Pros: Has the power supply to push low impedance loads, THX Ultra2 Plus certified, Audyssey MultEQ XT32 and SubEQ HT
Cons: No digital/HDMI support for multi-zone, well documented Onkyo HDMI issues after 18m of use, 11.2 output but only functions with 9.2, HEAVY
9.2 Receiver rated 140WPCx7 (Actual rating in manual states output for two channels 140x2(20-20kHz@.05THD)
THX Ultra2 Plus certified with THX processing modes: Ultra2Plus Cinema, Neural, Surround EX, Loudness Plus(THX's version of Dynamic EQ)
Audyssey: MultEQ XT32, SubEQ HT, Dynamic Volume, DSX (limited to 9.2, choice between height or wide channels)
Dolby: TrueHD, DD+, DD, DolbyEX, Dolby Volume, ProLogic IIz
dts: MasterAudio, High Resolution, dts, dtsES
Control via RS232, IP(RJ45) with Onkyo smartphone Apps(Android and iOS) or third party
Internet Radio(Pandora, Rhapsody, Napster, vTuner, Sirius Internet Radio, MediaFly, Slacker) subscriptions required for some
Burr Brown 192k/24bit DACs
7 rear configurable HDMI inputs, 1 front HDMI
2 simultaneous HDMI output (output same signal)
3 Component In/1 Out
HDMI 1.4a (ARC and 3D support)
HQV Reon video processing (with some scaling ability)
I primarily use the unit with 3 HDMI source components. Those components include the following:
A dedicated BD player, an Xbox 360 used as a Media Extender for TV viewing and an original fat 60GB PS3 which is rarely used since moving to a dedicated BD player.
The display device is a Sony VPL-HW30ES 3D SXRD projector.
The receiver's HQV Reon processor can be set to scale the video signals including stretching vertically for those that are interested in constant height setup. Unfortunately the scaling ability does not work when fed framed packed 3D from BD discs. I don't use this but I was considering adding an anamorphic lens at one point until I discovered this deficiency and the HW30ES doesn't have the ability to do it internally.
The HQV Reon processor can also convert multiple types of input signals to a fixed resolution output for what works best with your display. The vast majority of my viewing is from 1080i/p signals and the great majority is from physical BD discs. So I just have the 3008 set to pass the input signal to the output unmodified in the PassThrough mode and let the projector handle any minimal scaling.
The 3008 has a plethora of inputs and outputs, but I don't have much use for these legacy inputs so all the components are using the HDMI inputs. But if you have old components that are limited to analog outputs you shouldn't have a problem finding the right input jack. About the only component I could think of connecting with the component inputs would be my Wii, but my fascination with the Wii ended long ago.
Now to the audio setup... This unit was one of the first to feature Audyssey MultEQ XT32 which is currently the top of the line consumer version of the room correction algorithm. I upgraded to this unit after I purchased three Definitive Technology CLR3000 loudspeakers that have a powered sub. The standard version of MultEQ XT does not have the same resolution in the lower bass frequencies for the main and satellite channels as the dedicated LFE/sub channel. XT32 features the same resolution in all channels.
Also some assume that XT32 automatically includes the SubEQ HT feature. XT32 does not automatically include it, but the top end of the Onkyo line since x008 has included it along with XT32.
Prior to starting Audyssey the user indicates in the speaker setup if running 0,1 or 2 subwoofers. Connecting the included Audyssey Microphone (placing it at the Main Listening Position, aka MLP) prompted the Audyssey screen to come up on the onscreen display. When starting it produced pink noise on the subwoofer channel with a dB readout on screen. The user at this point is requested to adjust the volume control on the subwoofer so the level reads around 75dB through the Audyssey microphone. This was very easy and it seems to be a function of SubHT EQ. I am only running one sub so once set and 'OK' selected to go on to the next step, the Audyssey went to its normal sequence of audio chirps to determine which channels are connected for the first position run. The nice thing about Audyssey SubEQ HT asking the user to set the sub level prior to running the full Audyssey sweep is that you know prior to starting if your sub is within the correct range. All too often we hear of users that after Audyssey is run that the trim level on the LFE/sub channel is -12dB. This means that the subwoofer volume was too high and you need to rerun Audyssey with the sub volume lowered to a more reasonable level (Bass heads may object). After the first position run correctly identified the connected channels (main L, center, main R, Surround R, Surround Back R, Surround Back L, Surround L, Sub 1), the microphone was moved into seven other positions within reason around the MLP in the two row theater (3 seats/row with the back row approximate 5' behind the first row on an elevated platform).
