HEEELP, New amp....Onkyo TX-SR605, STR-DA1200ES or STR-DG910?

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My head's about to explode...I've just bought a PS3 and gone Sky HD which are both optical outputs, but my old Denon AVR-1602 (for sale soon) only has 1 optical input. No problem...good excuse for an upgrade. ;¬)

When I bought my TV last December I'd consulted the bible (WHFS&V) and went for the Product of the Year, KDL-40W2000 with which I have been really happy. I remembered reading about the 1200ES and went out to with credit card in hand to grab one at the weekend.

I get to the shop and see it there but it has a DG910 sat on top of it with stickers screaming "I'm brilliant, look what I can do" sort of thing, but it doesn't look as well built and of course I've not seen any reviews. No problem, I'll buy a WHFS&V and check it out...no such luck, not listed.

I get home to check it out on the Internet and I come accross the Onkyo which does even more singing and dancing things but apparently there are some issues.

At this point in time I'd pay good cash for a group test of all 3 (as I think alot of peole would judging by the forums, where is it you magazine people?) but would settle for some good advice. I have a some old Kenwood LS-76's which double as my fronts and stereo speakers, and some Gale surrounds and centre (you sort of guessing my budget yet?) and I use the PS3 for my normal DVD's and CD's.

Please could you all get together and come to some sort of a decision and tell me which to get? No rush, if you get together tonight, you can let me know tomorrow which way to go. ;¬)
 

Andrew Everard

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Can't quite do you a custom group test on the fly, but here are some personal opinions:
The Sony STR-DA1200ES is still a very competitive receiver, and sounds excellent across a wide range of music and movies.
The STR-DG910 certainly seems to have a very comrehensive specification, but as yet we haven't received one for test (hint, hint, Sony), so can't really comment.
The Onkyo? What issues? We tested the less expensive TX-SR505 (£250) in the current (August) issue and really liked it, and as the SR605 is basically the same model with the addition of DD/DTS HD decoding, upscaling to 576P and multiroom capability, I'd suggest it should be as good, though time and a proper review will tell. I heard some of the Onkyo receivers when i visited the company recently (see here), and I'm playing with a TX-SR875 at home at the moment, and so far the range seems pretty strong.Read more about the differences between the Onkyo models here, and more about the new Sony receivers here.
Yes, you're right that a group test including these models, along with any other new receivers at this level that appear, does look so logical that it's kinda inevitable. Watch this space...
 
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Anonymous

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Thanks Andrew, I had read the article about your visit but I always wonder if the equipment they demonstrate at the company is the same we buy on the street.

The issues...I'd read some reports of "popping" sounds and also the unit "downscaling" (?) on the www.avsforum.com site (I'm sure the demonstration you heard didn't have popping sounds).

Maybe I'll wait for the test results.

I'm surprised you have to wait for Sony to send you an item to test;

1.) I'd have thought you'd get one from a retailer to ensure you get the same as we buy

2.) You're allowing the manufacturer to determine when something gets tested, surely if they expect a favourable write up they send it before the release; if they don't, they send it months later or even "forget".

Give Sony a little nudge to let you have one to test, you can tell them Smeggy's going to buy the Onkyo if you think that'll help ;ª)

Smeggy
 
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Anonymous

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Too late Sony, bought the Onkyo and not dissapointed, cracking sound on music CD's, normal DVD's, Bluray and Sky HD.
 

Clare Newsome

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Enjoy!

I hope Sony is reading this. Getting kit from them has been a monumental pain recently - we do buy kit when necessary, both to check retail stock is representative, but also to ensure our tests are as wide-ranging as possible.
 
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Anonymous

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getting fed up waiting too , need your review ,cash burning a big hole in my pocket ,1200,910 ,yamaha, or onkyo ,its me, come on!!!!!!!!!!!
 
