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Onkyo TX-SR600: First Impressions [and Comparison to the 595]


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#1 of 422 parin_patel

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Posted April 09 2002 - 10:54 AM

Hi guys,

I had originally bought an Onkyo 595 in December ($450 at Circuit City) and was quite happy with that receiver for a while... until I ran into the DD audio dropouts bug and encountered it in JP3, Pearl Harbor, and Atlantis. I decided to return the receiver in January, but in the end I came out with a deal where CC would upgrade the reciever to the newer model whenever it came out. Anyway, I picked up the new 600 on Friday and have been playing around with since then. There has been a lot of interest for this receiver in the forum lately and since reviews are hard to find, I decided to post my initial thoughts on the receiver.

System Configuration:
My system consists of JBL S312, S36, & S-Center speakers (no subwoofer yet, I'm in an apartment), Toshiba 32A40 TV, Hi-fi VCR (for the Star Wars and Indiana Jones Trilogies), DVD playback through S-Video and Digital Coaxial on the RealMagic Hollywood Plus Decoder Card on the PC, and audio input through my sound card for MP3's, etc... I also had my friend's PS2 and Gamecube hooked up through component video inputs on the Onkyo 600 for a while.

Build Quality:
The new model looks just as good as the older 595 and is aesthetically pleasing. The face-plate looks to be solidly built and has a simple understated layout for all the buttons. The dot-matrix screen is pretty big and is easy to see while sitting 7 feet away from the system. Bass and Treble knobs are no longer present and all adjustements are done through the OSD/Processor. All inputs are logically laid out on the back panel and are again very easy to figure out and use.

However, I think Onkyo cut corners in some areas... The metal used to house the unit weighs less and seems to have a cheaper feel than the 595. The 600 also doesn't have binding posts for B Speaker outputs while the rest of the binding posts also seem to be made out of cheaper plastic than the ones used for the 595. Finally, the unit weighs in at 24.5 pounds which is slightly less than the 25.5 pounds of the 595. Thankfully, all this hasn't really affected the amplication and processing capabilities of the receiver.

Connections and Setup:
First off I found that the 600 was missing a few of features which were present in the older model. The 595 allowed you to set the startup volume (and the maximum volume) so that the receiver would always start at the level you wanted. The 595 also had a switch on the back panel to set the minimum impedence levels to either 4 ohms or 6 ohms. Both of these options are missing in the newer 600. In addition, the 600 has a 3/1 optical/coaxial digital audio input configuration rather than the 2/2 config on the 595. There is also no phono input, so those of you with a record player are out of luck unles you uby a phono preamp. However, the receiver makes up for all this by adding a lot of other cool features.

It has an On-Screen Display (OSD) for setting up the unit and can be used on either the composite or S-Video outputs. Bass Management is still pretty simple, but the 600 supports crossing over speakers at 80 Hz, 100 Hz, and 120 Hz (the 595 only supported 80 Hz). Since I do not have a subwoofer, my JBL S312's automatically got set as Large and I set my surround and center speakers crossed over at 80 Hz. The OSD allows you set up default audio modes for each source input and also has an IntelliVolume feature which can adjust for volume differences between various sources. The 600 also adds full configuration options for DTS Neo:6 (Center Image) and DD Prologic II (Panorama, Dimension & Center Width).

Finally, the 600 adds HDTV level (60Mhz) component switching capabilites. I don't have a HDTV, but I did try this out by hooking up my friend's PS2 and Gamecube and could find no degradation in signal quality. A/V inputs are also present on the front panel which were absent on the 595.

Remote Control:
Again, the newer receiver is missing a feature present on the older one (sigh!). The remote for the 595 could control upto 8 devices whereas the newer 600 remote only controls 6 devices (its missing support for Cable and Sat modes). Other than that, it is just the same (and good) as the one on the older 595. It is very intuitive and is incredible easy to use. Programming it to support other devices and setting up macros is done in a few moments. I basically just use the Onkyo Remote now instead of having 5 different remotes for the TV, VCR, Receiver, Hollywood Plus Decoder Card & the PS2.

Processing and Amplification:
There is nothing missing here, and this is where the 600 truly shines and outpaces the older 595. The 600 has full support for DD-EX (Matrix), DD-Prologic II (Movie and Music), DTS-ES (Matrix & Discrete), and DTS Neo:6 (Movie and Music) modes. The audio dropouts issue seems to be fixed (I tried out the Atlantis DVD) and the receiver can automatically detect the DD-EX flag. The EX mode can also be turned on for other DVD's where the flag isn't present (like Fight Club, Terminator 2, and the Phantom Menace). DTS-ES was also automatically detected on Gladiator (Discrete) and could be turned on for Terminator 2 (Matrix). Prologic II also sounded great with pretty good channel seperation (I tried it out on my widescreen VHS copies of Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Empire Strikes Back).

