The Onkyo is unusual in two regards: it is unable to replay DVD-Audio and SACD discs, but it is endowed with THX certification. Onkyo has carved itself a formidable reputation in this market, and the 809 clearly targets the company’s loyal legion of AV receiver owners.
The selection of socketry reflects the more specific needs of its target audience, too. Unlike its rivals, the Onkyo does away with multichannel analogue outputs, retaining but a pair of stereo sockets to facilitate connection to your hi-fi system.
It does, though, have twin HDMI outs; they can be specified either to feed video via one socket and audio via the other or, if you prefer, both video and audio from each. Only the ‘main’ HDMI output, however, delivers optimum, THX-certified video quality.
Build quality is certainly up to the high standards of this class. The Onkyo’s independent circuit blocks for analogue and digital circuitry help to reduce electromagnetic interference, while items that generate mechanical vibration, such as the motor assembly, are directly coupled to the stiff chassis.
The remote handset is more basic, however, and we’re not smitten by the BD-SP809’s small and apparently rather uninformative display, either.
Film-like picture quality
Such earthly concerns fade from the memory once you’ve ushered the Onkyo into life. Its 2D picture is excellent, giving Contagion’s polished transfer all the lustre it merits.
There’s a film-like quality to the density of its colour palette and the smoothness of its motion, while detail fans will adore the breathtaking clarity it can muster.
3D discs are equally delightful, the 809 conjuring a rigorously layered, unerringly stable image with Avatar.
There’s a shade less ‘snap’ to colours and contrast, but its pictures are crisply drawn, with little edge-shimmer or background noise.
A formidable listen with Blu-ray
The Onkyo also proves its worth sonically. It’s a formidable listen with Blu-ray, the energetic presentation helping to bolster both the scale and the spaciousness of our reference system.
Analogue stereo’s not at all bad either – almost a surprise given the 809’s overtly multichannel inclinations. This isn’t the most expressive listen here – that’s the Marantz – but it’s respectably refined and rhythmic, at least with CD.
Streaming is satisfactory in performance terms, although as with the others here, the range of file types is limited: you can’t listen to FLAC or WAV files over your network, and the Onkyo has no truck with MKV video, either.
If you want outstanding home cinema performance, this Onkyo is a fine choice. If, by contrast, you want the best all-rounder you can buy, its slight limitations mean it isn't the best in class.