The TX-NR1009’s incredible feature list and slick operation would count for nothing if its performance wasn’t up to scratch, but thankfully it has nothing to worry about in that department.
It follows the sonic blueprint of the TX-NR609, but ups the stakes in terms of flat-out power, detail digging and overall dynamism. As a result its rendition of Avatar’s DTS HD Master Audio track is exhilarating. The brutal sounds of battle ringing out around the Pandoran rainforests are delivered with real drive and urgency, placing them right at the front of the mix, exactly where they should be.
The Onkyo revels in the chaos of a decent action scene, firing sounds to the speakers with all the frantic energy of an orchestra conductor on acid, but without losing its handle on clarity, steering speed and channel separation. It’s a joy to hear.
What you also get is a wide, spacious soundstage, with all the elements easy to locate within it. Throughout the movie, it articulates dialogue through the centre channel with admirable clarity and detail – even when it’s competing with stuff being blown up – and there’s admirable coherence across all channels.
The TX-NR1009 doesn’t shy from its bass handling responsibilities either, bashing out those low notes with all the dynamic thump of a Haye right hook.
Yet for all the power it’s packing, the NR1009 doesn’t clobber you over the head with a sonic sledgehammer like some past Onkyo models. It displays a lightness of touch when required, painting in delicate details behind the more forthright sounds and giving every element room to breathe. Nowhere is this more apparent than during Avatar’s quiet moments, rendering the subtle noises of the rainforest with pin-sharp clarity.
That also pays dividends when playing music, as it helps gentler material retain a sense of elegance when required, but when fed high-octane rock or dance music it can mix it with the best of them. The sound is energetic yet controlled and nicely balanced.
Finally, DTS Neo:X is unquestionably impressive, offering a heightened sense of immersion, yet it’s no more impressive than Audyssey DSX or Dolby Pro Logic IIz, making us wonder if three modes doing essentially the same job is a touch excessive.
Our love affair with Onkyo’s AV receivers continues with this wonderful home entertainment hub. The amount of features on board is actually quite overwhelming – DLNA and Spotify music streaming are highlights and the world’s first appearance of DTS Neo:X is pleasing despite its similarities to Dolby and Audyssey’s equivalents.
There are sockets in abundance, the internal circuitry and overall build its exemplary and importantly, it’s easy to use, despite its inherent complexity. There were one or two niggles with DLNA but otherwise plain sailing.
When it comes to its core duty of playing Blu-ray soundtracks though, the TX-NR1009 excels – the sound is powerful and assertive but not at the expense of finesse, all of which makes this an AV receiver you should be sticking on your shortlist, provided you can stretch to that hefty asking price.
Score in detail
Sound Quality 9