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Anonymous

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[quote user="Andrew Everard"]I'm playing with a TX-SR875 at home at the moment, and so far the range seems pretty strong. [/quote]

Andrew,

Could you tell us in which issue you will be able to publish a review of the Onkyo TX-SR875?

Also, will you review the model just above it in the range, the TX-NR905?

Thanks!
 

Andrew Everard

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I know WHFSV has an 875 as well as the one I have, so I guess September or October issue. Not sure about the 905 - don't know if we have one yet.

I don't work directly on the WHFSV reviewing team, but perhaps one of the guys there will be able to give you some more concrete information.
 
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Anonymous

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How about doing an article about how a WHFSV group (or other) test comes together? I wonder about a lot of things like those mentioned above.

And maybe an article about the best companion for a PS3? With support for ALL audio formats featured on the PS3. (And of course dual HDMI out for my projector and telly)...
 

Andrew Everard

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Nothing much to tell, really: we identify a sector of the market, come up with a wishlist for the test, and request samples from the manufacturers. If we can't get them there we'll borrow or occasionally buy them from retailers in order to make the test as complete as possible. AFAIK every magazine works the same way.

Then we get all the contenders together in one of our listening rooms, assemble a motley crew of our reviewers, and let the games begin.

As far as suitable companions for the PS3 are concerned, and given your requirement for twin HDMI outputs, it looks like you your best bet is Onkyo's new TX-NR905, yours for around £1400. Or any number of other receivers with a HDMI splitter switch, such as this one we found among the hammer drills and nails on the Screwfix website. The same place also has a variety of HDMI switches, cables and accessories, including a budget repeater said to be good for 1080P HDMI runs of up to 40m
 
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Anonymous

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Thanks for your suggestion, I already had my eye on that model, since it also supports DTS HD Master Audio.

Which immediately raises another question... does the PS3 support DTS HD Master Audio on Blue-Ray playback?

PS: The links you mention get www.whathifi.com/ in front of them (and thus only work after editing) and BTW it's the first reasonably affordable repeater I've come across.

PPS: You did get to take a TX-SR875 home after the factory visit?
 

Andrew Everard

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[quote user="GSX-R"]

Which immediately raises another question... does the PS3 support DTS HD Master Audio on Blue-Ray playback?

[/quote]

Not sure on that one. Maybe someone else is more into PS3 than me, and can answer.

[quote user="GSX-R"]
PS: The links you mention get www.whathifi.com/ in front of them (and thus only work after editing) and BTW it's the first reasonably affordable repeater I've come across.

[/quote]

Strange that - I just checked them and they worked fine. But I have remade the links just in case.

[quote user="GSX-R"]PPS: You did get to take a TX-SR875 home after the factory visit?[/quote]

No - I think All Nippon Airways might have taken a pretty dim view of me carting one of them on board as carry-on luggage! But yes, I have one at home which I am playing with now. The WHFSV review team also has one, and will be covering it in the September issue, which is out in a few weeks.
 
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Anonymous

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Hi Smeggy. I can see you've not gone the SONY route but I'm sure you are happy with your purchase. I thought it might be useful for other readers to know that I auditioned the DG910 next to the DA1200SE with two different speaker configurations before purchasing the 1200 with Mission M34i floor standers. I found the difference to be quite stark. Whilst the 1200 was musical, rich without colouration and real, the DG910 was everything but. It sounded vague and dull across the spectrum. Coupled with a few compromises on connections, the DG910 was not a match for the 1200SE. It sounds just as good at home too, which is a great result. I look forward to the opinion of the magazine staff too, to see if my ears are any good! Bob.
 
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Anonymous

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Bob

Thanks for the advice on the choice between the Sony STR-DA1200ES or STR-DG910

I have been waiting for a couple of months for a review of the STR-DG910 but I think it sounds like the STR-DA1200ES is the better sounding choice of the two. I think I will buy one this week.

Can anyone tell me if Tannoy F1 CUSTOM's would be a good match for this receiver, with my Jamo 700 speakers used as rear speakers, and also would this setup sound OK without a subwoofer?

