Working with many Onkyo components (mainly receivers) has become so repetitive I haven't had to open a manual in quite sometime. Hooking up the Onkyo 5507 Pro I decided to treat it like homework and actually read it. I found it had some pretty good info and I thought it explained the new sound modes Height and DSX in good detail. So after spending some quality time with the Receivers I was anxious to finally get my hands on their the new pre-pro. So how does it stack up using my AMPS?
I used to have an Emotiva MPS-2 AMP which I was fairly satisfied with. I then decided to try a B&K 200.7 AMP and have been blown away with the upgrade in sound quality. Especially the Center channel and how clear the voices have become. Deep and distinct with pristine clarity to be exact! Since I am running Height speakers above my Fronts I needed a 2 Channel AMP and decided on the flexible Niles SI 275. It has been more than adequate and my Height sound has ever sounded better. Especially with sports! I have always had good sound in my theater but this set up is that much better. So what does the 5507P bring to the rack?
For one thing I can use my XLR Balanced cables. Of course I also am using RCAs still for hooking up the Heights to the Niles AMP. It also gives you 8 HDMI inputs (one in front) which these days you can't have to many of. My favorite new option on the latest from Onkyo is the Ethernet ability to do firmware updates. Which will come in handy (hopefully soon) when they address the audio drop out issue (more on that later)...
Sound Experiences... First heading into Blu ray (using Height sound) I was more than impressed with DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD soundtracks. Bullets were flying everywhere and rain made my dog nervous. Voices (again) were the best I have heard to date. Being Thanksgiving the family wanted to watch Four Christmases and even that movies sounded terrific. The dialog seemed as if they were in the theater with us. The moments there happened to be surround sound really grabbed your attention. And yes I am talking about Four Christmases! Other action titles were pure ear candy. Gaming, I was also impressed with the sound of Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 2 from the Xbox 360. The bullets and explosions really sucked me into the game. Same for Madden 10 and the crowd. DirecTV on the other hand was good when watching live. Especially football. The Heights above the Fronts really sparkled. I have discovered my favorite sound mode for sports is PLIIx with DSX. That really keeps the Rears and Backs into the game while showing what Height speakers can do. Hearing the QB bark out signals or just the crowd roaring will make your heart pound. I was also shocked to hear even more clearly than before the idle chatter of the crowd between plays and even some players talking trash (sometimes using expletives). Speaking of DirecTV let's discuss...
ISSUE: The audio drop outs that seem to occur with Dolby Digital programming that is recorded is a know issue and they are working on it. We record Dexter, Supernatural as well as a few other shows and it seems common to experience a couple drop outs per show. I will say the 5507 has had some (more so than the 1007/3007 I just had here which were very few and far between) and it can be quite frustrating. It has only happened with recorded programs from DirecTV. Using two different HD DVRs (HR21 PRO and HR23). If the sound was not as good as it is with Blu rays and live TV it would be hard to put up with it. But it is. I will suggest trying to hang in there while they get to the bottom of this. I have submitted a pretty large report to the engineer crew to assist them. So here's to hoping...
Enough with sound. How about Video. The 5507 (like its higher end cousin receivers) has the HQV REON VX chip. I have been very impressed with the picture quality when sending in 1080i (from DirecTV) and then having it deinterlace to 1080p. You have plenty of video calibration options. You can even have it convert a source to 1080p/24! In the pics below you will see many of the options. Not only do you get "universal" brightness and contrast settings you also get them for Red, Green and Blue. Same goes for setting the Gamma Curve! You can literally dial the image (while seeing it) to near perfection. And of course you also get Hue and Saturation adjustments. You also have your ISF night and day as well as custom settings. There is also Edge Enhancement (which strangely works well), Mosquito NR, Random NR and Block NR. There is also a Picture mode (Auto, Film, Video). I found Auto to work well. I did see a slight stutter during the football games yesterday and changing it to Video cured it. There is also a ZOOM mode which allows different Aspect Ratios. I included a few pics from a couple movies but will definitely add more over the next day or so. With family in for the Holiday it has been tough getting more time. Let's just say this is the best scaling chip I have seen to date in a Receiver/pre-pro.
