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Product Review
 

Onkyo TX-SR674 7.1 A/V Receiver

Part I

February, 2007

Matthew Abel

Specifications:

 

Codecs: Dolby Pro Logic IIx, Dolby Digital EX, DTS
   (ES, Neo:6, 96/24), Neural Surround

Power: 95 W/Ch x 7 (20 Hz to 20 kHz, 8 ohm, FTC)

MFR: 10 Hz to 100 kHz (+1 dB, -3 dB)
THD: 0.08% (Rated Power, All Channels)
DACs: 192 kHz/24-Bit (All Channels)
Features: 2 Zone Operation, XM Satellite Radio
   Ready, Automatic Setup, Audyssey Equalization

Dimensions: 6.9" H x 17.1" W x 14.8 D"
Weight: 25 Pounds
MSRP: $799 USA

 

Onkyo, USA

 

Introduction

No home theater component has benefited more from trickle down technology than the receiver. Only a short few years ago, if you wanted compelling features like room correction and 7.1 processing you would have had to pay a considerable premium for them.

Comparing budget receivers used to be a relatively straightforward process of seeing which manufacturer had pushed furthest in bringing premium features from more expensive models to their budget line. This has been happening for a number of years now such that many reasonably priced receivers have nearly reached high end feature parity.

The Onkyo TX-SR674 ($799) is a seven-channel receiver rated at 95 watts per channel that brings all of the existing features one would expect in a well equipped budget receiver and takes it one step further by adding HDMI switching and video upconversion to its HDMI output.

The TX-SR674 also features Audyssey 2EQ room correction, which allows one to optimize the sound for your room, based on two measurement positions. The Onkyo also has one of my favorite features on a receiver, namely an integrated XM radio tuner. Finally, besides the standard compliment of Dolby and DTS surround modes, the TX-SR674 also adds the Neural surround mode which is used in conjunction with certain XM radio channels.

Design

The TX-SR674 has a dark and minimalist front panel that relies primarily on buttons for input and control. The display is on the smaller side, and I found it to be somewhat hard to read from my listening position. A row of buttons below the main display allows for direct selection of the various inputs. Below that is another row of buttons that are used for selecting the sound mode, tone controls, and tuning. The final set of buttons are menu controls to the right of the display. This is a common on many Onkyo products and is a nice touch that I wish more manufacturers would use.

The front panel is rounded out with the "Video 4" input which features an S-Video, composite, analog stereo, and optical digital input. The buttons and the volume knob had a substantial feel that gave the impression of excellent build quality.

Moving to the back panel, one finds the two HDMI inputs and oen HDMI output that were mentioned previously. It is worth noting that these HDMI inputs offer repeater switching and not the lesser pass-through switching. Repeater switching means that the output voltage is boosted back to a proper level (5 volts), if it has lost any voltage on its way to the receiver. HDMI repeater switching also allows the receiver to use an audio signal from the HDMI input and simultaneously send an HDMI video signal to the display. Through HDMI, the Onkyo takes full advantage of the new high resolution audio formats available on Blu-ray and HD DVD.

The HDMI inputs are complimented by three component video inputs and one output for other HD sources. The video inputs are completed with composite and S-Video inputs for all of the video input options. On the audio side, there are three optical digital inputs and two coaxial digital inputs. There are stereo analog connections for all of the inputs and a 7.1 channel input for DVD-Audio, SACD, or HD-DVD players.

The speaker outputs consist of 5-way binding posts, even for the Zone 2 speaker outputs. There are also line outputs for Zone 2. I was somewhat surprised that the TX-SR674 offers a preamp output only for its subwoofer and not for all of the remaining seven channels. Most other manufacturers in this price range offer a full complement of preamp outputs. The rest of the back panel consists of antenna inputs and IR inputs for control.

Setup

The Onkyo features an automated setup system which uses a supplied microphone to measure speaker distances, speaker levels, and to perform the Audyssey room correction. As soon as you plug the microphone in, the Onkyo goes straight into its setup menu. From there it is only a matter of following a simple set of prompts to complete the setup. This process requires that you take measurements from two positions so the Audyssey system can tailor the room correction to work best for a wider range of seating positions. I was also intrigued at how long it took the receiver to process the Audyssey input. It must be doing some serious number crunching to optimize the room response. The automatic setup was right on the money for my system, and I did not have to change a thing.

Once the speakers are configured, you can assign the inputs. Digital audio inputs are configured using the front panel by selecting the desired source and scrolling through the possible digital inputs with the Digital Input button. This is a somewhat cumbersome method, and I wish they would have done this through the setup menus. The upside of the Onkyo's digital audio setup is that you can assign the same digital input to multiple sources.

You assign the HDMI and component video inputs through the setup menus. The Onkyo allows you to assign any of the five inputs to the four possible video sources, DVD, Video 1, Video 2, and Video 3. Finally, you can drill down into the input setup menu where you can assign a preferred sound mode for each input for various input signal classes, like PCM, Dolby Digital, or DTS. I found these setup options to be very useful. With them I was able to assign the Opt1 input to both the DVD and CD input, but I was able to custom tailor the surround modes for each input. The DVD input had all of the standard surround modes assigned as the defaults, while the CD input had everything set for the stereo Direct mode. One thing that I could not change was an input's name, and thus I was stuck with the generic Video 2 for my TiVo.

Overall, the setup was relatively easy and the manual should provide sufficient support for even home theater novices to get their system optimally configured.

Click Here to Go to Part II.

Copyright 2007 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

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