Onkyo USA introduced Wednesday a pair THX Certified Select network A/V receivers including Onkyo’s first IMAX Enhanced Certified 9.2-channel model, the TX-NR797.

The Onkyo TX-NR797 ($699 suggested retail) and Onkyo TX-NR696 ($599) both support the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based surround sound formats, 3D sound virtualization technologies, simplified audio distribution and will pass through multiple 4K HDR profiles.

Furthermore, the TX-NR797 is billed as Onkyo’s first AVR released under the IMAX Enhanced program that includes DTS:X immersive audio decoding optimized to correctly reproduce the full dynamic range of IMAX theatrical sound mixes available in digitally re-mastered IMAX Enhanced content.

The IMAX Mode was developed to reproduce lMAX Enhanced content that matches as closely as possible the artistic intent of the filmmakers. Onkyo USA said the release of the receiver is timed to meet the scheduled release of IMAX Enhanced titles for 4K HDR streaming and Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc titles.

The Onkyo TX-NR797 produces 220 watts (6 ohms, 1 kHz, 10% THD, 1-ch driven) while the Onkyo TX-NR696 outputs 210 Watts (6 ohms, 1 kHz, 10% THD, 1-ch driven). The company said both receivers include a host of noise-reduction features including a refined HDMI board, isolated network board, and strengthened power-supply line.

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In addition, both receivers feature a quad-core SoC (System on a Chip) enabling high-speed 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO Wi-Fi and advanced network functionalities.

The TX-NR696 plays Dolby Atmos and DTS:X formats through 5.2.2 channels, while the TX-NR797 adds another pair of heights (5.2.4) or rear surrounds (7.2.2) for even deeper immersion.

Other features include Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X up-mixers for legacy audio formats and Dolby Atmos Height Virtualizer, which creates a virtual surround and height effect from traditional speaker layouts without employing additional surround or height speakers.

The TX-NR696 also includes DTS Virtual:X, a DSP-based technology that creates a 3D sound-field from horizontal speaker layouts with DTS:X, DTS formats, and non-encoded stereo formats.

Onkyo uses a custom-built High-Current Low-Noise Power Transformer, customized capacitors, and discrete non-phase-shift amp topology. In addition to improving speaker control, high current supports stable power into 4-ohm speaker loads, the company said.

Both models also feature built-in support for a number of the most popular streaming entertainment services including: Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, TIDAL, Deezer, and TuneIn. These can be played throughout the house vai support for Works with Sonos technology, as well as Chromecast built-in, AirPlay 2, DTS Play-Fi, and FlareConnect.

Works with Sonos certification lets the receiver tie into a Sonos Home Sound System just by pairing it with a Sonos Connect, with control through the Sonos app. Multi-room capabilities extend to Chromecast built-in, enabling users to stream music from smartphones, tablets, laptops, and PCs.

Apple AirPlay 2 enables wirelessly streaming music or podcasts from iPhone, iPad, or Mac to speakers throughout the house. For voice control operation, the receivers tap Google Assistant technology through linked compatible Google Home smart speaker like an Onkyo Smart Speaker G3.

The receivers support 384 kHz/32-bit multichannel D/A conversion optimized by Vector Linear Shaping Circuitry (VLSC) pulse-noise-removal technology on the front L/R channels. Processing for advanced music codecs is optimized to present a range of popular Hi-Res Audio formats including: DSD supported to 11.2 MHz and FLAC, WAV [RIFF], AIFF, and ALAC to 192 kHz/24-bit. Direct Mode is also provide to present the signal exactly as it is decoded and output by the source device.

Multi-zone distribution is also provided in each model. The TX-NR696 has separate Zone 2 speaker outputs, enabling connection of a 7.2-ch surround system and Zone 2 speakers with switching to a 5.2-channel with Zone 2 layout for simultaneous playback of unique or synced audio sources, including analog, NET, Bluetooth, SPDIF and HDMI, without need of an external amplifier.

The TX-NR797 adds a third DAC and assignable speaker outputs to enable unique or synced source playback in Main, Zone 2, and Zone 3, depending on the surround system layout. Both support front-channel bi-amping, Onkyo said.

The AVRs feature a versatile Zone 2/Zone B line-out supported by a Zone 2 DAC. When set to Zone 2 mode and connected to a compatible audio component, the same or different D/A sources (including SPDIF/HDMI) can be played in either or both rooms at the same time.

Zone B mode can be used for connecting a compatible transmitter so that to deliver the same main-room sound to wireless headphones, to enable late-night movie watching without disturbing others in nearby rooms or when viewing the screen from a distance.

A Stereo Assign Mode is offered to allow listeners to switch playback from front L/R to height speakers (or surround/surround back depending on configuration) for ambient background listening.

In addition, a DSP-controlled Vocal Enhancer function can be accessed via remote keys or front-panel controls to provide five-step adjustment of vocal frequencies to alleviate the problem of inaudible dialog in-program. A one-touch volume memory preset saves the desired start-up volume, and the receivers will power up and prepare for playback when an input key is pushed.

Audio via Bluetooth wireless technology is enhanced by Advanced Music Optimizer which improves compressed audio playback quality.

For sound calibration to the room Onkyo equips the TX-NR797 with AccuEQ Advance 9-point room acoustic calibration featured on the TX-NR797. It measures sound at nine positions to accurately calibrate and EQ speakers and subwoofers and remove standing waves. The system detects and compensates for background noise to ensure accurate equalization, the company said.

The TX-NR696 uses AccuEQ with subwoofer EQ. Both units are equipped with AccuReflex phase-adjustment technology to optimize 3D sound-field clarity in listening environments featuring Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers.

The receivers have an HDMI Sub/Zone 2 output that can send signals from HDMI inputs 1–3 to a sub-display or projector. This output joins Main output with ARC and seven HDMI inputs (one front).

All terminals are HDCP 2.2-compliant and support 4K/60p and BT.2020. Content with High Dynamic Range in HDR10, HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma), or Dolby Vision profiles is passed through to compatible displays.

Super Resolution 4K upscaling technology for HD sources is also provided by each model. The receivers have a refreshed GUI with OSD via HDMI including a media input-output data display function which allows audio/video information to be viewed and checked in-program to confirm that content is playing at best quality.

By Greg Tarr

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