Perhaps the TX-NR709’s most enticing feature is its networking functionality, which includes DLNA media streaming, vTuner internet radio and access to Spotify, AUPEO! and Napster music streaming services. These features feel right at home on an AV receiver, putting a wealth of music at your disposal without the need for a middleman. And if that wasn’t convenient enough, you can even buy Onkyo’s optional UWF-1 USB LAN adapter and do it all over your Wi-Fi network. Throw in media playback from USB memory devices (MP3, WMA, WMA Lossless, FLAC, WAV, Ogg Vorbis, AAC and LPCM are all supported) and direct playback from iPods and iPhones through the USB port and you’ve got yourself a pretty formidable music centre.
But home cinema is this unit’s bread and butter, and as such the TX-NR709 performs all the movie duties you’d expect. For starters it’s been given the once-over by the Stormtroopers at THX, who have granted it Select Plus2 status just like its little brother. That means it’s primed to fill a room of up to 2,000m³ with a viewing distance of 10-12 feet from the screen.
It also decodes Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio, as well as offering Dolby Pro Logic IIz and Audyssey DSX ‘vertical’ sound processing modes. We’re sure you know what these do by now, but in a nutshell you can expand your sound system with ‘front height’ channels (and ‘front width’ in the case of Audyssey DSX) to evoke a sense of vertical envelopment. But with seven channels, you do so at the expense of the surround back channels. The Onkyo is also equipped to handle multichannel PCM and DSD over HDMI.
As per usual there’s an enviable line-up of internal components, headlined by the Marvell Qdeo video scaling chip, which has the power to convert any content to 4K – that’s before any 4K2K sets have even hit the shops, remember. Talk about forward thinking. On the audio side, TI Burr Brown 192kHz/24-bit DACs are employed for all channels, plus a 32-bit digital signal processing (DSP) chip offers a wide range of sound modes, including four for gaming alone.
Other sound modes include a range of THX presets for movies and music; DTS Neo:6; Dolby Volume for keeping sound at a consistent level with no peaks or troughs; Theater-Dimensional virtual surround; and an Advanced Music Optimiser for playback of compressed music files (MP3, WMA etc). For music purists there’s a Pure Audio mode that shuts down the video circuitry during playback – you’ll probably save a few pennies on the electricity bill as well.
Finally, unlike the TX-NR609, the NR709 supports bi-amping for squeezing even better performance from high-end speakers.