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Onkyo PR-SC5508 AV Preamp Review

The AV preamp has the hardest job of all audio-video components. As the hub and controller of a complex theater and music system it is expected to interact with nearly every component, provide a variety of audio and video processing functions all while being reliable and easy to use. This is no easy feat, especially in today’s era of media servers, network and Internet streaming devices. If providing all of these features were not a difficult enough target to hit, keep in mind that it is a moving target. New formats and streaming services are introduced frequently and your AV processor is the component that needs to be able to interact with them.

Features

Every World-Class Orchestra Needs a Great Conductor
If you’ve invested in a high-end power amp, speakers, and playback devices, you need a savvy and capable pre-pro to make them all work in harmony. Enter stage left, the PR-SC5508. Onkyo’s newest and most advanced pre-pro packs a wide selection of the latest processing features and gives you untold flexibility in connecting and setting up your home entertainment system. Eight of the latest HDMI® 1.4a inputs support the new 3D video format, as well as 1080p upscaling with HQV Reon-VX. Meanwhile, 9.2 pristine audio channels let you enjoy expanded surround formats from Dolby and Audyssey, as well as lossless audio from DTS and Dolby. ISF video calibration and Audyssey MultEQ® XT32 work to custom-fit your video and audio, while a new overlaid on-screen display lets you adjust settings on the fly. Home network capability enables you to incorporate internet radio or PC-based audio into your main system. And noise-reducing XLR inputs and pre outs provide further options for the serious home theater fan. So raise the  baton and let the performance begin!

HDMI® 1.4a Support for 3D Video and Audio Return Channel
The eight HDMI 1.4a inputs on the PR-SC5508 let you simultaneously connect high-def sources such as a Blu-ray player, a gaming console, and a cable/satellite tuner. And the two HDMI outputs let you send a pristine signal at the same time to two different high-resolution displays. As the latest version of this connector, HDMI 1.4a adds the exciting possibilities of 3D video and an Audio Return Channel. 3D video is the next big thing in home entertainment, with movie, game, and broadcast content on the increase and 3D-compatible TVs coming to market. The PR-SC5508 also offers the convenience of an Audio Return Channel via HDMI. Audio content received directly by your HDTV’s tuner can be sent “upstream” to your A/V controller, without the need for a separate S/PDIF audio cable.

PC Audio and Internet Radio via Network Function with DLNA 1.5 and Windows® 7 Compatibility
Linking directly to the internet or to your home PC via a local network,the PR-SC5508 takes streaming audio and internet radio to a whole new level. MP3, WMA, WMA Lossless, FLAC, WAV, Ogg Vorbis, AAC,and LPCM audio files—whether on your PC or from the internet—can now be played back through your main system with unprecedented power and fidelity. The PR-SC5508 brings to life a huge array of internet radio channels sourced via vTuner*. As well as being compatible with earlier platforms, the controller is compatible with Microsoft’s Windows 7 platform, which includes the DLNA 1.5- specified “Play To” media-streaming feature. Another benefit of having the PR-SC5508 connected to the internet is that you can then easily update its firmware. *Availability of services depends on region.

ONKYO PR-SC5508THX® Ultra2 Plus™ Certified
The ultimate benchmark for home audio performance, THX Ultra2 Plus is specified for rooms where the screen-to-seat viewing distance is more than 4 meters and the room volume is 85 cubic meters or greater. To achieve THX Ultra2 Plus certification, the PR-SC5508 must meet the world’s most demanding standards for home theater audio quality and performance, and must play at reference volume levels with minimal distortion.

Advanced Video Processing and 1080p Upscaling with HQV Reon-VX
HQV Reon-VX is the most sophisticated video-processing chip available for home theater. It provides the ultimate support for 1080p scaling; for filtering of jaggies and artifacts; and for the reduction of random, “mosquito”, and block (codec) noise. HQV Reon-VX also enables color region enhancement and the rendering of more than one billion colors.

VLSC™ (Vector Linear Shaping Circuitry)
Onkyo’s VLSC employs a unique digital-to-analog conversion circuit to mitigate the effects of signal noise. Data is converted
between discrete sampling points, which are then joined with analog vectors in real-time to produce a continuous output wave form. The result—a noiseless, smooth analog signal based on the digital source.

Tailor Multichannel Audio to Your Home with Audyssey and Dolby Technologies
The PR-SC5508 is equipped with MultEQ® XT32,Audyssey’s most powerful room-correction technology. MultEQ XT32 gathers frequency and time-domain measurements from up to 8 positions in the listening area, to help create a clear, wellbalanced, and natural sound. Two other Audyssey technologies, Dynamic EQ® and Dynamic Volume®, work to optimize frequency response and dynamic  range at all volume levels. In a similar vein, Dolby® Volume performs independent loudness adjustments to different frequencies and channels to produce a listening experience that includes all the dynamics of the original mix at whatever volume you choose. It also offers the option of maintaining playback volume at the same userchosen level across all input sources.

ISF Video Calibration for Accurate Video Reproduction
The PR-SC5508 is equipped with industry-leading ISF (Imaging Science Foundation) video calibration to dramatically improve your home theater by enabling you to adjust the brightness, hue, contrast, saturation, and gamma levels on all video inputs. Transforming your A/V controller into a video hub, this function ensures that every video source is independently calibrated for your connected highdefinition display. What’s more, ISF video calibration has been shown to improve energy savings in displays and projectors by up to 50%.

ONKYO PR-SC5508

ONKYO PR-SC5508

ONKYO PR-SC5508

Conclusion

Onkyo’s PR-SC5508 is well suited to be the centerpiece of a modern, well connected and networked home theater system. The Onkyo processor can accept just about any type of audio signal from just about any conceivable source, from a record player to high resolution audio file streamed from a computer to the newest lossless multi-channel codecs. With the other half of the home theater equation, video, the PR-SC5508 is even more capable. It is ISF certified video processor, one of the most capable I have seen in an AV preamp.

The Onkyo PR-SC5508 processor is very good but it’s not perfect. If you are an iTunes/iPod fan you may miss the ability to stream music via Bluetooth or Airplay, however, if you don’t mind simply docking your iPod this should not be a problem. If you consider yourself an audiophile or you plan on listening to a lot of two-channel audio in your home theater system you should carefully audition the Onkyo before committing. While the Onkyo’s two-channel music performance was merely adequate, or on par with many of its rivals, its performance on movies was exemplary.

Read the full review at hometheaterreview.com.

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