The hardest part of the installation process is getting the TX-NR1009 into position given its 18.5kg bulk and 198.5mm height. But once it’s there and all the relevant cables are plugged into the back, it’s easier to use than you might think, despite the mind-boggling array of features on board.
The first thing you need to do is optimise the sound for your room. Luckily you don’t need a degree in acoustics as the unit comes loaded with Audyssey’s clever MultEQ XT auto calibration technology. You know the routine – plug in the supplied microphone and let the system run through a series of test tones, after which it calculates the most appropriate settings. The full calibration (taking measurements from eight positions) takes 20 minutes while a two-minute Quick Start procedure is also offered, which just focuses on the basics. Either way, it’s a painless procedure.
Also making the TX-NR1009 easy to use is the excellent onscreen menu design. This uses the same layout as previous Onkyo machines, with colourful graphics dotted about here and there, plus a simple but effective list that splits up the tweakable options in sensible groups. So the potentially nightmarish job of assigning inputs and configuring the speakers is actually a piece of cake. That said, you really have to know what you’re doing when manually managing the audio settings, as they’re very detailed.
There’s a separate menu accessed by hitting the ‘Home’ button that gives you quick access to key settings, such as sub/centre levels and picture modes.
It’s not instantly clear how you access the networking menu – the relevant ‘Net’ button is buried in amongst the other input selection keys. Hit it and you get a basic black screen showing the logos of the various services on offer. Some are easier to use than others – Spotify (which requires a premium subscription) asks you to enter your user name and password which takes ages using the remote and virtual keyboard, but on the whole all of the portals are smoothly integrated and work without any problems.
We tried out the DLNA streaming over an Ethernet connection, and it’s generally a trouble-free process, although the connection to the server dropped out once or twice. Most impressively it displayed the ‘All Music’ list with some 17,000 songs without having to wait ages for the list to populate. It would be nice to see a search facility like the one introduced for Spotify, which would prevent you having to wade through long lists to find a certain track. The layout is terrific though – we particularly like the screen while a track is playing, which includes album art.
Onkyo has stuck with the same remote as last year, using a fetching gloss-black finish and a sensible button layout. Much of the time you can operate by instinct, especially when browsing menus and playing back content, and although the top of the zapper is fairly cluttered, the decent labelling makes it easy to find what you want. There’s a row of buttons along the top labelled ‘Activities’ that let you create macros to activate several Onkyo components at the touch of a single button.