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Use Onkyo TX-NR906 as a power amp: Good or bad idea?

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Robert-Hifi

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About DL, I couldn't get proper measurements with Dirac Live on the RZ50 with my UMIK-1 - it gives me exclamation marks and crossovers of 150hz and 0ms distances. I could definitely tell improvements between no Room EQ, DL with the onboard mic (3 positions) and my exclamation-laden DL measurements that I exported. In the end, I had no clue what percentage of DL I managed to get in my 17 position calibration - was it 80%, 90%, or 20%? I cannot be the only one that's run into this issue and had no faith in the final results even though they were improved.
Did you already return the RZ50?
How's the volume control on the RZ50? Does the volume level go up and down gradually or does it go faster if you hold the button a bit longer?
 
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Robert-Hifi

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Did you know that they have been using the term AVC since the AVC-X8500H in 2017? All they did was to skip the tuner, otherwise identical. It is nothing standalone about it, other than it is a flagship AVR in NA and AVC in Europe.

The AVR-X6800H is confirmed, not sure if it can be pre order yet. It apparently has a marginally better dac chip, the PCM1690 that was used 8n the 2014-16 models, don"t understand why Masimo still would cheap out on the dac chip, I guess the don't care about many of the comments on ASR about the use of the lower models of the TI chips.
Yes, I know about the AVC/AVR thing. But I find it strange to have two different models for two continents.
Same with the "INcommand Series" logo on the front of the US model.

It would be a lot cheaper to have just one model worldwide and use the money saved for a better DAC chip.
 

techsamurai

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Did you already return the RZ50?
How's the volume control on the RZ50? Does the volume level go up and down gradually or does it go faster if you hold the button a bit longer?

Yeah, I finally sent it back. It goes down slowly - I didn't feel it was fast. The remote is a poor excuse but the unit is well-built. I think it's a great choice for anyone who can get full Dirac measurements and uses it in a home theater. It's not for listening to music but that depends on whether you're coming from a better sounding AVR.

If it had nailed music, I would have gladly kept it especially for 1,100 (with tax) because a stereo amp would cost as much, have less power, and no Dirac Live. Heck, I would have bought another one for my basement home theater.
 
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Robert-Hifi

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Yeah, I finally sent it back. It goes down slowly - I didn't feel it was fast. The remote is a poor excuse but the unit is well-built. I think it's a great choice for anyone who can get full Dirac measurements and uses it in a home theater. It's not for listening to music but that depends on whether you're coming from a better sounding AVR.

If it had nailed music, I would have gladly kept it especially for 1,100 (with tax) because a stereo amp would cost as much, have less power, and no Dirac Live. Heck, I would have bought another one for my basement home theater.
The way you describe the volume level control of the RZ50 seems to indicate they still use the same slow and gradually volume level changes.
On the Denon the volume level goes up really fast if you hold the button just a bit longer than just pushing it once or twice.
Pushing it once or twice makes the volume change with 0.5 or 1dB.

Going from -60.0dB to -40.0dB takes the Denon about 1 to 1.5 second, while my old Onkyo needed 4-5 seconds.
Coming from the slow and smooth volume level control of the Onkyo the Denon seems nervous, choppy or really sensitive (however you want to describe it).

For music I find the Auro-3D upmixer (Auro-2D Surround) the only real alternative for upmixing music in stereo.
But it also uses the center which I don't like.
The only way I got it to work the way I want it (which is music upmixed to 4.0) is to set the center to "No".
If I change the center back to "Yes" I don't think it loses the Audyssey settings and corrections (target curve) for the center.
On my old Onkyo I could set the Subwoofer to "No" or "Not Use" and the Audyssey corrections were still remembered.

I wonder how that works with the RZ50/70 and Dirac.
Do you lose the measurement and target curve if you set a channel (Center or Subwoofer) to "No"?

About the RZ50 not working for you with music. Is that just Dirac to blame or just the sound character of the RZ50?
 
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Neddy

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Interesting discussion.
I have a 906 I bought new in ? 2006-7? And the hdmi board failed just a few years later, but I was so overloaded at work (eventually led me to retire a bit early) I missed the entire Onkyo repair/refund offer....but was such an obvioius failure, their engineers have no excuse for that and I will NEVER buy another Onkyo - what a horrific waste of money. (Yes, I know it's ownership has changed. I haven't.)