After Audyssey is complete you are presented with the Audyssey/Auto setup discoveries, such as channel distances from the MLP and crossover frequencies. The unit's auto setup discoveries were within expected results. The front channel and center were determined to play down to 40Hz with their powered subs and the distances were 11 feet for the main and a half a foot less for the center. The surround channels (in-wall Definitive Tech RLS IIIs) were determined to play down to 100Hz and the surround back channels (Definitive Tech Promonitor100-MKII) were detected to play down to 120Hz. So while my surround and surround back channels are not ideal to get down to 80Hz I left them where the auto setup determined them to be. You can raise the frequencies without affecting Audyssey results but if you lower the X-over frequencies, Audyssey's filters were not calculated for the frequencies determined to be beyond the speakers 3dB downpoint. While the surround channels can be be full range, in practice very little low bass frequencies are mixed in the surround and surround back channels. So 100Hz and 120Hz x-overs are not a deal breaker.
It's the front three channels and LFE/sub that carry the bulk of the soundtrack work and oh boy did Audyssey's XT32 provide a significant upgrade for the powered front three channels from the previous standard MultEQ XT. The front three channels deliver movie soundtracks with airy detail and bass authority. Dialog is very disctinct without being drown out regularly by the other channels.
I typically view 5.1 tracks with the Ultra2 Cinema DSP mode with Dynamic EQ being used in place of Loudness Plus, but there are occasions where I think DynamicEQ is over powering in the bass region due to the mixing level being changed for the home video release. When that happens I switch to the Loudness Plus mode that seems to handle the overpowering bass better. Loudness Plus is attempting to fix the same problem as Dynamic EQ but I am sure due to patent issues its processing is done differently. DynamicEQ is dependent on the mixing level which is why there is a setting in setup menus to select difference reference levels for DynamicEQ. Both algorithms adjust the surround channels and bass attenuation based on the volume level. Remember the old loudness button on receivers and amps? The problem with those buttons was that they were really only meant for one volume setting. DynamicEQ and Loudness Plus bass adjustment is basically a dynamic 'loudness' curve based on the volume setting. So as the volume is increased less bass boost/equalization is needed. The surround volumes are also boosted with lower volume settings and again as volume is increased the affect of the curve is lessened. Ideally at reference volume the affect of both DynamicEQ or Loudness Plus should be the same as the features being disabled.
I really don't use Dynamic Volume or Dolby Volume, but the idea of those is to keep a consistent volume level when channel surfing and to reduce the loud commercial affect where commercials are mixed at the maximum level to make sure the viewer hears the commercials when they walk during the break. Thankfully the FCC is trying to mitigate this practice. It's never fun when someone RAISES THERE VOICE TO GET THEIR POINT ACROSS. It's like I am constantly reminding my nine year old son to use his inside voice at the dinner table and to remember when he is at the dinner table it is not the same as being in the school cafeteria. Someone needs to give the commercial producers a timeout and make them sit in the corner.
3) User Interface—
The user interface is like most AVRs, as complex or as simple as the user wants to make it. The setup allows the user to configure default listening modes based on inputs. So for most it is a set it and forget it.
The menu is a cursor/number based with a number of submenus under each main menu selection.
The remote has a lot of functionality and it is backlit, but anyone running a setup with a powerhorse like this most likely has a number of different components and I have a feeling few use the Onkyo remote primarily. I use a Harmony 880 that has also given me access to some features that are no longer directly on the remote like the ability to turn THX Re-EQ on/off at the press of a button instead of having to scroll through the HOME menu audio options.
Here is where the rubber hits the road... The Onkyo is a beast receiver. It features a THX Ultra2 certified amplifier section. And the unit has the power supply to back it up. You won't find another receiver that weighs as much as these upper end Onkyos. Now some argue that weight means little, but Ultra2 certification carries weight... literally. The unit will push low impedance loads that many other receivers will choke on.
Now I don't know why manufacturers have dropped THX, but I like that Onkyo has retained it for some of their upper models.
Now Ultra2 is probably overkill for my room, roughly 2000 cu ft. THX Select would do, but I strongly believe the more horsepower you have in reserve means that your chances of overdriving your system is minimized.
On 5.1 tracks, the Ultra2 Plus Cinema surround listening mode engages THX ASA for the surround back channels that is supposed to enhance the main listening sphere. I like the mode and it never detracts from the movie track that is currently played back.
On 7.1 tracks if Ultra2 Plus Cinema is the default listening mode, the unit defaults to THX Cinema mode since it no longer needs to extrapolate the surround back channels with the THX ASA algorithm. Again, I find these modes the best of the best on the unit, but I do disable the THX Re-EQ curve unless the track is unnaturally harsh.
