31 October 2008

New head unit Onkyo TX-SR706

Yesterday  I bought new THX® Select2™ Plus 7.1-Channel  Onkyo TX-SR706 head unit to my multimedia entertainment center and swiched my old Onkyo TX-L55. Why I did so? Same question was asked by my spouse.

1. Video swiching capabilities

I have different video sourses with different output formats 
   a. Dlink DSM 520 has HDMI output
   b. DVD player is Component
   c. Aminet 110 cable set top box has component output
So, swiching from one source to another causes manual input selection on my Hitachi 42" plasma. It doesn't have direct selection, so You have either to cycle through 8 or so inputs or find right input through the menu. Old TX-L55 didn't have HDMI swiching or even pass-through at all.

Now all video swiching is done by Onkyo, cause it converts every signal (analog and digital) to 1 HDMI output in 1080 format. So sweet. No input selection whatsoever. And only 2 cables are passed to plasma monitor (power and HDMI) instead of thick bunch of component and scart cables.

2. Video up-scaling
Onkyo TX-SR706 has clever Faroudja DCDi Cinema scaler, incorporating FLI2310 chip, upscaling up to 1080p every single input -- digital or analog, component and even composite. Being honest, I didn't see much improvement compared with my HD TV internal upscaler after 1 hour of using new feature, but will comment this topic later.

3. Audyssey
Now I can really sure, that my surround sound is as close as possible, as film director ment. Usually front-back-surround balance is not correct and subwoofer is out of balance. Onkyo passes series short sweep-signals through all surround speakers and tunes cross-over frequencies, dB gains and time corrections. It takes time (5-10 minutes), but worth it.

More Pro's
There is plenty of digital audio inputs, both optical and coax. No need for precise planning and every single connection is digital. New remode is so much better. Source and remote operation happens from one button and other are much better planned.

Onkyo was in HD DVD clan and hasn't been able to finish their blu-ray player yet. So, it will be on the shelves early next year perhaps. So, I didn't buy new DVD player, but waiting for Onkyo blu-ray.