There are, however, two Audyssey caveats you need to know about. First, Audyssey’s Dynamic EQ function, which is meant to preserve optimal tonal balance and imaging characteristics at reduced volume settings, sounded somewhat imbalanced in my tests, imparting an overly heavy degree of bass boost while occasionally making upper midrange frequencies sound strident (though you might achieve better results than I did). Second, note that Audyssey’s Dynamic Volume settings are mostly meant to help control overall volume levels for late night use; turn Dynamic Volume off for critical listening.
Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers Blu-ray shows off the power and subtlety of the TX-SR876 in dramatic fashion. In the main Iwo Jima beach invasion scene, the Onkyo reproduces battles sounds—Japanese machine gun fire, artillery shells exploding at close range, or the throb of radial aircraft engines in Corsair fighter planes overhead—with a great combination of brute force and timbral purity. When shells go off, for example, you’ll feel palpable shock waves rattle your chest cavity. Yet in a later sequence, you will also hear even the smallest, most subtle vocal details clearly reproduced, as U.S. soldiers urgently whisper to one another in their foxholes at night, trying to avoid detection by the Japanese. It’s this ability to go “big” with power, yet to play “small” with delicacy and finesse that makes the TX-SR876 so special.
Like many reviewers, I’ve come to use the Dolby TrueHD soundtrack of the Dave Mathews & Tim Reynolds: Live at Radio City Music Hall Blu-ray disc as a benchmark test of sorts, and it proved to be a test that the TX-SR876 passed with flying colors. On this disc, many receivers give Tim Reynolds’s Martin guitar a clear yet thin, “jangly,” and almost brittle sound. But the Onkyo, happily does not, partly owning to its smooth and naturally warm sound, but also because the Audyssey EQ processor helps the receiver get rid of edgy-sounding artifacts that don’t belong. As a result, Onkyo simply nailed the righteous sound of Reynolds’s Martin acoustic guitar, revealing its big, clear, penetrating voice while deftly avoiding the “clangy,” metallic sound that other receivers so often impart. Better still, the front surround image was terrific, giving a beautiful sense of the interplay between Reynolds’s guitar on the left and Matthews’s guitar and voice on the right of the stage. The TX-SR876 shows that Blu-ray has tremendous, though perhaps as yet untapped, potential as a music medium—provided you own a receiver as capable as this one is.
This is one of the best, if not the best, sub-$2K AVR I’ve heard. Beyond rich features and functions, Onkyo’s TX-SR876 pays close attention to video and audio fundamentals, offering very good levels of clarity and resolution, plus a rich yet natural-sounding tonal palette backed by plenty of muscle. The receiver, though not cheap, offers excellent value for money. Heartily recommended.
Onkyo TX-SR876 THX Ultra2 Plus-certified 7.1 channel A/V receiver
Power output: 7 x 140Wpc @ 8 ohms
Decoding formats: Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Digital, and Pro Logic IIx Music/Movies/Games; DTS-HD Master Audio and High Resolution Audio, DTS 96/24, DTS Express, DTS-ES Discrete and Matrix, and DTS Neo:6; THX Neural Surround, THX Surround EX, and THX Ultra2 Cinema/Music/Games
Video inputs/outputs: Composite video (6 in, 3 out); S-video (6 in, 2 out); Component video (3 in, 1 out), HDMI (4 in, 2 out)
Audio inputs/outputs: Stereo analog (8 in, 3 out), 7.1-channel analog (1 in, 1 out), moving magnet phono (1), digital audio (3 optical in, 3 coaxial in; 1 optical out), HDMI v1.3a Repeating/Switching (4 in, 2 out), XM satellite radio (1), Sirius satellite radio (1), headphone output (1), AM/FM/HD Radio tuner (1)
Other: RS-232 port (1 in), IR input/output (1/1), 12V trigger output (1), auto calibration mic 1)
Dimensions (HxWxD): 7.625” x 17.125” x 18.062”
Weight: 53.1 lb.
Onkyo U.S.A. Corporation