On the soundtrack side, the amplifiers pumped out plenty of movie clamor. On Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, they neatly accommodated the rich effects and punchy score. The movie has a great surround mix, but for a real crowd-pleasing experience, the THX Select2 Cinema mode created an even bigger ambient sound field that really showed off the seven satellites. When I left the house the next morning, my neighbor gave me The Look - a sure sign that my robust playback session the night before was sufficiently loud. So, the Onkyo gets a thumbs-up for sound.
VIDEO PERFORMANCE Scaling questions aside, a good receiver should be transparent to the video signals passing through it. Checking a number of movies, I wasn't surprised to see that the HDMI connection delivered excellent video quality on my native 720p Samsung DLP. I strained to see any glitches or noise in the bitstreams, but did not. It was clear that the receiver was delivering bit-accurate data to the display. I also tried switching between HDMI and component video to compare the two and, frankly, couldn't see a significant difference. Perhaps the weird computer-generated details in Tron were a bit softer, and the colors a little washed-out on the component-video throughput. But the component output was about as good as I've seen through any receiver. Either way, the convenience of HDMI, its immunity to interference, and its peace-of-mind digital provenance make it a winner for source and display interconnection, and this receiver's video quality demonstrates that.
BOTTOM LINE With all due respect to mega-receivers, with their 300-page manuals and stratospheric price tags, my credit card prefers more modest designs that focus on the relevant, providing features that directly expedite setup and improve daily performance. I don't need 43 hall surround modes - just a few that actually sound good. Throw in 100+ watts of power per channel (seven of 'em), and I'm sold. The Onkyo TX-SR804 A/V receiver fills this bill, and I appreciated its pragmatic design, straightforward operation, and good, clean sound and picture.
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