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Onkyo TX-SR674E review

Trying to fight its way to the front of the AV amp crowd

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Our Verdict

Ignore the slightly clunky looks - this receiver packs a sonic wallop, flexibility and great performance into its frame

For

  • Impressive features
  • Great value
  • Decent sound

Against

  • Not particularly stylish

Sacrifices may have been made with the Onkyo's slightly bulkier design, primitive menus and a tacky, blue backlit volume knob, but it offers 90W to each of its seven amplifier channels and an astonishingly high degree of flexibility at the price.

Auto installation, HDMI outputs and video upconversion are surprising inclusions on a model at this price, and the Onkyo's plentiful features easily better Yamaha's similarly priced rival, although there's no built-in DAB tuner here.

System setup is a doddle thanks to the Audyssey installation and EQ system, but it's rather a basic version that's incorporated here and the basic menus and display make it a less intuitive process.

Nevertheless, it cleverly tailors the amp's settings to your seating position and room acoustics using measurements taken via the supplied microphone, and adjusts the amp for its optimum performance in your environment.

If you're happy to stick with a 5.1 surround setup, the additional rear channels can be routed to a second zone, and multiroom capability is another string to the Onkyo's impressive list of flexibilities.

Picture signals routed through its HDMI or component video connections show no sign of degradation, and analogue video inputs are successfully upgraded and output via the hi-def enabled socketry. Audio-wise, a quick run through the automated system installation procedure ensures that the Onkyo is performing at its best with your particular speaker system and surroundings.

Sonic heaven

Movie soundtracks are a good balance of power and detail, and the whispering voices during X Men II - The Last Stand are expertly placed around the room and ensure you don't miss subtle details within the soundtrack. Bass levels are plentiful yet well controlled, and the OnkyoTX-SR674E accommodates just about any speaker package that it's partnered with.

Our only slight criticisms concern a slight brashness with our floorstanding speakers at higher volume and the amp seems more at home with compact or midsized speaker packages.

It has a clean and punchy sound with music too, but high frequency detail means that the sound quickly hardens up at higher volume levels and can sound a touch uncomfortable particularly when playing compressed MP3 tracks from a compatible CD player.

There's no disputing that this Onkyo is one of the most flexible receivers we've seen at the price. Its looks may not be that appealing and its onscreen menus are a tad basic, but the TX-SR674E successfully balances strong performance with an impressive range of features, offering a lot more bang for your buck.