Onkyo TX-NR609 A/V Receiver Page 2

I use a 7.1-channel setup with four surround speakers, but in the past two years, the competing audio labs have expanded our listening options with technologies such as Audyssey DSX and Dolby Pro Logic IIz, both of which the TX-NR609 supports. Audyssey DSX allows for either front width or height speakers, while Dolby Pro Logic IIz allows for height channels only. I couldn’t test either of these technologies with the Onkyo since my room isn’t set up for it, but I’ve heard demonstrations of both. In the right environment (and with the right software), it can enhance the surround sound experience.

Although the TX-NR609 has nine speaker terminals, it only includes seven channels of amplification. So if you have a traditional 7.1 system with both side and rear surround speakers, you can’t use either the front height (DSX/DPLIIz), width channels (DSX), or zone two at the same time. If you plan to use a traditional 5.1 setup and your front speakers are biampable, then those extra two channels won’t go to waste.

A versatile Marvell Qdeo chip that sports 4K (3,840 by 2,160) upscaling handles the video processing. As you can see in the Video Test Bench table, this is a best-in-class solution. Furthermore, its upscaling abilities are mind-boggling given this AVR’s price point. You can make various picture adjustments in the user menu to fine-tune options such as Edge Enhancement, Noise Reduction, etc., although these are best left untouched for most content.

User Interface
Onkyo has virtually perfected the setup of its AVRs with an intuitive menu system. This lets you assign inputs to the corresponding component, customize each input with your preferred video output and instructions on how to handle specific audio codecs, and even create your own custom label for each input (TiVo, for example). Furthermore, the unit comes with a poster-sized Quick Setup Guide (in color) with easy-to-follow diagrams of different setup options for your speakers and components, along with adhesive color-coded speaker cable labels that match the corresponding connection on the unit.

The supplied non-backlit remote control isn’t groundbreaking in its functionality, but it’s serviceable. It has limited universal capabilities—meaning it’s pre-programmed to operate your other components’ basic commands (on/off, volume, etc.), but it lacks macro abilities that make upgrading to an aftermarket universal remote so appealing.

Movie Night
My two kids are dyed-in-the-wool Harry Potter fans, so the first movie we watched with the TX-NR609 was the Blu-ray of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. The long-feared war with the Dark Lord has begun as he seizes control of both the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts. Harry, Ron, and Hermione go in search of the magical Horcruxes in order to defeat Voldemort. Needless to say, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 on this disc, played back on this AVR, sounded mighty impressive. Whether it was an attack of the feared Death Eaters or a narrow escape with the use of a teleportation spell, thunderous bass enveloped the room, and the listening area was bombarded with discrete effects from every speaker. When I enabled the 2EQ, it evened out the bass response and heightened the experience.

The Incredibles is one of Pixar’s most exciting films, and its Blu-ray release improves on the already impressive DVD version. The rock-’em sock-’em soundtrack is loaded with demo-worthy scenes to test the prowess of any system. At high volume levels, the Onkyo held its own with the dynamic nature of the track, so I figured it would be the perfect test for THX Loudness Plus and Audyssey Dynamic Volume.

In chapter 17, Helen Parr (a.k.a. Elastigirl) races to save her husband from the clutches of the psychotic Syndrome. This segment has virtually every element you look for in a demo scene—quiet ambience to reveal subtleties, discrete effects for surround envelopment, and of course plenty of bass. While it certainly sounds best without either of the volume processes engaged, I preferred the Audyssey solution on this scene. It maintained much of the scene’s excitement without the huge swings in volume associated with the dynamics of the presentation. By comparison, THX Loudness Plus tamed the scene a bit too much for my taste.

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