Onkyo has a comprehensive range of AV receivers. In fact, it's got one of the largest line-ups going. The mid-range Onkyo TX-SR607 has a sensible price tag, and offers plenty of power and features worth shouting about.
For around £500, you get a superbly designed, well-specified AV receiver capable of driving your 5.1-, 7.1- or even 9.1-channel speaker system. It will also decode a multitude of audio codecs and pump out a serious amount of sound. The only question is: do we like it?
To us geeks, the TX-SR607 looks like a really funky piece of kit. We far prefer our black review version to the silver model. The inputs and outputs on the back of the TX-SR607 are, naturally, something of a nightmare. To reduce the horror, we'll go through it as logically as possible.
In terms of video inputs, you get five HDMI inputs on the back, with a sixth at the front. There are also two component inputs with a single component output. There are five composite video inputs as well, for use with older equipment.
With video out of the way, we can look at the audio inputs. For digital audio, you get a pair of coaxial RCA jacks and a pair of optical digital inputs. The analogue, composite video inputs we mentioned before are paired with matching stereo audio RCA jacks.
In terms of speaker outputs, you get stereo zone two outputs, which can also be used for the extra 'high' speaker channel (more on that later). Then there are the traditional surround 'back' and surround stereo channels. And then you get the front left, front right and, finally, centre channels.
If you're a bass lover, you'll be thrilled to see the two subwoofer outputs, which mean you can hook up twin subwoofers if you like. There's also an RCA stereo pair for hooking up to an amp in a second room -- handy if you want music in your bathroom or study.
The supplied remote control is quite simple, especially when compared with the one that comes with Onkyo's TX-NR906. It does the job though, and it's really quite pleasant to use. We just think it's a shame there's no backlight on this remote -- that makes it quite a challenge to change settings while watching a movie.
The most important feature on this AV receiver is the addition of Dolby Pro Logic IIz support, which allows you to add some more speakers to the six or eight you've already got. This is because Pro Logic IIz adds an additional channel of audio for front high speakers. These are essentially speakers that are mounted above screen height and designed to increase the sound field, making you feel even more involved in what's going on.
We like the flexibility of Onkyo AV gear. As usual, you get 7.1-channel speaker outputs, as well as a secondary, stereo zone, which can be used to connect speakers in another room. If, however, you want the front high speakers, you have a choice of either losing the second zone, or, if you prefer, the surround back speakers (used in 7.1-channel, but not 5.1-channel surround sound). That may sound confusing, but it's not all that hard to get to grips with when you start using the receiver.
Also new on this model is the proprietary 'universal port' on the back, which is designed to take a number of add-on accessories -- for example, an iPod dock. Obviously, not many peripherals have been designed for it at the moment. But expect that to change in the future.
Also worthy of note is the TX-SR607's set-up procedure. Thankfully, there's an on-screen menu, and this helps guide you through the process. We didn't find it difficult and were up and running in no time at all.
All the lossless audio codecs are supported. Connect a Blu-ray player via HDMI and the receiver will happily chew through Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA. Of course, Dolby Digital and DTS audio are both supported, either via HDMI or S/PDIF.
There's only one thing missing from this system -- RCA jacks for 7.1-channel analogue audio. That's probably not a massive issue for most people though, and not enough for us to justify marking the receiver down.
As soon as we hooked up our Klipsch reference speaker system and powered the TX-SR607 up, we fell in love. Like all Onkyo's hardware, the TX-SR607 has a really wonderful sound to it. This little beauty actually sounds almost as good as its big brother, the TX-NR906.
The whole point of an AV receiver is to take your movie soundtracks and breathe life into them. The TX-SR607 manages this with considerable skill. We tested a massive library of films and other material, and were delighted with its performance.
Blu-ray movies with a thumping Dolby TrueHD soundtrack were just divine. We deployed our favourite test clips for surround-sound systems. First, we used xXx: State of the Union (or xXx: The Next Level, as it's known in the UK), which always gives the subwoofer a decent workout. Our test clip involves blowing holes in the surface of the planet -- the bass in this scene is a great test for an amp. Happily, the TX-SR607 passed with a double thumbs up, although there were protests in the rest of the office, as tea was spilt and teeth chattered along to the sonic awesomeness.
Secondly, we used a clip from The Dark Knight Blu-ray disc, namely the scene where the Joker opens fire on police vans in Gotham City's underground road system. The sound of gunfire and its echoes gives the rear channel a proper workout. We were blown away by the clarity of the audio and the wonderful sound steering from the TX-SR607 -- and, of course, the original sound mixer.
Regular TV can also benefit, as many programmes have a Dolby Pro Logic soundtrack. The Jeremy Kyle Show doesn't get much benefit out of the TX-SR607, but, if you watch a movie or US TV import, you can get some decent surround sound out of this AV receiver.
One of the things we love about the TX-NR906 is its ability to handle music. Although the TX-SR607 is less than half the price of that system, it too handles music very well. We suspect this is thanks to the Dolby Music mode, which seems to do a good job of steering music to all the speakers, while pushing a decent amount of the vocal out via the centre channel. However it works, we really enjoyed playing music on this system. It's not a match for a high-end stereo system, but it's very competent for day-to-day use.
It's worth pointing out that, like all Onkyo AV gear, this little chap gives off plenty of heat. Amplification is always prone to produce heat, because it's not a very efficient process, but the TX-SR607 is one of the hotter-running machines we've encountered. That said, we never had any problems with it and it never cut out because it was too hot. Putting anything on top of it is out of the question though, and you should make sure it's in a well-ventilated area if possible.
For the money, we think the Onkyo TX-SR607 is a corker. In fact, it would still be a corker if it cost another couple of hundred quid. The only sensible alternative we can suggest is one of Onkyo models from last year's range. With a new line-up coming in, it's entirely possible you could snag a bargain with an older model.
No review of an AV receiver would be complete without reminding you to spend as much on your audio gear as you do on your screen. Trust us, a lovely receiver like this needs a set of terrific speakers to make it come alive. So get saving now.
Edited by Charles Kloet