I went ahead and took the plunge. As soon as our first shipment from Onkyo came in (I work for AVAD), I decided to take one home.
I had been eyeing the Marantz SR-7005 for a while, but even at my price, it was a little out of my budget. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Onkyo TX-NR609 offered most of the same features (DLNA, Internet Radio, IP control) of the Marantz at a far lower price.
The unit was well packaged, with a good amount of styrofoam to protect it from UPS drivers and the occasional drop kick. The manual, remote, calibration mic, batteries and other accessories were neatly packed, and unboxing took just a couple minutes. Unfortunately, after removing the outer wrap, my brother's ferret (otherwise known as the "Horrible Long-rat") decided to abscond with my calibration mic...I still havent found where he stuffed it! (sigh!)
I was replacing an old Denon AVR-1707. Since that AVR only had component video, I was running my cable DVR, XBOX and Playstation HDMI to my TV set, with separate audio connections for the DVR and the PS3 (the XBOX doesnt let you plug in a separate toslink and HDMI at the same time unless you buy their kit...I was running its audio through the TV, and consequently, limited to 2 channel audio).
Since all of my connections are HDMI, it only took me a few minutes to hook up my sources, plug in my subwoofer, connect my speakers (Martin Logan Motion 12 towers, with Motion 8 Center and Motion 4s in the rear), and I was off to the races!
The on screen setup was quite intuitive, and after setting up its networking, I immediately downloaded and applied the latest firmware. The download itself was rather quick, but writing to flash memory took FOREVER. Be prepared to spend 30 minutes or so looking at a progress meter when you update.
After the update, I configured the speakers manually, set up my sources, and verified that everything worked. Except for the firmware update, the entire process took about 20 minutes start to finish.
While I didn't spend a lot of time listening last night, I did play with it for a bit with a variety of sources. First on the list, fire up the XBox for some Crysis 2! After listening to the game for months in ProLogic II, moving up to Dolby Digital was a revelation! I noticed the difference instantly, and after playing a quick game, am now convinced that good surround sound is not just a luxury, it is ESSENTIAL for multiplayer (you can really hear the bastards sneak up on you!)
After that, I moved to the PS3 and punched up "Wipeout HD". This game really demands a good system with killer 5.1 audio tracks and some very dynamic sound effects. Again, I was simply blown away at how much better this sounded than my old Denon. Much more punch in the bottom end and the mid and upper frequencies sounded much smoother and less strained.
I then played a few music tracks randomly and at various volume levels to confirm what I was hearing in the games...bottom line...this amp has some cajones! There is plenty of power here for just about anyone's system.
I hooked up a Seagate 500GB hard drive to the USB port up front, and the navigation and playback from this works flawlessly. It had no problem recognizing the drive and letting me navigate to my music folder, selecting a song and playing it. It was plenty responsive and didnt seem as sluggish as my friend's Denon AVR-3808 when browsing a large collection. Likewise, Pandora internet radio is well implemented. It only took me a minute to punch in my username and password. Sound quality from Pandora (free account) was quite good. I can't wait to properly calibrate the unit so I can use their MP3 enhancement processing (it doesnt work unless Audissey is on).
Most importantly to me, I found that the Network audio, including USB audio and Internet Radio, works fine through the zone 2 pre-outs! I re-purposed my old Denon to run a pair of bookshelf speakers (that were collecting dust) in my bedroom. I used Atlantic Technology's new WA-50 wireless audio system, plugging the zone 2 out into the transmitter, and plugging the output from the receive unit into the "CD" input on my Denon in the bedroom. ZERO setup needed, plug it in, it works! (and it sounds damn good too! I was VERY skeptical of any wireless audio product, but this one actually works and actually SOUNDS GOOD!).
My only complaint? Onkyo only makes an app for Apple's crappy products, no Android app yet. There is an unauthorized app...I paid the $4 for it, but while it does work, its incredibly clunky and browsing music off my hard drive doesnt work properly. It DOES display cover art and metadata though. Hopefully, either Onkyo will get with the program and release an OFFICIAL Android app, or the guy working on his unauthorized app will polish it up a little.
All in all, I am VERY happy with my purchase, and I think I will have this in my system for quite some time! Highly recommended!