What better way to finish off this year's Receiver and Blu ray player Reviews? Talk about going out with a BANG for 2011! I was taking my sweet time with the 3009 and then the 809 showed up. I figured why not just lump them together since they work as a perfect team. Looking at the 809 (Blu ray player) I am impressed with its rather large size. It seems most Blu ray players released these days are about 2 inches tall and weigh about as much as a loaf of bread. Weighing in at 13.4 pounds does justify calling it heavy today. So besides its impressive build quality and size what else does the 809 have to offer? Well it is THX certified and comes with Dual HDMI outs. Also it sports Marvell's Qdeo scaling to 1080p! Those that are in the "know" realize this is one very impressive scaling chip! Streaming includes Netflix, VUDU, Blockbuster, Film Fresh and more. So how does the 809 perform?
Blu ray 2Ds as expected are excellent. I was impressed with the picture options available for tweaking the image. Besides the normal amount (brightness, sharpness, contrast etc.) they also have Black Level, Gamma, individual adjusting for Red, Blue and Green, Edge Enhancement and Qdeo True Color which is for 10 bit and 12 bit displays. This expands 8 bit to 10 or 12 by helping to eliminate contours while still preserving details. This is a fancy way of calling it upconverted color or "Deep Color" which seems to have slipped away behind 3D... Speaking of... There is a really cool little blue light on the front which lights up whenever you put in a Blu ray 3D disc. Now no matter what you can't forget why you are wearing the glasses! Serisouly though I do think it is a cool edition to the front. So far all Blu ray 3D titles and regular 2Ds have played without issue. I am using HDMI Main to my projector and the SUB to the 3009 for sound. You should be able to dial in the image as optimal as desired. The 809 can make titles look as good or better than the most expensive flagship models out there. SD DVDs which I spent a little bit of time on (popular demand) were also upscaled to 1080p brilliantly. Sure they did not look as good as Blu ray but they looked very close to HD. The Noise Reduction came in handy and did n help eliminate artificact while not hindering the image. So if you have to watch a SD DVD title (sometimes it is still not out on Blu ray or netflix) at least the 809 will make it tolerable.
Things I am not a fan of... As much as I praise Onkyo I also need to slap them. How can they release a "state of the art" Blu ray player at the end of 2011 without it being wireless? I know for many that is not a big deal but seriously that should have been an after thought. Also, who okayed the remote? It is as basic as a 100.00 generic brand's player! I would suggest using a Harmony 1100 or regular shaped universal remote. Load times even after enabling the Quick Start Mode are still on the slower side. I guess you can't get everything right. Of course with what they did get right the 809 is still a powerful unit that does deserve some good praises.
So with that I also should point out that it has USB and SD Card inputs. So compared to other players what does the 809 give you that you can't get else where? Really nothing. As much as I do like the image the hardcore Onkyo faithful will be the front runners in purchasing it. The 809 and 3009 look terrific in the same cabinet. The Panasonic 310 I just reviewed has many more options and can be found for under 200 most places. Onkyo should rethink their msrp on the 809. They describe it as a Classy player and they are correct. It sure does look Classy in my rack next to the 3009... Speaking of which...
The 3009 is NOW the best Receiver I have had to date in my set up. I am sick of typing that! The DTS: NEO X sound helps push it to that distinction. It also sports HQV's Vida for 1080p upconversion. How about also throwing in Audyssey MultiEQ XT32 which now puts any Receiver with it on the map! The 3009 is THX Ultra 2 Plus and ISF certified. There are 8 HDMI inputs (1 in front) and TWO OUTS which should be enough to get everything done and then some. The 3009 does 140W per channel and it is considered a 9.2 (two subs which are independently set up) Receiver. So how does it sound???
Starting with some newer movies... Thor and A Haunting In Salem were excellent. Noises are perfectly placed around the room. Many times I found myself looking around the room in amazement as the XT32 performed flawlessly. We put in The Lion King and the first two minutes of the movie were jaw and ear dropping! The 3009 is now making me want to play many older titles just for the pure ear candy. Voices are done so real like my dogs are on edge whenever I/we watch a movie. Our expression has always been "TV!" whenever they start to go crazy barking. Watching Dexter (our favorite show) is again rendered quite well. From the intro to times when he talks to himself. The sound has went to another level. I seriously do not expect another increase in performance like this for another two to three years. Sure we will get updated models with newer options and features but overall quality wise we should be set for a little while.
Sports... The NFL... Audyssey DSX has always been my sweet spot for the games. Now we are jumping back and forth between NEO X. I will update this Review when I finally declare a winner. We just love hearing the QB bark out signals and fans scream their heads off in the Height/Wide speakers. Caution though: we have now experienced several times when either a player or fan went on a rant cursing in those speakers. Trust me when I say it is very clear and distinct. As good as the sound is the upconverted 1080p image is excellent. Motion and overall detail were rendered well. The 3009 should be considered the best Video Processor in a Receiver ever. It is getting tougher and tougher to justify a good stand alone VP (video processor) these days. The 3009 is not helping their cause. I still like my DVDO DUO for test patterns and pushing 36 bit with PC Level (0 to 255) for my games. It makes me an eye candy extremist but the image just "pops" the way we love it to for sports. For real movie viewing I do not go through the DUO since my Blu ray player has Dual HDMI outs.
UPDATE: AUDYSSEY DSX STILL THE CHOICE FOR SPORTS!
Remote... If you have read my other Onkyo Receiver Takes and Reviews then you know what to expect. It is back lit and very nice. Feels great in your hand and the button layout is easy.
The GUI again like other recent pics I have posted is excellent and easy to navigate. With seperate audio and video sections you can't go wrong. The on screen guide makes it that much easier to set it up. The volume on screen though is a bit much. I liked the simple smaller white volume on screen from a couple years ago. This blue long stripe across the bottom can be distracting. Of course it may not bother most.
Other... Many always ask me about heat. I have not had an Onkyo Receiver shut down due to excessive heat. Ever! Of course I do believe in proper ventilation. I use Antec Component Coolers. If I didn't I would use something on those long marathon days of NFL games or Movie watching...
So the 3009 Onkyo says is on the "Cutting Edge" of High-End home theater. I agree. I also like how they state you will have an ovation-worthy performance every time. So far, so good!!!