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After dishing out our award for Best Home Cinema Product of 2008 to Onkyo's phenomenal TX-NR906, we were extra keen to find out what the company had in store for its next generation of AV receivers. And at the company's recent press launch at Fawsley Hall, we discovered that the new range is shaping up to be even better than the last, boasting more mind-blowing tricks than a magic show.
A group of four budget to mid-range receivers is being launched this side of the summer, with a few high-end models due out later in the year. Heading up the first wave is the TX-SR607, a 7.2-channel receiver that musters a mighty 140W per channel and counts Dolby's revolutionary new Pro Logic IIz processing among its generous features (for more on the latest range see Andy's news story).
Our first impressions after pulling it out of the box are favourable if not mind-blowing. The black finish and boxy shape are par for the course, but Onkyo has made some practical improvements to the front panel arrangement of last year's TX-SR607, making it a lot clearer and easier to use if you don't have the remote to hand.
The improvements are subtle but effective - the display window is wider, the volume dial is larger and the setting buttons have been blended discreetly into the space just below the display window. Also on the front panel is a useful set of connections, including HDMI, composite and stereo audio inputs, a 3.5mm input for portable audio players, a headphones output and a port for the setup microphone.
Around the back the SR607 is teeming with connections, and it's particularly generous when it comes to HDMI ports. There are no less than five v1.3 inputs (all of which support Deep Colour, x.v.Colour and Lip Sync) taking the total to six, plus the output passes 1080p video signals on to your TV - all of which is great news if you've got loads of HDMI-equipped kit but only a couple of inputs on your display.
The SR607 even sports video upscaling for standard-definition sources connected to the component or composite inputs, and although it only goes up to 1080i the on-board deinterlacing chip with Faroudja DCDi Edge enhancement should still ensure top-notch picture quality.
Component video switching is also possible with two inputs and one output, plus there are four assignable digital audio inputs (two optical, two coaxial); six sets of stereo audio inputs and two outputs; four composite video inputs and two outputs; stereo line-out for Zone 2 use; two subwoofer pre-outs and Remote Interactive (RI) for controlling other Onkyo components using the receiver's remote.
Finally, using the Universal Port you can connect optional Onkyo devices such as an iPod/iPhone dock (UP-A1) and a DAB+ radio tuner (UP-DT1). The nine pairs of binding posts are banana plug compatible and the surround back/front height terminals can be used for bi-amping speakers.