In terms of looks, Onkyo has done a good job of making this beast of a receiver look stylish and friendly, giving you the option of black or silver (the former is more fetching). But be warned: it’s so frighteningly heavy that you’ll need a helper to lift it.
Most of the front-panel controls and connections are hidden under a flap at the bottom, but there’s also a row of buttons above it that provide quick, direct access to the various inputs, plus a large, bright info display panel (which gratifyingly shows the name of the format being decoded in big, bold letters). No high-end receiver would be complete without a massive volume dial, and sure enough there’s one on the right-hand side.
The rear panel looks like one of those old telephone exchange consoles, covering every single type of socket imaginable. There are four HDMI inputs and two outputs – all of which are v1.3 compliant with Deep Colour, x.v.Colour and Lip Sync support – plus three component video inputs, five S-video and composite inputs, three coaxial digital audio inputs, two optical digital audio inputs (and one output) and more analogue stereo sockets than you’ll ever need.
In addition there are 7.1-channel analogue outputs and pre-outputs, with extra stereo pre-outs for second and third zone playback. What’s more, when using a 5.1-channel setup, you can use the surround back channel speaker binding posts to bi-amp the front channels and increase the power. Other rear connections include Ethernet and RS232 ports, remote control ports and FM/AM antenna inputs.
On the front panel are more AV inputs and a USB port, which allows you to connect a flash drive or MP3 player, and because the NR906 is certified for Windows Vista (formerly known as Plays For Sure), you can play similarly compatible devices.
Despite its inherent complexity the TX-NR906 is surprisingly easy to install and use. The main reason for this is the inclusion of MultiEQ and the excellent on screen setup menu, which presents the vast array of options in a clear and logical way. But you can also access the setup menu from the front panel if you don’t have the video outputs rigged up, and the clearly listed options make it an equally effective way of adjusting the settings.
We’re also impressed by the backlit remote, which is predictably large and crammed with buttons, but it doesn’t take long before you feel comfortable with the layout. You have to select different remote modes to control the unit’s various functions, which results in some fruitless button pressing if you forget which mode is selected, but on the whole we don’t think Onkyo could have done a better job.