For the last few product cycles, decoding of lossless audio codecs (DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD), along with video transcoding and scaling to 1080p, were the king and queen of required features in midrange AV receivers (AVRs). With this year’s release of units branded with the Dolby PLIIz and Audyssey DSX logos, Height and Wide channel processing is the new king of must-have features for those on the bleeding edge.
Onkyo was the first on the block with the SR607 (and its slightly less expensive kissing-cousin, the RC160), but for some time the next High/Wide enabled model was the NR807, a notable step up in both price ancillary features (notably network connectivity).
Recently Onkyo opened a slow trickle on a model bridging the gap between these two feature-packed AVRs, the SR707. While it shares a chassis with the SR607, it has more in common with the processing and audio/video features of the bigger-brother NR807. It upgrades Audyssey to MultiEQ (notable because it corrects low frequencies), video processing to DCDi Cinema, adds THX Select 2+ certification, and perhaps most importantly it adds pre-amp outputs. Features missing from the NR807 are a slightly more robust amplification section and network audio. While a completely competent mid-range AVR, it may also be the ideal low-priced Pre-Processor in a world where features and codec support change in the blink of an eye. Pair this with a high-value 2- or 3-channel amplifier (like the Emotiva XPA-2 or XPA-3) and you have a stunning value combination of features, processing, amplification and price.
What’s been holding the SR707 back from truly kingly status as low-priced pre-pro has been that the higher-end NR807 (which also has a kissing-cousin, the RC180) has seen significant drops in street price. Now the SR707 is seeing the same. Right now you can get the SR707 from NewEgg for only $559, including shipping, using coupon code RECEIVER1154. This is about $240 below MSRP, a slip that’s occurred roughly over the course of only 2-3 weeks. Prices are slipping at other authorized retailers too, but the current coupon code and sale pricing make NewEgg the best authorized price by about $70.
The Emotiva XPA-2 and XPA-3 are great deals pretty much every day, offering 250w x 2 and 200w x 3 of clean Class A/B power. The XPA-2’s every day price is $799 + SH, while the XPA-3 is my top-choice for value amplification at $599 + SH. Sale prices pop up occasionally, usually in conjunction with holidays or major sporting events. For anyone interested in entry-level seperates, the SR707 XPA-3 is an extremely compelling combo at roughly $1,200 including shipping.
Follow Electronic House
Stephen Hopkins is chief technology editor for EH Publishing. He writes product reviews, features, and focuses heavily on 3D TV, iPhone and iPad apps, and digital content.