New this year on Onkyo receivers is the "universal port," which a is proprietary connection used to connect Onkyo-branded accessories. Current universal port-compatible accessories include the UP-HT1 HD radio tuner ($160), DS-A3 iPod dock ($140), and UP-A1 iPhone dock ($110). The accessories certainly aren't cheap, but they have some advantages over buying separate components in that they'll work with your AV receiver remote and can interact with the onscreen display. Also new on the TX-SR607 are two subwoofer outputs, for those who want to run a dual subwoofer configuration.
|Line level 2nd zone outputs||Yes||Line level 3rd zone outputs||No|
|Speaker-level 2nd zone outputs||Yes||Speaker-level 3rd zone outputs||No|
|2nd zone video output||No||2nd zone remote||No|
Multiroom functionality is basic on the TX-SR607, with second-zone functionality offered using line-level or speaker-level outputs. Note that using the second zone speaker-level outputs require you use the would-be surround back channels of a 7.1 configuration; you can't have a 7.1 setup and a second zone.
Dolby Pro Logic IIz
The TX-SR607 receiver is the first receiver we've tested to feature Dolby's new Pro Logic IIz matrix processing. The system uses front height speakers mounted above the main left and right speakers to create a large, more lifelike sound. (Although there are enough speaker jacks to accommodate nine speakers, only seven can be used at a time.) We used Aperion Intimus 4Bs as height channel speakers, the same model as our surround speakers. Ideally, the height channel speakers should be wall-mounted directly above and at least 3 feet higher than the tops of the main left/right speakers; we couldn't wall mount the height speakers so we placed them on tall speaker stands placed on our equipment cabinet.
Unfortunately, the TX-SR607's height channel speaker connectors (spring clip type) only accept stripped bare wire ends or cables terminated with pins. We didn't have pins handy, so we went with stripped wires. Because the spring clips are so tightly spaced, chances of accidental shorting with a stray wire strand are high, so be extra careful making those connections. The TX-SR607's other speaker binding posts accept banana plugs, bare wires or pins.
We started listening to a bunch of Blu-ray and DVD discs using Pro Logic IIz processing, including "3:10 to Yuma" and "The Golden Compass," but couldn't hear any difference when we switched between Pro Logic IIz processing and standard Dolby Digital (which doesn't use the height speakers at all.) Increasing the height speaker volume by 3 decibels didn't help, as we still couldn't hear the height speakers. At times it would seem like we were hearing sound from up above, but when we flipped back to standard Dolby Digital we heard the same effect from the traditional 5.1 setup.
Our listening position was about 8 feet from the front speakers, so we stood up and moved much closer to the front speakers to hear the height speakers. Getting close confirmed that there was sound coming out of the speakers, but when we moved back to the couch the height speakers' sound faded away.
After contacting Dolby, we tried some recommended scenes, such as the rainy beginning of "Ratatouille" or the orchestral swells of "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," but we still didn't feel like the height channels were adding anything. Otherwise, both films sounded excellent, with tremendous detail resolution. After our listening session, our conclusion was that the extra two speakers would be better served in a traditional 7.1 arrangement, with surround back left/right speakers. The bottom line is we didn't feel that Dolby Pro Logic IIz processing added much to the value of the TX-SR607, and we wouldn't recommend people going through the hassle of setting up their home theaters in that arrangement.
Moving our Aperion system back to a traditional surround sound setup, we found the TX-SR607's sound quality was well above average for its price class, and comparisons with our reference Denon AVR 3808CI receiver ($1,699 MSRP) were too close to call. The two receivers sounded alike, at moderate volume. Cranking the volume way up, the Denon had the edge, as the Onkyo couldn't quite keep up when driven that hard. That's no surprise, though, considering the Denon is more than twice the price of the Onkyo.
The "Vantage Point" Blu-ray came loaded with action, especially the full-on surround spectacular in a town square in Spain where a U.S. president is targeted for assassination. The gunshot blasts ricochet around the square, and the panicked crowd's screams, and the massive terrorist bomb explosions didn't phase the TX-SR607 one bit.
Rock, jazz, and classical CDs were auditioned in stereo, and the soundstage was impressively deep and wide. Even without the subwoofer's help, the Aperion Intimus 4T tower speakers produced a full, rich sound. Treble detail was delicate and natural, without the edgy glare we've heard from some receivers.
The Onkyo TX-SR607 is capable of upconverting analog signals to its HDMI output, so we put it through our video testing suite. We connected the Sony BDP-S360 via component video to the TX-SR607, with the BDP-S360 set to 480i output. The TX-SR607 was set to output at 1080i over its HDMI output, connected to the Sony KDL-52XBR7.
We've complained about Onkyo's upconverted image quality on previous models and the TX-SR607 suffers from the exact same issues. First we looked at test patterns from Silicon Optix's "HQV" test disc. The initial resolution pattern told the whole story, as the TX-SR607 was clearly not depicting the full resolution of DVD. On every image we saw, there appeared to be comblike artifacts on nearly everything, indicating how much resolution was actually missing. The TX-SR607 failed the other jaggies and 2:3 pull-down tests we looked at as well, but the limited resolution was almost always the more obvious deficiency.
We switched over to program material, and the TX-SR607 continued to struggle. Generally we look at titles like Star Trek: Insurrection and Seabiscuit for issues like excessive jaggies or faulty 2:3 pull-down processing, but again the loss of resolution was visible in every scene and for many it would be considered unwatchable.
Luckily, these issues only occur if you're trying to upconvert analog signals to 1080i. Instead, you can set the TX-SR607 to "through" mode, which means the TX-SR607 will convert the analog signals to HDMI, but leave it at 480i for your HDTV to do the upconversion. In nearly all cases, this will result in better image quality, as long your HDTV can accept a 480i signal over HDMI. The main takeaway is that you shouldn't go with the TX-SR607 if you're looking for an AV receiver with excellent upconversion video quality, but with almost all new gadgets (except the Nintendo Wii) featuring HDMI, we expect fewer people actually need that capability.