If you want to experience cinema-style surround sound in the comfort of your own home, then you're going to need some sort of surround sound system. You can pick up all-in-one systems from as little as £200, if you look around. At the top end, you could spend many thousands of pounds.
The Onkyo TX-SR875 sits proudly at around £1000, which puts it somewhere in the middle of the market. It's also the big daddy to some of Onkyo's more wallet-friendly machines.
The clear advantage of this receiver over most others on the market is its amazing support for the latest audio formats used on HD DVD and Blu-ray. Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio are both supported. Obviously, the more standard DVD sound formats are fully supported too, so you'll be able to get the best out of Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks.
The added bonus of the SR875 is that it can decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio over HDMI 1.3a, a feature not all amps have. This means that as long has you have a high definition disc player that supports HDMI 1.3a, you can get the very best digital sound direct to the Onkyo, with no distortion or loss.
We tested a whole bunch of material, from DVDs like the remastered James Bond movies, to our favourites like Serenity and King Kong. We're pleased to say that we loved the sound the SR875 produced. We were blown away by the powerful bass and fantastic quality and clarity of dialogue. Clear sound is one of the best reasons to buy a surround sound system -- on the SR875, dialogue leaps out at you and you have full control over sound levels so you can tailor the sound to suit your needs.
The Onkyo makes the setup procedure a pain-free experience. In the box, you get a microphone that you put at the location where you generally watch TV. A couple of button presses later and the Onkyo generates test tones that are used to set the speakers to the appropriate level. This takes a while, but unless you move your furniture around, you'll probably only have to do it once. You can also tweak the levels by hand with minimal hassle.
The Onkyo provides an on-screen menu system that enables you to set the receiver up and access the other features. This is mirrored on the front panel display, but it's far easier to find your way around by using the on-TV menus than from the front panel.
The remote control is a beast, but it offers every feature you'll ever need. It also has a backlight, which means you can use it easily in total darkness. Video projector owners should find this feature especially handy, as they spend a lot of their time sitting in complete darkness.