Remote... I like the lighted remote (pic below) and this latest gen really has a nice button layout. They are glossy and classy looking. They also have some "key" commands that will help you out when you first set up and are trying to get used to the 5507. Hitting the Display button will tell you exactly what is coming in (sound and video wise) and also tell you what you are sending out. Even if you are doing upconverted color 10 bit or 12 bit! You also have an Audio button hat allows quick Bass and Treble adjusting. Not to mention we also get a Video command that will allow you to change resolution on the fly. And of course you get THX and other sound mode options as well as all your direct input selections. Speaking of sound mode options lets spend a minute on them...
THX Ultra 2 has always been my "sweet spot" of sound modes for movies. Since I started using the Height speakers I have been undecided. I am warming up to THX Cinema with Height but also have been using the plain PLIIz Height as well. That works generally well with DirecTV movies and shows. Game Modes have worked surprisingly well. I noticed a difference (for the better) when engaging them for sports and action games. And when I watch Curb Your Enthusiasm or Seinfeld I like Onkyo's TV Logic mode. We also like the THX Loudness Plus engaged and find it the most effective in our room. Dynamic EQ also works pretty good to.
Other stuff... Heat. I am sure someone will ask so I will just say the vents on the top of the 5507 do not start until near the back. Without having to push speakers the 5507 only gets warm. I still use an Antec Component Cooler because it doesn't need any days off.
Audyssey MultEQ XT... When doing it I suggest making sure you do all the sitting positions it offers. The more info the better. I have always been impressed with how it figures out each room and just how accurate it calculates. I am impressed with the quality of these mics to. Calibrating each Subwoofer separately was also a plus. I also have to give them kudos on their new DSX sound. I really like it for sports (using the speaker in the Height position above the Fronts). It has really opened my ears when watching the games. This year's Superbowl will easily be the most impressive (at least at kickoff).
Analog and HDMI Sound... I used my Pioneer 09FD to do analog with the 5507.Two channel sound was awesome so for you 2 channel fans, you will not be disappointed. And using the Pioneer's 7.1 outs also proved to be astounding. The 5507 allows for tweaking so you can pick the sound mode of our choice if you choose to. The Pioneer 09FD has 2 HDMI outs. You can send one into the 5507 and then send the other to your display or you can use the analog outs and send a HDMI out straight to your display. The 5507 will pass 36 bit upconverted color so no worries there but I a fan of sending the image straight to the display (no detours) for optimal results. I suggest trying both (HDMI and analog sound). Each set up may yeild different results. And of course different Blu ray players will also play a factor. I will say there is a reason analog sound has still made into our higher end products today.
Firmware Updating... Couldn't be easier. I use Netgear XAV101s for my Blu ray players and Receiver/pre-pros. I have never had an issue finding the Net. I included a few pics of the process below.
A few other things... You also get SiriusXM satellite radio. USB input for flash drive (audio). I also like it because my USB light plugs into it and it works! Not to mention regular terrestrial radio (remind me what that is again). And I almost forgot you get AV Lip sync adjusting and X.V. Color enabling. Might come in handy if you connect a Sony camcorder... And yes there are 3 12 volt trigger outs.
I know I barely scratched the surface with what this pre-pro can do. I look forward to adding more info and participating in Owner and prospected Owner discussions. The 5507 is very flexible and easy to set up (check out the sharp GUI in the pics below, even the Volume indicator looks crisp and classy)... Simply put the Onkyo PR-SC5507P is the best pre-pro available today. With its vast amount of features (top notch scaling with superior adjusting) and options (Height and DSX sound to name a couple) you would be hard pressed to find better. And that goes for pre-pros that cost three times as much. Maybe one day when they get with the Height speaker program but until then the 5507P is the only game (and movie) in town...
I would like to thank everyone for reading and for their support. If you are looking for a good trusted source send me a PM.
I would also like to announce this will most likely be my last Review of 2009 and look forward to next year. It's been a fun year!
DVDO DUO VP (for comparison)
B&K 200.7 AMP
Niles SI 275 2 channel AMP
Pioneer 09FD Blu ray player
DirecTV HR21 Pro and HR23 HD DVR
Sony VPL VW85 Projector
Carada Masquerade Masking System
Vutec SilverStar 120.5" Screen
Harmony 1100 Remote
SuperK 555 x 4
BD500 OW x 2 for Heights
BD2000s x 2
JBL Arenas x 2
Digital Sub 600
MTX Lolitas x 4
Up Next: Possibly the Denon 4810... Stay tuned...