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Product Review - Integra DTR-6.2 Surround Sound Receiver - October, 2001

Jared Baldwin


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Specifications:

Power Rating: 100 watts x 5 @ 8 ohms, 130 x 5 @ 6 ohms

MFR:  10 Hz to 100 kHz

DACs:  96 kHz/24 bit x 6

Surround Decoding: Dolby Digital, DTS, Dolby Pro Logic II, Cinema Re-Eq

Digital Inputs: 2 digital coaxial and 2 digital optical

Dimensions:  17 1/8" W x 6 7/8" H x 17 13/16" D

Weight:  28 Pounds

Onscreen Programming

Programmable Remote Control

MSRP:  $900 USA
 

 

Integra Home Theater, 18 Park Way, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458; Phone 201-785-2600;
Fax 201-785-2650; Web  http://www.integrahometheater.com

Introduction

Most companies differentiate between their entry-level pieces and their high-end products. For example, Sony has their Elevated Standard (ES) line, and Pioneer has their Elite line. The Integra line is a little different in that it was started by Onkyo, but it is a separate company that does not have the Onkyo name on it at all.

The benefits of Integra are 3 year parts and labor warranty, upgraded power supply, hand selected critical parts, heavy-gauge detachable cord, gold-plated jacks, multi-room remote input, and enhanced cosmetics such as a brighter display and sculpted faceplate.

Integra has a full line of receivers starting at $600 (DTR-5.2), up to $3200 (DTR-9.1) that closely resemble the regular Onkyo line, but are the logical upgrade to each receiver offered in the Onkyo line. For example, the DTR-6.2 would be the upgrade to the Onkyo TXD-S696. However, it should be noted that Integra is not an Onkyo product, but a completely different entity.

The Hardware

The Integra DTR-6.2 features a sleek styling usually found in much more expensive A/V receivers. There are no fancy colors or irritating blinking lights, just the necessities like bass/treble controls and a sizeable volume knob. The Integra DTR-6.2 comes with a fantastic learning remote (the same one as the recently reviewed TX-DS595), with independent input and component controls. With most other remotes you end up changing the selected input on the receiver when all you wanted to do was turn on another component. So, for example, say your DVD player was left on and you want to turn it off. You simply change the selection on the remote to DVD, turn the DVD player off, and switch back to the mode you were listening, without having to switch the receiver back to the input you were using because of a poorly laid out remote. Additionally, being relatively long, the remote control is almost a two-handed one, but not quite (unless you have really small hands).


The DTR-6.2 has plenty of video inputs, including four S-Video. However, it is amazing how quickly your inputs can get filled with a full compliment of components or if you have a couple of game systems (more on this later). Assignable digital inputs are another convenience feature that may seem arbitrary, but considering how many CD players have only one type of digital output (optical or coaxial), you won't have to hook up your CD player to a video input because it has the only matching digital-in.



With optimum volume gain circuitry, the volume increases in a much more linear fashion on the Integra than most front-loaded receivers. Normal listening levels are somewhere between 35 and 45 on the dial. Combine this feature with Integra's WRAT (Wide Range Amplifier Technology) that goes well beyond the threshold of human hearing, and you have the makings of a very clean signal.

The Integra DTR-6.2 comes fully equipped for a dual zone setup using a simple line level output. This output is an assignable source independent of the main room (in fact the new DTR 7.2 and 8.2 models will feature A-Bus (not Ethernet) ports for CAT 5 runs to independent zones throughout your house, very convenient indeed). Other features of the Integra are a 6-channel input for new surround formats like DVD-Audio and SACD, wide-band component video switching, and a pair of switched outlets that gives you the basic option of saving an outlet or two. There is also an RS232 port for communicating with home automation systems like AMX, Crestron, and Panja. The inclusion of 12 V triggers and I/R in & out make the 7.2 a complete package.

Setup

The usual setup with the typical A/V receiver includes sending whatever type of video inputs you have coming into the receiver out to the television. The Integra DTR-6.2 takes one step out of this process by turning all your composite video signals into the superior S-Video signal. The Y/C separator (or the S-Video creator as I call it) really does simplify connections to your television. With this in mind, different types of video sources can come in, and just the one S-Video goes out to my television.

I plugged my DVD player into one of the switched outputs because I couldn't imagine ever wanting to hear a DVD through my television speakers and without any type of surround sound. The same this goes for my CD player since I don't listen to it without the receiver.

The inclusion of onscreen programming makes setup that much easier. You can easily set SPL levels, speaker size, distance, and any other number miscellaneous setup features like volume limiters and late night theater (dynamic compression). When setting up the SPL levels, I don't particularly like the idea of leaving out a pre-determined noise generator for setting channel levels. With this model receiver you have to turn up the volume control to raise the relative level of the white noise used to set SPL levels. If you accidentally change to a different input, the sound could be quite loud.

The Integra uses only a handful of the most common DSP modes, deciding not to add 40 extra modes you would never use. The basics of the DTR-6.2 are stereo, surround, orchestra, unplugged, studio-mix, TV Logic, and all-channel stereo. There is the option for each DSP mode to select a subwoofer and also to adjust front effect and surround effect (just subwoofer option with stereo, surround, and ACS). For all of my listening modes, I opted for a subwoofer and the default front and rear effects.

Music

Dolby Pro Logic II (DPL-II) for music is a very new way to listen to music in surround sound. The possibility of two-channel material to feed DPL-II processing almost seems limitless and is a welcome addition to the DTR-6.2 receiver.

