Onkyo TX-NR3009 A/V Receiver Review - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

 
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Onkyo TX-NR3009 A/V Receiver Review

Onkyo TX-NR3009 AV Receiver Review


Onkyo's TX-NR3009 is their high-end receiver sitting just below the flagship TX-NR5009 in the line-up. This doesn't translate to much actually, with the 3009 offering just about every feature imaginable and differing from the 5009 only in terms of electronics. The primary differences between the 3009 and 5009 are the Toroidal transformer used in the 5009 alongside 4 independent power supplies, Burr-Brown DACs and rear panel USB connectivity. So all that said, what exactly does the TX-NR3009 offer?

Here's Onkyo's statement:
Quote:
The TX-NR3009 sports a huge array of digital and analog connections, including eight 3D-ready HDMI® inputs, 9.2 multichannel pre-outs, and a USB input for connecting flash drives and digital audio players. An Ethernet jack, meanwhile, supports networked content in the form of internet radio and streaming audio from a PC or media server. Processing, too, is top-class. Audyssey MultEQ® XT32 achieves optimal balance for movie soundtracks and breathtaking realism for music sources. Along with sophisticated surround-sound

technologies from Dolby and Audyssey, the TX-NR3009 employs DTS Neo:X™ to create an immersive nine-channel soundscape from any audio source. Video sources also get the red-carpet treatment, thanks to HQV® Vida™ processing, independent ISF calibration, and 4K upscaling via Qdeo™ technology. Onkyo’s dedication to build quality is reflected in the low-resonance chassis, multiple transformers, three-stage inverted Darlington circuitry, and high-grade audio terminals. All this and more earns the TX-NR3009 coveted THX® Ultra2 Plus™ certification—your guarantee of an ovation-worthy performance every time.

Special Features
  • Eight 1080p capable HDMI inputs (V1.4a repeater) including 1 Front with 2 outputs
  • THX Ultra2 Plus Certification
  • isf Certified
  • 4K scaling via Qdeo by Marvell HDMI
  • 1080p video upconversion by HVQ Vida
  • Wireless ready with optional UWF-1 wireless USB LAN adapter
  • WRAT technology and discrete amp construction for cleaner sound
  • TrueHD/DTS-HD decoding to support the latest Blu-ray technology
  • PC Input
  • Front-Panel USB Input for Memory Devices and iPhone®/iPod® Models (Enables Display of Album Artwork)
  • Optional iPod Dock / HDradio module via U.Port
  • 4 DSP Gaming Modes: Rock, Sports, Action, and Role Playing
  • Audyssey MultEQ XT32w/ Dynamic EQ & Dynamic Volume
Ergonomics:

Onkyo's standard minimalist design is readily apparent in the TX-NR3009, with a matte black faceplate of brushed aluminum, a horizontal row of source selection buttons, and a large volume knob. The display is your standard LCD though it does seem brighter than prior generations like my TX-SR805.

The included remote is very functional but ultimately nothing to write home about. Onkyo includes the standard D-Pad for menu navigation, four color coded listening mode buttons, and the usual source buttons on top. The remote is backlit, but requires a button to be pressed before it will glow. In prior generations, Onkyo has included a bumper button on the remote that when squeezed will illuminate the buttons. This time any form of easily discernible illumination button is conspicuously absent, requiring a button to be pushed (usually volume in my case). While not a massive mistake on Onkyo's part, this is a very odd omission and a very annoying feature to be lacking. Most new smart remotes have gyroscopes so that motion illuminate them (see Logitech Harmony One, Samsung TV remotes), and this would be a good idea for manufacturers like Onkyo to implement.




Setup and Calibration:

The TX-NR3009 shipped in a standard AV receiver box with plastic covering the receiver itself, high density foam to protect it on the top and sides, and the basic accessories including remote, antenna, and the manual.

I unboxed the 3009 and replaced my 805 with relative ease since they seem to be exactly the same size and proceeded to wire up my equipment. I was pleased to note just how many HDMI inputs the receiver had, as the 7 rear inputs more than doubles the 3 on my 805. I proceeded to connect my outboard amp and wire up the speakers directly to the receiver for easy swapping later on.

