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Onkyo TX-SR602 review: Onkyo TX-SR602

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The Good 7.1-channel A/V receiver; full autosetup; bass and treble controls plus five-band equalizer; above-average FM performance; flexible Zone 2 operation; excellent remote.

The Bad Inaccurate and awkwardly implemented autosetup calibration; cannot upconvert composite video or S-Video to component.

The Bottom Line Onkyo's midprice A/V receiver offers state-of-the-art performance and features--as long as you don't need autosetup.

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6.3 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 6
  • Performance 7

We wouldn't blame Onkyo if it didn't want to trifle with last year's excellent $500 A/V 6.1-channel receiver, the TX-SR601. But that's not the way Onkyo works. The new TX-SR602 retains all the SR601's goodies and loads on another channel of amplification for full-blown 7.1 operation, not to mention a new automatic calibration feature and Dolby Pro Logic IIx processing. The price remains the same as last year's model's, so what's the catch? The company's attempt at autocalibration falls short of other methods we've tested in models such as the Pioneer VSX-D914K and the Yamaha RX-V1500. But if you can handle doing the setup manually, the Onkyo TX-SR602 represents a solid value among midline receivers.

As $500 receivers go, the Onkyo TX-SR602 is a fairly large, well-appointed unit that consumes 17 inches of shelf depth and weighs a solid 32.6 pounds. The handsome receiver is available in silver or black finishes.

The large, partially backlit remote will be familiar to anyone who has used an Onkyo receiver over the past few years, and that's all right with us. Onkyo's remotes are among the most logically laid out and easiest to use, and it offers a full-size set of DVD player controls. Bass and treble controls are conveniently located on the receiver's front panel.

The SR602's automatic setup routine fell short of our expectations. The system gauges how many speakers you have hooked up, determines whether they're large or small in terms of their ability to handle bass, measures their distances from the listening position, and balances the volume levels of the speakers and the subwoofer. Well, that's what it's supposed to do, but in our tests, it failed to detect the presence of our subwoofer. We ran the autotest sequence a few more times without success, even after we manually raised its volume level and repositioned the setup microphone. We next tried to get the sub back in the game with the SR602's manual setup, but the receiver steadfastly refused our best efforts to access the setup menu (it had worked normally before we engaged the autosetup system).

We eventually spoke with an Onkyo engineer who shed a little light on the SR602's eccentricities. He suggested we turn our subwoofer's volume control all the way up and clued us into the receiver's secret reset routine (press the Video 1 button while powering down the SR602) so that we could go in and manually turn the subwoofer output back on--too bad Onkyo didn't include those tips in the owner's manual. In any case, we strongly recommend avoiding the autosetup--you'll have better results if you stick with the manual routine.

The Onkyo TX-SR602's power section includes 7 85-watt channels and all of the standard Dolby and DTS 7.1-channel surround processing schemes.

Connectivity provisions run to five separate A/V sources, all with S-Video and composite video--one set of inputs is on the front panel--and three of which can utilize component-video inputs. While the TX-SR602 can upconvert composite-video sources to S-Video, it can't output composite-video or S-Video sources via its component-video output as units such as Denon's AVR-1705 can. Onkyo also included a set of SACD/DVD-Audio inputs; two stereo sources plus tape output; and a total of six digital inputs--four optical (one on the front) and two coaxial inputs, plus one optical digital output.

A flexible second-zone feature allows the SR602 to power stereo speakers in a second room if you're content listening to "only" 5.1-channel sound in your home theater. The arrangement is similar to A/B speaker switching, but it's actually better because the SR602 can deliver sound from separate stereo sources to each zone--for instance, the CD in the main room and the radio in Zone 2. Don't worry, you can still send the same signal to both zones, and you can separately control the volume level for each zone. There's also a set of Zone 2 pre-out jacks for use with a remote power amplifier.

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