TX-SR601 First Impressions and System Setup
First Impressions Are Not Always Correct
This was my first lengthy period of time with an Onkyo receiver. First impressions, as I found to my amusement, are not always correct. The more I used the Onkyo, coupled with a thorough reading of the user manual, the more I understood the available options and settings. For this review, I was able to use the Onkyo TX-SR601 for over a month. By the end of that period my familiarity with the unit enabled me to understand how to get the most out of it. Here are some examples of the early (and comically incorrect) impressions I had after just hooking up the Onkyo receiver and their corresponding solutions after I read through the manual:
- First Impression: Analogue input appeared to result in low power output, forcing me to raise the volume to levels higher than I would have anticipated.
- Second Impression: The incredibly useful IntelliVolume feature allows you to set matching input levels for all audio inputs.
- First Impression: The remote control appeared to lose connectivity to the master unit almost randomly, forcing reinsertion of the batteries.
- Second Impression: User error. Depending upon the last mode used, many receiver functions cannot be accessed (including input selection & power off) unless the RCVR button is first selected (more on this later).
Setting Up the System
Making all of the connections was very straightforward with the TX-SR601. The back panel was laid out efficiently and all of my interconnects and speaker cables fell into place nicely.
Of Particular Note:
- Addition of real binding posts for the Zone 2 speaker outputs - a definite improvement over the TX-SR600's spring clips
- Fully-routable digital inputs
- Zone 2 line level outputs.
For this review I removed my dedicated amplifier and ran the TX-SR601 as a full receiver, rather than as a preamplifier. With my 4-ohm main speakers and 6-ohm center and surrounds, this provided at least 110W per channel to all speakers (based on the FTC rating, most likely with two-channels driven).
Going through the On-Screen Display (OSD) I was able to easily set up the receiver and customize the TX-SR601 to my room parameters. I configured the bass management to cross over at 60Hz and set the speaker configuration to the following:
- Subwoofer: Yes
- Front L/R: Large
- Center: Small
- Surround L/R: Small
- Surround Back: None
- Crossover: 60Hz (experiement with your own system)
Having the ability to choose the crossover setting will serve a wider variety of user speaker configurations. There are currently shipping receivers in this price range that do not offer this very useful feature. In addition, I believe it would be even more beneficial to allow for different crossover settings for two channel and multi channel modes. I personally would like to be able to set the crossover of my subwoofer at around 40Hz for two-channel music and around 60Hz for home theater use.
Onkyo also has a feature that allows bass output to both the subwoofer and main speakers, though it does not appear on this setup screen. It is accessed through the Audio Adjust menu (though in my opinion it would have probably made more sense to incorporate it in the speaker setup area). In order for the "Double Bass" setting to function properly, you must set your Front L/R speakers to "Large". Now a really neat feature: You can still choose whether or not you would like to have subwoofer output when playing stereo music through the use of the remote control. Selecting "STEREO" on the remote sends low frequency output to the subwoofer, while "DIRECT" bypasses all DSP and routes audio to the main channels for purer quality signal transfer from analogue sources. There is no subwoofer output in "DIRECT" mode.
One thing to pay attention do when using the "Double Bass" setting is that when the Onkyo TX-SR601 is engaged in any of its multi-channel modes, the low frequency information from the Front L/R is sent to the subwoofer, even if the mains are set to "Large" yielding a net increase of subwoofer output of up to 6dB. Most of the multi-channel software I own is in the form of movies, so having the additional bass during these times is generally acceptable with my particular system and room.