That said, I have been using mine as a test power amp in my electronics 'shop' - mostly driving the pair of JBL L5s I have down there. Makes for a nice, powerful setup, but I don't really use it much.

That experience however, did get me to look into pre-pro's and seperates (that much waste heat in proximity to the DAC and preamp circuits, and of course they may bake to death)...
The UI on the Onkyo was pretty horrific, even for the time, tho I admit it has some very clever features.
10yrs + is FOREVER in electronics lives - so yes, the much speedier volume response time is not at all surprising.
I also remember that the Onkyo remote had to have been designed intentionally to scare the innocent - how many buttons can you cram onto a remote, anyway!

Eventually, that bad experience led me to find ASR (thank you, Amir!) and from there on to PC + OktoDAC + Hypex amps, and am now pretty much set for good.

Frankly, this current setup simply blows the barn doors off the old Onkyo surround system - tho I admit I'm 'missing' the ability to play back Atmos surround tracks (tho I'm working on a possible 'trick' solution for that:).
I have guests over for 'movie night' about once a week, and they are just astounded with the 'realism' this 8 ch system provides...

Anyway, best wishes with your new AVR!
 

techsamurai

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About the RZ50 not working for you with music. Is that just Dirac to blame or just the sound character of the RZ50?

Dirac improved things - I played so much music and tried genuinely to like it because it's built so well and the price is ridiculous.

Alas, it never grabbed a hold of me and said "I belong here", not once. How is it going with the Denon? Is it a viable replacement? Will you try it as an amp? I would first do the LR and see how it sounds in music.
 
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Robert-Hifi

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Interesting discussion.
I have a 906 I bought new in ? 2006-7? And the hdmi board failed just a few years later, but I was so overloaded at work (eventually led me to retire a bit early) I missed the entire Onkyo repair/refund offer....but was such an obvioius failure, their engineers have no excuse for that and I will NEVER buy another Onkyo - what a horrific waste of money. (Yes, I know it's ownership has changed. I haven't.)

That said, I have been using mine as a test power amp in my electronics 'shop' - mostly driving the pair of JBL L5s I have down there. Makes for a nice, powerful setup, but I don't really use it much.

That experience however, did get me to look into pre-pro's and seperates (that much waste heat in proximity to the DAC and preamp circuits, and of course they may bake to death)...
The UI on the Onkyo was pretty horrific, even for the time, tho I admit it has some very clever features.
10yrs + is FOREVER in electronics lives - so yes, the much speedier volume response time is not at all surprising.
I also remember that the Onkyo remote had to have been designed intentionally to scare the innocent - how many buttons can you cram onto a remote, anyway!

Eventually, that bad experience led me to find ASR (thank you, Amir!) and from there on to PC + OktoDAC + Hypex amps, and am now pretty much set for good.

Frankly, this current setup simply blows the barn doors off the old Onkyo surround system - tho I admit I'm 'missing' the ability to play back Atmos surround tracks (tho I'm working on a possible 'trick' solution for that:).
I have guests over for 'movie night' about once a week, and they are just astounded with the 'realism' this 8 ch system provides...

Anyway, best wishes with your new AVR!
The Onkyo TX-NR906 was released in 2008. I'm probably one of the few lucky ones with the HDMI board only failing after 15 years.
The UI was indeed pretty old fashioned, but it never really bothered me because I could control it in my sleep with just the text on the frontpanel display :)
And the remote was rather chunky and long. Yamaha remotes from that era had the same issue.

Dirac improved things - I played so much music and tried genuinely to like it because it's built so well and the price is ridiculous.

Alas, it never grabbed a hold of me and said "I belong here", not once. How is it going with the Denon? Is it a viable replacement? Will you try it as an amp? I would first do the LR and see how it sounds in music.
So, it was more the sound character of the Onkyo than Dirac?

I played a bit more with the Denon and got the Audyssey MultEQ Editor app. It simply is a must!
The Reference and Flat curve are too thin sounding.
My first attempt to replicate the sound of my old Onky was a Harman-like curve (downwards slope) with +6dB at 40Hz.
And it was almost spot-on! I guess my ears still work :D

Considering that the Audyssey MultEQ XT on the Onkyo was a black box.
It was unable to show the before/after frequency response.

With the surrounds dailed back 3-4dB it comes really close to the old Onkyo and sounding even better.
Even just plain stereo is much more spacious than with the old Onkyo, sometimes it even sounds like surround. It's that good.
There is more detail and the soundstage is more precise. But not edgy or aggressive.
And the Denon feels every bit as dynamic as the Onkyo, no shortage of power.