After powering on the unit, I completed the standard menu based setup choosing the load of my speakers (8 ohms), and disabling channels I was not using (height, wide etc.). I also disabled Sub 2 as I only have one subwoofer in the room.

Following these basic settings, I fired up Audyssey and ran a full calibration using 8 positions for measurement. While there are no apparent differences from MultEQ XT, I did notice that the settings automatically selected for speaker distance and crossover were much more accurate than with my 805. Audyssey correctly input speaker distances for all my channels and crossovers of 60Hz for my mains and center channel. Surrounds were crossed over at 100Hz while the sub was crossed over at 80Hz.

Measuring my before and after response in REW, Audyssey did a great job of cleaning up the bass all the way down to about 20Hz, while a 15Hz room mode still left a massive peak in my response. I repositioned the sub for several days and managed to find a slightly more even response in the rear left of my room. After applying some basic filters with the Behringer DSP1124P, I reran Audyssey and checked my response - it was almost flat to 12Hz, and much more to my liking, though still a little accentuated at 15Hz. Otherwise, response well up past 12KHz was even and very well controlled, an impressive result.

Satisfied with my calibration, I proceeded to make my usual menu modifications to all AVR's that I review. I disabled scaling and forced video pass through on the AVR as I only watch 1080p Blu-Ray content in the room, and also set default volume levels and surround configurations for a variety of sources.

Please note the above procedure was repeated using the onboard amplifiers once I had done baseline listening with my reference amp

Audio Preset Modes & Listening Results

The TX-NR3009 ships with a plethora of listening modes - so many in fact that it can be hard to decipher which are worth using. Taking advantage of about 2 hours of my wife's time, the two of us sat down and subjectively rated each mode on a program of 5 tracks. Following this testing, we both came to the conclusion that for our particular configuration, there was usually one mode that sounded much better (read: natural) than the rest. In general, the THX listening modes over-accentuated the mids and upper treble, making even the most delicate of recordings extremely bright and fatiguing. Even the built in modes like Orchestral had their flaws, in this case sibilance at the higher frequencies. For spatial processing and TV/movie content, DTS:Neo X was the superior solution, although ultimately for music listening I alternated between Stereo mode, and Dolby PL-II, which had the most natural sound signature.

Amplifier Evaluation and Listening Impressions:

Tracks Tested:
  • Acoustic Alchemy - Playing for Time
  • Pretty Maids - Little Drops of Heaven
  • Gareth Emery feat. Ashley Walbridge - Mansion
  • Yuki Kajiura - When Two Powers Collide
  • Michael Murray - Toccata And Fugue In D Minor (An Organ Blaster)

All music above was listened to in the FLAC file format, streamed from my NAS - in all cases the listening impressions reflect Stereo mode, although Dolby PL-II and DTS:NeoX were used for comparison.

The Amplifier:

Onkyo's WRAT amplifier technology is included in the TX-NR3009 and in this particular model is rated to provide 140 Watts per channel driving an 8 Ohm load with a THD of 0.05%. This is a great amount of power for an AV receiver and the end result was surprising. I switched from the onboard amps in my own TX-SR805 to an outboard amp some time ago because I felt the extra power was both necessary and a sound investment (no pun intended). In the case of the 3009, it was immediately apparent that a lot of work had gone into improving technology. The noise floor was noticeably lower than on my 805 - in this case practically inaudible even at very high volumes. I also noticed that a minor ground loop hum was largely eliminated when switching receivers - another indicator that this is a more robust and better isolated amp stage.

The sound of the TX-NR3009 is clean, neutral to slightly warm, and very transparent. Source material sounds excellent and the amps have plenty of power to drive a variety of speaker configurations. I started off with the receiver hooked up to my Paradigm Studio 100 speakers, and spent the remainder of the review with Legacy Focus SE's in the chain. With both sets of speakers, the TX-NR3009 was well up to the task of delivering clean audio. I will note that in the case of the Legacy speakers, my outboard amplifier did do a better job with the lower frequency material, keeping bass slightly tighter and more controlled.. For speakers that don't extend down to 20Hz however, I would say there isn't anything at all to complain about.

