Type: 7.2 channel AV Receiver
Specs: Click here for full specs
Onkyo have built a solid reputation for themselves by offering affordable AV kits that consistently perform as well as their more expensive rivals. Their latest effort, the TX-NR609, may be their best mid-range AV receiver yet, packing in a a range of web-connected audio features, including Spotify.
More-or-less maintaining the chunky black look of last year’s range (though silver models are available too) the Onkyo TX-NR609 is a satisfyingly sturdy affair. Source and Mode controls are placed along a thin groove within the flat face of the receiver, with a chunky master volume dial to the right and an easy-to-read screen sitting near the top edge.
Six HDMI v1.4 input ports can be found on the receiver (including one sensibly on the front), suitable for full HD 3D signals, 1 output HDMI, as well as twin optical and twin coaxial digital inputs, a USB port for media playback and iPods, Zone 2 output, PC IN, component, composite, a Universal Port for Onkyo peripherals and of course the myriad connections for hooking up your surround speakers. An Ethernet port is included for accessing the many web features included here, and though Onkyo have an adapter planned in the pipeline, it’s a shame the TX-NR609 doesn’t ship with a wireless internet solution.
Set up is an incredibly simple affair thanks to the Audyssey 2EQ wizard. Plugging a supplied mic into the front of the unit that monitors a series of test tones, it intelligently weighs the volume and width of the sound image sent out from each speaker. You can of course tweak all manner of speaker distance, volume and panorama settings manually should you so desire, and a clean onscreen interface makes it a breeze to do so.
The connected capabilities here are incredible given the price tag. Chief among these is Spotify playback; those with a Premium account for the music streaming service will be able to check out all their playlists in a nicely presented user interface that includes artwork alongside “What’s New” and “Starred track” tabs. If you’ve yet to sign up to the 10 million-strong song streaming catalogue, it should be your top priority if you purchase this receiver. Equally well presented are vTuner internet radio, Napster, Last.fm and DLNA-certified music streaming across your network, all accessible from a dedicated “Net” remote button.
If the range of web connected features wasn’t enough to tickle your fancy, then audio quality certainly should. The TX-NR609 again performs marvellously here. THX Select2 Plus-certified, it has no problem decoding all manner of HD audio formats, also offering Dolby Pro Logic IIz and Audyssey DSX processing. Twin subwoofer outputs (hence the 7.2 categorisation) allow for a surprisingly sharp bass response, backed by a healthy 120 watts available to each speaker. In practice, it lead to truly dynamic sound reproduction from our Star Trek test Blu-ray; thunderous explosions resonated ground shakingly in the opening battle scene, while the sounds of sparking circuitry and tinkering glass scattered around the room with great fidelity at all but the highest of volumes. That then would be our one concern; that signal/noise ratings don’t quite seem to match those quoted in the specs by Onkyo, distorting noticeably along higher volume levels.
Though it doesn’t have much of a practical application at this point, the receiver also supports Marvell Qdeo 4K video upscaling, four times the pixel pushing power of 1080p upscaling to a whopping 3840 x 2160. 4K displays currently cost a bomb and are specialist items, but it’s nice to know this receiver is future-proofed, particularly considering that the likes of Toshiba have glasses-free 3D sets supporting the feature waiting in the wings.
The features-to-pricing ratio on the TX-NR609 could easily lead you to believe that Onkyo would had to have had cut corners somewhere on this receiver, but that’s plainly not the case. From the rich, detailed sound of the 7 channel amp to the painless mic set-up and slick Spotify interface, it’s a real winner. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better receiver in the sub-£500 price bracket than this one.