The latest features added into the home theater receiver market are enhanced surround fields with even more speakers, namely Dolby Pro Logic IIz, which adds front height channels and Audyssey DSX to create a more enveloping surround experience for the user through the use of added speakers above the left and right mains. The new line of "double zero" receivers from Onkyo come equipped with these new surround enhancements, as well as all the features needed for the most demanding theater junkie. The subject of this review is the new Onkyo TX-NR5007, which carries a retail price of $2,699 and serves as the manufacturer's new flagship receiver.
This new Onkyo receiver sports all the connectivity any one could need, starting with eight (seven rear, one front) to two HDMI 1.3a switching, with dual simultaneous output over both HDMI outputs. Only one resolution can be sent to both of these and the user can select to prioritize either one to maximize the main display, or both can be set to output the max resolution. Older video connections, of which the TX-NR5007 has many, are transcoded to HDMI and scaled up to 1080p by the HQV Reon-VX chipset. The TX-NR5007 has nine stereo analog inputs, one front, with one for a moving magnet phono, two tape loops and a 7.1-channel analog input, as well as 9.2-channel preamplifier, output complete the analog section, while digital is handled by the eight HDMI ports and three coaxial and four optical ins (one front). Two USB ports, one front and one rear, allow for playing music files off mass storage devices, and an Ethernet port makes it possible for networked PCs to be used as music servers or for streaming Internet radio. A SIRIUS satellite radio jack and Onkyo universal port for iPods complete the inputs.
A total of eleven pairs of binding posts are included for speaker connections to the nine 145 watts-per-channel amplifiers. The amplifier channels are very flexible and can be assigned any number of ways. 5.1 and 7.1 systems can use the free channels to power second or even third zones with stereo output. The free channels can also be assigned to bi-amplify or even bridge the amplifiers, giving more power to the fronts for enhanced two-channel performance. Control is covered by an RS-232 connector, as well as IR in and out, 12-volt triggers and a proprietary Onkyo RI interface.
All the modern goodies are here, including Audyssey Multi EQ XT room correction�and HQV Reon-VX video scaling. For enhanced audio performance, direct modes and pure direct modes allow you to turn off unused circuits in the receiver to maximize analog performance. Each input even has its own independent ISF calibration internally, so you can have your video calibrator truly optimize each and every source in your system. The user can also assign any of the available audio formats to each input, so you can have your CD player run in pure direct mode, thus shutting off all digital and video circuits from the receiver during its use, or set the surround formats for your PS3 to be game modes, of which there are several. You can even select the use of Dolby Pro Logic IIz or Audyssey DSX�for any input, and you also have the ability to select each of these for each signal fed to the receiver, so mono TV signals could do one sound field, while Dolby Digital feeds can play another.
I unpacked the Onkyo and found all the usual accoutrements inside, including the manual in both French and English, the Audyssey calibration microphone, power cord, both FM and AM antennae, and the new Onkyo remote with batteries. I was quite pleased with the new remote, as it has a sleek gloss face and fits your hand well. Backlighting is well done and the range and off-angle performance were much better than I recall the remote for the prior Onkyo to possess. The new remote is programmable, so it can control the rest of your components, too.
I quickly swapped out the Onkyo in my bedroom system, which consists of the Kef KHT 5005.2 speaker system, Denon DVD 2500 BTCI and Oppo BD-83 SE Blu-ray players, Scientific Atlanta 8300 HD DVR and a Marantz TT-15SI turntable. After living with the receiver for some time, I also received the new MartinLogan Motion series speakers and set up a full 9.2 system, using the Motion speakers for everything but the front width channels, which consisted of a pair of my KEFs.
When I completed all the initial wiring, I powered up the system and dove into the set-up menus. Assigning and renaming the various inputs was logical and straightforward, but when I tried to use the system to watch TV, I had video passed to my display, but no audio. I rechecked all the wiring and set-up, to no avail. I tried my other sources and still had no audio. After about an hour, I got frustrated and gave up. The next day I did the obvious next step and read the manual, which says you need to set up the speakers or do Audyssey to produce sound. Once I ran the Audyssey, I had sound, but the Onkyo's implementation of Audyssey is unusual, as nearly every other receiver I have used the Audyssey in the set-up menu. The new Onkyos do it automatically when you plug in the microphone. One other note here: most Audyssey systems give you a few seconds to move out of the room prior to running test tones. With the Onkyo, once you start the system, the tones begin. When I completed half a dozen measurements, I had the receiver calculate the correction curves and unplugged the Audyssey microphone. Oops. Since the Audyssey system is automated, unplugging the microphone resets the system, so I had to power off the receiver and start over again. Onkyo released new firmware that corrects the lack-of-sound issue, but the calibration test tones still start immediately. (Onkyo reports that this issue is solved by a firmware update for both new and existing units).
Read about the performance of the TX-NR5007 AV receiver on Page 2.