The only thing I haven't got used to is the volume control being so fast/nervous/oversensitive.
I wonder if I can live with this kind of volume controle knowing that the Onkyo TX-RZ70 probably still has the same slow and smooth volume control.
But with the RZ70 I lose Auddyssey and have to go with Dirac and the price grap is huge with almost 1300 euro.
 
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Robert-Hifi

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I made two short videos to show the difference in volume control between the Onkyo TX-NR906 and Denon AVC-X4800H using the remote.

Onkyo TX-NR906:

Denon AVC-X4800H:
 

techsamurai

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So I ended up getting the 4800H (laugh it up) on a sale

Just out of curiosity what settings did you get after running Audyssey. I got:

Front Full Range
Center 40hz (initially Full Range)
Surrounds 40hz

LFE+Mains

I might drop the fronts to 40hz and switch to LFE since it's really the same as my speakers are rated to 38hz so they will drop anyway so why make the amp do all the work anyway and why stress the speakers?

I see what you mean by the volume. It's annoying... The worst part is the slider on the Denon App - wtf is that? Can't they create a knob that you turn to increase the volume with the value in the middle? I can't even pick a value:)

Still evaluating music - things are better with Audyssey but I'm still checking Reference and Flat.

I'm bi-amping.
 
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Robert-Hifi

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So I ended up getting the 4800H (laugh it up) on a sale

Just out of curiosity what settings did you get after running Audyssey. I got:

Front Full Range
Center 40hz (initially Full Range)
Surrounds 40hz

LFE+Mains

I might drop the fronts to 40hz and switch to LFE since it's really the same as my speakers are rated to 38hz so they will drop anyway so why make the amp do all the work anyway and why stress the speakers?

I see what you mean by the volume. It's annoying... The worst part is the slider on the Denon App - wtf is that? Can't they create a knob that you turn to increase the volume with the value in the middle? I can't even pick a value:)

Still evaluating music - things are better with Audyssey but I'm still checking Reference and Flat.

I'm bi-amping.
I'm not laughing, if on sale the AVC-X4800H is a good deal.

After running Audyssey I got:
- Fronts: Full Range
- Center: 60Hz
- Surrounds: 40Hz

The measured crossover values are pretty accurate in my case.
My fronts are specified to go down to 30Hz and with room gain they dig a bit lower.
Center and surrounds are the same speaker model, but the surrounds are in a corner and close to the wall.
That's why Audyssey measured a lower crossover point for the surrounds.

For movies I switch the fronts crossover to 80Hz to take some strain off them and the AVR.
I tend to listen to music in 2.0 (Stereo, not Pure or Direct) or 4.0 (Auro-2D Surround), but the Denon sounds really good in stereo (very spacious, if the music allows it).
The Reference and Flat curve are too thin sounding for my taste, but between those two I definitely prefer Reference.

I can't get used to the volume control on the Denon, so I'm still going to try the Onkyo TX-RZ70.
On my request one audio store tried the volume control on the TX-NR6100 and TX-NR7100 and compared it to my video of my TX-NR906.
It was still the same smooth and slow volume control, so I assume the same goes for the RZ50/RZ70.
With the limited availability of the RZ70 I'll have to see where I can get it ASAP for a good price.

If the Denon had a smoother volume control it would stay, because I can't complain about it's sound quality at all.

I wonder if I'm going down the rabbit hole, because the Onkyo RZ70 doesn't has Audyssey and Dynamic EQ and I really like Dynamic EQ.
And Dirac is not as easy to set up as Audyssey. But no pain no gain, right? :)
 

techsamurai

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I'm not laughing, if on sale the AVC-X4800H is a good deal.

After running Audyssey I got:
- Fronts: Full Range
- Center: 60Hz
- Surrounds: 40Hz

The measured crossover values are pretty accurate in my case.
My fronts are specified to go down to 30Hz and with room gain they dig a bit lower.
Center and surrounds are the same speaker model, but the surrounds are in a corner and close to the wall.
That's why Audyssey measured a lower crossover point for the surrounds.

For movies I switch the fronts crossover to 80Hz to take some strain off them and the AVR.
I tend to listen to music in 2.0 (Stereo, not Pure or Direct) or 4.0 (Auro-2D Surround), but the Denon sounds really good in stereo (very spacious, if the music allows it).
The Reference and Flat curve are too thin sounding for my taste, but between those two I definitely prefer Reference.