Music:

Acoustic Alchemy - Playing for Time
I started the listening session off with Playing for Time, a standard track of mine to evaluate a variety of audio components and one I have also heard live several times. It was immediately apparent that the walking bass line was well controlled, while the cymbals had the perfect amount of sizzle without the artificially fast decay many amplifiers tend to impart. Imaging and separation was superb, with the individual members of the band clearly positioned in the soundfield. The classical guitar melody of this tune is a dynamic and often challenging piece to reproduce, more often than not being the telltale victim of a noisy amp or unbalanced speakers. Guitar was reproduced very well by the onboard amp, above all sounding natural and organic - just as it did in the live performances I had heard.

Pretty Maids - Little Drops of Heaven
Little Drops of Heaven by Pretty Maids is not an object lesson in high fidelity music recording, it is after all a fairly energetic song by a metal/rock band. The song is however a personal favorite and a great test of mid-bass impact and vocal reproduction. I was impressed by the full bodied sound the Onkyo reproduced even at punishingly high listening levels, it was very hard to get the amp to exhibit any signs of stress although as I noted the kick drum was ever so slightly less defined than with an outboard amp.

Gareth Emery feat. Ashley Walbridge - Mansion
Mansion is a trance anthem featuring prodigious amounts of bass, synthesizer and effects - a great test for articulation and "fun factor", my affectionate term for how well a piece of gear maintains the dynamic range and concert sound often heard in the pro sound world. I had a great time listening to this track, and was very happy with the relentless pounding bassline, never once finding it to be muddy or distorted. The synths cover a wide range of frequencies - all the way up to the very upper octaves, and were crystal clear from start to finish. Finally, the reverb and spaciousness present in the mansion recording was perfectly maintained - recreating the cavernous sound stage the song is meant to have.

Yuki Kajiura - When Two Powers Collide
When Two Powers Collide by Yuki Kajiura is a track from the anime Tsubasa Chronicle and features a superb array of classical elements combined with some artificial percussion and a lot of bombastic tympani between lyrical woodwind motifs. I often listen to this track to see how well a speaker multitasks, or in this case how an amplifier maintains the separation of elements in a complex recording. I was shocked at how much better the 3009 was than the 805 when it came to reproduction of the strings and woodwinds - particularly the intangible aspect of the sound that occasionally gives goosebumps or just sounds "right". While it could well be a function of the newer Audyssey MultiEQ XT32 calibration, I found myself much more engaged when listening on the new receiver and was extremely impressed with the fidelity of the sound overall.

Michael Murray - Toccata And Fugue In D Minor (An Organ Blaster)
As is probably readily apparent at this point, I am an absolute organ nut - and get a great deal of enjoyment out of listening to organ music. I also appreciate the challenge organ music presents to the components of a stereo system when listened to at high volume. In this case, I was impressed by the forceful bass and mid-bass the Onkyo reproduced out of the Legacy Focus SE's - my trust old 805 could never quite keep up with the more punishing sequences of this track without muddying the sound a little, yet with the 3009 I was consistently impressed - while I could hear a difference from my outboard amplifier, the TX-NR3009 more than held its own.


Movies:
In the interest of saving time and a lot of sore fingers, I have decided to follow Dale's example and include the audio reviews from the Blu-Rays I reviewed while this receiver was in my system.
Quote:

Kung Fu Panda 2
I'm a huge fan of the sweeping, epic oriental scores that accompany Kung Fu Panda films and in this case Hans Zimmer delivers in spades. The score is at times bombastic and dominates the scene and at others is subtle to the point if disappearing - none the less no detail is ever lost. Surround use and activity in this mix is superb with great directionality and spatial detail while low frequency content is authoritative but rarely overbearing. Dialogue is crystal clear and easily intelligible throughout the film. Overall this is a wonderful presentation that deserves high marks for its authenticity.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
I was pleased to note that Transformers: Dark of the Moon features a 7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD lossless surround mix rather than the more typical DTS-HD MA we see so often. Regardless of format, this is one of the most engaging, nuanced and well realized surround experiences I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. The opening seconds as the Paramount logo shows on screen feature an impressive surround pan as a transformer sound effect literally engulfs the room. From this start forward there is nothing imperfect about this mix - surround content is aggressive, superbly positioned and spatially accurate. Action scenes are nothing short of ridiculous with some of the most accurate tight and controlled use of VLF content I've ever witnessed. This is not a boom contest, and this is readily apparent as no one sound drowns out the rest - instead every channel and component of the mix works with the others to create what can only be called a benchmark in surround audio.

