hz): 24 dB/octave above –6 dB rolloff point of 80 Hz
  • High-pass-filter frequency response (crossover set to 80 Hz): 12 dB/octave below –3 dB rolloff point of 80 Hz
  • Maximum unclipped subwoofer output (trim at 0): 9.7v
  • Subwoofer distortion (from 6-channel, 30-Hz, 0-dBFS signal; subwoofer trim set to 0): 0.04%
  • Crossover consistency: bass crossover frequency and slope were consistent for all sources and formats.
  • Speaker size selection: all channels can be set to “small”
  • Speaker-distance compensation: available for all main channels.

The TX-NR727 exhibited Onkyo’s usual digital-audio excellence: Signal-to-noise measured spot-on the theoretical maximum of -75.7 dB (re: 1W) on our dithered-silence test signal, which better reflects real-world performance than the near-universal practice of stating noise vs. maximum output with no input stimulus. Our “excess noise” and D/A linearity tests for measuring performance with very low signal levels were likewise superb. (Excess noise with “quasi-20-bit” signals was among the best I’ve measured, suggesting this Onkyo is very much up to the task of presenting high-resolution audio files, among others.) Results with 96 kHz/24-bit PCM signals were similarly very fine, as was stereo-analog performance (the TX-NR727 lacks multichannel analog inputs).

Output power easily surpassed Onkyo’s specifications, showing 152 watts with 2 channels driving 8?, and an impressive 200 watts into 4?. Multichannel power self-limited after a very brief excursion (100 msec. or so) — probably by a current-sensing protection circuit. This is very common among middle- and lower-priced A/V receivers, which generally lack the really-big power-supply iron and more-is-better silicon that’s necessary if a given design’s steady-state all-channels clipping is to match its 1- or 2-channel abilities. That said, the peak-to-average ratio of typical music and filmsound is at least 1 to 5, and peaks rarely fill more than a few milliseconds, and then usually in only a couple of channels simultaneously.D.K.

Bottom Line

By now you’ve surely observed that I had my ergonomics issues with the TX-NR727, as I do with every A/V receiver — it’s the nature of the beast. Just the same, there’s no question that this new Onkyo represents an outstanding value in the sub-$1,000 zone, with abundant power for a majority of real-world systems, solid-or-better performance on every important audio and video criterion, and an extensive list of useful features.

The more apt question is, what does spending twice as much — either with Onkyo or a close competitor — buy you? A modest slug of additional power, to be sure. A few more features, doubtless. A superior remote control, let’s hope.

But in my view, a lot of what you pay for at the flagship level comes down to fit-and-finish. The TX-NR727’s sheet metal seems a little lighter gauge than the tip-top models. Its plasticky knobs are a little less smooth-and-oozy feeling when you twist them. But does any of this matter one iota once the lights go down and the lion roars? I don’t think so.

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