Like most AV receivers these days, the TX-NR709 offers auto calibration, doing away with the fiddly business of setting levels, distances and speaker sizes – the onboard Audyssey technology does it all for you with the help of a setup microphone and a series of test tones. The NR709 boasts MultEQ XT, a more advanced version of the 2EQ system found on the NR609. It’s a painless procedure, with clear instructions given by the onscreen displays, but if you opt for the thorough ‘Full Calibration’ (which takes measurements from eight positions) it’ll eat up 20 minutes of your time.
The TX-NR709 handles beautifully. Key to this is the user-friendly remote, which uses well-labelled buttons and intelligent placement of often-used keys like menu controls and input buttons. Also useful is the inclusion of macro-style buttons across the top, labelled My Movie, My TV and My Music, which turn on the unit and switch to the appropriate input. There are also dedicated keys for the various listening modes, and clearly separated playback buttons, all of which makes for a care-free user experience.
There are onscreen displays too, which are a cut above most receiver GUIs. They’re in full colour with cute graphics, all laid out in a logical, welcoming fashion. This is an absolute godsend when configuring the unit manually, as the level of detail could be fairly overwhelming for the uninitiated. It leaves no stone unturned, which will be music to the ears of enthusiasts.
The various media playback menus are also impressive, sharing the same jazzy colour palette and sensible layout. The connected features (web radio, DLNA, music streaming) are all grouped together on the same page, denoted by their respective logos, and in each instance the interfaces are easy to follow. We tried out Spotify and some of the radio stations over an Ethernet connection and despite a couple of drop-outs the Onkyo is a reliable streamer, likewise with DLNA-obtained content. The only slight gripe is that the lack of a search function makes it difficult to find tracks if you have in a large digital music collection.
As well as the main setup menu, there’s a separate ‘Home’ screen which pulls up a smaller rage of menu options if you want to make tweaks on the fly.