Onkyo's New AVR Does DTS and Dolby Lossless for just $599

A "statement" component is usually a top of the line, no holds barred, expensive flagship. Onkyo has just unveiled a different kind of statement product. While it didn't surprise me at all that Onkyo would release an AVR equipped with HDMI 1.3 and onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, I am taken aback that the first AVR to boast these new features is the $599 TX-SR605. That's a statement!

In May Onkyo will ship the TX-SR605, a 90-watts x 7 AVR with two HDMI 1.3a inputs, and onboard decoding of the new Dolby and DTS lossless codecs. And this is just the tip of this little iceberg. It has pass-through capapbility over HDMI up to 1080p, and includes component switching and Faroudja deinterlacing for your legacy video sources. It's compatible with both XM and Sirius, and Onkyo's optional iPod dock. And to prevent you from doing any heavy lifting during setup, it includes Audyssey 2EQ auto calibration and room EQ. Those are just the highlights- there's actually a lot more! Available in silver or black.

I know a lot of people are embittered by the rate of change and the compression of Moore's Law, which dictates the amount of time it takes for something to get twice as good at half the price. While this might piss off someone who just bought a lesser AVR for more money, I think it's a marvel so much can be had for so little. Of course if that litle "a" designation in HDMI 1.3a turns into another parade of confusing, ever-changing capabilities as we move from 1.3a to the b, c and d varieties every few months then I'm lining up with you and throwing a garbage can through the CE industry window.

Of course, the high-end of Onkyo's line holds fascinations of its own. Four new models will come in between May and August, and two of them are of particular interest to us here. The TX-SR875 ($1,699) and TX-N905 ($2,099) will also switch HDMI 1.3a and decode the new lossless codecs but they go much farther with the video incorporating Silicon Optix' HQV video processing courtesy of a REON chip set.

Both of these THX Ultra2-certified AVRs will boast four of the newfangled HDMI inputs, and also include a second HDMI output for increased flexiblity. Like the lower end models these are also loaded with XM, Sirius and iPod dock compatibility, but they also include the ability to cross-convert all sources to HDMI and upconvert all those sources to 1080p.

The TX-SR875 and TX-SR905 will use a new push-pull amplifier configuration, and top of the line DACs from Burr-Brown. In addition to being able to use two of the seven onboard amplifier channels to bi-amp the front channels, users can also choose to bridge the channels for higher output in the left and right front channels. Wow.

As with the others there's a lot more, but I can promise we're already in line, hat in hand, for a review sample. Can't wait! The TX-SR875 is landing in June, with the TX-SR905 scheduled for August.