I wanted a separated surround sound set up because it modularises the “home cinema system” rather than going with a Blu Ray / DVD cinema system where the speakers are tied to the player which has a built in receiver. Being my first home system it was going to be on a budget. This is a good time to note that I am not and audiophile but I do appreciate a good setup.
Overall the experience of researching AV receivers was fairly easy but actually finding them to purchase was whole new can of worms.
It’s shocking how many electronic high street stores that do not carry audio gear. A lot of them do offer the Blu Ray / DVD cinema package but they are never on par with separates or separates combined in a package deal.
I was fortunate to a Currys Mega Store even though it’s not advertised as one. They have a AV room which was refurbished few months back and it’s the best set up I have seen! The room had all the receivers, speakers and TV / projector hooked up to one system. It allowed the user to configure any speakers with receivers and bass to listen to.
Unfortunately their stocks were a more than to be desired for. There were out of date receivers and display units which were on sale for full price. To that end we didn’t buy it from there.
I was looking at Onkyo TX-SR578 and TS-SR608 but ruled out the 608 due to it’s higher price. There was also the packaged sets which included HT-S3305 and HT-S3306 but decided against the option due to availability and the passive bass included.
Alas I settled for the SR508 as you could tell from the title of this post. The remainder of the article is all about the Onkyo TX-SR508
The items included the AV receiver itself with power cable, FM and AM antenna and cable, remote control (RC-764M) with batteries and the Audyssey microphone. It seems pretty bare but everything else including speakers and speaker cables should come with the speaker packages or bought separately.
The receiver is very heavy (good sign of a good receiver). There are a lot of venilation holes at the top so nothing else should sit on top of it e.g Sky box, PS3, etc. The display is very bright and clear which can be seen from a good distance but in the dark it may be bit too bright with no obvious controls to dim it. A giant knob for volume or adjust settings in the menu. There are some front input and headphone jacks for ease of access including an intelligent Audyssey microphone jack (see below).
The rear has a plethora of jacks for 7.1 speakers and HDMI jacks. A more indepth description can be found online.
The menu system is very easy to navigate from using the display on the front to the on-screen display if output is through the HDMI port. It’s disappointing that there is no HDMI pass through when the unit is standby so any device connected to the Onkyo TX-SR508 whilst it’s off / standby, the signal won’t go to the TV and must be connected directly e.g HDMI to TV and TOSLink / optical cable to the receiver. This setup only works for 2 devices because the 508 only has 2 optical inputs. Having noted this I only have the Sky box in this setup for normal TV viewing but the PS3 is primarily used as a DVD/BluRay player and gaming.
The Audyssey EQ get’s it’s own section because it’s an excellent feature and one I’m glad I got. If your lazy or just want a quick and easy setup the Audyssey system allows the receiver to listen to sound feedback and adjust the output automatically. To do this the Onkyo TX-SR508 includes a microphone to sample the sound coming from the speakers to calibrate the AV receiver.
It can adjust for 2-3 seated position with easy instructions on screen / front panel display to where and what to do with the mic. As soon as the Audyssey microphone is plugged in it will switch to calibration mode. Using a set of boxes to prop the microphone to ear height in the centre seating position, I started the calibration which played sound from each speaker and sub. I walked out of the room whilst this happened as not to disturb or add any additional noises. Once the centre seating position was complete, I had to repeat the process for the left and right position. After recording the sounds, it analysed and calibrated the unit. It even detected it was set up to 5.1 instead of 7.1. Once complete the audio sounded much more balanced in the centre position. The seats either side were slightly off but this was expected due to distance from left and right speakers. I can not comment on the note or octave because of lack of experience.
It’s a very good unit although I have nothing to base it off of it is certainly very good and easy to set up.