It’s almost impossible to have a home-theatre special without having Onkyo feature in it. Right from the time they launched their first home theatre receiver, the Japanese manufacturer never seems to have lost any steam or enthusiasm. A case in point is the TX AV receiver series as every second or third quarter Onkyo brings out a new model in this series that adds to ever growing popularity of the company. Last year in September we reviewed the TX-NR579 and TX-NR609 AV receivers. This time again we find ourselves reviewing another Onkyo receiver from the same TX series called the TX-NR709.
Out of the Box
Onkyo has been making AV receivers since time immortal. The company seems to enjoy its mass market popularity because of the simplicity in its products. The Onkyo TX-NR709 too treads on similar lines. The front fascia on the cinema receiver is uncluttered yet it is very futuristic in its looks. Buttons are laid out well, the volume knob is well located and to our surprise we even found an AUX HDMI input on the front panel. It’s tough connecting video sources to an AV receiver once it’s placed inside a television shelf, but, with the front HDMI on this receiver, that problem is taken care of. Now can somebody besides Onkyo beat that? Well, certainly no. Moreover, the sturdy outer metal finish of the AV receiver lends it a robust and rugged feel. The tough outer casing will definitely add years of life to the receiver itself and, in turn, to your entire home-theatre system, because a strong heart makes for strong body.
Onkyo TX-NR709 AV Receiver'w dimensions
AV receivers, like mixing consoles used in live concerts and studios, are the heart and soul of the entire setup. An AV receiver handles everything in your home theatre setup; right from controlling the inputs and outputs and the speaker setup, playing with the volume levels of each channel, altering the tonality of the overall sound and connecting different sources to the receiver, etc. What’s more is that AV receivers have become so intelligent that they can calibrate the overall sound according to the acoustics of your room and they can even upscale video signals up to a stunning 4K resolution.
The Onkyo TX-NR709 can do all this with an unmatched level of style and precision. To get an idea of this just take a look at the rear panel of the receiver. It houses seven HDMI inputs, two HDMI outputs wherein you can connect one output to a flat panel and the other to a projector, two subwoofer pre-outs, zone 2 line outs, speaker terminals and hoards of other inputs and outputs. The unique part about the Onkyo TX-NR709 is that it is not termed as a 5.1 receiver, instead, its makers call it a 7.2 AV receiver. We agree with this idea since because cinema enthusiasts want more fun and excitement from their home theatre setup and very soon a standard 7.1 or 7.2 setup will be regarded as the new staple diet for home theatre entertainment. The two subwoofer pre-outs make a lot of sense as you need not daisy chain an additional subwoofer through the line out of your first subwoofer—the pre-out will come in very handy over here. With all this talk about speakers let’s not forget the power output of the elegant TX-NR709. The in-built transformers can dish out a power output of up to 110W into 8ohm loads and around 170W into 6ohm loads.
The remote control of the Onkyo TX-NR709 looks like an extended version of the TX series remote controls. It bears resemblance to most of Onkyo’s controllers, however, this one is slightly longer to accommodate the additional buttons of all the different features of the TX-NR709. As I said, it is a little long in size but not all that comfortable to hold. The buttons are quite appropriately spaced out and there was never a problem accessing any of the controller’s functions.
With network capabilities
Getting to the review stage was a straight forward task. At face value, the TX-NR709 may look very subtle and well-mannered, but as you turn the unit, you will almost feel perplexed looking at its rear panel. The rear panel houses dozens of input and outputs, not to mention the speaker outputs too, but you needn’t worry even if you are a first timer with receivers. The supplied manual makes things very easy. We connected the Onkyo receiver to a 5.1 speaker package within minutes. Once that was done, the next thing to handle was the interface of the AV receiver. Thankfully, here too, Onkyo kept it very simple and easy to understand. The on-screen interface was very easy to glide through; configuring the speaker settings and other source settings was a piece of cake. We were quite glad to see that Onkyo carried forward its legacy of keeping things simple.
Top of the line in the TX Series
It was now time to see if the mammoth AV receiver was capable of delivering a crisp and powerful cinematic experience. We took to our seats as the Blu-ray of ‘The Dark Knight’ slipped into the Sony PlayStation. The opening scene of the movie was a brilliant revelation for us. We were pleased to see a high-quality signal throughput, which meant the AV receiver did not play with the 1080p video signal at all and the sound quality was simply astonishing. The gunshots had a great transient response, the entire 5.1 speaker setup jumped with life. Not to mention that the sound of broken glass pieces was fantastic, the Onkyo TX-NR709 was able to replicate a true lifelike experience because of its top-class detailing and sharpness. Please note that when we say sharp we mean it in a positive way, not the kind of sharp that is aggressive or ear-fatiguing.
All kinds of connectivity has been ensured
The Onkyo TX-NR709 is a powerful home entertainment machine and we could bet all our money on it because of its natural tonality. When the hospital scene came up, where the Joker (Heath Ledger) blows up an entire hospital, the sonic presentation of the scene was very gripping. It was a pleasure to watch that entire sequence, thanks to the seamless sound* of the surrounds and the tight slam of the fronts. Even the dialogues between the Joker and Harvey Dent (played by Aaron Eckhart) were natural and incredibly lifelike; the vocal timbre of both the actors felt like both were present right in front of us in the room. As the scene progressed, the dynamic power of the Onkyo TX-NR709 was displayed in its full potential. The exploding bombs not only shook our walls but also rattled the dust off the studio carpets. The fronts, centre and surrounds performed in all their glory due to the continuous power output of the AV receiver. Had the TX-NR709 ever run out of juice, it wouldn’t be possible to enjoy the powerful booms and bangs throughout the movie with such delight.
Verdict and Price in India
Besides supplying tremendous power to all the six channels, it is important that an AV receiver has a balanced tonality. As we said before, this receiver had an amazing tonal response, this feat was highlighted every time Harvey Dent flipped his coin. The metallic timbre and texture of the sound was simply brilliant. We could literally feel the raw grainy surface of the coin. To experience this kind of sonic performance in a 5.1 soundstage was really commendable.
The Onkyo TX-NR709 AV Receiver is currently priced at Rs. 70,000.
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Updated 21 May, 2013, 3:43 pm IST
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