Integra includes a couple of extremely user-friendly packaging features. When you first open the box, one of the flaps contains a diagram of the packing materials, layout, and inventory of materials in the box. While most people (other than reviewers!) aren't in the habit of having to repack home theater components, it is nice to know that you can figure out how to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Another nice touch is the inclusion of a full-page of stickers to attach to the various speaker connections, for the receiver and speaker ends of the cables. Classy.
The fully back-lit remote control is essentially the same model used on Onkyo receivers. The buttons are well laid-out, readable (when lighted), and allow the user to adjust the most-used variables without requiring multiple button pushes. In fact, the only quirk I've found with the Onkyo/Integra remotes is that the ergonomic design makes me want to pick up and point the remote control backwards, especially in a dark room. It just feels more natural in my hand that way.
The DTR-7.6 has an automatic speaker set-up calibration system, and comes with the familiar microphone shaped like a two-inch flying saucer. I have had mixed experiences with automatic speaker set-up routines, but was extremely impressed with the ease and accuracy of the Integra's set-up routine. I placed the microphone in the sweet spot listening position, then waited quietly while the Integra sent two series of test tones to all eight channels. The DTR-7.6, being THX-certified, automatically calibrates to reference level, so the test tones are quite loud. When finished, you can check the results, apply them if satisfied, start over, or manually set the various parameters.
The set-up routine accurately detected speaker size and distance, and separately calibrated each speaker's volume. The automatic calibration adjusts five bands of parametric EQ for each channel (three bands for the subwoofer channel).
Using EQ to deal with room acoustics is a controversial issue. While most agree that the better solution is to address room acoustics through treatments such as diffusers, absorbers, and bass traps, many consumers have neither the inclination to do so nor an understanding spouse who will allow room treatments in a multi-use listening space. Strategically placed rugs, pillows and blankets can only do so much.
Some of our Senior Editors
have argued that the automatic EQ available in most receivers can actually
make a system sound worse. [See this article:
My own subjective experience was that the sound quality was better using the
Integra's calibration/equalization system, instead of leaving the EQ alone
(perhaps a damning review of my efforts to acoustically treat a listening
space that doubles as a family room, but that is a reality for most home
theater enthusiasts subject to the dreaded SAF - Spousal Acceptance Factor).
One downside to the calibration system is that, should you choose to
manually adjust EQ, the five bands are pre-set. In other words, using the
automatic calibration, the Integra will locate and reduce a standing wave at
52 Hz, but if you use the manual adjustments, you can only EQ low
frequencies at a fixed setting (such as 80 Hz).
sessions of both CDs and DVD-Audio discs (which are initially converted
from digital to analog by the DVD player before additional A/D/A processing
by the Integra) produced equally satisfying results. "Wasted Time", from the
Eagles Hotel California DVD-A, is a modern meditation on failed romance that
draws its power from the trills, tremolos and phrasing of Don Henley's
vocal. I listened to the track on speakers normally described as warm in the
midrange (B & W), speakers with a deserved reputation for being extremely
revealing (Anthony Gallo), and speakers designed to accurately reproduce
voices over a wide soundstage (Crystal Acoustics). Each produced a different
experience with the Integra, testament to the fact that the receiver was not
dictating the sound, but accurately producing it to the speakers without its