Instead of the usual B speaker outputs, the TX-SR674 features stereo Zone 2 speaker outputs, which can be fed a different source--say, XM radio--while the main 5.1 system is playing a DVD. Other multizone provisions include analog stereo outputs, a 12-volt trigger output, and infrared input.
Onkyo 2006 A/V receivers compared:
(These models will remain current through the first two quarters of 2007.)
|Onkyo TX-SR304||Onkyo's entry-level 5.1-channel A/V receiver offers component video switching between three inputs.|
|Onkyo TX-SR504||The step-up to the TX-SR304 is a 7.1-channel model that adds more power, more A/V inputs, and XM satellite radio capability.|
|Onkyo TX-SR574||The TX-SR574 improves on the SR504 by adding the ability to convert any composite or S-Video input to component-video output.|
|Onkyo TX-SR604||Replacing the earlier TX-SR603X, the SR604 is Onkyo's most affordable receiver to offer Audyssey auto speaker calibration and HDMI switching between two sources.|
|Onkyo TX-SR674||One-upping the HDMI switching on the SR604, the Onkyo TX-SR674 adds the ability to convert analog video sources (composite, S-Video, component) to HDMI.|
|Onkyo TX-SR703||A 2005 holdover, the TX-SR703 is THX Select2 certified, but it offers no HDMI connectivity and lacks support for the latest XM surround formats.|
|Onkyo TX-SR803||Also a holdover from the 2005 line, the TX-SR803 improves upon the SR703 by adding support for two HDMI sources but lacks the TX-SR674's ability to convert analog video to HDMI output.|
|Onkyo TX-NR1000||Onkyo's flagship receiver, released in 2005, offers plug-in circuit boards for PC-style upgradeability.|
We used the United 93 DVD to evaluate the TX-SR674's home-theater skills. The film steers clear of flashy special effects, slowly building tension as the events of the fateful day unfold. The film's near-documentary style puts you inside the jet and the various air traffic control towers--the sound is low key, yet startlingly realistic, and the rising terror of the film is palpable. When the hijackers take control of the plane, the panicked screams of the flight attendants and passengers are chilling. The film doesn't overuse the surround channels, but the drama of the doomed plane is absolutely vivid. The TX-SR674's sure-footed clarity added immensely to the experience.
Taking advantage of the TX-SR674's HDMI switching for DVD-Audio, we listened to Led Zeppelin's How The West Was Won disc. Wow--the sound, especially on the acoustic tunes, had the sort of warm, natural detail that's impossible to replicate on CD. The live concert sound of the surround mix was beautifully rendered, and the electric tunes' uninhibited dynamics packed the sort of wallop that we don't expect from $700 A/V receivers. Bass was full, rich, and powerful with excellent definition, perfectly replicating the bottom heavy pulse proved by Zeppelin drummer John Bonham. Since we had both the HDMI and six analog cables hooked up between the Marantz DV9600 player and the Onkyo, we compared the sound of the two connections. The differences weren't huge, but we definitely gave the nod to HDMI, because the bass had more weight and the surround mix seemed a little more coherent and seamless. The sense of being there at the concert was that much more complete with the HDMI connection.
CD sound, in plain old stereo, was also superb, and on the Persuasions Sing U2 disc, the TX-SR674 projected a three-dimensional soundstage. It was so good we never even bothered listening to the music in Dolby Pro Logic IIx surround. The Persuasions are an a cappella group, and each of their voices had its own distinctive presence.