Onkyo PR-SC5508 9.1 SSP and PA-MC5509 Nine-Channel Power Amplifier



When you go to setup the 5509, I hope that you book away a large block of time and make sure to keep the manual handy with you. Even with as many receivers and processors as I have setup over the past few years I still needed to look things up before I had it configured correctly. The easiest way with any system to configure your speakers is to use Audyssey and see how close it comes to correct. This was my first time using XT32, which adds the ability to independently configure two subwoofers in the system. My Definitive Technology Mythos STS front towers allow the option of using standard speaker inputs alone, or using them in conjunction with LFE inputs for their internal powered subwoofers. I typically stick to the speaker level as then Audyssey can configure them as independent large speakers and deal with bass management that way, but since XT32 would allow each to be it's own subwoofer with it's own settings, I decided to use the LFE inputs as well.

When running Audyssey, it detected all 5.2 channels correctly and the distance was within an inch, which is as close as you can get. Sometimes I find that Audyssey thinks that a speaker is out of phase, but I didn't run into that here. After it went through and measured all 8 listening positions, I made sure all of the settings were correct for crossovers and distance again, and then began to work on assigning my inputs. I do wish that Onkyo had included a way to view the corrections it made on a per-channel basis as my Marantz AV7005 does, as I find that useful, though not essential.

Configuring inputs was a fairly standard procedure except when it came to the multichannel and balanced inputs. These are the inputs I typically use for doing my bench testing, since the multichannel input virtually never has an A-D conversion step, and with balanced inputs I can bypass it and use the balanced output from my PC without an adapter. What I found is that even if you assign the multichannel or balanced jacks to a certain input, that doesn't automatically enable them. You then need to switch to that input, hit the Home key, and under the Audio submenu you can choose which analog input you want to use. Until I did this, I couldn't get them to work and was worried my analog section might actually be broken. Thankfully Onkyo tech support was quick to help me out with this, but I made sure to keep the manual close at hand after this.

Another tricky thing on the Onkyo was that when you configure the video section, there is an option under resolution that is labeled "Through". This indicates to me that the processor is going to pass through the video signal without performing any sort of modification or adjustment to it. However, it actually means that the resolution won't be affected, but it still needs to pass through the video scaler. I'd prefer that Onkyo name this something else, such as Native, that doesn't imply that the signal will bypass the scaler. The one other option I would like to see on video sections is to allow you to set it to 1080p60 but have a pass-thru mode for 24p content. The main use for this is with Blu-ray material, where if you have 24p content and a 24p display, you probably want that to go directly to the display and not be altered at all. However, for 1080i60 concert Blu-rays or 480i DVDs, you might want those to be converted to 1080p60 instead. While this seems to be a feature that only I might want, I do think that it is an option that they should include.