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May be Moving to a New Atmos-Capable AVR...Have Some Questions Regarding Operation of the Latest Onkyos (1 Viewer)

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Kaskade1309

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In response to our trusty Onkyo TX-SR605 (from circa 2007/2008, still going strong in our main HT system) showing evolving signs of its HDMI out port dying (at this point, sometimes I can't even get the menu to respond when I want to go back a page by hitting RETURN on the remote, aside from the visual distortion through the screen), I have begun looking at new models from the brand to replace it with, and while I'm not thrilled with the likes of the NR1500 (or the models below it; these all just scream cheap, especially given the spring-loaded speaker terminals most of them are saddled with) in terms of build quality, our budget would probably put us somewhere in the range of the 6100 or 7100. I originally wanted an RZ50, like most enthusiasts (hence why it's constantly sold out everywhere), if only for its sheer girth and brute build, but I don't think we're going to be able to swing $1400 plus tax for one, and, what's worse, it would probably be a bit overkill for our needs (I wasn't planning on using advanced setup and correction platforms like Dirac, so this feature would be wasted on us).

I could use the RZ50's preamp outputs, as I wanted to consider adding outboard power amps to drive at least my front stage (I'm running Polk RTi12s for left/right mains, and these towers can take 500 watts RMS each, so while my 605 powers them just fine using a sub and crossing the 12's over at 60Hz, I wanted to see what a good amp could do for them), and the onboard 120WPC is really nice, but I don't think we'll ever be in a position to drive nine or more speakers as the RZ50 supports.

This is why I say many of this AVR's features would be "wasted" on us.

At any rate, I had looked at the NR7100 as well, as both that model and the 6100 seem to be in stock everywhere, but from what I have garnered, the only thing the 7100 adds is Dirac, some extra channel support and some remote triggering features -- none of which we'd actually use. It also seems to be of about the same build quality as the 6100, and they share the same dimensions.

But even before we decide on a new Onkyo, I had some concerns about the way these new models operate, as they seem to be VERY different from the previous generations. If there's anyone here with any experience using these, I would appreciate any input you may have, as the online manuals for these aren't that informative about certain specific aspects I am worried about.

Let's start with my front panel display concerns...

I know there is no way to have the front panel of these newer units display both the surround codec in use AND the source name at the same time, like the old units would allow (which I think is UTTERLY ridiculous), but you CAN just have the surround codec in use by itself displayed, correct? It's not only relegated to displaying the source name, is it? I ask because I'd much rather have the surround codec being applied shown than look at the source label (BD/DVD, etc.).

In other words, as an example, my 605 would display the surround mode/codec in use AND the source name at the same time, like this:

1659132516612.png


On the new models, from what I understand, this isn't possible at all; instead, you have to cycle through display options that would show the input name alone (BD/DVD, etc.), surround mode alone (Dolby Atmos, DTS, etc.), sampling frequency info and some other choices, but what is not clear to me is whether or not the surround mode being used can be LOCKED so that it's the only thing being shown. From everything I have learned, the receivers will always go back to showing the input name and volume level even if you toggle to something different -- I really would rather look at the mode I'm in or the surround codec being used instead of just the input name.

Here's an example of what the RZ50 and NR6100 look like when displaying sound modes:

1659132742314.png


1659132753704.png


They're being shown with the current sound mode in use, but is this just a temporary setting? Do the units always go back to the input name after a few seconds? I really can't understand why Onkyo did this, not allowing the input name AND mode in use to be shown at the same time as on previous models, but if I had the choice, I'd rather look at the indicator for the sound mode being processed so I am sure the bitstreamed signal from my UHD Blu-ray player is being decoded properly.

Also -- we still watch a LOT of DVDs (from our personal collection and ones we rent from Redbox), and in the beginning days of the format, the standard 5.1 audio configuration on most of these discs (if they weren't DTS-encoded) was called, as we all know, "Dolby Digital." Today, it seems this has switched to simply "Dolby Audio," and I am wondering how this is reflected on the new Onkyos' displays -- my older Onkyos would always read "Dolby D" when playing a DVD with such a soundtrack, but how do the new receivers display it? Does it merely say "Dolby Audio" on the front? Same with the lossless codecs from the Blu-ray days: do the new receivers read "Dolby TrueHD" and "DTS-HD MSTR" like they used to when these tracks are being played?

