|Onkyo TX-SR805 Receiver|
|Home Theater AV Receivers AV Receivers|
|Written by Andrew Robinson|
|Monday, 01 October 2007|
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My grandparents would often attribute greatness to the presence of “something in the water.” If there is something in the water, then the designers of today’s modern home theater receivers are a hydrated bunch. The latest crop of receivers from the likes of Denon, Yamaha, Integra, Sony and Onkyo has not only been rather exceptional but measurably better than their costlier rivals, separate home theater components. They’ve been more up to date with the changing marketplace (some, like the Onkyo TX-SR805, boast HDMI 1.3 specs), they’re less expensive than ever and even easier to use. Oh, and they sound freaking great. Add it all up and it’s no wonder why so many consumers and enthusiasts hip to the latest trends are snatching up receivers like candy from a piñata. Receivers make sense, and the latest offering from Onkyo, the TX-SR805 reviewed here, is no exception.
At $999 retail, the TX-SR805, at the time of its arrival at my home, represented Onkyo’s flagship efforts in the ever-crowded receiver landscape. Since the TX-SR805’s arrival Onkyo has released a new flagship model, the TX-NR905, which retails for $2,099, as well as a slightly better TX-SR875, which retails for $1,699. While the differences between the TX-SR805 and the TX-NR905 are very apparent, the differences between the TX-SR805 and the TX-SR875 are a bit more subtle.
The TX-SR805 is a beauty of a receiver. While not tremendously out-of-the-box in its design (it’s still a receiver, after all), it’s very elegant and clean, with a fit and finish not common amongst receivers in its price class. The TX-SR805 comes in either a semi-gloss black or silver finish and measures a little over 17 inches wide by nearly eight inches tall and little over 18 inches deep, while tipping the scales at an impressive 50 pounds. The TX-SR805 is a brute amongst receivers, yet due to its superior industrial design and clean façade, it appears much sleeker than its dimensions would have you believe. The front is the epitome of simplicity, with several small input buttons lining the bottom of the TX-SR805’s large LCD display flanked by a large volume knob bathed in a pale blue glow. The rest of the TX-SR805’s manual controls, including the TX-SR805’s set-up controls and Audyssey EQ microphone input, are hidden behind a substantial metal trapdoor that takes up the entire bottom of the TX-SR805’s face.
Turning the TX-SR805 around, I noticed the usual suspects in terms of connection options, i.e., component video, composite and S-video inputs, as well as analog and digital audio inputs, providing potential consumers with more than enough options to connect their gear. I won’t go on ad nauseam about each of the input options, but I would like to point out that the TX-SR805 has three HDMI 1.3 inputs and one HDMI 1.3 monitor output. The TX-SR805’s HDMI inputs are capable of carrying 1080p video, as well as converting all of its analog video inputs to digital via its HDMI output. The TX-SR805’s HDMI inputs are also capable of carrying multi-channel audio signals including, but not limited to, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD. Beyond the TX-SR805’s HDMI capabilities, it also features nine sets of five-way binding posts, seven of which can be used for a 7.1 surround sound system, with two being used for a second zone and/or bi-amping your stereo or home theater mains. There are also analog audio outs for two zones, making the TX-SR805 a three-zone receiver, as well as providing inputs for both XM and Sirius satellite radio antenna.
Turning my attention towards the “guts” of the TX-SR805, I found a slew of state of the art features for both audio and video signals. For starters, the TX-SR805 is THX Ultra2 certified pumping out a substantial 130 watts per channel into eight ohms, across all seven channels into eight ohms and 160 watts per channel into six ohms, courtesy of its WRAT or Wide Range Amp Technology. The TX-SR805 uses Faroudja’s latest DCDi/Edge deinterlacing chipset to convert incoming interlaced video signals to progressive scan for the best possible image on your HD-capable display. Like I said before, the TX-SR805 can accept and decode the latest lossless multi-channel audio signals, including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, as well as featuring the latest in Neural Surround technology, which is a series of multi-channel DSPs that can be used in conjunction with non-HD broadcasts, stereo audio signals and video games. Lastly, the TX-SR805 features Audyssey Laboratories’ latest MultiEQ EX acoustic correction software to ensure the best possible sound, including bass response, in any listening or viewing environment.
Which brings me to the remote. While not beautiful by any means, the TX-SR805’s remote is supremely functional, rather omni-directional (at least in my room) and features full backlighting via a button on its right side. The TX-SR805’s remote is rather large. However, all of the controls and features are clearly and cleanly laid out and, once in hand, its girth is rather comfortable. I love it. Huge props to the folks over at Onkyo for making a proper remote that can be used seemingly anywhere in the room and can also be seen in even the darkest environments. Seriously, I love this thing.
The TX-SR805 replaced the recently departed Yamaha RX-V861 which I raved about in the June edition of AVRev.com. The TX-SR805 fit into my reference system much in the same way the Yamaha did, except for the fact that I could now connect my modified AppleTV to the receiver via a single HDMI cable, due to its having an additional HDMI input. I would also like to point out that, because of the TX-SR805’s size, making the requisite connections between my Sony Blu-ray player, Toshiba HD-DVD player, Dish Network DVR and AppleTV was a snap due to its spacious and thoughtful layout. The TX-SR805’s placement of the binding posts made speaker cable management and routing a snap, which I thoroughly appreciated. All in all, with a fistful of XLO Reference and Ultralink audio/video cables, I was able to integrate the TX-SR805 into my reference system and connect it to my Sony VW50 “Pearl” projector and reference Meridian in-wall speakers in less than 15 minutes.
I’m not one to brag – okay, maybe I am a little – but integrating a receiver into my system is hardly “work.” However, more often than not, setting one up via onscreen menus really is work. Before I even got to the TX-SR805’s performance, its onscreen menu and set-up architecture was the best I’d ever encountered. I have never had an easier time navigating and setting up any piece of modern audio/video equipment. I even tinkered with the thought of having my girlfriend do the set-up to prove just how easy it was. Maybe next time, I will. Then again, not every receiver is the TX-SR805. Hell, no receiver is the TX-SR805 when it comes to set-up.
Minus the time it took me to calm down from the notion that the TX-SR805 may just be the best receiver I’ve ever had to use, I was up and running in less than 30 minutes, and that included the time it took to activate and use the automated Audyssey EQ software.