Onkyo TX-SR806 THX Ultra2 Plus 7.1 A/V Receiver


The Design of the Onkyo 806

Small things don't go unnoticed. When FedEx dropped the unit off at my office, I immediately noticed that I could lift the thing without too much strain whereas last year I distinctly remember asking for help getting the previous model into the car.  What's more amusing is that the very next day I was contacted by a reader asking if I would be reviewing the 806, and what did I make of the weight reduction.  Consumers notice things like that.

As I've come to expect, the TX-SR806 arrived very well packed. Two substantial pieces of Styrofoam cradle the unit, and a soft foam sheet inside the requisite plastic bag protects it from scuffs when being unpacked.

The front panel is the now familiar Onkyo layout.  Direct input selection is available, and the large machined aluminum volume knob has a nice solid feel.  Behind the drop down panel are a plethora of mainly "one-use" buttons such as the setup cursor pad, but also mode selection buttons, should the occasion arise where they are more convenient than reaching for the remote.

Onkyo TX-SR806 Receiver

The back is where things start to change.  Though a dedicated phono/turntable input still survives in this digital age, beyond it and counting the convenience input on the front, there are a total of eight addressable inputs, five of which have composite and S-Video, and two have rec-out lines. Three coax, two optical, and 5 HDMI digital jacks, plus two component video lines, may be assigned to any of the core inputs.  Not to be forgotten is the 7.1 analogue input (again assignable to any of the core inputs), 7.1 preouts, AM and FM antenna jacks, and ports for both XM and Sirius satellite Radio. The 806 boasts 2-Zone opration with stereo outputs in both line level and speaker level.

For the custom installer a modicum of features: IR in/out, 12V trigger out, and an RS-232 communications port.

The biggest news with the 806 is that Onkyo has now upped the video processor from a basic implementation of the Sage/Faroudja FLI2300, to the 30336, making it effective all the way up to 1080 line.  We'll deal with its implementation and limitations a little later.

The multi-channel line-level jacks are comprehensively color coded, but the speaker jacks are themselves not color coded like last years model: the silk screening on the back panel has the common color code but that is all but invisible when one is hunched over from the front trying to make connections in a rack or cabinet.  While certainly of adequate strength, the speaker connectors won't take a spade lug, but they worked with my speaker wire termination of choice: the venerable banana.

Inside: more changes.  Popping off the lid we make some intuitive observations.

Onkyo TX-SR806 Receiver

One can see at a glance the large (though not overly so) power supply off to one side.  The chassis is then divided by one large full-width heat sink, beyond which all the boards are laid horizontally and thus "stacked".

Gone are what we thought to be intelligently implemented air conduits either side of the heat sink in the 805, each with an on demand fan.  Instead a single fan, mounted in free air mind you, sits front and center.  The point of it is questionable since, as anyone with experience designing cooling for electrical components will tell you, this is about the most inefficient way to add active cooling to a passive heat sink system.  The relative relevance of this will be of more importance when we discuss amplifier power later on in this review.

For the 806, Onkyo went with a Texas Instruments DSP package and Cirrus Logic 24bit/192kHz DACs on all channels.