Introduction to the Onkyo TX-SR706 7.1 A/V Receiver
At $899, the Onkyo TX-SR706 is Onkyo’s least expensive THX certified model and an interesting product within Onkyo’s range of receivers. It is the lowest priced receiver in Onkyo’s line-up that offers all the features I want in a receiver including HDMI 1.3 inputs, HD audio processing, Audyssey room equalization and pre-amp outputs. With its solid feature set and reasonable price, I was excited to see how the TX-SR706 would perform.
- Codecs: Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS (ES, NEO:6, 96/24)
- Multiroom Operation: 2 Zone (Audio Only)
- Power Output: 100 W/Channel (8 Ohms, 0.08%, 2 Channels Driven)
- Frequency Response: 5 Hzâ€“100 kHz (+1 dB, -3 dB)
- THD+N: 0.08% (20 Hz-20 kHz)
- Dimensions: 6 7/8″ H x 17 1/8″ W x 14 13/16″ D
- Weight: 26.9 Pounds
- MSRP: $899
Design of the Onkyo TX-SR706 7.1 A/V Receiver
The Onkyo TX-SR706 is a moderately sized receiver at 14 13/16â€ deep, 6 7/8â€ tall, 17 1/8â€ wide and 27.2 lbs. The overall design of the front panel is conservative, but effective with controls that consist of a large volume knob and a host of buttons. I always prefer having the option to operate a component from the front panel and the Onkyo’s design offers complete control of the receiver. The front panel is completed by a headphone output and an input cluster with analog audio, optical digital audio, composite video, and S-video. The Onkyo is well equipped with four HDMI 1.3a inputs, but despite offering as many or more HDMI inputs than any of its competitors, I still wish it had more. Maybe I am in the minority, but I could really use six or more HDMI inputs, since I would rather run all of my sources on HDMI. I would happily give up a few of the S-video and composite inputs for some more HDMI inputs.
Analog video inputs on the Onkyo consist of two component, four S-video and four composite video inputs. Digital audio is handled by three coaxial and two optical inputs. For analog audio, the Onkyo has five stereo, a 7.1 multichannel and, most interesting, a phono input. I do not personally listen to records, but this is becoming a more popular format for many users and it is a nice addition. Speaker outputs for the seven main speakers and an additional pair of â€œZone 2â€ output are all on 2-way binding posts. The Onkyo TX-SR706 can handle 4 ohm speakers by using a 4 ohm mode and also offers the option to bi-amp the front speakers in place of running surround back speakers, both of which can be very useful features. In addition to the speaker outputs, there are 7.1 channel pre-amp outputs and a line level output for â€œZone 2â€. Pre-amp outputs are important to me in a receiver as they offer the user a clear upgrade path with the option of adding an external amplifier for more power. The rest of the back panel is made up of radio antenna inputs (AM, FM, XM and Sirius) and control inputs and outputs (IR and RS-232 input, 12V trigger).
The clean and functional design of the Onkyo TX-SR706 makes it a pleasure to use.
The Onkyo TX-SR706 sports all of the current low-res and HD Dolby and DTS codecs. The Onkyo can also handle multichannel PCM and DSD over its HDMI inputs for Blu-ray, DVD-Audio and SACD. In addition, the Onkyo can layer the THX Cinema, Game or Music processing over any of the previously mentioned formats. The purists will be happy that they can also forgo all of the additional processing for both stereo and surround with a â€œPure Audioâ€ mode that turns off the video circuitry and â€œDirectâ€ mode which leaves the video circuits on. There are also â€œMonoâ€ and â€œStereoâ€ modes for sources of those respective types. Finally, the Onkyo has a few generic, â€œOnkyo Originalâ€, processing modes, which include a useful background music mode called â€œAll Ch Stereoâ€ for parties. With all of the processing options, it is nice that Onkyo allows you to configure a default processing mode for each input and source type (Analog/PCM, Dolby or DTS).
Video processing is handled by a Faroudja DCDi Cinema chipset that can deinterlace scale all of the sources up to a 1080p resolution for output on HDMI. The video processing will not scale sources for the component video output. The HDMI video output can be optimized with picture controls, noise reduction, zoom and deinterlacing mode options. There is also a â€œlip syncâ€ delay that is adjustable in 5 ms increments from 0 to 250 ms.
