Onkyo TX-NR1009 9.2-Channel Network A/V Receiver Page 2

Thankfully, a firmware update released during my evaluation period fixed the video output issues, though the Onkyo didn’t come willingly at first. I wasn’t able to perform the update via Ethernet without the unit locking up and requiring a factory reset (which lost all of my settings and Audyssey calibrations). After three attempts—the last of which had me unhooking every single connection to the unit except the Ethernet cable. I downloaded the firmware from Onkyo’s Website onto a USB flash drive and 10 minutes later, the AVR was up to date.

Setup and User Interface
I’ve resisted purchasing an iPad because it doesn’t offer an OLED screen, but given the propensity of electronics manufacturers to opt for a disc-based manual over a printed one, I may have to leap into the tablet revolution soon to read user manuals without needing my PC or wasting reams of paper. A manual is provided on a CD-ROM (or as a PDF on Onkyo’s Website), although the printed Quick Start Guide and Using Internet Radio inserts will give most users enough infor-mation to get the new piece of gear hooked up and on the Internet to stream tunes. The setup menus on the unit are extremely well organized and intuitive; each input can be customized with a preferred video and audio output, and you can even create your own custom label for each input (Oppo BDP-95, for example).

Audio setup is simplified with Audyssey MultEQ XT auto calibration, which takes about 15 minutes to perform. Using the supplied microphone, the software sends test signals through each of your speakers to calibrate the distance from your prime listening position, balance channel levels, and even out the frequency response in your room. The software worked as adver-tised in setting the distances but always wanted to set my front speakers to a lower crossover (40 hertz) than the THX recom-mendation of 80 Hz. Overall, this isn’t a big deal because these values can be changed in the user menu without affecting how the Audyssey software works.

Unfortunately, the non-backlit remote isn’t what I would expect from a piece of gear that exceeds the $1,000 barrier and pales in comparison to aftermarket remotes from Logitech and Universal Remote Control. Its limited universal capabilities are not worth bragging about unless all you want to do is control your other equipment’s most basic commands (on/off, volume, etc.).

If you’re one of the millions of people who own an iDevice or Android-capable smart phone or tablet, Onkyo has a remote app that allows you to control the AVR from your mobile device using built-in network protocols. You can control the volume, choose an input, and access each of the network streaming features the unit supports. Additionally, with the DLNA support, you can connect to your home network and stream music without needing to turn on your display.

Off to the Movies
I couldn’t wait to hear how well the TX-NR1009 performed with some of my favorite Blu-rays. First up was Star Wars: Episode IV. When John Williams’ score opens the movie during the title crawl, I wasn’t prepared for how crisp and clear the audio track would sound. Frankly, I was blown away. The audio quality rivals what I hear from my Integra DHC-80.2 and Anthem PVA-7 amplifier, which run nearly three times the cost. The soundtrack features a robust midrange, especially with Williams’ score, and the bass response is just as impressive. When the Millennium Falcon blasted its way out of the Mos Eisley spaceport, the roar of engines virtually shook my foundation. And when the Death Star was finally destroyed by the Rebel Alliance, the soundstage exploded with action as the bass ripped through the room. The fleeing ships provided a superb demonstration of frontto-back imaging.

Harry Potter’s epic battle against Lord Voldemort finally concludes in The Deathly Hallows: Part 2. This extremely darkly lit movie will test your display’s ability to render shadow detail and inky blacks. I watched this film before I’d updated to the latest firmware and found it nearly unwatchable due to the incorrect gamma the video processing produced. Since the TX-NR1009 would pass a 1080p/24 signal unmolested if set to Direct, that’s what I ended up doing to fully appreciate the film. After the firmware update, I went back and viewed various scenes, and any initial complaints I had disappeared with the processing now correctly engaged.

Most of my TV watching is spent on the occasional sitcom or sports programming. NFL games looked and sounded great coming through the firmware-updated Onkyo and featured crisp definition in the video and great imaging from the Dolby Digital 5.1 broadcasts. If gaming is your thing, the TX- NR1009 offers a game mode that minimizes the delay of the video processing to decrease lag time between the audio and onscreen action.

If you’re more into music than movies or TV, I think you’ll be hard pressed to find a better-sounding AVR, certainly one at this price. Whether I was listening to high-resolution audio tracks from SACD and DVD-Audio discs, streaming music from my Windows Home Server, or listening to tunes on one of the multiple streaming services, I continually found myself amazed at the revealing sound quality. Low-bitrate MP3s sounded pretty poor—as they would be expected to—but I had a difficult time discerning 256- kilobits-per-second downloads from Amazon.com versus the lossless versions stored on my server. The Onkyo could play music loudly without ever inducing fatigue, which is quite an accomplishment since it was driving my M&K S-150 studio monitors and their nominal 4-ohm load.

Firmware updates are a double-edged sword for consumers. On the one hand, we can easily fix a faulty feature in our electronics by either downloading an update directly to the device or from the company’s website. On the other, it allows manufacturers to release products that aren’t quite ready for market but can meet a preset release date and allow them to be fixed on the fly, which makes paying consumers unwilling beta testers. In this particular case, Onkyo’s update fixed a major issue and removed any reservations I had about making this a Top Pick. The TX-NR1009 offers virtually all of the most desirable features you’ll find in a flagship product at a savings of over 50 percent, and delivers sound quality that rivals more expensive components.

This one comes highly recommended.

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