PROS / This AV receiver has a higher signal-to-noise ratio than most of the competition.
CONS / The Onkyo TX-SR608 isn't the most power efficient.
VERDICT / This is a pretty square deal but for a few bucks more there is better.
Onkyo, which means "sound harmony," is a company that is always in pursuit of creating exactly that. They have been around since the '40s, making home audio equipment like speakers and AV receivers. Two of their products made our top ten list, the better of the two being the Onkyo TX-SR608. This machine is pretty well balanced and only missing a few niceties. What kept it from the top spot was power-usage-to-performance ratio and the lack of a few good features like Bluetooth connectivity. With some improvement this AV receiver would be a better top contender. As it is though, it is still a great piece of home theater equipment and is sure to perform well.
Although the SNR (signal-to-noise ratio) is higher than the Pioneer VSX-1020-K, it falls behind with the rest of the amplifier-specific features. One example is the total harmonic distortion level, which sits at 0.08%. That is 0.03% more than its Pioneer AV receiver competition. The good thing is that even with nearly twice the distortion, it still isn't enough to really be noticeable.
The other flaw that dropped the ranking of the Onkyo TX-SR608 in this category was the ratio of power consumption to power output. Most of the other AV receivers that we reviewed consume between 245 and 280 watts, whereas this one eats up 620. Those same AV receivers and this one each output between 90 and 110 watts per speaker. Those two figures don't quite add up. The conclusion we came to is that the amplifier in the Onkyo receivers doesn't amplify nearly as much, and for that reason it has to consume more power to maintain quality output.
The Onkyo TX-SR608 has about the same setup of input and output ports as most other AV receivers. Like the Pioneer one we mentioned, this one was six HDMI input connections and one output. HDMI is probably the nicest route to go when you hook up your entertainment center, so having that many is convenient. Also, it is HDMI version 1.4 compatible, which is the latest available.
The list of the rest of the I/O ports is nearly identical to that of the Pioneer AV receiver we reviewed. The only differences are that this machine doesn't have an Ethernet, USB or Bluetooth port. On the other hand, it evens the odds somewhat with a couple extras that can't be found on the competition. On the front panel there is an analog RGB video input set that allows you to connect the Onkyo to your computer. There is also a 15 pin D-sub connection for the same purpose. The other added port is the proprietary Universal port for connecting Onkyo peripherals. The Universal port allows the connection of an iPod dock, radio module, Sirius kit and more.
All the standard Dolby Digital and DTS technologies are included in the Onkyo TX-SR608. It doesn't have WMA9 like the Pioneer VSX-1020-K, but it was the only other AV receiver to have THX certification. This machine was awarded the THX Select2 Plus Certification, which gives you an idea about the quality of this AV piece of equipment. Between THX, Dolby Digital and DTS, you can pretty much bet that this will be a worthwhile addition to your home theater.
Help & Support
Both Onkyo AV receivers that we reviewed were at least a few pounds heavier than the rest. Once you have your system setup though, that won't really matter a whole lot anymore. We couldn't find any calibration options for the second-room (multi-zone) feature, and that would be a nice addition. Also, unlike the superior Pioneer AV receiver but like all the rest of the competition, there is no internet radio option. The only way you might be able to get around that is via your iPod, but we didn't test that theory.
Aside from those couple of little extras, the feature set is similar to most. It has satellite radio for XM radio fans, an equalizer to adjust the individual frequency bands and 1080p video scaling so that you can view all your video in up-scaled HD. One of the differentiating features included is a two-year warranty. Most of the other manufactures only offer a one-year warranty, which is enough but doesn't leave any extra padding for the unexpected. With a second year, there shouldn't be any worries of manufacturing errors cropping up and forcing you to buy a whole new AV receiver.
The Onkyo TX-SR608 is a great AV receiver that will enhance your audio and video entertainment. It's true that it is missing a few goodies, but overall it performs well and is well equipped to handle all your home theater needs. Onkyo is a company that has been around for a long time and has proven that it's not a bad route to take. Generally speaking it is a little less expensive than products of similar quality, which is always appealing.