Thursday, March 4, 2010

Onkyo TX-NR1007 THX 9.2 Surround Receiver Review

Surround sound receivers often have a lot expected of them. After all, they have to give us the ability to hook up all of our electronic gear. This gear ranges from tape decks, CD players, Direct TV, Dish Network, Tivo, or cable boxes, DVD players. We also can’t forget our IPods, and other recent innovations like internet radio and networked connectivity. They need to take all of our gadgets and have the audio sound good, video look good, and the receiver itself look good. All this requires a competent amplifier section, high quality DAC’s and high performance video processors. We also require it to even handle other rooms. Dizzy yet? Just imagine being a new surround sound receiver. Gone are the days of just switching from tape deck to CD and listening through your tower speakers. Now we need multiple subwoofer outputs, bass management, and active room calibration. That’s one tall order, one that no ordinary receiver can do all of, but enter the Onkyo-TX-NR1007.

Let’s start with some key features of the Onkyo TX-NR1007:

• 9.2 Channels
• 135W per channel (8ohms 20-20kHz 0.05%)
• Certified 4ohm performance
• All Discrete Circuitry
• Dual PUSH-PULL design
• Independent Block Construction
• Dolby Digital, DD Plus, TrueHD
• DTS HD Master Audio
• DTS Surround Sensation Speaker/Headphone
• THX Processing
• Neural Surround
• Audyssey Dynamic EQ, Volume, DSX
• Direct/Pure Mode
• Music Optimizer
• 192K/24 Bit DAC’s
• ISF Certified Calibration Control
• Video Upconversion to HDMI and Upscaling to 1080p
• Multi-Channel Input
• Analog Pre-Outs
• Powered Zone 2
• HD, Sirius and XM Radio Ready
• Internet Radio Capable & Streaming Audio from PC
• RS-232
• Ethernet
• 12V Trigger

If you can’t tell, this TX-NR1007 is a beast. And at over 50 lbs, it is also built like a tank. But features don’t matter much if it does not all come together and perform. A poor performing receiver doesn’t make anyone happy.

Let’s start off with the remote. It comes with remote model #RC-745M, which is a backlit learning remote control. The layout is well thought out and simple. The layout has sections starting at the top and working down for power, activities, input selector, remote mode, and TV. Below the TV section is the navigation keys and setup area, VCR/DVD controls, listening modes, and at the very bottom are the number keys. It didn’t take much reading to figure out how to use the remote.

With the receiver, we will start with the internal decoding, since audio comes first in AV Receiver. Audio decoders are built-in for Dolby TrueHD, Pro-Logic IIz, DTS-HD Master Audio and DTS surround sensation. What I like is the Dolby Pro-Logic IIz. This adds two extra height channels above the front left and right speakers. Additional audio processing comes from Audyssey DSX, which in addition to front height channels, also adds wide left and wide right channels. Yes, you read correct. Wide right would be to the right of the front right speaker, and wide left would be to the left of the front left channel. For those of you who have not already done the math, when starting from a 7.1 system and adding front height and wide channels, that gives you 11.1. Only the TX-NR1007 has dual subwoofer outs, so it would be 11.2 channels. Unfortunately this is also a kryptonite for the receiver. It only has a 9 channel amplifier section, for 9.2 channels. And it does not have the ability to add an external amplifier for the extra two channels. You are stuck with having front height, or front wide, but not both. The 9.2 channels are the highest you can go. You can however break up the channels. You can use 5 channels for your main room, two channels for zone 2, and two channels for zone 3. Additional audio features are Windows 7 compatibility and networking for Rhapsody and Pandora internet radio. And last but not least it is also THX Ultra 2 Plus certified.

THX Ultra 2 Plus certification is a rating that means the amplifier section is not a wimp. To the contrary, the amp on the TX-NR1007 can really put out. It has the circuitry to do so with massive power supply, and discrete amplifier section and impressive heat sink and fan to keep things cool. The dual PUSH-PULL design, independent block construction and discrete circuitry are a winning combo for a potent and clean sounding amplifier section. The built-in fan also helps keep the amp section cool.

On the video side of things there is ISF certification and Faroudja DCDi Cinema processing. That is one other area that I would have liked to have seen things done differently. The Foroudja DCDi Cinema is a good chip, but I would have liked to see the HQV Reon video processor used instead. But then again, I guess there has to be a few reasons for us to want to bite the bullet and upgrade to the TX-NR3007 or TX-NR5007. These models are the other two models that make up Onkyo’s three Flagship receiver line.

The receiver has plenty of inputs for switching source units. On the front of the receiver you can switch from DVD/BD to VCR/DVR, CBL/SAT, GAME, AUX, TV/TAPE, TUNER CD, PHONE, PORT, NET, and DISPLAY. Under the door on the front panel are the auxiliary input, mic, headphone jack, and the manual buttons instead of using the remote. The front has an elegant black aluminum finish, with the traditional green Onkyo LED display. The back of the receiver as you can see from the photo has 6 HDMI inputs and 2 outputs, as well as a plethora of other connections for analog stereo, composite, S-video, component, coaxial and optical. Speaker connections are done with good quality binding posts.

One other feature not yet discussed is the GUI (Graphic User Interface). This is the set-up menus where one would typically set-up your receiver with your remote. This is where you would go in and if you had say an Onkyo Blu-ray player, reprogram it so when you hit the DVD-BD button, the display would read Onkyo Blu-ray. You would also go here to run your speaker calibration using Audyssy MultEQ XT and the supplied microphone connected to the receivers front panel. You can do this for several positions, and it worked well, even for the subwoofer. The GUI however, could use some work. While it worked sufficiently well and got the work done, it looked dated. It could definitely use a major refresh to the look of the GUI.

Now on the performance of the TX-NR1007, this is where it really shines. Starting with the amplifier section, it really puts out. My reference NHT Classic Three surround system are a 3-way sealed design, so they are not extremely efficient, and an SVS PC-Plus 16-46 powered subwoofer. The TX-NR1007 plays them very well without any sign of strain, or sounding at all thin. Sound is crisp and clear without being overly bright. The midbass is nice and tight with a nice punch. Both imaging and dynamics are amazing. The Faroudja DCDi Cinema actually performed good as well. The image is nice and detailed without any artifacts that jump out at you. Colors were good and resolution was very good. The image could have been just a tad cleaner, but that is being extremely nit picky. The picture was very good.

Purchasing an AV Receiver can be difficult. There are always new features coming out. The external question is… buy now, or wait for the new model. Waiting for the new model has pros and cons. Sometimes the new model has a host of major improvements and or features. But then again, sometimes there are just a couple of minor improvements and added features. The TX-NR1007 is one of those receivers where if you are waiting for the new model, you jump on it. The upgrades from the model below it as well as the model it replaces are significant. If it was a stock I would rate it a buy. For those of you in the market for a new AV receiver, the TX-NR1007 is a bargain and I highly recommend checking it out. For more info and complete specs, checkout their website at