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Onkyo TX-DS575 A/V Receiver.

Manufacturer: Onkyo USA Corporation, 200 Williams Dr., Ramsey, NJ 07446; 201/825-7950

Price: $529.95

Source: Manufacturer loan

Reviewer: David M. Doll

If you start at $1,000 and shop up from there, you can find very good home theater A/V receivers with all the bells and whistles. However, if you start with the Onkyo TX-DS575 at well under $600, you can get a first-rate A/V receiver and may be able to afford some software or a new DVD player as well. You won't get S-Video inputs and outlets, but Tributaries and other outfits offer boxes that can convert standard video output to S-Video signals. You will get a large display panel that even an old curmudgeon like me can read from across the room. You will get little buttons and tiny gray labels that are the bane of anyone without radar vision, but that is true of almost all A/V receivers, don't you think?

The Onkyo TX-DS575 can decode and amplify Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS signals, both of which can provide a very satisfying home theater experience. Dolby Pro Logic and several DSP signals are also available. I like 5-Channel Stereo, TV Logic, and Studio Mix. After the behemoths, an A/V receiver with one set of audio video inputs and outputs (VCR loop), three additional audio video inputs, and a total of three digital audio inputs (2 coaxial, 1 optical) may seem problematic, but I found I could come close to the combination I had been using by a little judicious daisy-chaining. Of course, after messing with multiple inputs on massive receivers, I now realize that I neglected to mention the phono and CD inputs as well as the audio tape inputs and outputs.

I counted 54 buttons on the remote control but there are actually 56. The remote is logical and relatively easy to manage although I find I keep trying to use it in reverse because it fits so nicely in the hand. It is teachable, but I am not sure that I am: I currently would need to program six remote controls (DSS, DVD, VD, 2 VCRs, MONITOR). If some of that hardware wasn't coming and going I might actually teach myself and the remote. I understand that many of these devices can be controlled by using macros that would reduce the button-pushing considerably. Ideally, I think we should have teenagers who can set them up and walk us through or installers who would make house calls free for the month.

It took me about half an hour to set up the TX-DS575, and while ! had a jolly sound and video image in under an hour, I had to read the owner's manual to figure out the sequence of button pushing that got me Dolby 5.1 and DTS as well as superb digital Dolby Pro Logic.

With 70 watts fed into each of 5 channels there is no lack of power in a fair-sized domestic home theater. There are no on-screen displays; I found this refreshing, since the display panel provides the needed information.

I found myself torn between my modest selection of DTS DVDs and Dolby Digital DVDs. Then I fed the laser disc sound through a coaxial digital input and was hard put to feel that this was an aging technology. Dolby Pro Logic decoded from the optical signal on laser discs was dazzling when decoded by the Onkyo TX-DS575. I found the DTS sound of the limited number of DVDs that I had in both formats better than the Dolby Digital versions. I'm not sure on my budget that I would pay the premium price for DTS. If I had the money I would favor Digital Theater Sound but I mourn the comparative dearth of software titles. Of course, the situation is further muddied by the looming format wars. I heartily endorse the TX-DS575 because it provides the most popular and innovative options at a very modest price and should keep one reasonably happy for the foreseeable future.

This receiver is substantial at 17.125" W x 6.875" H x 15.375" D. Because it weighs only 27 pounds (how many 5-channel receivers come in under 50 pounds?), this unit is a joy to set up. Moreover, the sound is musical and muscular as required. Using matching AR 15 speakers for front, center, and rear channels made it easy to get a good balance for surround sound and was especially convenient for DTS setup. I used a very muscular AR subwoofer with a 500-watt Sunfire amplifier found the combination with the TX-DS575 to be ravishing.

I would cheerfully use six or nine months to listen to and evaluate the sound of the TX-DS575 but cannot think of any reason why I would be less pleased with this unit than I am now. Perhaps, I should test a few A/V receivers at the next level of $1,000 and up for a better feel of what is the current high end in home theater receivers. In my world and at modest prices, I clearly consider the TX-DS575 to be a $ensible choice at $530 suggested list price. Certainly the sound and the features might be expected to cost a good deal more. The TX-DS575 is firmly placed in the middle of Onkyo's line of A/V receivers and is a real exemplar of the remarkable quality that Onkyo is capable of producing. - DMD
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Author:Doll, David M.
Publication:Sensible Sound
Date:Apr 1, 2000
Words:908
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