Despite the low price, Onkyo has still managed to pack the TX-SR576 full of impressive sonic technology. The unit musters 130W per channel and uses Wide Range Amplifier Technology (WRAT), which uses a low negative feedback design, closed ground loop circuits and high instantaneous current capacity to deliver clean, undistorted sound even at loud volumes. Cinema Filter helps deliver movie soundtracks with the correct tonal balance for home cinema setups and stops them sounding too bright. And if you've only got two speakers connected, the Theater Dimensional circuitry generates surround sound from two channels, as well as allowing you to place all five speakers near the TV and enjoy what Onkyo calls ‘the most realistic virtual surround possible'.
The unit also features a Music Optimiser for playback of compressed media files on portable media players, which restores most of the high-frequency information lost in the compression process. A range of Listening Modes (Pure Audio, Movie, Music and Game) and DSP modes adapt the sound settings to suit the relevant sources, plus you can assign different listening modes to each sound format and store them in the unit's memory.
Among the other features is bi-amping capability and powered zone 2 playback, enabling you to play a different source on a pair of speakers in another room connected to the dedicated springclip terminals, as well as zone 2 line outs that can be connected to a separate receiver in the second room. If you have various HDMI CEC capable sources from different brands connected to the receiver, then its RIHD feature allows you to control them all with one remote.
Setting up and optimising the receiver is a piece of cake thanks to the inclusion of the Audyssey 2EQ auto calibration system, which determines the number of speakers, their size, distance from the listening position and the optimum crossover frequencies to the subwoofer. In the box is a microphone for this purpose that connects to the front panel and picks up test sounds from the receiver during the stress-free 10-minute process, taking readings from three different listening positions to ensure the best-possible sound for multiple listeners. We were immediately happy with the settings it chose, so there was no need to make additional alterations afterwards.
But if necessary, you can alter the speaker settings manually using the surprisingly intuitive menu system on the front display panel, while the smart remote - which is much smaller than your average receiver handset - packs a high amount of buttons into a small space without making it seem cluttered.