Receivers

Integra DTR-8.9 7.1 A/V Receiver

ARTICLE INDEX

Introduction

Integra keeps putting out high-quality, value-priced products year after year. The company, which is the "high-end" of the Onkyo brand, sells primarily to custom installers and boutique A/V resellers rather than Internet and big-box stores. I've reviewed a new receiver from each of its last three years' model lines, and have been impressed at how Integra manages to consistently increase the quality and features at consumer-friendly prices. So when Integra introduced the new DTR-8.9 receiver, chock full of goodies like HQV-Reon-VX video processing, ISF video calibration capabilities, updated Audyssey MultEQ, and THX Ultra2 certification, all at an MSRP of $1,900, I knew I wanted to check this one out.

Specifications

  • Design: 7.1 A/V Surround Sound Receiver
  • Power: 140 Watts RMS @ 8 Ohms, Two Channels Driven
  • THD+N: 0.05%, 20 Hz - 20 kHz
  • Codecs: DD Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, and All the Usual Lossy Codecs
  • THX Ultra2 Plus Certified
  • 3 Zones
  • Digital Inputs: 4 HDMI v1.3, 3 Coax, 3 Optical (2 HDMI Outputs)
  • Video Processing: HQV-Reon-VX
  • Dimensions: 7.6" H x 17.1" W x 17.7" D
  • Weight: 50.9 Pounds
  • MSRP: $1,900 USA
  • Integra Home Theater

Design

The DTR-8.9 is the penultimate receiver in the Integra line (topped only by the DTR 9.9). The DTR-8.9 is a dual push-pull design, rated by Integra at 140 watts of continuous power across the entire spectrum (20 Hz-20 kHz) into two channels, at 8 ohm loads, with THD at 0.05% (FTC). The DTR-8.9, like most Integra and Onkyo products, uses WRAT (Wide Range Amplifier Technology), which provides bandwidth from 5 Hz to100 kHz (although built-in limiters prevent significant output at those extreme frequencies to avoid speaker damage).

Although a 7.1 channel receiver, the Integra allows the user to configure the sixth and seventh amp channels for bi-amping the main left and right channels, or providing two channels of power to a second zone. Like Integra's prior models, the DTR-8.9 uses Burr-Brown 192k/24 Bit DAC's for all seven channels. Processing codecs are driven by three TI (Aureus) 32-Bit DSP chips. The Integra internally decodes Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, assuming that your Blu-ray player passes them in native format rather than converting to bitstream

The DTR-8.9 has four HDMI inputs, and two HDMI (ver. 1.3a) outputs. The two HDMI outputs are not simultaneously active, but can be switched via the Integra's remote control. I found this feature particularly handy, as it allowed me to switch between a regular display and front projector without need of an external switching box. The Integra uses HQV's highly regarded Reon-VX video processing solution, which internally upscales all video sources up to 1080p via HDMI.

The DTR-8.9 (and 9.9) are the first products configured with ISFccc (Imaging Science Foundation certified calibration controls) giving an ISF calibrator an efficient way to ensure that the video signals passing through the various inputs and outputs produce accurate images to your display. There is also a third custom calibration memory for each input, so that you can independently adjust video input from each source to match your display.

Besides the four HDMI inputs, the Integra has six digital audio inputs (three each coax and optical), six S-Video inputs (two outputs), and three component video inputs (two outputs). However, I suspect anyone buying this receiver is likely using gear with HDMI inputs and outputs. Does anyone want to guess what year receivers will only have digital inputs and outputs?

The Integra uses the updated Audyssey MultEQ XT calibration/correction system, which includes functions such as Dynamic EQ and Dynamic Volume, designed to compensate for reproducing accurate surround sound imaging at various volumes (more on that below). It has all of the legacy Dolby/DTS/THX codecs, although audiophiles will be happiest with the Integra's ability to decode high-resolution audio sent through Blu-ray, SACD, and DVD-Audio discs.

New to the DTR-8.9 is THX Loudness Plus, which automatically adjusts front-to-back speaker level and frequency balance when listening at low volumes (similar to the Audyssey Dynamic EQ).

The DTR-8.9 is XM and Sirius satellite radio-ready, and has built-in HD radio, capable of receiving HD radio signals (in North America only). Like its predecessors, it is three-zone capable (two of them powered if the main system is configured for 5.1 driven channels); and has a bi-directional RS232 port for interface control with outside systems.

