|Integra DTR-6.4 Receiver|
|Home Theater AV Receivers AV Receivers|
|Written by Matthew Evert|
|Sunday, 01 February 2004|
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Integra is the premium audio/video line from Onkyo Electronics, much the same as Lexus is to Toyota Motors. For a little more money, you get more muscle under the hood, as well as more technological goodies. Offering an impressive number of bells and whistles at an affordable $1,000 price point, this receiver is noteworthy even in a world of multi-thousand-dollar AV preamps and do-it-all AV receivers.
The Integra DTR-6.4 is a six-channel THX-certified A/V receiver, sporting more tricks than an Inspector Gadget movie. The DTR-6.4 has a black steel chassis and brushed aluminum faceplate with bright silver accented power and volume controls. The industrial design gives the unit a very stealthy appearance for the power and features that lies beneath. The DTR-6.4 stands six-and-seven-eighths inches tall, 17-1/8 inches wide, and 16-15/16 inches deep. The famous WRAT power supply provides the bulk of the weight to its 28-pound stature. The front panel is well laid out, with tactile buttons that give the user an audible click to verify that the button has been depressed. The very reactive volume knob is quick to respond to the slightest of movement from the user. One curious element is the fact that the unit has no lights (on the remote or on the front panel) to indicate which DSP or source is selected. To make viewing more convenient, the enlarged display uses a dot matrix-based system that is adjustable to three levels of brightness. Dimming the display is a nice addition if you plan on placing this bad boy in your bedroom or in a seriously darkened theater room.
As for inputs and outputs, DTR-6.4, like many high-end receivers of the day, looks like a control panel at NASA Houston Command. Newbies to the home theater world will grow to love the nicely organized back panel. Using color-coding and dual banana plugs, the Integra folks make connecting the trillions of wires needed to use the full capabilities of this receiver a breeze - the dual banana plugs are a must to hook up any kind of bare wires or connector-based speaker cables. All speaker outputs (including the “Zone 2” speakers) use these advanced plugs, a fantastic feature.
Inputs include five S-video, three optical, one coaxial, two-component video and 5.1 multi-channel inputs. Outputs include one component video, three S-video, subwoofer pre-out and, of course, the six speaker connections. A seemingly standard requirement for receivers in this price range is to have a set of A/V inputs placed in the front of the unit for easy camcorder playback. A set of stereo RCAs, a composite video, an S-video and an optical input all lie conveniently in the front of the receiver.
As mentioned earlier, this receiver has outputs for “Zone 2” speakers, which allow for a second set of right and left speakers in another room playing from a different source. It should be noted that when the “Zone 2” speakers are used, only two channels are output to both the main room speakers and the “Zone 2.” Luckily, the Integra folks have provided a way to hook up a separate amp to the DTR-6.4 so that you can have 6.1 sound in the main and two-channel stereo in the other room. This way, you can totally impress your friends by playing “Finding Nemo” in Dolby Digital EX in the main room, and play Alice in Chains in the other room, controlling everything from one remote.
“A like totally tubular feature.”
The amplifier of the DTR-6.4 has the expected 100 watts (minimum) of continuous RMS power to each of the six channels at eight ohms, from 20 Hz to 20kHz, with no more than 0.08% THD. Adjustable crossover (40-150Hz) allows for customization of your home theater setup. The Integra engineers wisely incorporated their parent companies’ famous Wide Range Amplifier Technology (WRAT) and CinemaFILTER technologies. WRAT adds to the home theater audio experience a lower signal-to-noise ratio and much improved performance during higher power demands. CinemaFILTER provides comfort to those who find their treble (high frequencies) is overly bright on some movie soundtracks by gently lowering the high-frequency volume to more pleasing levels.
Like most receivers, there are oodles of DSP modes for theater and audio compatibility on the DTR-6.4. Frankly, I can do without many of the DSP modes as I often find them to be gimmicky and get better sound by either using the home theater formats or by sticking to plain stereo for playing my CDs. If you want sound out of all six speakers when playing your CDs, try buying a SACD or DVD-Audio player; you will be much happier with the sound. Some matrix surround sound modes work well with stereo TV signals, however, turning them into a faux surround that for a football game can be more fun and impactful than old-school stereo.
The digital-to-analog converter provides full PCM 24-bit/96kHz decoding on all channels from the most cutting edge high-resolution digital-audio sources, namely multi-channel Home Theater formats and DVD-Audio. Mentioned earlier, the DTR-6.4 has built in all the most common home theater formats: Dolby Digital EX, DTS-ES (Matrix and Discrete), DTS Neo 6 and Dolby Pro Logic II. “Legacy” formats such as DTS and Dolby Prologic are also supported. This product is THX Select-certified, assuring an exceptional home theater and audio experience.
I liked some less obvious features on this product that I think are worth mentioning. The ability to adjust the number of speakers that you have in your current system is a must. If you are apprehensive about going out to buy seven speakers after dropping a fair amount of cash on your supporting gear, this amp is for you. If you just have a center and a front left and right, then this receiver’s digital signal processor will mix the surround sound speakers into the front left/right speakers. Furthermore, you can adjust the relative amplification to each speaker +/- 12dB. This is nice if you have small bookshelf surrounds with large floor-standing fronts. If you like onscreen displays (OSDs), then you will be pleased to find out that the DTR-6.4 has an extensive one. I personally don’t like them because they will interrupt your viewing of a movie just to adjust the output of the subwoofer or to make a small tweak. A good tip when viewing with your friends: stick to the front panel display unless you want to get popcorn thrown at you. One of my favorite features is the Pure Audio mode. This is a must if you also play your CDs or SACDs on this system. It turns off the power supply to the video circuitry and shuts off the front panel display to minimize many sources of noise in your audio playback. This receiver is incredibly flexible and feature-packed for its price.
The remote offers 90 percent of the unit’s total functionality at the tip of your fingers. It is a nicely organized, lighted remote with shaped buttons for easily operation. The remote allows the user to navigate through the on-screen display (via your TV) or via the front panel display of the receiver. Preprogrammed remote codes (for Integra and other brands of components) and Learning remote functions add to the value of the remote by eliminating the need for six remotes. My Toshiba TV, Scientific Atlanta Cable Box and Pioneer Elite DVD remotes all easily merged into the Integra remote. The macro feature on the remote is awesome. You need to press about five buttons to get a CD to play using the DTR-6.4’s remote (assuming you have already programmed in the remote codes for the CD player already). The macro allows you to reduce that to one button press, which is very handy, especially for those of you who have a child or a technology-challenged family member who seems unable to grasp the fact that there are words on the remote to help you. The tuner had good reception in San Diego, allowing me to pull in my favorite stations even with the simple FM antenna provided. Once the 40 AM/FM presets are set up from the front panel of the receiver, you can navigate through them from the remote.