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Onkyo TX-NR905 AV Receiver Print E-mail
Wednesday, 01 October 2008
Article Index
Onkyo TX-NR905 AV Receiver
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With many of the components I review, my tendency is to first attempt to set up and operate the equipment without deferring to the owner’s manual.  This often provides me with potential insights regarding the intuitiveness factor of the operation and layout of the review unit.  Additionally, it allows me to evaluate how likely it is that a non-technical consumer will be able to operate the component.  Unfortunately, today's multi-channel receivers and processors often require more than basic knowledge to wire, configure and optimize.  Add to the mix that every manufacturer varies on their set-up protocol, and it becomes almost impossible to get past the most basic configurations without diving heavily into the owner’s manual.

My initial experiences with the TX-NR905 went without incident, as the receiver was relatively intuitive regarding its basic set-up functions.  Configuring the audio and video inputs, speaker distance and amplitude settings, along with other general system configurations, was all completed without having to defer to the owner’s manual.  It was with these settings that I conducted my preliminary listing tests to see how the unit performed with the manual configuration, excluding the Audyssey MultEQ XT auto-calibration and room correction functions.

During my initial evaluations, the TX-NR905 was utilized in a variety of two-channel and multi-channel configurations, with the primary speakers being either my reference Revel Salon multi-channel system, or PSB’s Synchrony.  Speaker positioning was fairly conventional, with both speaker systems being positioned approximately nine feet apart, four feet off the back wall and three feet away from the sidewalls.  The center listening location is approximately 10 to 11 feet from the speakers, depending on the positioning of the listening chair.

After the preliminary assessments were made, it became quite evident that a complete review of the owner's manual was in order.  There are countless ways of configuring the TX-NR905 for both audio and video, and it is essential to understand how to implement each of the settings to optimize the performance for your home theater system.

The audio system can be configured manually by setting each loudspeaker’s crossover frequency independently to 40 Hz, 50 Hz 60 Hz, 70 Hz, 80 Hz (THX), 90 Hz, 100 Hz, 120 Hz, 150 Hz, 200 Hz or full range.  Also, the receiver has a built-in seven-band graphic equalizer, with bands centered at 63 Hz, 160 Hz, 400 Hz 1000 Hz, 2500 Hz, 6300 Hz or 16000 Hz for the main loudspeakers, and 25 Hz, 40 Hz, 63 Hz, 100 Hz and 160 Hz for the subwoofer, all adjustable in 1dB increments.  This gives you the ability to modify the overall sonic characteristics of the system.

With the assistance of associate Dr. Christopher Zell, my next endeavor was to incorporate Audyssey MultEQ XT system calibration and room correction.  Primary functions are to automatically measure the number of speakers connected to your system, their low-frequency reproduction capabilities, optimal crossover points and their relative distances from the primary listening location.  Using the supplied calibrated microphone, eight measurements were taken, with critical attention given to recording exact distance measurements regarding microphone placement for each individual calibration test.  With the introduction of room correction, it becomes equally possible to improve or degrade the performance of an audio system by the manner in which the measurements are extracted.  I would recommend keeping comprehensive notes while taking your measurements, so that you can duplicate the room correction settings as needed.  This said, the first results incorporating the Audyssey room correction settings were less than desirable.  It took several attempts, utilizing the maximum eight measurement samples, to achieve uniformly improved results throughout the entire frequency range and listening area.

After the initial set-up was complete, it became very apparent that there were discrepancies between the TX-NR905 Owner’s Manual and the actual menu screens that were displayed through the monitor outputs.  I was unable to find any information or menus that would allow adjustments for basic video control functions such as contrast, brightness, color saturation, hue, etc., yet the TX-NR905 possesses such functions.  By navigating a sequence on the remote control, a menu is accessed that allows for such adjustments.  The menu is only visible on the display window of the TX-NR905.

I engaged the Silicon Optix Reon-VX processing within the Onkyo for both the front-projection (Optoma HD80 1080p single-chip DLP) and flat-screen (Pioneer Kuro PDP-5010FD 50 inch 1080p Plasma) displays.  In both cases, HDMI connections were used, with any necessary up-conversion to 1080p performed by the Onkyo.  Although the two displays were physically in separate locations in my evaluation, the TX-NR905 has two HDMI outputs that can be connected if necessary, although only one of them can be active at a time.  This chipset provides the ultimate support for de-interlacing of both standard and high-definition signals, for 1080p reconstruction of film sources, for filtering of jaggies and artifacts, and for the reduction of random, mosquito and block (codec) noise.  It also enables color region enhancement and the rendering of more than one billion colors.

Overall, I was especially impressed with the Onkyo’s video processing and upscaling, with one minor logistical exception.  All changes to video parameters, such as saturation, brightness, etc., are global, rather than separate for each input, which can be inconvenient.


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