|Onkyo TX-NR905 AV Receiver|
|Home Theater AV Receivers AV Receivers|
|Written by Thomas Garcia|
|Wednesday, 01 October 2008|
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Founded in 1946, Onkyo has produced many memorable AV components over the last half-century, including several behemoth receivers from the 1970s which are still sought out by vintage equipment collectors. Their reputation for building robust, feature-laden components has been instrumental in creating universal brand recognition and a loyal following. Aggressively incorporating the most recent technological advances in audio and video processing, they continue to develop new components, which offer sophisticated features and functions often found exclusively in higher-priced, high-end equipment.
Onkyo’s continuing efforts are definitely evident in their heavyweight audio/video receiver, the TX-NR905 ($1,999). This THX Ultra2-Ccrtified 7.1 multi-channel receiver offers a plethora of standard and high-definition audio decoding formats, including Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, DTS-ES Discrete, DTS-ES Matrix, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio, DTS 96/24 and DTS Neo:6. Additional algorithms include Neural Surround, THX-Neural, DSD Direct and Onkyo’s proprietary Theater-Dimensional virtual surround sound mode.
In addition to offering ample audio and video connectivity, the TX-NR905 also has an Ethernet interface for accommodating a variety of networking capabilities. Furthermore, Onkyo incorporated the extremely sophisticated Audyssey MultEQ XT room measurement and correction system, allowing for automatic optimization and equalization of the audio system. Not to be overshadowed, video sources are managed by Silicon Optix's highly regarded Reon-VX HQV 1080p video processing chip, offering powerful video processing and up-conversion capabilities.
Stylistically, the Onkyo TX-NR905’s overall appearance can be described as elegant and understated. My review sample came in a brushed aluminum finish and was tastefully accented by slight variances in the contour of the front panel, infusing a medium gray strip that encompasses a dimmable display window. The front face of the receiver is clean and uncluttered, adorned by touch buttons that provide navigation between various internal and external sources. These controls are flanked by a backlit volume control and the main on/off button, incorporating the basic equipment switching functionalities to navigate between components and some bypass modes. Located across the lower front face is a hidden drop-down aluminum flap, which conceals an abundance of controls that facilitate the more complex duties of the TX-NR905. Additional audio and video connections, headphone jack, USB port and input for the Audyssey set-up microphone are also neatly hidden away.
Overall fit and finish of the TX-NR905 is very impressive for a unit at this price point, and attention to detail, such as the dampened, actuated front flap gives the Onkyo that special feel. Balanced in its physical proportioning, the receiver has a graceful appearance, sporting an overall width of a little over 17 inches and a height of nearly eight inches with manageable depth of 18 inches. With its large toroidal power supply and overall solid build, the TX-NR905 weighs a stout 54 pounds.
The TX-NR905 is HDMI 1.3a-compatible, including internal decoding for DTS-HD, Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus. Featuring a sophisticated set of internal video processing capabilities, Onkyo’s TX-NR905 is the world’s first A/V receiver to incorporate HQV Reon-VX video processing. It provides extensive video connectivity including three high-resolution component video inputs, along with one output. HDMI 1.3a 1080p-compatible connectivity consists of four inputs and two outputs, allowing good video flexibility for an A/V receiver. All video inputs are upscaled to 1080p over the HDMI connection. Additionally, all non-HDMI video sources will be up-converted to HD output via the unit’s component video outputs to accommodate video displays lacking an HDMI input.
The TX-NR905 has a published rated power output of 140 watts minimum continuous power per channel into an eight-ohm load, two channels driven from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, with a maximum total harmonic distortion of 0.05 percent (FTC). Onkyo achieves these ratings by using their High Current Power Supply (HCPS) transformer for all audio outputs, and additionally supplies two separate transformers for audio and video processing to isolate the power requirements for their different functions and circuitry.
Further improvements to the amplifier were achieved through two of Onkyo’s new proprietary technologies, Vector Linear Shaping Circuitry (VLSC) and Wide Range Amplifier Technology (WRAT). The inclusion of VLSC is reported to reduce digital pulse noise compared to conventional digital-to-analog conversion methods. A smooth output waveform is produced by sampling between discrete data points and joining these samples with analog vectors in real time. WRAT is a collection of technologies that improve frequency response and output signal integrity at increased volumes. The inclusion of Burr-Brown 192kHz/24-bit digital-to-analog converters for all channels further enhances the performance capacities of the TX-NR905.
The amplifier sections can be configured in a variety of ways, starting with a 7.1 multi-channel configuration. Additional options are available when the primary surround system only utilizes five of the channels. These options include allowing for a powered Zone 2 and either a bi-amped or bridged output for the front main loudspeakers.
In addition to a standard, full-featured AM and FM analog tuner, the TX-NR905 also includes a built-in digital HD radio tuner, as well as XM and Sirius radio connections. The HD radio features text data display with multiple presets. XM and Sirius satellite radio access is possible with the optional XM mini-tuner and home dock, and a SiriusConnect home tuner kit. Both satellite radio services offer extensive station search and tuning choices with comprehensive receiver display information options. Subscriptions are required for both satellite services in order to enable these features and functions.
In addition to abundant standard audio and video source connections, the TX-NR905 has home network Ethernet and USB interfaces for playback of digital music from your computer, music server and USB devices, as well as Internet radio stations. My listening sources are rapidly becoming stored music files and online streams rather than conventional discs, so these additional connectivity options are welcome indeed. The receiver is compatible with Windows Media Connect or Windows Media Player 11 for playback of files on your computer and music downloads, while supporting WAV, MP3, WMA and M4A (MPEG-4 Audio) file formats, with sampling rates of 32, 44.1 and 48 kHz. The front panel USB port enables connectivity of Microsoft PlaysForSure music devices, as well as components that comply with the USB Mass Storage Device standard and are formatted with FAT16 and FAT32 file systems (these are directly supported without need of any special software or drivers). Internet radio stations can be chosen by selecting stations on your computer’s web browser or by entering URLs with the receiver’s remote, which can be rather awkward.
The remote control provided with the TX-NR905 is a pre-programmed learning remote that can be configured to control additional system components. With a wide array of modes to manage and optimize the receiver’s functionality, it is also capable of making on the fly changes. Though the unit has some functions that are backlit, I found the light level to be too low to make some of the control buttons’ script legible. Overall, it is functional, but lacks the sophistication and sexiness presented by the TX-NR905. Though not necessary, I suspect many potential buyers of the TX-NR905 will pursue a more substantial universal remote control device with a better visual interface.