I cannot comment on the 6.1 amplification completely since I only have 5 speakers hooked up for now, but the movies I tried out (Atlantis, Fight Club, Terminator 2, Gladiator, & the Phantom Menace) sounded great. I found surpisingly more clarity than what I had heard previously on the 595 and could even pick out subtle effects with ease. The receiver also seems to have much more headroom in the amplification than the 595, and I could play it much louder than before while maintaining the clarity. It drove my full range S312 (12 inch woofers) very well and I couldn't really feel the lack of a subwoofer in the system. However, I am in an apartment with a small living room, so those with larger rooms/houses would probably want a sub.

Final Thoughts:
Overall, inspite of some missing features, I am very happy with the upgrade that I got with the 600 over the 595. I am already thinking of upgrading again (this never ends Posted Image)and getting a 6th speaker to try out the 6.1 capabilites. Having preouts would almost make this a perfect receiver, but already its a great receiver for the $450 that I paid for it. Anyway, I'll be happy to answer any questions that you guys have.

Parin

PS: This post wound up to be much longer than I expected... I'm sorry it gets too tedious Posted Image .

#2 of 422 Jim__B

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Posted April 09 2002 - 11:02 AM

Thanks for the review. I have been looking at getting a new receiver for a few months now. When I heard this was coming out I decided to wait for it as I had heard so many good things about the 595 other that the drop out problem. Your review has helped me make my decision a lot easier. Now I just need to see where I can get the best price. My CC had it onsale for 474, I hopefully can get it for less online thought either J&R or Bestpriceaudiovideo(both authorized dealers)

Hope to hear an update in a few days.

#3 of 422 parin_patel

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Posted April 09 2002 - 11:23 AM

I forgot to mention the 2-channel capabilities of the 600 on my previous review. Most of the stuff I've tried out on this receiver has been movie-related, but I did play some music as well. I found that I liked listening to music in the Direct mode (2-channel) best, and I think that the newer 192 khz DAC's might have made a difference since I liked it better on the 600 than the 595. Rock music (Queen, Pink Floyd) sounded especially nice, though I think that this might have more to do with my JBL speakers than anything else. Vocals (Enya, Opera like Carmen) were reproduced really well with great clarity.

In the end, though music reproduction is pretty good, I think this receiver is overall geared more towards home theater than music (the HK 320/520 which I listened to at Circuit City sounded better with music, especially on Classical compositions).

#4 of 422 Bill Will

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Posted April 09 2002 - 12:02 PM

Any chance that the old remote will work on the 600 (Menus & etc)? that way you could use it for CATV/SAT.

#5 of 422 KeithH

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Posted April 09 2002 - 12:03 PM

Is the TX-SR600 intended to be a replacement for the TX-DS595? I am wondering if the 'SR' receivers represent a lower-end line. I doubt it from the standpoint of price, but I find some things about the 'SR600 disappointing when comparing it to the 'DS595. The 'SR600 only has one coaxial digital input, while the 'DS595 has two. Also, the 'SR600 has spring clips for the second pair of main speakers (B), while the 'DS595 has binding posts. Finally, the 'SR600 has no phono input, but the 'DS595 has one. It's nice to see 24/192 DACs in the 'SR600 for the front speakers, but Onkyo cut some corners elsewhere.
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#6 of 422 Norman L

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Posted April 09 2002 - 12:26 PM

Parin,
Great post, thanks, my 600 should arrive tomorrow from J & R
$407 plus shipping.
Can you use DTS-ES mode with 5.1 speakers since I do not have a center rear, or must you use plain DTS?
How do you change the cable stations without a cable code for the remote?
How is the PLII working with older movies?
Have any opions on Phono PreAmps from you or anyone else?
Models and prices? NAD makes one, opion?

#7 of 422 Grady Hollums

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Posted April 09 2002 - 12:41 PM

I am looking forward to buying this one or maybe the S700. (Same thing but with more watts is the only difference I can see so far, but not sure)

I love my Kenwood, but I know that I have longed for EX and ES for quite some time now have two speakers in my closet that are begging usage. thanks for all your help!
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#8 of 422 parin_patel

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Posted April 09 2002 - 12:52 PM

Bill:

The old remote for the 595 will work on the newer 600, but I don't have it anymore with me since I exchanged the 595 for the 600. You can just program the cable/sat functions to a different unsed mode (like CD/MD/etc...) by using the learning function. Its really very easy to use. There are no preset codes for Cable/SAT boxes though.

Keith:

The SR600 is a replacement for the DX595... all of Onkyo's line is being replaced. The DS494/595/696 are being replaced by the newer SR500/600/700 receivers, its not a lower-end line. I do agree that Onkyo definately cut some corners while designing the 600, but it does have some great improvements as well [like component switching, DD-EX/DTS-ES support, more power, etc...). Overall, I am much happier with the 600 than I was with the 595 before.

Norm:
You can definately use the newer surround modes on this receiver. Basically the display shows DTS-ES or DD-EX for DVD's which have proper flags set (like Atlantis & Gladiator) and the sound is output through the 5.1 channels that you have hooked up. However, I am not sure whether it might be doing some virtual imaging for the missing rear center (the manual doesn't mention it). All I can say is that both Gladiator and Atlantis sounded better on the 600 than the 595.

