With the possible exception of Marantz, AV manufacturers have kept the style of their receivers fairly consistent for the past few years. Onkyo is guilty of this, and looking at the TX-SR578 you can immediately tell its origins. It's no beauty queen, but its no-nonsense looks and design are the result of years of experience.
The unit we received was black, and it was offset by the familiar Onkyo green LED readout. It's short and squat as far as these devices go, and comes with a usable selection of controls on the fascia. While many companies now opt for a source selector dial, Onkyo is one of the few companies that still provides a button for each source which we think enhances usability.
Being a "budget" component, the remote shipped with the unit is sparse, but very usable. It's not backlit, but you'll find it does everything you need it to.
Like many of the receivers released in 2010, the TX-SR578 features compatibility with 3D sources via any one of its four HDMI 1.4a ports — andis also supported. The ports cover the most popular source types with selections such as "BD", "DVR" and "Game".
The Onkyo also offers its proprietary universal port, which can be connected the UP-DT1 DAB+ tuner (AU$399) or optional iPod dock. This makes the SR578 one of the few receivers to offer DAB+ playback. Through this connection the receiver will also pull down current song information and display it on the front of the unit.
One limiting factor of this receiver is that the number of sources is essentially restricted to six, plus a front-mounted auxiliary for portable devices.
The SR578 is capable of 80W per channel in stereo, but the company hasn't been so forthcoming on its specs in surround mode. However, it does note that the unit features Onkyo's WRAT (Wide Range Amplifier Technology) and a "High-Current Low-Impedance Drive".
For audio processing, the receiver uses a high-quality Burr-Brown 192kHz/24-bit DAC (PCM1690) and comes with the Audyssey automated set-up system.
In terms of video processing, the Onkyo offers 1080p upscaling of all video sources using Faroudja DCDi Cinema via HDMI, and can decode lossless HD audio formats from Dolby and DTS; plus Dolby Pro Logic IIz for adding "height" channels to your system.