Onkyo currently offers ten A/V receivers, priced from $249 for the TX-SR304 all the way up to the $2,099 flagship TX-NR904. The THX Select2 certified model we’re looking at here, the TX-SR705, may be the sweet spot in the lineup.
The big volume knob is completely backlit in blue, so it’s always easy to grab, even in a pitch-black home theater. The faceplate offers direct access to bass and treble controls, as well as setup control of onscreen menus (handy when you misplace the remote). Which reminds me, the remote is better than most, and we like that it allows on-thefly control over the volume level of each channel.
Fully equipped with onboard DolbySR705 is as up-to-date as the highest end A/V receivers.
The TX-SR705 features Audyssey’s MultEQ XT auto calibration and room acoustics correction system and the receiver is compatible with XM and Sirius satellite radio via optional tuners. We did notice that when either satellite service was hooked up to the TX-SR705, a strange thing happened; when playing DVDs we heard a very low-level whistle/whine noise over the speakers (disconnecting the satellite radio inputs eliminates the noise). It was barely noticeable during quiet scenes. Onkyo’s optional Remote Interactive dock/charger dock is available for iPod fans.
Oh, and thanks to it’s unusually shallow depth of 15.1 inches, the TX-SR705 can squeeze into furniture that cannot accommodate today’s deeper components. There’s a pair of cooling fans mounted on the bottom of the chassis, but they were so quiet we didn’t notice them until we repacked the receiver to ship it back.
You get three HDMI V1.3 (repeater), 1080p compatible, and HDMI upconversion with Faroudja DCDi technology. The receiver is ready for Deep Color, 36-bit video signals. For displays that are not compatible with 480i video, the receiver’s Faroudja DCDi de-interlacing circuitry converts 480i signals to progressive scan.
The Magnetic Fields aptly titled CD, Distortion [Nonesuch], uses all sorts of intentional distortion to create a twenty-first century update of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound. To achieve that effect the ‘Fields’ instruments were all fed through multiple amplifiers, meaning they can sound noisy on less than stellar home theater systems. Here, however, with the TX-SR705 decoding the zeros and ones, the CD sounded majestic in its scope. The production uses gobs of reverberation, so the band sounds like it’s in a humongous space. The receiver’s innate transparency made it easy to focus on, say, the guitar feedback that seemed to float above the other instruments or the shuddering impact of the kick drum. Distortion is one of those recordings that rewards repeated listening.
And sure enough, the receiver’s transparency was even more apparent when we played Ravel: Bolero [Telarc, SACD]. The uncanny reproduction of three-dimensional space, tied to the precise delineation of the orchestra’s large and small dynamic shadings upped our estimation of the TXSR705’ s musicality.
On the There Will Be Blood DVD, the TX-SR705’s undeniable home theater moxie came to the fore. When Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) was deep in a pit, mining for silver, the sound of his pickaxe smashing rock was vivid and true. And later, when one of Plainview’s oil wells erupts, the visceral and emotional power of the scene was phenomenal. The gusher accidentally catches fire and Plainview knows exactly what to do: he extinguishes the roaring inferno with a dynamite blast. Thankfully, the film’s mixers steered away from the usual hyped Hollywood effects and kept the sound anchored in reality. So when the oil well explosion occured, it was there—an instantaneous boom—and then we were left to hear the fine dust raining down on the ground. The TX-SR705 kept up its part of the bargain with sound that was consistently pure and natural.