Onkyo has just announced two mid-priced AV receivers that boast THX Select certification, processing for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X and the company’s first implementation of IMAX Enhanced technology.
The 9.2-channel TX-NR797 ($699) and 7.2-channel TX-NR696 ($599) are rated to deliver 100 watts/channel into 8 ohms and accommodate 5.2.4 or 7.2.2 and 5.2.2 Atmos/DTS:X speaker layouts, respectively, they also have Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X up-mixing for legacy formats.
A future firmware update will activate IMAX Enhanced processing on the TX-NR797 and Dolby Atmos Height Virtualizer for both models, it creates a virtual surround and height effect without having to add additional speakers; the update will also activate DTS Virtual:X processing on the NR696.
The NR797’s IMAX Mode activates DTS:X decoding that’s optimized to “reproduce the full dynamic range of IMAX theatrical sound mixes available in digitally re-mastered IMAX Enhanced content.” We currently have a few IMAX Enhanced Titles that have been released with more are on the way.
In addition to being able to support hi-res audio and 4K/high dynamic range (HDR) passthrough, both AV Receivers include a refined HDMI board, isolated network board, and strengthened power-supply line to combat noise plus a custom-built high-current/low-noise power transformer, custom capacitors, and “discrete non-phase-shift” amp topology for stability with 4-ohm speaker loads. Connections include a phono input, six (NR696) HDMI inputs and seven (NR797) HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs.
Onkyo’s AccuEQ Advance room calibration system, which measures sound at nine positions, is featured on the NR797. The NR696 is equipped with AccuEQ with subwoofer EQ plus AccuReflex phase-adjustment for optimizing sound-field clarity with Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers for both models.
Both AVRs provide ready access to Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, Deezer, TuneIn internet radio and support Bluetooth streaming and multiroom audio via Works with Sonos, Chromecast built-in (with a software update), AirPlay 2, DTS Play-Fi, and Onkyo’s FlareConnect. The Sonos certification lets the receiver work with Sonos system when a Sonos Connect amplifier is in place.
The NR696 has separate Zone 2 speaker outputs, enabling connection of a 7.2-channel surround system and Zone 2 speakers with switching to a 5.2-channel plus Zone 2 layout for simultaneous playback of unique or synced audio sources without needing an external amplifier. The NR797 adds a third digital-to-analog converter (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 AV Receivers can be bi amped.
The AVRs both feature a 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 digital sources can be played in either or both rooms at the same time.
You also get a Stereo Assign Mode that switches playback from Front L/R to Height speakers or Surround back depending on configuration for ambient background listening and a five step Vocal Enhancer for movie dialogue.