Onkyo TX-NR5007 review: Onkyo TX-NR5007

If you're using a Sky or Virgin set-top box, then you'll need to make sure you connect it with an optical or coaxial digital connector to the TX-NR5007, as well as run the video over HDMI. This is because most of these set-top boxes refuse to support Dolby Digital over HDMI, which means that, without a digital audio cable, you won't be getting the best out of your high-definition TV service.

The good news is that, as with all of Onkyo's receivers, the inputs are totally configurable, so, if you want to take audio from another input, say, an optical digital one, then the TX-NR5007 allows you to select this source as an alternative to taking the audio transmitted on the HDMI connection. This is all done through the brilliant menu system, which is graphically pleasing and surprising straightforward to use, once you've had some practice.

9.2-channel surround sound
The TX-NR5007 can drive 11 channels at any one time. You can divide these up as you see fit. So, if you want 5.1-channel surround sound, and two additional stereo zones, you can make it so. If you want to have 7.1-channel surround sound, with additional high-mounted front speakers for Dolby Pro Logic IIz height audio, then that's no problem either. And, if having two subwoofers takes your fancy, then the TX-NR5007 is more than happy to oblige in this regard too.

In our test set-up, we opted for 5.1-channel surround sound, which will be more than sufficient for most people. It's also by far the most sensible option for testing Freeview HD content, DVDs and Blu-rays. We used a set of Monitor Audio Silver RX speakers, which we drove pretty hard for this review.

Setting the TX-NR5007 up is an important process. Onkyo includes an auto-set-up microphone, which you connect to the receiver once you've positioned your speakers, run the cable and plugged everything in. This is a hassle-free way to get the system balanced for your listening environment, but we generally ended up hating the resulting sound.

We usually find that the automatic method puts too little audio through the rear effects channels, and doesn't push as much as we'd like through the centre channel. We prefer to adjust the levels for each channel ourselves. The receiver can produce white noise to help you do this. We set all the channels so they produced sound at the same level, and then we gave a little extra boost to the centre channel. How you approach the set-up is entirely up to you, but make sure you tweak the settings until you're happy with the final result.

Sounds good to us
How does this beast sound? In a word: terrific. We've tested quite a few AV receivers, and various other surround-sound set-ups in our time, but the TX-NR5007 is without doubt our favourite so far. It manages to deliver fantastic-quality audio at truly earth-shattering levels.

We tested dozens of Blu-ray movies with the TX-NR5007, and it always produced clean, clear and detailed sound. From the MGM lion roaring at the start of Casino Royale to the ear-bursting noise that the departing spacecraft makes in District 9, this receiver does a truly stunning job.

The Dolby Pro Logic modes also help get the best out of standard-definition stereo audio -- or audio with multiplexed surround sound. With all of this kind of material, the TX-NR5007 will steer sound to the right channels and deliver pleasing, clear audio. That's something we're very keen on, given the abysmal audio quality you get from most TVs. Hooking your telly up via RCA stereo or -- even better -- digital audio is strongly recommended.

Music sounds good too. This receiver certainly puts in a very impressive musical performance when you make sure it's in the right mode. Onkyo provides many different music presets for this purpose, and we'd encourage you to try them all until you find one that works best for your music. If you want pure sound, hit the 'direct' mode up. If you want plenty of impact, with deep bass, the THX and Dolby music modes are both well worth a perusal. We also like the 'all channel stereo' setting, which probably gives the best balance of all the possible options.

Onkyo has spent a great deal of time and R&D budget getting its amplification technology right for this receiver, and we think it shows in the final product, which sounds amazing. The reason this receiver weighs as much as a teenager is that its amplification gear is designed to be as good as is technically possible.

The Onkyo TX-NR5007 is expensive and too powerful for most households' requirements, but we love it with all our hearts. If you can afford it, we're confident you'll feel as well disposed towards it as we do.

Edited by Charles Kloet