What a sad experience I've had with my Onkyo PR
-SC5507, a unit that seemed on paper to be an exceptionally great product. And when I spent weeks running side by side sound tests in my AV room against two or three other high end prepros is also was the best sounding. I was super happy with it.
But then . . .
First there was the issue with the endless loud mechanical relay clicking whenever inputs were changed, sound formats changed, or every time I pressed pause, stop, play, or skip on a DVD or my DVR. Drove me crazy and despite multiple statements by Onkyo that it was a manufacturing defect and then eventually that it was being fixed via a firmware update, this never happened. The issue was that any time an encoded digital stream such as dolby digital stopped or started, the processor would switch a loud mechanical relay. A stream stop followed by start meant two clicks. Skip ahead through a two minute commercial break in 30 second increments? 8 clicks. Fun. The only work around I found was to do digital audio decoding in the source devices and send raw bitstreams to the Onkyo but some devices were not capable of doing this. And it defeats much of the purpose of an expensive processor.
Then there were the occasional loud "pop" sounds coming from the unit that I eventually concluded were capacitors exploding. Why? Overvoltage? Cheap quality? Reversed direction? As the unit lost more and more caps I think the sound quality degraded.
Then the network connection became flaky and I had trouble getting it to connect or accept firmware updates, which I was desperate to receive in hope of solving the relay clicks.
Then the HDMI output started intermittently failing with no output. For some months it would come back alive after a few hard power resets and unplugs.
Then all the audio died and never would not come back. At this point I contacted Onkyo and they allowed me the honor of shipping it to them for repair at my cost since it was still within its original warranty. They changed out some circuit cards and sent it back to me.
Within a few days I started hearing caps pop once again so I figured they had simply replaced the faulty circuit cards with identical misdesigned copies. This continued for another few years and the pattern above repeated.
I was living in a different house than this sound system for a few years and when I went back this year to move it, the Onkyo died again, losing all audio output.
I learned about the extended program Onkyo has offered until 12/2018. At first I was happy to see that I might get my unit repaired or replace it at low cost. I don't really want a new unit until HDMI 2.1 is solid, in 1-2 years. But I have little choice because there is no repair option now. And the replacement options are all expensive, ranging from $1300 to $1900 plus tax. I looked up the offered units online, which included the high end Onkyo receivers and prepro, but the reduced Onkyo price with tax is nearly equal to the online sales price for brand new factory sealed units from factory authorized sellers, excluding the major players like Crutchfield and Bestbuy that are ~50% higher.
Hence if I use the Onkyo program I will be spending as much as buying the same new unit from a legit online seller. And I will be rewarding Onkyo for screwing me over badly on the PR
-SC5507. And I will be signing up to possibly another product life cycle of pain.
It pains me greatly to scrap this Onkyo prepro before its time, and spend $2K+ to buy a new unit from Marantz, Yamaha, etc. Especially since that unit will not support HDMI 2.1 and hence in one year may be significantly obsoleted. I might instead buy a cheaper receiver with preouts and use that as a temporary solution until a good HDMI 2.1 prepro is released.
Maybe this whole idea of buying expensive and very complex high end prepros or receivers is dumb. Before the Onkyo I had a Denon receiver which is still alive but barely, and was taken out of my main system because shortly out of warranty is started having temperature related sound failures where it has to warm up for 5-10 minutes before audio works. So I swore not to buy another Denon. Before that I had a Sony ES receiver that shortly out of warranty has some failure that degraded sound quality and caused the front panel display to "fluctuate". So I swore not to buy another Sony.
And each of these units was only really technically good for a few years before they were missing some desirable new feature. Even if they hadn't been so terribly unreliable I would still have wanted to replace them every 3 years. Maybe the best compromise path is to keep with the separates approach using a really nice amp, but not buy a matching expensive prepro that will be too quickly obsolete or inherently unreliable due to complexity. There are many medium range receivers with preouts and they are much less expensive. I could buy, use for 3 years, sell, repeat, and always be technology current. Might give up a bit of sound quality but I'll bet there are some pretty good receivers for $500-1000, excluding their integrated amps that I don't plan to use.
Anyway, goodbye Onkyo. You now join my black list.