Onkyo TX-SR506 review

Still a decent contender but it's slightly off the pace of class-leader standards on audio and features Tested at £250.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Still a decent contender but it's slightly off the pace of class-leader standards on audio and features


  • +

    Solid build and smart if clinical design

  • +

    muscular, punchy performance

  • +

    plenty of weight when required

  • +

    decent with music


  • -

    No HD audio decoding

  • -

    lacks a little definition and detail compared to the best

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Six months can be a long time in the world of home cinema ? not least when the industry is having one of its biggest shake-ups in a long while due to the advent of high-def Blu-ray content. A whole host of new HD audio codecs have given amplifier manufacturers plenty to think about, and caught this particular Onkyo on the hop.

When we first reviewed this budget model back in August 2008, the lack of onboard HD audio decoding was merely a shame rather than a real problem. But now, with the competition doing it all for just £50 more, it starts to look a little long in the tooth. Still, we didn't award this amplifier five stars for nothing...

You can still count on Onkyo's bombproof build quality, though the design isn't particularly awe-inspiring – but hey, it is a multichannel amp. The curvaceous, glossy remote does add a bit more flair.

You'll find three HDMI inputs and one output on the rear of the unit, which are capable of passing through 1080p HD video content for 3-to-1 video switching, plus multichannel audio inputs so you can send decoded HD audio via analogue PCM. There?s no video upscaling, however.

Still packs a meaty punch
Watching the Blu-ray disc of the brilliant Wall-E, this Onkyo delivers a typically muscular presentation. It's still capable of producing decent detail and subtlety as required for the first half hour of the film, but it's undoubtedly happier when belting out the action with power and punch.

A better sense of scale and more thrilling dynamics can be had elsewhere, but we're far from disappointed for £250. We switch to something a little more musical with the BD of Mamma Mia! and while it's unlikely that we'll be blown away by a multichannel amp's performance with two-channel music at this price point, this Onkyo makes a decent stab at the essentials.

Basslines sound flabby and can lack definition, but the TX-SR506 holds its own in every other area.

When we last looked at this amp, we said: "The [lack of] all-out power and... lack of HD audio support, might threaten Onkyo's dominance." Well, for this machine that moment has come to pass.

It remains a good option if you're on a budget or don't require onboard HD audio decoding, but better features and noticeably improved sonic performance can now be yours for little more.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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