Here's a little trivia for you: THX, the cinema sound quality certification, was introduced in 1983 by Lucasfilm so every terrible line of dialogue from Return of the Jedi could be heard exactly as ol' moneybags intended it. Later, the standard made its way to consumer electronics, designed to guarantee high-quality home cinema sound -- even in films that don't make you weep with frustration and nostalgia.
The Onkyo TX-SR706, like many of its brothers, comes with the THX stamp of quality, which means as long as you take care with the installation and use good speakers, you should be able to experience cinema-quality sound -- without the over-priced stale nachos and chavs chatting constantly.
As you might imagine, the SR-706 is ready for the latest lossless audio codecs, DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD, so if you're a Blu-ray lover, you'll get some impressive performance. You need HDMI 1.3 to make this work and the 706 has four such inputs, and one output. Handy if you've got loads of kit and not many HDMI sockets on your TV.
You also get 1080p upscaling, for DVDs and other standard-definition sources, provided in this case by Faroudja DCDi. Audyssey MultEQ will ensure that your system delivers the best sound in your room, even if it is a slightly odd shape, or if it's full of cats. You can also have a second zone connected, which is useful if you want to listen to music in the bedroom without buying a whole new stereo system.
All seven channels can output up to 160W of power, which is frankly enough to make your entire street hate you. That said, the inclusion of THX Loudness Plus means that the amplifier is designed to produce great quality sound at much lower power levels than before. So perhaps you can still get that cup of sugar from the nice lady next door.
The Onkyo TX-SR706 will be available for around £600 from September. You can have it finished in either black or silver -- black is our suggestion, it looks a fair bit cooler than ostentatious silver. -Ian Morris