The receiver’s sound reproduction is sensitive enough, moreover, to pick up and portray detailing even in very complicated mixes, and perhaps best of all, the receiver has got just enough power handling (before distortion sets in) to deliver at least a sense of the extra resolution and dynamics of HD audio mixes versus standard DTS or Dolby Digital ones. The differences are especially – though not exclusively – apparent during rich, orchestral scores.
The SR508’s excellent value will be even more eye-catching to people who have or want to invest in 7.1 speaker systems, who probably didn’t think they’d be able to satisfy so many speakers for so little money.
At this point we need to do a reality check and say that the SR508 doesn’t remotely rival the audio quality of more expensive receivers from the likes of Pioneer, Denon and even Onkyo itself. The overall tone of the sound isn’t as warm and inviting as that of the very best receivers, there’s not quite as much fine detail in play during subtle soundtrack moments, CD playback sounds slightly less authentic than more musical receivers, and although the SR508 can deliver a sense of HD audio’s benefits, it doesn’t quite enjoy the dynamic range of more powerful alternatives.
There’s also not much point using the SR508 with a particularly high-end set of speakers, as it’s not refined or powerful enough to do them justice. But then if you’ve spent loads on speakers, you probably won’t likely be only spending peanuts on your AV receiver anyway.
Finally, we should say we experienced a glitch or two during our tests. Occasionally the receiver didn’t handshake properly with our 3D Blu-ray player until we’d switched it (the receiver) off and back on again. Also, we regularly couldn’t switch the receiver off using the power button on the remote, even though every other button worked fine. At first we thought this was an error with our review sample, but happily the comment below from Gunholio helped us get to the bottom of it. However, while we now get what’s happening, we have to say we still don’t like it much!
The SR508 can’t completely shake off the shackles of either its relative age or its extreme affordability. With this in mind, we can understand completely why people might feel tempted to find the extra £80-£100 required to get the newer NR509. However, in today’s chastened times £80-£100 is still £80-£100. Which is why we have a sneaky feeling that remaining stocks of the SR508 might stocks might disappear quite fast. So if you fancy picking up another summer bargain, we suggest you get a move on…
Score in detail
Sound Quality 7