The Onkyo TX-SR706 7.1 A/V Receiver Remote Control
I really like the design of this Onkyo remote, which is both programmable and learning capable. I found the remote very usable, with a good compromise between complexity and simplicity. The input selection buttons light up, which is useful, but I would have preferred a more extensive use of lighting on the remote. My biggest complaint on the remote has to do with sound field selection. There are four buttons used for sound field selection, “movies”, “music”, “game” and “THX” and one simply keeps pressing the button to cycle through the various sound field options. While I like the idea of grouping sound fields by type, it makes getting to “stereo” or “Pure Audio” difficult as they are buried in the various music options. I would like to see a second row of four buttons for “Dolby”, “DTS”, “Stereo” and “Pure Audio”. I would also like to see these buttons set as punch throughs so that they could be accessed regardless of the remote’s device mode. Finally, the remote has a gloss black finish that dresses it up nicely.
Onkyo TX-SR706 7.1 A/V Receiver In Use
Like most new receivers, setting up the TX-SR706 is relatively painless using the included microphone and the automatic setup routine. One simply selects the speaker impedance (4 ohm or 6+ ohms) and speaker mode (normal or bi-amp) and the receiver handles the rest. Most of the settings were spot on, but the crossover settings were a bit off. The system can independently set crossovers for the main, center, surround and surround back speakers. The automatic setup assigned different crossover frequencies for each type of speaker in my system with some of the crossovers higher and lower than I prefer. I manually reassigned all of the crossovers to 80 Hz for all of my evaluations. Getting all of the appropriate inputs mapped to the sources was also a cinch with the OSD. The Onkyo also allows you to rename your sources to help you keep things straight.
I used the Onkyo to listen to a variety of material and it was successful every time in delivering an enjoyable experience. I particularly liked watching HD DVDs and Blu-rays with the TX-SR706. Whether it was high-res PCM from the Dolby TrueHD soundtrack on the HD DVD of The Bourne Ultimatum or bitsream DTS-HD Master Audio from the Band of Brothers Blu-ray, the Onkyo always sounded excellent. My much loved Talking Heads DVD-Audio discs had a weighty and enveloping surround field that was a lot of fun to listen to on the Onkyo. I was impressed by the Onkyo’s ability to handle big dynamics and to produce natural sounding orchestral instruments on Michael Tilson Thomas’s SACD recording of Mahler: Symphony No. 1. I also experimented a bit comparing the “stereo” mode with the “Pure Audio” mode on Hot Chip’s The Warning. As one might expect with the subwoofer engaged and the Audyssey working its magic, the “stereo” mode provided a fuller and richer sound which I preferred. The “Pure Audio” mode might have been giving me more detail and clarity, but the advantages were subtle at best. Finally, the Onkyo gave me great sound from my TiVo HD and Xbox 360 as well.
Onkyo TX-SR706 7.1 A/V Receiver On the Bench
All distortion measurements are within an 80 kHz bandwidth.
At 50 watts output (two channels driven), IMD was 0.024%.
THD+N vs. Frequency is shown below for 8 ohm and 4 ohm loads.This is pretty good performance. Even at 4 ohms and 50 watts output, distortion was only 0.05%. This receiver could be used, judiciously, with 4 ohm speakers.
THD+N vs. Power Output shows that, at 8 ohms, the power spectrum starts its steep upward slope at 90 watts, then clips (1% THD+N) at 130 watts (two-channels driven). At 4 ohms, it begins the steep climb at 120 watts and clips at 190 watts.
The measured frequency response was 10 Hz – 200 kHz, minus 1.8 dB.
Conclusions about the Onkyo TX-SR706 7.1 A/V Receiver
I truly enjoyed using the Onkyo. It has all of the features I need and sounded very good with all of my sources. However, my feelings for the TX-SR706 are colored, much like they were for the TX-SR576, by the model that sits between them in Onkyo’s range, the TX-SR606. The TX-SR706 commands a significant $300 premium over the TX-SR606 and for that you get THX certification, more advanced video processing, pre-amp outputs and a phono input. I personally put a significant premium on pre-amp outputs and having the THX processing was nice, but you will have to determine the value of those features to decide whether or not the TX-SR706 is the right receiver for you. If you find the TX-SR706’s value proposition compelling, you can be assured that you will be getting a full featured, well designed and great sounding receiver.