My budget is £400 and the STR-DA1200ES and the Tannoys look like the best choice for a HDMI receiver and speakers on a limited budget.

Any opinions welcomed

Peter
 

Andy Clough

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Hi Peter

Yes, you could use the Tannoys as the front speakers (I assume you intend to buy a stereo pair), but what would you use for the centre speaker? And without a subwoofer you might find the bass a bit limited for home cinema use.

We normally advise getting a complete speaker package from the same manufacturer so that they're a tonal match. So if you do buy the Tannoys, I'd suggest you save up for the rest of the Mercury F1 5.1 package (centre, subwoofer and rears) and add them at a later date. The complete Mercury F1 package (£820) is excellent and would work well with the Sony.
 
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Anonymous

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Andy

Thank you for the advice on my speaker choice. I was looking at adding further speakers at a later date, when my budget allows.

Can you also tell me if the Sony has reasonable performance as a straight stereo amp? By this I mean would the sound be on par with my now very old Sansui AU X201 amp, which was never that great in the first place!

Thanks again for your time.

Peter
 

Hendy00

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I'm also looking to buy 1 of the 3 receivers that Smeggy quoted not only for my HD setup but also to replace my existing amp for my hifi. At the moment I do not have HD anything but my Hi Fi setup consists of Albarry PP1 amp, Nakamiche RX 202 tape deck, Pink triangle turntable, Technique CD player and Proac Speakers. All except the tape deck is about 15 yrs old- Yes, you read right, 15 yrs old but still plays at the most supreme quality level. Better than a good few that that are being made today.

So my main priority is to buy an amp that runs both my existing hifi and new - soon to get - HD vision setup. I have seen both the Sony 1200ES and DA910 and seeked info from forums on the net and for £400 or under the 1200ES gets What hi fi 5 star and it's the only one that has phono connectivity, which i want, but like the rest, still waiting on a proper sound test on the DA910.

The Forums are suggesting the DA910 because it has Audio over HDMI which the 1200Es does not. Can you explain what this means in terms of - do i need addition equipment with the 1200Es to get this? or is there another solution? Also, as they are sony and they are obviously promoting Blu Ray, would they be able to handle HD-DVD?

Have only read write ups on the Onkyo and impressive but no phono connections.

I have already bought a Toshiba HDMI 370E as that gets the 5 star treatment for the price and also i didn't want to commit to either Blu-Ray or HD-DVD because of the VHSBetamax syndrome. I'm looking to get a Panasonic -TH42PX700 or Samsung PS42Q97HDX plasma screen, both have great reviews, looks stunning in the shops but the samsung may just swing it as it handles SD best which i watch alot of.

But i've read that if the Sky digital box is connected to a upscaling AVR that this can produce a better quality picture. Not quite Sky HD but alot better than the standard SD. Can you elaborate on this??

H
 
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Anonymous

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Ok, gonna try and answer a couple of your questions (someone please correct me if I'm wrong on anything):

If you want HD audio playback and you opt for the 1200se you will need a HD/Blu-ray player with 6 channel output to feed the 1200se. Alternatively, you could go for the new Onkyo 605 as this handles audio over HDMI and can decode all of the HD soundtracks.

The Onkyo also de-interlaces analogue video signals which can then be output to a compatible screen via HDMI (so you only need one cable going to the screen). Personally I feel the Onkyo (or similar) would be more appropriate for your needs as it provides the most flexible option for an HD setup.

When you say the Onkyo has "...no phono connections." what do you mean? It does have stereo phono inputs, but I presume you are referring to something else?

As for upscaling SD images you need to be looking at much pricier AV amps, this is gonna make it sound like I work for Onkyo (I don't) but again their 875 and 905 models offer upscaling for all inputs. The 875 is in the current issue of WHF and receives 5 stars so should be good, but it does cost around £1000!