"The Beach" soundtrack is filled with a wide variety of music styles like Latin, dance, techno, and pop. I experimented back and forth between the direct mode (two speakers, no sub) and DPL-II mode for music. When operating in DPL-II, I was given a much broader soundstage coming from around my listening room. Live music seemed to benefit the most in terms of adding a spatial element to recordings. By extracting spatial cues such as applause and the subtle crowd noises, DPL-II really put me in the middle of the concert. As good as DPL-II sounds for music, I still prefer the old fashion two-channel way of listening to most CDs though.

The before mentioned available DSP modes are nice, but once again I still preferred a more traditional route and opted for the DTR-6.2's direct mode that bypasses any type of processing in the receiver. This also takes the sub out of the equation, but if you have a large pair of floor-standing speakers (like the Mirage OM-9s I was using) you will miss it less. The 100+ watts that the DTR-6.2 was pushing were plenty to drive my reference speakers with whatever I threw at them, from Ratt's "Ratt and Roll" to Stone Temple Pilot's "Purple" album.

I have to do a lot of quiet listening in my apartment since I am normally up pretty late. Doing what? Writing reviews of course. At very low volumes I was still able to get the full sense of the audible spectrum. Most impressive was the fact that I was able to get excellent detail at this volume. Even during this late night listening, I was hearing things on old CDs I hadn't listened to for a long time more clearly and, again, with new detail that I hadn't noticed or had to strain to notice before. From the beginning to the end of my listening sessions I was provided with very clean output having zero audible hiss. I can thank the Integra's WRAT and maximum volume gain for that.

Home Theater

The Integra DTR-6.2 is packed with plenty of power at 100 watts for each channel. This ample power is readily evident when DD or DTS is fired up and blazing through the room. Many cheaper mass-market receivers can match the power of the DTR-6.2 on specification sheets; however, the DTR-6.2 runs very cool even after a DVD marathon. This definitely would not be the case for many mass-market receivers available for less money (some you can fry an egg on).

While watching "The Gift", calm scenes set in the forest delivered clean dialogue while giving accurate ambient cues characteristic of a forest at night. Numerous flashbacks and visions ripped through these peaceful scenes to fill the room with large surround effects and pulse-raising action. The DTR-6.2 delivered these intense scenes with clean, clear sound and handled these transitions with relative ease.

When the Cinema Re-Equalization was active it made very intense and abrasive scenes, such as the opening battle scene of "Gladiator", less harsh and more natural sounding. The same scene without the benefit of Re-Eq can be almost uncomfortable to listen to at higher volumes, but the benefit was somewhat lessened when listening at low to moderate volumes.

Movies on television like "Renegade" (Keifer Sutherland and Lou Diamond Philips) and "The Quick and the Dead" (Gene Hackman and Sharon Stone) both sounded great when using DPL-II. Overall I think that the bass was a little lacking initially, but after adjusting the bass levels, these soundtracks sounded that much better. After the adjustment (on the fly during the last 10 minutes of "The Quick…") the successive explosions that tore apart their small Western town sounded great and were far superior to what stereo or conventional DPL could carry.

Now on to the Y/C separator and the benefits it delivers. Having my VCR hooked up with the traditional composite video to the TV and also through the receiver and out to the TV with its S-Video allowed me to easily switch back and forth to see the difference S-Video makes. The overall picture was brighter and crisper than composite could give. Keep in mind though, that composite video converted to S-Video is not as good as having S-Video to begin with. Nevertheless, it is a cool feature here, because it lets you connect composite video sources and S-Video sources to the receiver, and just use one S-Video output to the TV.

I enjoy the benefits of S-Video for video games. Originally, I thought that it wouldn't make much of a difference long ago when I purchased a special S-Video adapter for my Playstation, but more than 2 years later I am happy to say that I would prefer not to play games any other way. The one drawback (that is until now) of adding S-Video capabilities to my gaming systems was the cost to buy the special S-Video adapters, which unfortunately are console specific. If you add up the cost for a couple of game systems, this could easily be over $50. With the Y/C separator found in the Integra DTR-6.2 I incur none of this added cost.

Other Observations

There are no convenience inputs on the front of the receiver. I'm torn on this issue because while having inputs on the front of the receiver can prove convenient if you change connections often, I dislike the way a bunch of loose wires look hanging down in front of equipment. The obvious argument would be that it's just as easy to disconnect whatever is plugged in to the front jacks, as it was to connect them. Another logical alternative would be to plug in devices like a camcorder to the front of your television if permitting.

Although I didn't do much with the component video inputs, HDTV satellite and DVD players with component video output are more and more common, so component video switching in receivers is necessary, which needs 100 MHz bandwidth for no-loss switching. The specified wideband capability of the 6.2 is not that high (50 MHz), but it is better than most receivers.

Conclusions

The Onkyo Integra DTR-6.2 Receiver is a very well performing and very well put together piece of electronics. It combines some of the best features of top-tier receivers such as a superior remote, component video switching, and stylish looks at an excellent price point. If you are in the market for an A/V receiver, then the Integra DTR-6.2 is a great place to start.


Equipment Used for this Review:

Marantz DV 5200 DVD Changer
Mirage BPS 150 Subwoofer
Mirage OM-9 Floorstanding Speakers
Phase Technology PC500
Phase Technology PC 3.1 Center Speaker
Phase Technology PC Surrounds
Sony DVP 530D DVD Player
Vampire Interconnects

 

- Jared Baldwin - 

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© Copyright 2001 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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