While the main reason to buy a receiver is still to setup up a surround-sound system, it's not unusual for buyers to make their final decision based on video options, such as upconversion or HDMI switching. With that in mind, Onkyo has released two new AV receivers, the TX-SR876 and TX-NR906, that put the focus on video thanks to built-in HQV-video processing chips. They both include several high-end features, such as dual HDMI outputs and tuners, so it's no surprise their price tags skew toward the high-end. Let's see what you get for your money:
Key features of the Onkyo TX-SR876:
- Four HDMI inputs, two HDMI outputs
- Three component-video inputs, six standard AV inputs with S-Video
- Onboard Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding
- HQV Reon video processing
- THX Ultra2 Plus certified, including THX Loudness Plus
- HD Radio tuner
- XM and Sirius ready
- Available now with a list price of $1,800
Key step-up features of the Onkyo TX-NR906:
- Front panel USB port
- Ethernet jack
- Capable of streaming a wide variety of digital music formats, including MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, FLAC, and Ogg Vorbis
- Can playback Internet radio
- Available now with a list price of $2,300
The major difference between the two receivers is the network functionality available on the TX-NR906. Via its Ethernet or USB port, it can playback digital music, plus it can use the Ethernet connection to stream Internet radio off the internet. It's certainly a convenient feature--and we applaud Onkyo for offering lossless file formats like FLAC and WAV--but we're not sure it's worth the $500 price premium over the TX-SR876. Instead, we'd rather add a dedicated music streamer, like the Squeezebox Classic, which can work with any AV receiver.
The TX-SR876, on the other hand, looks to offer an attractive feature set for high-end receiver buyers. The main draw is the onboard HQV processing, which has a solid reputation for image quality in the enthusiast community, and for good reason--we've found that products with HQV processing consistently have excellent image quality. If you're wondering why anyone would want two HDMI outputs, it's mostly likely for those that have both a projector and flat-panel TV in the same room.
One feature that's curiously missing from these high-end receivers is a high-definition, graphical, user interface, as seen on receivers from Sony and Denon. From the screenshots we've seen, the receivers are upgraded over the old white-text-on-a-black-screen menus that we've seen on receivers for years, but their still a step behind the more advanced menu systems found on high-end competitors.