Having just returned from a long holiday, I had nothing new at home to play through the TX-NR5007 except the DVD of Downfall, a movie depicting the last days of the Third Reich. Surprisingly, this character-driven movie turned out to be a great demonstration of the TX-NR5007’s technical capabilities.
The explosion of an artillery shell punctuates Downfall’s soundtrack almost every few seconds. Sometimes the explosions were nearly deafening — a real test for what Onkyo claims is an unusually robust power supply and amplifier circuits. The TX-NR5007 conveyed these explosions faithfully, even bearing the heavy load of the relatively inefficient Sunfire speakers.
More interesting, though, was what I heard between the explosions: frequent rattling of glasses and dishes in response to more distant explosions, and omnipresent whizzing of bullets as civilians struggled to navigate Berlin’s war-torn streets. Both effects sounded extraordinarily realistic in 9.2-channel Audyssey DSX. In fact, I can’t remember any home theater audio presentation that so powerfully conveyed the perils of warfare. This is my second experience with DSX, and at this point I can safely say I’m sold.
Strip the TX-NR5007 down to its core and it’s still a great receiver. In plain stereo, driving a pair of Mordaunt-Short Aviano 6 tower speakers, the Onkyo sounded superb, delivering a super-deep soundstage, pinpoint imaging, and a subtly more detailed and involving midrange than I got from the Denon model I use for much of my movie watching. (To be fair, though, that receiver costs half as much as the Onkyo.)
The TX-NR5007’s Reon-VX video processing skillfully upconverted Downfall’s standard-def image to 1080p. The picture looked detailed enough that my disappointment at not waiting for the upcoming Downfall Blu-ray release subsided. Downfall’s many dim scenes showed quite a bit of noise, but the TX-NR5007 offered a quick fix. Hitting the Video button on the remote brought up one of the receiver’s video adjustment options in the lower left corner of the screen, and the cursor buttons let me flick through the adjustment options — all without obscuring the picture. A few stabs at the buttons got me to the Random NR (or noise reduction) adjustment, which tamed Downfall’s noise while reducing detail by just the slightest amount. (I could see little, if any, effect of the noise reduction on high-def signals.)
I was happy to see that the TX-NR5007 passed every test (except for high-def noise reduction) on the DVD and Blu-ray versions of the HQV Benchmark test disc, and I never noticed video artifacts when I was watching normal program material. The receiver also offers many other video adjustments, including Edge Enhancement. At its Mid and High settings, Edge Enhancement makes pictures look unnatural, but its Low setting improved some of the lesser-quality programs that I streamed from Netflix via my Blu-ray Disc player.
Every high-end A/V receiver I’ve encountered in the last five years has provoked both awe and anger — awe at what it could do and anger at how difficult it was to operate. But Onkyo’s TX-NR5007 has erased the anger and amplified the awe. In the same way that Timbaland can make a great record with seemingly any combination of artists, Onkyo’s engineers have blended all sorts of technologies into an effective, user-friendly, and, given all that it does, affordable product.
Overall Score: 8.7
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