Over the years I’ve become something of a student of Onkyo A/V receivers, largely because I’ve been impressed by the overall value they offer, their ease of use, and—especially—by their much better than average analog audio sound quality (a characteristic that has also made a favorable impression on many of my friends and colleagues at Playback’s sister magazine, The Absolute Sound). Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered that Onkyo’s $599 TX-SR607 A/V receiver provides no multichannel analog audio inputs or outputs. Huhh??
My initial reaction to this discovery, I must admit, was to shake my head in dismay and to mutter, “What was Onkyo thinking?” But after a few seconds of reflection it occurred to me that perhaps analog audio-oriented enthusiasts are perhaps not the intended audience for this receiver in the first place. After all, not all that many consumers (or even A/V enthusiasts) know or care about high-quality multichannel music (as offered in SACD, DVD-Audio, and other formats), nor do they necessarily care about seemingly subtle differences in analog audio quality between various models of disc players.
Instead, I think the TX-SR607 (along with Onkyo’s other “07-series receivers such as the TX-SR307, TX-SR-507, TX-SR707, and TX-SR807) is designed to cater specifically to customers who plan to use digital connections both for audio and video signals. Rather than fussing over multichannel analog inputs (or lack thereof), customers who will appreciate the TX-SR607 are those who seek receivers that promise relatively high power output with low distortion, advanced digital features, and overall ease of use. And judged by those criteria, the TX-SR607 is both a capable and very affordable machine.
As I see it, the TX-SR607 represents a digital fork in the road of sorts. On one hand, it is not a receiver that makes sense if you’re an avid enthusiast of multichannel music recordings who has invested time and money in choosing a multi-format, multichannel universal disc player with killer analog audio sound quality (the TX-SR607 gives you no way to tap into that quality). For analog audio-minded enthusiasts, Onkyo’s recently announced “007-Series” (the TX-NR1007, TX-NR-3007, and TX-NR5007), would arguably be a better choice. On the other hand, if you seek a receiver that’s geared toward accepting digital audio and video data streams, and on handling those internally and in the simplest manner possible, then the TX-SR607 could make perfect sense for you.
Consider this AVR if: You want an A/V receiver that is powerful, provides a rich and clear core sound, and that is geared primarily around using digital audio inputs to feed its internal surround sound decoders and DACs. Consider this receiver, too, if you think you might like to experiment with Dolby ProLogic IIz processing, which allows adding optional front “height” channels to a traditional 5.1-channel system (this is the first Onkyo receiver to support Dolby PLIIz).
Look further if: You are a confirmed multichannel audio enthusiast and think that the analog audio section of your disc player might sound better than the DACs in the Onkyo (the TX-SR607 can play multichannel audio material, but via digital inputs only). Again, bear in mind that this receiver provides no multichannel analog audio inputs whatsoever, which may or may not matter to you. (But note: many competing AVRs in this price class do provide multichannel analog inputs, increasing your available options.).
Ratings (relative to comparably priced AVRs)