I can't get used to the volume control on the Denon, so I'm still going to try the Onkyo TX-RZ70.
On my request one audio store tried the volume control on the TX-NR6100 and TX-NR7100 and compared it to my video of my TX-NR906.
It was still the same smooth and slow volume control, so I assume the same goes for the RZ50/RZ70.
With the limited availability of the RZ70 I'll have to see where I can get it ASAP for a good price.

If the Denon had a smoother volume control it would stay, because I can't complain about it's sound quality at all.

I wonder if I'm going down the rabbit hole, because the Onkyo RZ70 doesn't has Audyssey and Dynamic EQ and I really like Dynamic EQ.
And Dirac is not as easy to set up as Audyssey. But no pain no gain, right? :)

Yeah, I play music in stereo - I do prefer the Reference even though its more forward.

I'm still trying to decide on DEQ. I still haven't watched movies but I'll do some demos soon.

I had a Denon 15 years ago and I sent it back in a week because it was so different from the Marantz 5002. That's when I bought the 8002 (and eventually 3 of them for 2 living room theaters).

Denon has improved and is closer to Marantz but guitars, voices, sax, piano and jazz (not drums or rock) are something else on the old Marantz and once you hear it you cannot unhear it. The Denon has a bigger soundstage (you and others have said that and I hear it too) and might be more accurate and definitely more lively with pop and rock music but I'd give all those up for magic.

For instance, in the Sultans of Swing from the Alchemy album, the guitar solo at the end is the highlight on the Marantz and it nails it.

With the Denon, I'm hearing almost equal parts drums and guitar (or maybe some ratio of 60/40 or 40/60) and the drums are amazing - I had no idea how good the drummer is (is it Mark's brother?) BUT it comes at the cost of the guitar solo. I have to also listen to the last 30-40 seconds of "Where do you think you're going?", one of my favorite solos by Mark but the mixer was horrible playing out the song with the solo going quiet instead of playing it for many minutes..
 
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Robert-Hifi

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I also haven't watched any movies with the Denon yet.
Only watched a couple well known scenes for a quick check.
If Dynamic EQ isn't for you with music, try it with movies.

It seems getting the Onkyo RZ70 will put me in the position to choose between getting it now for 2900 euro or wait until December for 2700 euro.

I could still use my old Onkyo and wait until December, but will have to work around the failed HDMI board and rely on audio only connections (optical and coaxial).
If it dies completely before the RZ70 arrives I can fall back to the Sony STR-DB930QS.
That was my AVR before I got the Onkyo TX-NR906, but never got around to sell it.
 

techsamurai

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I also haven't watched any movies with the Denon yet.
Only watched a couple well known scenes for a quick check.
If Dynamic EQ isn't for you with music, try it with movies.

It seems getting the Onkyo RZ70 will put me in the position to choose between getting it now for 2900 euro or wait until December for 2700 euro.

I could still use my old Onkyo and wait until December, but will have to work around the failed HDMI board and rely on audio only connections (optical and coaxial).
If it dies completely before the RZ70 arrives I can fall back to the Sony STR-DB930QS.
That was my AVR before I got the Onkyo TX-NR906, but never got around to sell it.

I watched the intro No Time To Die with the shooting scene in the Italian city - the 4800h is very capable in surround processing.

I thought the scene with the bullets shooting the Aston Martin from every direction with DEQ on was very dynamic, if not a bit too much for my living room especially with DEQ on as the surrounds are going crazy but I've never heard them play that loud. I'll give it a try again with the Marantz to compare but I know the Marantz is in favor of a subdued presentation and it doesn't have DEQ.

Bilie Eilish/Hans Zimmer's song in the movie was delivered very well by the Denon, my daughter listened to it and if you recall in my previous comments she asked me to turn off the RZ50 when it was playing it so her reaction to the Denon was a great sign .:)

Strangely, she heard the DD version 0.4Mbps as the Panasonic BD player clearly didn't handshake properly with the Denon and even that version was sublime on the Denon.

But I'm still struggling with music - some songs sound really good but I was brave enough tonight to try Norah Jones' I've got to see you again and I should have waited until I had finetuned everything before I tried it - that song is like a musical litmus test.

