As for the inside, the key specs look encouraging. It’s a 7.2-channel receiver offering a quoted power output of 7 x 160W and THX Select2 Plus certification, making it suitable for rooms up to 56 cubic metres in size. That’s quite an accolade too – Onkyo reckons this is the first receiver in its class to don the THX Select2 Plus badge.
As is normally the case with Onkyo’s midrange machines, the feature list is so lengthy we’d need a week to get through everything. But highlights include Dolby Pro Logic IIz processing, which is now joined by Audyssey DSX – both of which let you expand the soundstage upwards as well as outwards by reconfiguring the surround back channels as front height channels.
Whether or not you need two modes that essentially do the same thing is a moot point but Onkyo has bunged them both in anyway and choice is always a good thing, right? Actually, there is one big difference – Audyssey DSX can additionally create front width channels that make the front sound field seem even more expansive.
These are backed up by Audyssey 2EQ, which checks the acoustics of your room at three listening positions (using a supplied microphone) and adjusts the sound accordingly. Dynamic EQ then maintains these sonic properties at any volume, while Dynamic Volume keeps sudden volume changes to a minimum.
The TX-SR608 will also decode any HD audio format, and when you combine that with the bevy of other DSP and listening modes for movies, music and gaming, you have yourself a versatile audio performer. Digital to analogue audio conversion is handled by Burr-Brown 192kHz/24-bit DACs for every channel and the Jitter Cleaning Circuitry tidies up unwanted interference.
But it’s not only a whizz with audio – there’s also some serious video upscaling on board courtesy of the built-in Faroudja DCDi processor. You can up-res pictures to 1080p, which might come in handy if you’re not happy with the quality of your DVD player’s own upscaling circuitry. Pictures fed in through the component and composite video inputs can be upscaled and piped to a TV via HDMI.
Previous Onkyo AV receivers have been extremely easy to use, and the TX-SR608 is no different. It uses the same onscreen setup menu as previous models, using a straightforward list structure design with some attractive background graphics.
Here you’ll find a vast and detailed array of sound adjustments to cater for the needs of your speaker system, although if you use Audyssey 2EQ auto calibration, in theory you shouldn’t need to touch them.
There’s also a range of picture settings including Cinema and Game presets and a Custom mode that allows you to apply edge enhancement and noise reduction (although these can be bypassed using the Through setting).
What’s more, Onkyo has added a funky new menu that’s superimposed over the picture, making it even easier to access often-used settings. It’s a terrific new addition, enabling you to tweak most settings without missing a second of the movie. This, combined with the intelligently laid out remote, makes the TX-SR608 an absolute pleasure to use.