Onkyo USA makes has released two high-performance AV receivers, the TX-NR797 9.2-Ch Network A/V Receiver ($899) and the TX-NR696 7.2-Ch Network A/V Receiver ($799), both THX Certified Select products that support immersive Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound formats, 3D sound virtualization technologies, simplified audio distribution, 4K HDR support, and new proprietary functions.
"Our partnership with IMAX ensures that our customers will continue to enjoy cutting-edge entertainment experiences from their home theatre system," says Don Milks, Director of Marketing & Product Localization for Onkyo & Pioneer USA. "With IMAX Enhanced content soon to be released, the launch of these two great AVRs is ideally timed."
The TX-NR797, depicted above, is the first Onkyo product to be released under the IMAX Enhanced program, which features DTS:X immersive audio decoding that is optimized to properly reproduce the full dynamic range of IMAX theatrical sound mixes available in digitally re-mastered IMAX Enhanced content. The IMAX Mode reproduces lMAX Enhanced content just as the filmmakers intended, and is perfectly timed as IMAX Enhanced are scheduled for 4K HDR streaming and Ultra HD Blu-ray release.
The TX-NR696 develops 210W (6 ohms, 1 kHz, 10% THD, 1-ch driven) while the TX-NR797 produces 220W (6 ohms, 1 kHz, 10% THD, 1-ch driven) and both products benefit from new anti-noise measures including a refined HDMI board, isolated network board, and strengthened power-supply line. Both welcome a quad-core SoC (System on a Chip) enabling high-speed 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO Wi-Fi and evolved network functionalities.
The TX-NR696 plays Dolby Atmos and DTS:X formats through 5.2.2 channels, while the TX-NR797 adds another pair of heights (5.2.4) or rear surrounds (7.2.2) for even deeper immersion. Both include Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X up-mixers for legacy audio formats and both feature Dolby Atmos Height Virtualizer, which creates a virtual surround and height effect from traditional speaker layouts without employing additional surround or height speakers. The TX-NR696 also includes DTS Virtual:X, a DSP-based technology that creates a 3D sound-field from horizontal speaker layouts with DTS:X, DTS formats, and non-encoded stereo formats.
Also included are custom-built High-Current Low-Noise Power Transformer, customized capacitors, and discrete non-phase-shift amp topology. In addition to improving speaker control, high current supports stable power into 4-ohm speaker loads.
Enhancements to the DAA system preserve signal purity and improve S/N performance. The HDMI board has shortened signal-paths and large, well-finished grounds to limit noise. The SoC board is isolated from analog audio signals. A more robust power-supply line assists with driving power. Whether listening to vinyl via built-in phono equalizer or streaming Hi-Res Audio, these upgrades are noticed in the improved sound separation and localization, a bigger soundstage and punchier bass, says Onkyo.
The TX-NR696 and TX-NR797 AV receivers include a variety of online services such as Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, TIDAL, Deezer, and TuneIn, and makes them available around the home via Works with Sonos, Chromecast built-in, AirPlay 2, DTS Play-Fi, and FlareConnect. Works with Sonos certification lets the receiver tie into a Sonos Home Sound System by pairing it with a Sonos Connect, with control via the Sonos app. Multi-room capabilities extend to Chromecast built-in, enabling users to stream music from smartphones, tablets, laptops, and PCs, while Apple AirPlay 2 lets listeners stream music or podcasts from iPhone, iPad, or Mac to speakers throughout the house, all in sync. Voice control is available when used in conjunction with a Google Assistant enabled device such as Onkyo Smart Speaker G3 or Google Home.
The receivers support 384 kHz/32-bit multichannel D/A conversion optimized by VLSC (Vector Linear Shaping Circuitry) pulse-noise-removal technology on the Front L/R channels. Premium processing presents Hi-Res Audio, with DSD supported to 11.2 MHz and FLAC, WAV [RIFF], AIFF, and ALAC to 192 kHz/24-bit. Direct Mode provides a source-faithful playback environment by preserving the signal's original integrity.
The TX-NR696 has separate Zone 2 speaker outputs, enabling connection of a 7.2-ch surround system and Zone 2 speakers with switching to a 5.2-ch + Zone 2 layout for simultaneous playback of unique or synced audio sources, including analog, NET, Bluetooth, SPDIF, and HDMI, without need of an external amplifier. The TX-NR797 adds a third DAC and assignable speaker outputs to enable unique or synced source playback in Main, Zone 2, and Zone 3, depending on the surround system layout. Both support front-channel bi-amping.
The AVRs feature a versatile Zone 2/Zone B line-out supported by a Zone 2 DAC. When set to Zone 2 mode and connected to a compatible audio component, the same or different D/A sources (including SPDIF/HDMI) can be played in either or both rooms at the same time. Zone B mode is ideal for connecting a compatible transmitter so that the same main-room sound is available to wireless headphones. This is great for watching movies late at night or when viewing the TV from a distance, says he company.
Stereo Assign Mode can switch playback from Front L/R to Height speakers (or Surround/Surround Back depending on configuration) for ambient background listening.
A DSP-controlled Vocal Enhancer function is accessed via remote keys or front-panel controls and provides five-step adjustment of vocal frequencies to alleviate the problem of inaudible dialog in-program. A one-touch volume memory preset saves the desired start-up volume, and the receivers will power up and prepare for playback when an input key is pushed. Audio via Bluetooth wireless technology is enhanced by Advanced Music Optimizer, which improves compressed audio playback quality.
The natural articulation of sound inside rooms of any size and shape is handled by AccuEQ Advance 9-point room acoustic calibration featured on the TX-NR797. It measures sound at nine positions to accurately calibrate and EQ speakers and subwoofers and remove standing waves. The system detects and compensates for background noise to ensure accurate equalization. The TX-NR696, meanwhile, features AccuEQ with subwoofer EQ, while both are equipped with AccuReflex phase-adjustment technology to optimize 3D sound-field clarity in listening environments featuring Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers.
The receivers have an HDMI Sub/Zone 2 output that can send signals from HDMI inputs 1-3 to a sub-display or projector. This output joins Main output with ARC and seven HDMI inputs (one front). All terminals are HDCP 2.2-compliant and support 4K/60p and BT.2020. Content with High Dynamic Range in HDR10, HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma), or Dolby Vision format is passed through to compatible displays. Super Resolution 4K upscaling technology for HD sources is also on board. The receivers have a refreshed GUI with OSD via HDMI including a media input-output data display function which allows audio/video information to be viewed and checked in-program to confirm that content is playing at best quality.
Some features will be activated via a future firmware update, and service availability varies by region, with subscriptions required.