Unlike the vast majority of surround mixes where a huge front sound stage is thrown with little respect given to spatial queues in the left and right channels, Transformers: Dark of the Moon features the most spatially immersive audio I have every heard on a Blu-Ray. Not only are sounds localized to the correct channel; they are precisely located in both the y and x axes. What is truly unique about this mix is that depth is clearly given great attention; the precise proximity of any effect whether it be an explosion or the visceral impact of two Transformers is perfectly resolved - objects moving toward the viewer on screen clearly do so sonically as well, and the result is absolutely spectacular. VLF content is precise and authoritative without being boomy or distracting - this is punch you in the gut bass with some serious ULF content as well. However you look at it,this is a reference quality mix that is near impossible to fault - from dialogue to atmospheric content to surround localization there is not a single thing done wrong here. Reference.

Captain America: The First Avenger
Though certainly not as bombastic as recent competitors, Captain America's 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is a great mix. The track certainly sounds a little softer than the Transformers mix, but this is nothing the volume controls can't fix. I found that it was about 3-4dB cooler than Transformers for reference, but once I matched the levels I was pleasantly surprised. Surrounds were not used to quite the effect that other titles have - but they are actively engaged whenever required and add a lot of depth and dimension to the audio. Dialogue is perfectly resolved as should be expected in current releases and suffered from no noticeable flaws. Directed effects such as explosions, gun fire and energy discharges were assertive and precisely localized, strongly engaging the front channels and resulting in a very involving listening experience - especially in the larger action scenes. LFE content is plentiful but reserved - avoiding the gut wrenching ULF content seen in some films, but still full of detail and packing a lot of mid-bass punch.

The integration of the musical score with other effects is sublime, and is a great deal of fun - I especially enjoyed the musical numbers as they are a great demo of 40's style choral arrangements and how good they can sound given the appropriate technology.

Features:

The notable new feature in Onkyo's receivers is the Onkyo Remote app for Android and iOS. Unfortunately, I could not get the app to connect to my receiver no matter what I tried. I suspect this may be related to using the USB wireless adapter rather than a CAT5/6 cable, but none the less, I can't provide any useful feedback on a feature I couldn't get to work.



Unit Specifications
Please expand spoiler tags to view, hidden to save space.

