Integra DTR-6.4 Receiver 
Home Theater AV Receivers AV Receivers
Written by Matthew Evert   
Sunday, 01 February 2004

Introduction
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.

Music and Movies
Okay, let’s get to the test drive. I used a Pioneer Elite DV-47Ai DVD player as my source for DVD movies, DVD-A’s, and CDs. My speakers were the Polk Audio LSi15s (mains), Polk Audio LSiC (Center), Polk Audio LSiFx (surrounds) and an ES10 (Subwoofer). To begin, I wanted to test out the 5.1 audio capabilities of the DTR-6.4. What better than an Alice In Chains Greatest Hits SACD (Columbia Records)? I wanted to hear the dueling acoustic and electric guitars of “I Stay Away” in surround. Impressive is the word. The DTR-6.4 gave the guitars impact and brought the subtle use of violins in the background to life. The violins were abundantly more evident, compared to a similar experience I have had with my older 16/44 CD release. Most importantly, this receiver managed to keep up with the broad vocal range of the late Layne Staley. Staley’s nasal whines were captured with great detail. “Would” was even more impressive by showcasing his vast octave range and his ability to hold seemingly endless long notes. The lower midrange performances of his singing ability (read: signature groans) were smooth and the presentation was slightly forward. Thanks to the DTR-6.4, I found myself immersed in the music and tried to belt out the demanding cries, just like Staley. Then I quickly ran out of breath and was reminded of the harsh reality that I can’t sing. Damn.

I delved into the wonderful crooning voice of David Patrone. The Uptown album (David Patrone Productions), sports the classic Sinatra-style vocals and big band sound with a slight Southern Californian spin to it. Heavy uses of trombones and trumpets in “Nearness of You” really tests the ability of this receiver to handle the mid to upper midrange of the audio spectrum. I found this to be sweet-sounding and pleasant to the ears. The toe-tapping tempo featured a jazzy bass line complete with the classic cymbal tap. The bass was smooth while the cymbals were a little bright, but overall, the experience was very good. The sound staging was very good and managed to excite me when the final cymbal crash moved nicely from the left side of the room to the right. “Tangerine” was a diversion from the rest the album and felt more like a samba than a Sinatra tune. David‘s voice is like a roller coaster of midrange going up and down with each verse. I think Ol’ Blue Eyes would have been proud. Let’s not forget the prominent sax and piano solos. They really pulled me into the music and reminded me that the DTR-6.4 is capable of handling the midrange of more than just David’s melodic chants. The rim shots of the snare drums were dynamic and true to the recording which, when reproduced to its highest accuracy, can sound slightly bright to my ears. The DTR-6.4 stepped out of the way and presented this recording in its most uncompromised form.

To evaluate the receiver’s cinematic abilities, I used “The Long Kiss Goodnight” (New Line Home Entertainment), “Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble – Live from Austin, Texas” (Epic Music Video) and “Aeon Flux” (Sony Music Entertainment). The Stevie Ray Vaughn video is one of my all-time favorites. Clearly one of the guitar greats of our time, Vaughn transcends the stereotypical rock/blues genre and was revered by those who do not even like blues. Like Jimi Hendrix before him, he commands a stage presence that was so intense and emotional that the viewer becomes mesmerized with interest. I have stayed up past my bedtime more than a few times to listen to the foot-stomping and finger-snapping tempo of “Pride and Joy.” The walking bass line of dum-dum-da-dah was catchy and drew everyone in the room to start humming along. The video was a little dated (circa 1987), so the colors of Vaughn’s blue kimono appeared to be a little blurry, but the music of this DVD allowed me to imagine the visual performance to be of much higher resolution. The smooth midrange of the DTR-6.4 really brings intensity to the fluid strumming of Vaughn’s Stratocaster and his almost seizure-like body movements. “Texas Flood” was a prodigal example of the gentle and soft riffs that Vaughn is also capable of. The song starts out with a solo progressing from a soft melody to a wailing high midrange performance and then back to the gentle picking of his strat. The DTR-6.4 was solid in handling such a daunting task that Vaughn’s music can frequently require. Throughout this performance, the DTR-6.4 never became congested or ran out of headroom even at the highest volumes. I must note that I have auditioned receivers in this price class that tend to sound good at lower volumes, but would tend to get compressed and brittle at higher volumes, yet the DTR-6.4 stood strong throughout the spectrum, no doubt due to its superb power supply technology.