The back panel of the DTR-8.9 will be familiar to recent Integra/Onkyo users, with heavy duty speaker binding posts spaciously arrayed across the back of the unit, and the digital inputs clustered in the upper left-corner. You can bridge the front left/right channels with the surround back channels, resulting in 300 watts RMS output capability into 8 ohms for the front channels.

The DTR-8.9 uses the same standard remote control found on recent Integra products, so if you like those, you'll like the one supplied with the DTR-8.9. I found the layout and functionality quite intuitive and convenient, the only nit being that, with its rectangular shape, I would occasionally point the rear end towards the receiver (especially in a darkened room).


Setup

Setup like prior Integra products, is relatively easy when using the updated graphical user interface (GUI). The DTR-8.9 walks you through the speaker setup, configuring speaker size, distance, and suggested crossover frequencies (independently adjustable in increments of 40/45/50/55/60/70/80/90/100/11/120/130/150/200 Hz). Then the Audyssey interface takes over, with an updated GUI that asks you to set the supplied calibration microphone in up to six seating locations before crunching the numbers. The default Audyssey setting is Dynamic EQ, which makes real-time adjustments that are intended to compensate for reduced audibility and balance between front and surround channels, particularly at lower volume levels.

Other options include Dynamic Volume (which adjusts output gain to maintain a static volume regardless of changes to input signal strength, Flat, Off, and MultEQ, which is the basic Audyssey curve (with a slight high-end roll-off similar in concept to that of THX's Re-EQ feature). Tweakers can choose to manually configure a supplied multi-band equalizer, but given the robust Audyssey processing that works in both frequency and time domains, I'd leave the EQ'ing to Audyssey.

The Integra played well with all my other components, and did not have any sync or lock on issues (which given the state of HDMI these days should not be taken for granted). Also noticeable was that, while Onkyo/Integra products tend to run hot, the DTR-8.9 seemed noticeably cooler than prior models that I'd reviewed (both running 4 ohm and 8 ohm speakers).


In Use

I've become somewhat spoiled by the clean, uncolored sound of Integra products, and the DTR-8.9 was no exception. I don't have the prior years' receiver models lying around, making direct A/B comparisons impossible, but my subjective impression was that the DTR-8.9 sounded slightly better than its predecessors. It seemed like there was a little more high-end clarity and air than the usually excellent Integra sound.

When reviewing similar products from the same manufacturer, I tend to fall back on old discs that I've heard over and over (and over again). "Heart of the Sunrise", from Yes' Fragile (DVD-Audio) has five virtuosic prog-rock musicians competing for attention in a very active 5.1 channel mix. I listened to the song both on my usual B & W speakers, as well as the MK Sound M Series speakers I recently reviewed. The Integra excelled in allowing me to hear the differences in the speakers, rather than adding its own character.

I did notice that when set to the default Audyssey Dynamic EQ, the 5.1 mix was radically different. Instruments and vocals in the surround channels jumped out in the mix, while the center channel lead vocal tended to be obscured and tended towards an echo. It was an interesting effect, but definitely not accurate reproduction, so I turned off Dynamic EQ for multi-channel music listening. However, this is just my own taste, and you should try it for yourself.

I missed Live Free or Die Hard in the movies, but somehow knew it would be a nice demo disc for home theater. By nice I mean exploding helicopters, cars racing through tunnels, cartoonish villains and henchmen, and the always entertaining Bruce Willis growling through clenched jaw. The DTR-8.9 created an extremely wide, realistic soundstage, with clean pans and intelligent dialogue throughout the latest (and last?) in the Die Hard series.


On the Bench

All distortion measurements were made within an 80 kHz bandwidth and with two channels driven, and except where indicated, into 8 ohm loads.

At 1 kHz and 20 volts output into 8 ohms, THD+N was 0.01%.

IMD at 20 volts was 0.009%.

THD+N vs. Frequency showed a large rise above 1 kHz, and especially at 4 ohms, began to approach 1%. Because of this, I would suggest using 8 ohm speakers.

THD+N vs. Power output is shown below. At 8 ohms, distortion began to rise sharply at 150 watts, then clipped (1% THD+N) at 180 watts. (The point at where the line bends sharply, in this case at 150 watts, is the practical output limit.) At 4 ohms, the sharp bend occurs at 185 watts, with clipping at 250 watts.

The measured frequency response was 20 Hz - 60 kHz, - 1 dB.


Conclusions

The DTR-8.9 A/V receiver is the latest in a long line of superb products from Integra. With the latest features such as HQV-Reon-VX video processing, ISF video calibration capabilities, updated Audyssey MultEQ, and THX Ultra2 certification, all at $1,900 MSRP, Integra has raised the bar yet again.