Every year Onkyo beats its competitors to the punch with at least one world’s first feature and this year it’s DTS Neo:X. This is the world’s first 11.1 surround sound system, acting in a similar way to Dolby Pro Logic IIz and Audyssey DSX (both of which are also on board) in its ability to create a 3D, semi-spherical soundfield with front height and front width channels. Obviously you can’t achieve an 11.1 soundstage with the Onkyo, but there are several 9.2-channel combinations – surround back and front height, surround back and front width or front height and front width.
The number of other tricks inside this receiver is simply extraordinary. First up, let’s talk networking. It’s DLNA certified, which means you can stream music from devices on your home network or from Napster and Spotify, while internet radio is provided by vTuner and Last.fm. Thanks to a recent firmware update the TX-NR1009 now also boasts the AUPEO! customised radio service and it also added a search function to Spotify that makes it easy to find a particular track.
When streaming your own files, the list of supported audio formats includes MP3, WMA, WMA Lossless, FLAC, WAV, Ogg Vorbis, AAC and LPCM – pretty much a full house. The Onkyo also supports Windows 7’s Play To feature and will play these formats from USB storage devices or iPod/iPhone, offering two more convenient ways of playing back your tunes.
Although nothing new on an AV receiver, this sort of streaming tech has found its natural home here, allowing you to access a wealth of music without having to fire up a separate player or load tracks onto a portable device. It’s worth noting that you don’t have to hook up the Ethernet connection to use these features, as Onkyo now sells a wireless LAN adapter (UWF-1) that can be plugged into the front USB port.
Like all of Onkyo’s receivers, the TX-NR1009 comes loaded with an avalanche of sound modes made possible by the advanced 32-bit processing chip. These include four presets for gaming, Onkyo’s Theater Dimensional Virtual Surround mode and an Advanced Music Optimiser for sharpening up compressed music formats. Of course, the unit also decodes all of Blu-ray’s hi-res audio formats, accepting them as raw bitstreams or as decoded multichannel PCM.
From a technological perspective, the TX-NR1009 is blessed with an all-star line-up of electronics, including TI Burr Brown 192kHz/24-bit DACs for all channels, Onkyo’s Wide Range Amplifier Technology (which helps achieve a 5Hz – 100kHz frequency response) and PLL (Phase Locked Loop) jitter cleaning tech.
On the video side the Onkyo can convert any video signal all the way to 4K thanks to the on-board Marvell QDEO video scaler. That may not be much use now with no 4K2K screens on the market, but we admire Onkyo’s forward-thinking.
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Also featured is a HQV Vida VHD1900 processor, which automatically enhances standard-and high-definition video using multi-cadence tracking expanded 12-bit colour processing and four field motion-adaptive deinterlacing. And when watching low-quality web videos, HQV’s new StreamClean tech eliminates block and mosquito noise.
But if you’re still not happy with the picture you can have it professionally tweaked by an Imaging Science Foundation engineer thanks to the built-in calibration tools.