  “The Long Kiss Goodnight” was a little bit of a culture shock for me. How could the nice and homey “Beetlejuice” alum, Geena Davis, ever transform into the ruthless assassin in this movie? Then I remembered that she is tall, buff and can look a little scary with the platinum blonde ‘do. When she hit the deer in the beginning of the film and then dragged herself over to it, dripping blood from her own wounds, I thought she would try to help the still-moving animal, until I heard the Integra DTR-6.4 belt out a snapping noise that startled me as I sat in disbelief that sweet Geena had just snapped the neck of the poor critter. From that point on, I would definitely hand my lunch money over to her if she cornered me in a dark alley. There were lots more breakings of necks (the bad guys this time) and gunshots to be fired. The gunshots were especially realistic during the train station scene, where you could hear the splintering of the benches from automatic weapons. Showers of bullets filled the screen and the Integra’s surround sound reproduction made me want to duck for cover. The roaring of Niagara Falls, as the helicopter passed over it, had a smooth yet powerful and extended bass performance to add to the realism. If you like explosions and violence, this film is da bomb.

The last film was “Aeon Flux.” What can I say? Violence and cartoons are like chocolate and peanut butter to me - they belong together. Add a sexy and elusive female heroine (or villainess, if you prefer) and you have a winner. The opening scene of “Gravity” was simply awesome. The sloshing of the guy and Aeon’s tongues while they exchanged a secret message in their mouths was almost as gross as Aeon scratching the guy’s eyeball with her eyelash. Add freaky to that list of attributes I gave Aeon above. The DTR-6.4 brought details to life in the sounds of Aeon’s less than savory actions. I was impressed by the DTR-6.4’s overall transparency and ability to delineate the subtlest sound from the most broad and dynamic. This is not a simple task, but it is one that makes your experience extremely engaging. “Leisure” was equally disgusting, with a man slurping up the remains of an alien egg while hiding in Aeon’s cupboard. Nothing gets my goat more than somebody eating the last of my alien eggs. Rather than settle for Denny’s, Aeon ventures to the alien ship to get more eggs. Sneaking into the ship, she manages to score some more eggs and then have a little fun torturing one of the alien fetuses. The mechanical noises of the torture device and the squealing of the poor little alien as it succumbed to the device was simply chilling. Don’t worry, the daddy alien catches up to Aeon and breaks her neck as she tries to escape - CRACK! Overall, I was impressed with the DTR-6.4’s overall transparency and control for a product in this price range.

The Downside
The amount of useful features on this product is spectacular – there are few complaints in that department. My main issue was with build quality. The metal case on my unit was not well fitted to the chassis, so when you picked it up, it felt like the cover was on loosely. I figured some screws might be missing, but they were all there. Once positioned, this should not be an issue, but some may feel the chassis is subpar for the price.

The FM connector (and some other connectors to a lesser degree) on the back of the unit was loose and I was apprehensive about pushing the connector too hard and then into the chassis itself. The worst was the volume knob; it felt a little like the track ball on those old-school centipede video games, a bit loose. This receiver needs to have more coaxial inputs, period. My cable box and my DVD player both use coaxial outputs and I can only connect one at a time to the receiver. I could use the optical cables, but the audio signal bandwidth is compromised and that makes me an unhappy camper. I found that every other receiver in this price range had at least two and usually three coaxial inputs.

The more common surround configuration today is 7.1 rather that the DTR-6.4’s 6.1 configuration, however the DTR-6.4 is THX Certified. Competitive receivers such as the Sony ES STR-DA4ES, Denon AVR3808 and the Harman/Kardon AVR7200 all sport 7.1 channels. Even though there aren’t that many 7.1 sources and not that many people have 7.1 theaters yet, it would be a nice additional feature, albeit if it raised the price too much, I too would opt to skip it.

Conclusion
The DTR-6.4 is a great value for someone looking to upgrade the sound in his or her home theater system. It features all the cutting edge home theatre formats like DTS-ES and Dolby Digital EX. It allows for multi-channel 5.1 audio reproduction from a DVD-Audio or SACD source. It has a good amount of power for small to medium-sized rooms and allows for multi-room set-ups. It wonderfully adjusts to whatever equipment you have and scales to add new equipment/speakers as you build your home theater system. The user manual and set-up guides carefully illustrate the most common tasks of setting up your receiver to play DVDs and CDs in just minutes. The DTR-6.4 features all the latest in home theater and home stereo technologies and provides this to you at a bargain price of $1,000. Today is an exciting time in the world of home entertainment. Years back, there was a great division between the mega-dollar home theater rigs and the ones sold at our mass-market retailers. Today, you can pop down a thousand dollars and have the lion’s share of features and performance of the big boys, performance that that will astound even the most discerning.
Manufacturer Integra
Model DTR-6.4 Receiver
Reviewer Matthew Evert





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