Spoiler

Amplifier
  • # Channels 9.2
  • Power (8ohms 20-20kHz 0.08%) /Ch -
  • Power (8ohms 20-20kHz 0.05%) /Ch 140W
  • THX Certified (Ultra2 Plus)
  • Continuous 6ohms Rated
  • Certified 4ohms performance
  • All Discrete Circuitry
  • 3-Stage Inverted Darlington Circuitry
  • Dual PUSH-PULL Design
  • Independent Block Construction (Amp/Preprocessor)
  • Toroidal Transformer -
  • Independent Power Supply (4 Transformers)
  • Bi-amp Capability For Front
  • BTL Capability For Front
Processing
  • DOLBY Decoder DD Plus, TrueHD
  • DTS Decoder DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Dolby PLIIz
  • ONKYO GAME Surround Modes
  • DTS Surround Sensation Speaker / Headphone - / -
  • Neural Surround
  • THX Processing Mode
  • Audyssey Dynamic EQ
  • Audyssey Dynamic Volume
  • Audyssey DSX
  • Direct/Pure Mode /
  • Music Optimizer
  • 192K/24 Bit DACs (Burr-Brown x 6)
  • VLSC
  • isf Certified Calibration Control
Connectivity
  • Audio I/O 8 / 2
  • Phono Input
  • Digital Audio IN (OPT/COAX) 3 / 3
  • Digital Audio OUT (OPT/COAX) -
  • Composite I/O 5 / 2
  • S-Video I/O 4 / 2
  • Component Video I/O 3 / 1
  • Front-Panel A/V L / R / V
  • Front-Panel Optical
  • Front-Panel Portable input (stereo mini jack) -
  • HDMI I/O 8 (7 rear+1 front) / 2 (simultaneous out)
  • HDMI Version V1.4a (supports 3D video and Audio Return Channel)
  • Component Video Upconversion
  • Analog To HDMI UpConversion
  • 1080i Upscaling (HQV Vida)
  • 1080p Upscaling (HQV Vida)
  • Multi-Channel Input 7.1ch
  • Analog Pre-Outs 9.2ch (independant sub-outs)
  • Speaker A/+B -
  • Powered Zone2/3 X/X
  • Zone 2 Line Out
  • Zone 2 Video Out
  • Zone 3 Line Out
  • U-Port
  • iPod Ready (optional UP-A1)
  • HD Radio Ready (optional UP-HT1)
  • XM Radio Ready -
  • SIRIUS Radio Ready
  • Internet Radio Capable (Pandora, Rhapsody, Napster, vTuner, Sirius Internet Radio, MediaFly, Slacker, Last.fm, Spotify, AUPEO)
  • Streaming Audio From PC (Windows 7 and DLNA compatible)
  • Streaming Audio From USB memory (iPhone/iPod support)
Integration Access
  • RS-232
  • IR Input
  • Ethernet
  • ONKYO-RI System Control
  • 12V Trigger (Zone2/Zone3)
Miscellaneous
  • Pre-Pro/Learning Remote /
  • Back-Lit Remote
  • On Screen Remote Programming
  • Bi-directional Remote Setup via GUI
  • Activity Based Remote
  • Color-Coded Speaker Terminals
  • Auto Speaker Calibration W/Mic. (Audyssey MultEQ XT32)
  • OSD Out (all video outputs)
  • Solid Aluminum Front
  • Warranty 2 YEARS


Overall Impressions:

Onkyo has had its share of ups and downs over the past couple of years with some parts failures and QC issues. All that aside, it can't be disputed that they are the industry leader when it comes to providing the latest and greatest technologies in their products. There were so many features packed into the TX-NR3009 that I wasn't even able to use a substantial portion of them. Next generation technologies like 4k upscaling, Spotify integration and web enabled firmware updates are why Onkyo has such a loyal fan base and continues to inspire people to purchase their product. The TX-NR3009 is everything you could ask for in a current or next generation home theater receiver. It has a well constructed amp section that held up to even the most punishing of material, has features and value-adds that many competitors haven't even begun to think about, and to top it all off has a very reasonable price when all this is taken into account. The TX-NR3009 lists for $2199 USD, which is a very reasonable amount when you consider the massive amount of technology incorporated into this piece of equipment. It's hard to find a better value proposition in this space, and given current competition, the Onkyo TX-NR3009 is probably the best receiver available today for your money. Highly Recommended.



Value:

Unlike its competitors, the TX-NR3009 can't be found much cheaper than MSRP right now, which makes it a very expensive investment. That said, the remarkable feature-set makes a compelling case for why it's worth the money. Taking into account the HQV Vida video processor, QDEO 4k upscaling, and superb implementation of Audyssey MultiEQ XT32 in addition to Audyssey DSX processing, there really is no feature gap in this receiver. It can handle every home theater configuration, format, calibration need and equipment variation you throw at it. On top of that, Onkyo has addressed a variety of issues from prior generations and still includes the other value adds we all expect (OSD volume display, smart phone integration). Given the competition (Pioneer's SC-57) - at list price the Onkyo TX-NR3009 is a superb value, though it may pay off to wait a couple of months for online prices to drop as the SC-57 represents a significantly better bang for the buck as of the time this review is being written.



Highly Recommended


Please see the Onkyo TX-NR3009 Receiver Review: Discussion Thread for Questions and Comments

Res non sententia.

Last edited by Dave Upton; 01-16-12 at 06:35 PM.
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