Several weeks ago I got an Integra DRX-R1 "Research Series" receiver. Integra decided to bring back their "Research Series" for 2016, which is comprised of their premier units with the most modern tech available from Integra.
Here is the link, from which you can read about the specs to your heart's delight:
My goal is not to review all the (many) features, but rather to give you my impressions so far.
My old receiver was a ~16 year old Marantz SR18-EX, which was an excellent receiver that was top-of-the-line back in its day. It has tons of features, a plethora of connections, 5.1 speaker support, pre-amp out for 7.1, and 130 watts of relatively good power, especially for a receiver. It also weights 53.9 pounds. Unfortunately, even though the unit works great, its lack of HDMI and lack of support for newer formats (both video and audio) meant it needed to be replaced.
The room in which I watch TV is relatively small, so I have no desire t go beyond 5.1, so my opinions are based on my 5.1 and 2.1 experiences. My speaker configuration is as follows:
-NHT 2.9 front left and front right
-NHT AC2 center
-crappy Bose dual cubes for rear left and rear right (they came pre-wired in the house and we don't plan on staying here for long)
-Velodyne DD18 subwoofer
Physically, the DRX-R1 is about the same size as the SR-18EX. Interestingly, the the DRX-R1 weighs less (49.6 pounds).
Physically setting up the unit was as simple/complex as any receiver. Everything is well labeled on the rear panel, and I encountered no issues. The unit comes with the "basic" manual, which is just that - very basic. The name would imply there is a more "advanced" manual, but it is not included, nor is there a self-evident link on the Integra website. To find the "advanced" manual you have to find the direct link on the first page of the "basic" manual, which points to a PDF on the Integra page, which was annoying.
Configuring the unit is relatively easy, but you really need/want the "advanced" manual to define all the various options. I did not figure out where the "advanced" manual link was hidden until I made a call to Integra support and had the technician review all the settings for which I had questions. Integra/Onkyo support is friendly and helpful - I called them many times over the first few days.
Speaker configuration was initially stock with respect to crossover levels. Since I have the channels available, I went ahead and bi-amped the 2.9's even though it is of questionable effect.
Per Integra support, I accepted the default settings initially. Unfortunately, as I put the receiver through its paces I found that I could not take the volume past 75 - all sound would cut out and the receiver would display "SP CHECK" on the front panel. My SR-18EX ran the existing speakers with the existing wiring fine for over 4 years, so I was afraid the DRX-R1 unit was faulty.
I called Integra support, and we went through disconnecting and testing each speaker individually, then adding them one at a time. It turns out that having BOTH rear speakers plugged in caused the issue - having just one plugged in (either left or right) worked fine, but running both caused the unit to "SP CHECK." I have a pair of NHT 1.5's that I will use as my "good" rear speakers when we move to a location in which I want to invest, and they were able to handle volume levels past 75 without causing the receiver to freak out.
Both Integra and the AV shop from which I purchased the receiver believed the issue to be with my wiring or the rear speakers themselves, so I called a local AV shop to come evaulate the situation. The technician solved the problem in 5 minutes - the Bose speakers did not like the crossover frequency setting that was the default (80Hz), and worked fine once we boosted this to the highest frequency possible (200Hz).
By way of information, I set the crossover on the 2.9's to 60Hz, 120Hz on the AC2, 200Hz on the Bose cubes, and the LPF to 120Hz.
Once this hiccup was solved I went ahead and ran AccuEQ. During the days of configuration I somehow lost the microphone, and during one of my calls to Integra support I mentioned this. They sent me a new microphone free of charge, and it arrived the day I found the missing microphone... Kudos to Integra/Onkyo support. AccuEQ worked relatively well - it was very accurate in determining speaker distance, and the level adjustments seemed accurate as well (I do not have an SPL to verify). My personal preference is for more bass than it configured, and I also prefer my rears at a higher level than it configured, but it was a good way to get started. As an aside, I tuned the DD18 first via its microphone/GUI, then did AccuEQ.
Performance-wise, the unit works well and sounds good. Perhaps it is 16 years of SR-18EX use, but I think the Marantz's power was cleaner/better, but only by a little. By default, the DRX-R1 output set set to "Dolby Surround" regardless of the input signal. I set my SR-18EX to "auto" so that it would play the audio "correctly," and did the same to the DRX-R1 (via the "straight decode" setting). This led to an unsatisfactory experience. Whereas the SR-18EX would silently switch to the correct format seemlessly, the DRX-R1 experiences a half-second silence along with an audible click from the receiver itself. This was not an issue when watching movies, where the audio format was static, but when watching TV via my TiVo it led to a lot of changes, especially as commercials evidently use different audio formats, and caused the receiver to be silent and click many times in just a few minutes of viewing. Thus, I used the "Dolby Surround" defaults on the TiVo and "straight decode" on the BluRay player. When listening to music I force the unit to stereo mode.
Movies and music sound good, as good as my SR-18EX, which was my hope. Although packed with tons of features, it does lack one feature that I will miss from my SR-18EX - optical out. I connected a set of wireless headphones to the SR-18EX's optical out, which mirrored the current audio to that output. Thus, I could mute the speakers and use the headphones to listen to whatever was on the TV. The DRX-R1 lacks such a feature, but it is by no means a deal-breaker.
Overall, I am pleased with the DRX-R1. It has tons of features, many of which I will not be using for a while (e.g., Atmos, multi-room, etc.). With the exceptions of the hiccups mentioned, it is easy to set up and use. Firmware updates are simple, AirPlay works fine (no video, just audio), configuration is not too difficult, and support is great.
Is it worth $3,000? I hope so... Buying leading edge ~16 years ago got me a great receiver in the SR-18EX that I truly enjoyed. My hope is that the DRX-R1 will not only have the features to which I want to expand over the years but also be of sufficient quality to give me many years of problem-free use. I admittedly could have spent far less for the features I currently use, so I legitimize the expense according to those aforementioned factors. Time will tell...