You can change the cable stations by learning the functions for the cable box remote or the sat remote and mapping them to an unsed mode (like the MD) on the remote. This is really easy to do and works very well. Though the new remote can only control 6 devices at a time (rather then 8 like the old one), it remains one of the best out there at this price point.

I've tried Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark (both Dolby Surround Widescreen VHS copies) with the PLII Movie mode so far, and they both sound great. It's not real 5.1, but the channel separation is still very good and much better than you would get with regular prologic. Almost brings these movies back to life for me, and is the only reason why I still have my VCR.

Finally, I don't have a turntable, so I don't know much about phono preamps... you can find one at Crutchfield for $50. A lot of places sell these things and there probably is a wide range in quality/prices.

#9 of 422 Paul_Fisher

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Posted April 09 2002 - 02:41 PM

Grady,
The 700 will have preouts which is imperative if you want to use an amp later on. This is only thing the 600 lacks that I need. I will probably wait for the 700 just because of the preouts.

Someone said the 700 will retail for $799, but if the 600 can be bought online for $407, then the 700 should be around $500 or $550 even though the MSRP is $799.

#10 of 422 Grady Hollums

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Posted April 09 2002 - 02:46 PM

When with the SR700 be coming out? Thanks! and how much more is it going to be? Thanks!
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#11 of 422 KeithH

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Posted April 09 2002 - 02:47 PM

Parin,

Thanks for the info. Nothing is perfect, I guess. It just makes for Onkyo to have cut corners.


Norman,

I use the NAD PP-1 phono pre-amp, and it works fine in my book. Admittedly, I have a modest $200 Sony turntable and did not look at other phono pre-amps. Still, I have no complaints with the NAD unit.
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#12 of 422 greg_t

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Posted April 09 2002 - 03:42 PM

One big issue I have with this receiver is the apparent lack of an adjustment for the LFE level. My current RCA reciever also lacks this function, and the bass is much stronger in the DD version of a movie compared to it's DTS version,such as in Titan AE, for example. I usually have to bump up the subwoofer output 5-7db when listening to dts to compensate. I am pretty sick of having to do this each time I want to watch a dts movie. For those of you who have this receiver already, do you notice a lack of bass in the DTS version of a dvd when compared to the DD? Or do they sound to be around the same level? Apparently my RCA adds in the 10db boost for the LFE in DD but not in DTS. Perhaps the Onkyo 600 has them both set to automatically add the 10db LFE boost? But then wouldn't the LFE be 10db too loud for DTS CD's without any way to adjust? Why couldn't they just add an adjustment for this! I was really looking forward to this reciever but it looks like I may have to go elsewhere.

#13 of 422 Ron Jason

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Posted April 09 2002 - 04:13 PM

I originally posted the following information about the SR700 here. For redundancy, here it is again. "The 600 and 700 have the same manual. So it looks like the 700 includes a "Pure audio" listening mode, pre-outs for all channels (plus 2 more for Zone 2), binding posts instead of pinch pins for Speaker set B, both coaxial and optical digital outputs (600 has only an optical out), an infrared input for a distant IR receiver that Onkyo or Niles sells separately, the same remote as the 600 except with backlighting, and a couple of extra audio adjustments (Front and Surround Effect for select DSP modes)."

#14 of 422 MickP

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Posted April 10 2002 - 12:34 AM

Norman L -

I so want to know where on J&R you found the SR600. I am ordering my speakers and stands from there already and so would prefer to order the receiver from them as well - not to mention that $407 is a good price for this model.

Did you have to call them or did you somehow find it on their site?

Norman? Anyone? Please? Posted Image

#15 of 422 Paul_Fisher

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Posted April 10 2002 - 01:26 AM

Mick, you usually have to call the peopel at J&R. I've never bought anything from them, but this is what most people do.

#16 of 422 Norman L

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Posted April 10 2002 - 01:36 AM

MickP
You have to call them and tell them you saw it in a chat room for $407 since they quote higher on the phone.
They met the price for me on the phone.

#17 of 422 Norman L

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Posted April 10 2002 - 02:12 AM

Mick,
The 600 A/V received arrived by UPS one hour ago and the invoice was for $400. plus $$26.38 shipping. I thought it was going to be $407. plus shipping.
Good Luck

#18 of 422 Daniel Whelan

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Posted April 10 2002 - 06:14 AM

I just called J&R and asked for the $407 price; they said it was bogus...anyone else run into this problem?

Daniel
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#19 of 422 Arsene

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Posted April 10 2002 - 06:47 AM

I'm planning to buy new speakers with the Onkyo 600.
What do you think of the following fit:
Onkyo TX-SR600 (~$407+)+ JBL NSP1 (~$250) at J&R ?

Arsene

#20 of 422 Norman L

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Posted April 10 2002 - 06:50 AM

Daniel,

I can fax you my invoice from j & R for $400 plus shiping.