Further, I am very concerned about the way these new AVRs handle bitstreamed signals from a disc player that are not multichannel soundtracks -- in old receivers, I was able to apply Dolby Pro Logic II Movie mode to DVDs and Blu-rays with stereo soundtracks, and the AVR would automatically apply this mode when it detected the signal. From what I was told in another RZ50 thread elsewhere (but I don't believe the question was ever fully resolved), the Pro Logic system has been a thing of the past for some time, and these new AVRs don't have specific listening mode presets like, say, my SR605 does, so the user needs to cycle through "upmixing" modes via the remote. But how does this work, exactly? How can I take, for example, a Blu-ray that may have a two-channel mono soundtrack (as many of my older titles have, even the ones from Scream Factory) and steer this into the center channel where it belongs? Is this possible with the new Onkyos? And what about two-channel "Dolby Surround"-encoded soundtracks from some DVDs...is there a way to play these back "correctly" so that dialogue is in the center and the other speakers get the surround effects from these tracks?

My primary concern here is that I'd have to do this with EVERY new disc I put in -- in other words, if I watch, say, a disc with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack and then put in an older film with a two-channel mix, will the newer Onkyos remember the last mode used for the two-channel signal and apply it, or do I have to cycle through the modes on the remote again?

As another example of what I mean, here's what the "Listening Mode Preset" menu screen looked like on my 605:

1659133148509.png


As you can see, I was able to set individual listening modes for each kind of soundtrack -- so for Dolby Digital, I'd set "Dolby Digital" and for "DTS-HD Master Audio," I'd set "DTS-HD MSTR." This would ensure that the next time one of these signals were sensed, the AVR would kick into that mode automatically. The "Last Valid" selections were the default settings out of the box, and they worked almost in the same way in that when the unit sensed a certain signal, it would use the mode you last assigned for it.

These new Onkyos don't have these kinds of menus anymore -- so how do the Dolby Surround upmixers work in them? Would I need to press a button on the remote to cycle through "replacements" for Pro Logic II when watching a disc with a one or two-channel soundtrack?

I have looked up videos and online manuals about some of these models (like the 6100 and RZ50), and from what I saw, there is really no advanced menu system for Dolby and DTS processing -- there is a "Dolby" section of the setup menu, but this seems to be for things not related to how the receiver processes the signals. Under "DTS/IMAX," there seems to be an "Auto" mode, but is this just for making sure the DTS signals are automatically detected, or does it have more to do with detecting the so-called DTS IMAX signals on some UHD Blu-rays?

Can anyone tell me exactly how these "upmixers" in the new Onkyos work? Will they be able to process and correctly steer non-multichannel soundtracks?
 
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Kaskade1309

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I realized after I posted this that I had started a similar thread in December of last year; my apologies for that.

Last night, I actually tried swapping out the HDMI cable connecting my 605's HDMI out to the display with a new one, and, lo and behold, the onscreen setup menu seems to be working again -- so we don't need to buy a brand new AVR right this very second, after all. Must have been the extra thick and heavy cable that I was using on the Onkyo's HDMI out that was tugging at or stressing the port, but whatever it was, the new cable seems to have fixed it (at least for now).

Since the 605 is really still doing everything we want from a receiver, we're going to hold off on buying a new one (I considered the RZ50, but it is truly overkill for our needs as I wouldn't even attempt to use Dirac, as well as a couple of new Denons which I felt were overpriced for what you're getting, and even thought about hunting down a new RZ810 from the previous generation of RZ Onkyos because I found a good price for one on Amazon; we also considered the Onk NR6100 but it doesn't seem like it's built all that well for $800 plus tax and shipping), and if we ever decide to get into Atmos or upgrade the 605 for any other reason, I'll look back into the new Onkyos or Denons.
 

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