I got the Audyssey app for IOS and I'll do another calibration on Monday and then start tweaking curves. Then I'll power the LCR with the Marantz or possibly all channels and see what extra power does.
 
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Robert-Hifi

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I watched the intro No Time To Die with the shooting scene in the Italian city - the 4800h is very capable in surround processing.

I thought the scene with the bullets shooting the Aston Martin from every direction with DEQ on was very dynamic, if not a bit too much for my living room especially with DEQ on as the surrounds are going crazy but I've never heard them play that loud. I'll give it a try again with the Marantz to compare but I know the Marantz is in favor of a subdued presentation and it doesn't have DEQ.

Bilie Eilish/Hans Zimmer's song in the movie was delivered very well by the Denon, my daughter listened to it and if you recall in my previous comments she asked me to turn off the RZ50 when it was playing it so her reaction to the Denon was a great sign .:)

Strangely, she heard the DD version 0.4Mbps as the Panasonic BD player clearly didn't handshake properly with the Denon and even that version was sublime on the Denon.

But I'm still struggling with music - some songs sound really good but I was brave enough tonight to try Norah Jones' I've got to see you again and I should have waited until I had finetuned everything before I tried it - that song is like a musical litmus test.

I got the Audyssey app for IOS and I'll do another calibration on Monday and then start tweaking curves. Then I'll power the LCR with the Marantz or possibly all channels and see what extra power does.
The surrounds being too loud is a known complaint about Audyssey/Dynamic EQ.
And it's hard to correct it with a fixed value (e.g. -3dB), because it is volume dependent.

Tweaking the sound with target curves is essential in my opinion.
For easier comparison you can use preset 1 and 2 and quickly switch between them with the Option menu button on the remote or use the Denon AVR Remote app.
 

dlaloum

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145W vs 125W? You may never notice that difference.
The 906 is a high current amp, the Denon's aren't.... it isn't the power that will make the difference (well not at 8ohm anyway!).

Comes down to speaker demands, and the 906 is a very solid power amp... it handles 4 ohm speakers well
 

EWL5

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The 906 is a high current amp, the Denon's aren't.... it isn't the power that will make the difference (well not at 8ohm anyway!).

Comes down to speaker demands, and the 906 is a very solid power amp... it handles 4 ohm speakers well
Is my old Rotel RSX-1067 also a high current amp? I've toyed w/the idea of using it for the Center and the rear surrounds (L/R handled by XPA2) but not sure if it's worth the complexity of using my Denon 3800 primarily as a prepro.
 

Chrispy

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The 906 is a high current amp, the Denon's aren't.... it isn't the power that will make the difference (well not at 8ohm anyway!).

Comes down to speaker demands, and the 906 is a very solid power amp... it handles 4 ohm speakers well

The 906 ratings don't have any indication that it is more capable of "current" than the 3800 let alone 4800....how do you figure?
 

techsamurai

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The surrounds being too loud is a known complaint about Audyssey/Dynamic EQ.
And it's hard to correct it with a fixed value (e.g. -3dB), because it is volume dependent.

Tweaking the sound with target curves is essential in my opinion.
For easier comparison you can use preset 1 and 2 and quickly switch between them with the Option menu button on the remote or use the Denon AVR Remote app.

I powered the 4800h fronts with the 8002 - it got better but once I did that, I could play music on the 8002 and do A/B tests with a delay and I spent a whole morning comparing.

I'm going to use the app tomorrow and run another calibration to see if I can somehow bridge the gap but I don't even know what's different or if it can be done. The 4800h's soundstage is massive and that could be its problem - I can't fix the soundstage or its suicidal desire to subdue all musical accents. The 8002 has a narrower soundstage and the speakers completely disappear. They are similar but also so different.

I might pick up a Cinema 70 to compare.

With the Marantz, I'll only need a short period of time to set it up as it's identical to the Denon and I know the sound they should be producing. Target curves should only improve an AVR - not save it.
 

ban25

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Is my old Rotel RSX-1067 also a high current amp? I've toyed w/the idea of using it for the Center and the rear surrounds (L/R handled by XPA2) but not sure if it's worth the complexity of using my Denon 3800 primarily as a prepro.
Definitely not worth the complexity. It doesn't provide meaningfully more power per channel than the 3800. The 1067 does look cool, and I love Rotel gear, so you could integrate it for that reason alone...just don't have any expectations of increased "sound quality" or such!
 
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