Onkyo TX-NR807 A/V Receiver

Price: $1,099 At A Glance: THX Select2, DPLIIz, full Audyssey suite • Home networking features • Activities Setup Menu organizes activities into macro commands of separates

Two Ways Up

This year my rent passed the $1,000 mark. There’s something about a four-figure number that intimidates people. My apartment doesn’t cost much more than it did before—my rent only increased by about 50 bucks. And by Manhattan standards, I’ve got a sweet deal. Yet, I’ve started looking at my bizarre L-shaped kitchen and closet-like bathroom with new eyes. Is this worth more than a thousand dollars a month?

As a product category that straddles the three-figure and four-figure ranges, A/V receivers face a similar dilemma. A consumer who would shrug at a $999 price tag is suddenly overcome with caution when the price goes up to, say, $1,099, the price of the Onkyo TX-NR807. Yet this receiver is reasonably powerful, and it’s loaded with the latest features. It includes a full house of Audyssey technologies, Dolby’s new height-enhanced listening mode, THX certification and listening modes, Faroudja video processing, and more. And it’s much nicer than my bathroom.

Traditional Look, Smart Ergonomics
The TX-NR807 boasts 135 watts into 8 ohms with two channels driven, according to the spec sheet. As usual, see our measurements. At first glance, the look is traditional Onkyo. The front panel has an aqua-colored display, a volume knob at the right, and a row of source-select buttons across the front. Many more controls, including a full set of navigation buttons, live beneath the flip-down door. The remote control is extremely well organized; its buttons are differentiated by color, shape, and layout. After the first few minutes, I had no trouble finding what I needed.

Onkyo’s graphic user interface is equally well organized and as user friendly as possible. One new feature is the Activities Setup menu, which lets you program the remote for multiple commands to facilitate your enjoyment of My Movie, My TV, and My Music. Another menu helps you program the remote. I’ve been reviewing Onkyo products for years, and I’m impressed by the way its designers keep tweaking around the edges. They make thoughtful and useful improvements with little fanfare.

The TX-NR807 has 11 sets of binding posts for seven channels—so depending on your needs, you may be able to plug in the seven speakers you want to use without fussing with assigning channels in menus. With six HDMI inputs, you’re armed for bear, but two connectivity omissions are worth noting. There is only one HDMI output. Also, while there’s a full set of multichannel analog outputs, there are no multichannel analog inputs. Some older disc players will find themselves out in the cold—this includes my Integra DPS-10.5, which has an early version of HDMI that isn’t compatible with SACD and outputs high- resolution audio only through its analog outputs. At least there’s a moving-magnet phono input.

Setup was hassle free. I plugged in the microphone and ran the Audyssey MultEQ auto-setup routine. It went without a hitch, accurately identifying my speaker setup with main five speakers augmented by two smaller height speakers. I took three listening position measurements from the sofa and let it go at that, although MultEQ can support up to eight listening positions.

Height Versus Height
With so many new post- processing modes crowding into receivers, I’ve assigned myself limited listening tasks so that I can concentrate on a few modes at a time. In this review, I switched back and forth between the two height-enhanced listening modes, Audyssey DSX and Dolby Pro Logic IIz. Since my first exposure to DPLIIz height had already come in a review of the Onkyo TX-SR607 (Home Theater, August 2009), I listened extensively to the Audyssey DSX height enhancement this time. I used it as the default listening mode. I didn’t spend any more time with the DSX width enhancement, since I’d already meditated on that in a review of the Denon AVR-4310CI (November 2009). However, I did use the three low-volume listening modes: THX Loudness Plus and the one-two punch of Audyssey Dynamic EQ and Dynamic Volume.

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