Onkyo's TX-DS696 Receiver Does High-Def

Many home theater receivers have excellent audio capabilities, but not many boast state-of-the-art video features. Onkyo has changed that with its TX-DS696, a 5 x 100-watt home theater receiver with component video switching and the ability to mix and match composite and S-video components. This feature is the result of a proprietary YC separator/mixer that "reconciles the incompatibility of composite and S-Video signals," according to company publicity. "Without this circuit, the video source, receiver, and video monitor must all use the same type of video connection."

The receiver has two component video inputs and one component video output; all five video inputs have S-video connections in addition to composite connections. Introduced in April, the TX-DS696 has a 50MHz video bandwidth and is claimed to be the only sub-$1000 A/V receiver that can handle HDTV and progressive-scan video signals. The TX-DS696 comes bundled with a universal learning remote control.

Audio features include five channels of low negative feedback amplification at 100 watts each, and a dual-zone capability that enables the unit to act as a source and router for more than one area of the home. DTS, Dolby Digital, and Dolby Pro Logic II decoding insure compatibility with most sources. Dolby Pro Logic II enables the conversion of two-channel analog source material into 5.1-channel surround sound, for a bigger soundstage and more startling sound effects.

The TX-DS696 has an audio frequency response extending to 100kHz, and 5.1 channel inputs capable of making the best of digital audio recordings---including those encoded at the high-resolution level of 96kHz/24 bits. Its four digital inputs (two fiber-optic, two coaxial) can be assigned to any digital input---DVD, CD, or other source-selector buttons. An AM/FM tuner with 40 presets and a phono preamplifier round out the unit's many features. Available at Onkyo dealers now, the TX-DS696 retails for $830.