Product of the Day, Day 8: Onkyo TX-SR607 Receiver

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Onkyo TX-SR607 with front HDMI port

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A few months ago I wrote a page called “HDMI Receivers: The Two Best Buys on the Planet!” One of these two best buys was the Onkyo TX-SR606, chosen for its strong and clean-sounding amplifier section, and its plethora of features such as high-def audio decoding , satellite-ready tuners, and iPod connectivity.

The features are certainly nice to have but what really got the TX-SR606 the nod was the ample power, high-def audio decoding, and all-around great sound, all at a very attractive price of around $400 (typically discounted from a list price of $499.) For the 2009 model year Onkyo has updated their latest 600 series model, the TX-SR607 with yet more features.  Some look to be very useful, some I am not so sure about, but overall this is still one of the best receivers around.  I’ve updated the Best Buys on the Planet page to recommend the TX-SR607 and this Product of the Day post will give everyone a closer look.

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TX-SR607 rear panel

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We will start our tour of the TX-SR607 with a new feature anyone would love to have.   The TX-Sr606 had four HDMI inputs, which led the class when it was introduced.  The TX-SR607 adds two additional HDMI ports, one on the front panel and one on the rear.  As more and more products move to HDMI connections you will need as many inputs as you can get.  My surround sound processor has four inputs and they are full already!  I have a new unit with 8 on order, hopefully that will last awhile.  Most consumers will find the six inputs of the TX-SR607 more than adequate.

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TX-SR607 front HDMI input

Especially nice is the front HDMI input.  This is a rare sight on receivers, and a very welcome one.  It’s perfect for connecting digital cameras, video games, and high-def camcorders.

 

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TX-SR607 front view

High resolution version- opens in a new window

A new dimension to surround sound with Pro-Logic IIz processing

The other noteworthy feature (of questionable benefit to me) is the “Z” channel, namely height speakers to be mounted on the ceiling  facing the audience.

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It’s part of the TX-SR607’s Dolby Pro-Logic IIz processing, and the geometrically-minded among us note that the Z channel corresponds to the Z axis, hence the name.  This techincally makes the TX-SR607 a 7.2 channel receiver, and that is how it is marketed.  The 7.2 comes from 7 main channels, .1 for the subwoofer, and another .1 for the height channel. Dolby Pro-Logic IIz derives the height channel from ambient sound information found in the recording, and future software will have the height information encoded directly.

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Terminals for height speakers

The reason I say the Pro-Logic IIz processing is of questionable benefit is I don’t think it will be used that often, especially in a system using an inexpensive receiver such as the TX-SR607.  We still have not fully transitioned movie discs to 7.1 from the ubiquitous 5.1, and unless you have a big room and a big budget most consumers will be happier with a 5.1 channel system.  It’s hard enough to get 5.1 channels set up properly in most homes, and going to 7.1 or 7.2 makes things even more complicated.  I receive a lot of email about system selection and setup, and the ratio of emails from people who want a system with wireless speakers or a surroundbar to those who want 7.1 probably runs about 30:1 or more.  When people are looking for ways to avoid running wires adding two more that have to be run to the ceiling is a step in the wrong direction as far as the marketplace is concerned.

That said, I haven’t heard Pro-Logic IIz in use, so I don’t know how much better it really makes the surround sound experience.  I still think the market served by the TX-SR607 isn’t going to find it all that compelling.

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TX-SR607 remote

Though I am not convinced that Pro-Logic IIz is going to prove all that useful, the TX-SR607 is still a winner and rates an easy recommendation in my book.  At present it costs a bit more than the TX-SR606 did but the additional HDMI ports make it even more future-proof and worth the extra investment.  If you find a TX-SR606 in back stock somewhere and you can buy it for $100 less than the TX-SR607, I won’t argue with you for saving the money.  As I said before, what makes these receivers great is the great sound they provide.

TX-SR607 on Onkyo USA Website

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Stop back tomorrow for the Product of the Day!


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