For BD audio, I typically let the BD player decode dts-MA or Dolby TrueHD to LPCM. When I have used the bitstreaming option I noticed no audible change between utilizing the receiver's lossless decoding algorithms vs. playback of the straight multi-channel LPCM audio. The Audyssey algorithms operates the same whether using internal or external decoding. I know some units from other manufactures limit Audyssey's ability depending if the source is bitstreamed or LPCM. One caveat I will add though is that many newer BD players are limiting the internal decoding ability. Some Panasonic units won't decode 7.1 Dolby TrueHD beyond 5.1 LPCM. The new Sony x100 BD player series is going even further of limiting internal Dolby decoding to 2.0 LPCM. So be aware that for some players the best option is bitstreaming of the lossless codecs. It seems to be regulated to Dolby for now and I am guessing it is more of a licensing issue related to how much the manufacturers have to pay per unit. In Dolby's case the fewer channels decoded probably means less cost to the manufacturers.... Ah cost cutting at its best or rather worst.
The unit effortlessly goes from low output near silence to reference level explosions and other high level output. In fact when going from long undemanding passages to a demanding one while standing near the unit in a special hidden menu you can hear the relays click and see the display confirm the unit went from low output mode to high output mode. After a period of time the unit will drop back to low output mode if the track doesn't have any strong passages. I have never felt that the unit was straining to reproduce audio.
Some of my favorite tracks that I have listened to on this unit are the following:
Pirates of the Carribean: Curse of the Black Pearl
On 2 channel sources there are a number of DSP modes to fill the room with music. I find that the best of these modes are Dolby ProLogic II - Music and the All Channel mode that essentially repeats the stereo signal among the speaker pairs (main, surround, surround back) and then extrapolates a center channel and utilizes the subwoofer channel if connected. It is probably the best mode if entertaining and want the room to be filled with sound.
Now to the complaints:
Onkyo has had a problem starting with the x07 and x007 lines that was not resolved until supposedly some point during the production run of the x009 line. Now Onkyo has supposedly stepped up to fix out of warranty units at least if purchased from authorized retailers and the original owner is still in possession. I myself was immune to this issue until 28 months after purchasing but I am currently awaiting resolution to the problem. The HDMI/DSP board fails with eventually all audio output failing. Also, network features start becoming intermittent. I did purchase an extended warranty, but Onkyo put the wrong serial number in the contract even though I have electronic records of the correct SN being given. Still waiting to hear if Onkyo is going to stand behind my unit.
Onkyo has had a history of making great audio products and like all manufacturers that have existed as long as Onkyo quality issues pop up occasionally. Again Onkyo has said they will fix the units affected by this issue, but it is so widespread that unless truly fixed that the vast majority of users can easily get 7-10 years out of their unit, I fear Onkyo may not outlast the bad image this latest debacle caused among their hardcore fans.
Another issue that many complain about with Onkyo is the heat produced and dissipated by the units. Now part of the issue is the amplifier design of the Onkyo units that feature a 3-stage Darlington A/B design. Heat byproduct is normal, but much of the heat seems to be emanating from the HDMI board. Now like many other products the more advanced they get, they stuff more and more complex designs into the same chasis space with heat dissipation an after thought. Onkyo has redesigned some of their HDMI boards and in addition a daughter boards has been added to some readjust the power to the board from 3.5V to 3.3V. Whether this has fixed Onkyo QC issue remains to be seen. This widespread issue doesn't typically show up until the unit is usually a year or more old. Time will tell if it is truly fixed or merely redesigned just enough to get the product well beyond the warranty period before the failure occurs again.
I have owned the following Onkyo receivers in the last six years, the well regarded TX-SR805, the true replacement to the TX-SR805... the TX-NR1007, and finally the TX-NR3008. Out of the three I liked the 3008 the best due to its advance processing features and the HQV Reon video processor. The 805 was not intended to do any video processing and it had no On Screen Overlay for HDMI sources. The 1007 had newer Audyssey features like Dynamic EQ, but its video processor was a plagued Faroudja design that suffered from a 24p bug that resulted in a frame being dropped every 40s or so since the Faroudja design took the 24p framerate literally (the actual frame rate of 24p is 23.976 frame/s resulting in 0.001% increase in frame rate, so after 1000 frames or 41.7s a frame is missed because the Faroudja is too slow at grabbing frames). It was hard to see but occasionally on fast action you could catch a glimpse of it. In rolling credits it became very easy to see like clockwork. The issue could be eliminated by turning off the VP but the user then lost any On Screen Display options. I was happy to see Onkyo completely drop Faroudja processing in recent years. The 3008 did not have the bug and which finally allowed me to use the video overlay feature without having to squint at the receivers LCD display to read at an awkward angle and long distance.