The problem at the moment is it seems only Onkyo are offering amps that provide provisions for HD audio decoding and video upconvertion and upscaling. Everyone else needs to pull their fingers out and provide some competition.
 

Hendy00

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Thanks for the info.

The Onkyo 605 has no Phono inputs (turntable) - I've checked on their website and looked up the specs. I could use my existing amp as a pre-amp to support the turntable I suppose as it has the capability to do so. i've listen to both 910 and 1200es today and the 1200 seems and feel to have my guts and body to the sound - used my own CD's. Clarity seems about the same. Can't find a place that has the 605 in stock and has a listening room. You are right about the Upscaling though and considering the HDMI DVD player has it already and they are above my budget, there is no point entertaining the idea. So It seems to be a toss up between Sony's.

910 - Audio over HDMI, less cables, costs less, but no Phono inputs 1200 - 1 more cable but has Phono inputs and sounds better (to me anyway and that what matters).

I shall keep looking for the 605 for a while as i would really like to hear and see it for myself.
 

Hendy00

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Just seen the 1200 Play.com for £329 - same as the 910. Bemused or what. Also for £300 via Pricerunner. Major savings. Onkyo 605 cheapest is £375

My next question is should i still wait to hear the Onkyo 605? I have time but not sure if the price of the 1200 has.
 

Alsone

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Ok I'm no expert on any of this but a point that seems to have been missed is the new HD video codecs.

It seems to me that if your planning for a system for HD playback then a receiver / amplifier that can decode Dolby True HD and supports HDMI 1.3 is essential.

Anything else is already outdated and will leave you cursing and expensively re-upgrading when you hear the new uncompressed sound quality offered by TrueHD - see here for details of true HD and how it compares to Dolby Digital:

http://whathifi.com/home-cinema/archive/2007/06/11/hi-def-surround-sound-explained.aspx

Quality Comparison Chart:

Dolby True HD has 40 TIMES the bit rate of Dolby Digital and is considered lossless!!!!

Chart%201-2.jpg
 

Hendy00

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Thanks for that info, much appricated. After visiting a few dedicated dealers, I've decided on a 605. They all agree, while it is not so astecially pleasing, for the price, i be struggling to get anything as good at the mo. I've been advised I can still use my Albarry PP1 amp as a pre-amp as it has the facility to do so. They gone as far to say that it be better to leave the hi fi alone just connect pre-amp and the speakers to the 605, selecting the hi fi by the 605 aux sector. I'll still get great sound quality from the turntable. Are they right about that? Shame that of none of the dealers had them and couldn't get a demo as I really wanted to see and hear it LIVE. Still going to before i part with my hard earned cash

Q1: What will be best; leave hi fi alone and connect all via pre amp or connect CD player and tape to 605, leaving the turntable connected by the pre amp ?

Q2: After looking at the picture of the connection on the 605, Into which inputs would the pre-amp go? They seem to be dedicated phono inputs with names of what should be there. Can't see no AUX inputs

Thoughts and recommendations welcomed
 
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Anonymous

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Thanks so much for this month's Receiver review, guys n' gal. I've been eyeing the Sony STR-DA1200ES up for quite some time, but it appears to me that the Onkyo is the way to go. I currently have a Pioneer VSX-1014, but in my opinion it's absolutely terrible at high volume with multi-channel SACD discs. Does the Onkyo offer scope for inputting 6 audio channels a la SACD? And if not, can you recommend something multi-channel SACD player-wise that would suitably replace my now-ageing Sony XCD-SE680? Thanks so much.
 

Hendy00

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I could be wrong but It seems that the 605 cannot process SACD or DVD-A. If not, the Pioneer DV600A can process both for about £130-£150. I think the Pioneer will compilment well with the Onkyo for what you want.
 

Andrew Everard

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[quote user="kaotician"]
Does the Onkyo offer scope for inputting 6 audio channels a la SACD?

[/quote]

Yes, the TX-SR605 has multichannel line inputs, so will work fine with your existing player.
 

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