New! Improved! Whiter whites! Brighter brights! We've heard it all before -- no fewer than 10,000 times. But Onkyo's new TX-SR875 is an A/V receiver that really is new and improved. What's more, the PR guys could even make the whiter-and-brighter claim without being instantly struck by lightning and transported straight to hell. That's because this is one of the first of a new generation of receivers -- others will be arriving on a flood tide later this year -- to incorporate full 1080p processing and graphics/character-generation.
In simple terms, this means you can hook up your shiny new 1080p HDTV set with a single HDMI cable and still get great pictures from all sources, in all resolutions, with onscreen menus and graphics intact. At least, that's the idea.
Of course, the Onkyo TX-SR875 A/V receiver has lots more onboard, including seven-channel power, three-zone multiroom capabilities (with a dedicated set of speaker outputs for one powered remote room), and XM/Sirius satellite-radio and iPod expansion options.
The Onkyo boasts not just two, not just three, but four HDMI 1.3a inputs, which will be aces for the HDMI-rich among us. It also retains a full set of S-video jacks (though S-video seems to be going the way of the Elcaset) and, of course, component- and composite-video, so there's no shortage of hookups. The seven amplifier channels can be assigned in numerous ways, including to biamp the front speakers and to power a remote-zone room in stereo. You can even bridge two channel-pairs to supply still more watts to the main-front outputs. (I don't imagine that more than about 11 U.S. buyers will ever actually implement this, but props to Onkyo for incorporating it; I can't remember the last receiver that suported channel-bridging.)
I was content merely to hook up my 6.1-channel speakers in the usual way, and to connect my sources via HDMI or component video, before proceeding to calibration. The Onkyo includes Audyssey Labs' MultEQ XT, a microphone-driven auto-cal/EQ system that's among the most sophisticated available in mass-market gear.
And indeed, it worked quite well. The level results were stellar: within a half-decibel on all channels of what I'd have derived manually (using my handheld meter). The distance results were perfect, and the crossover results reasonable, though the Audyssey system set my main speakers to full-range despite their sub-50-Hz rolloff. (Manually adjusting settings is easy, and the SR875 offers a very flexible range of fully independent crossover frequencies.)
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