As a home cinema epicentre, the TX-NR818 is phenomenally well-equipped. For starters it gets the THX Select2 Plus seal of approval, which means it can fill a room of up to 56 cubic metres with a seating position of around 3 or 4 metres from the screen.
The NR818 also decodes any surround soundtrack you care to throw at it, and with the Dolby Pro Logic IIz, DTS Neo:X and Audyssey DSX modes you can create an expanded virtual soundstage with any film.
By hooking the NR818 to your home network – via Ethernet or the optional UWF-1 wireless USB LAN adapter – you can also stream music from DLNA-certified media servers, such as laptops, NAS drives and tablets. And we’re not just talking about the usual formats like MP3, WMA and AAC – the Onkyo can also stream ‘audiophile’ formats like Apple Lossless, FLAC (192kHz/24-bit), WMA Lossless and WAV.
Additionally the NR818 has built in portals for various music streaming services, including Spotify, AUPEO!, Simfy, vTuner internet radio, Last.fm and MP3tunes. And if you can’t find anything to listen to among that little lot, there is literally something wrong with you.
Picture perfectionists are also well catered for. Video processing comes courtesy of a dual-core engine with the HQV Vida VHD1900 (which upscales to 1080p and uses StreamClean to remove low-bitrate video noise) and Marvell’s QDEO 1080p-to-4K upscaling technology – not essential now but will be useful when 4K screens are widespread. The NR818 also has the Imaging Science Foundation approval, which means each video input can be calibrated by a professional engineer.
Want more? How about the advanced 32-bit DSP chip, which provides a range of listening modes – including four for gaming alone – and the Advanced Music Optimiser for enhancing compressed digital files. Naturally there’s an array of high-grade electronics inside (including Burr Brown 192kHz/24-bit DACs for all channels), which are carefully arranged to avoid electrical interference and distortion.
The only omission is AirPlay, which has been embraced by Pioneer, Denon and Yamaha, but with so many other ways of playing music, both wired and wireless, its absence isn’t a major issue.
It’s worth pointing out here what ‘extras’ you get for your money if you opt for the NR818 over the cheaper NR709 or NR609. They include ISF certification, HQV Vida processing, InstaPrevue, advanced audio calibration (MultEQ XT32), MP3tunes, Simfy and powered Zone 3 output – not to mention its greater power output.
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