So you've got a PS3, but you need something to make those Blu-ray movies come to life in sound as well as picture? Onkyo thinks it has the answer with the Onkyo TX-SR576 AV receiver, but does it?
Sitting snugly in between the lower budget and the high end offering from Onkyo, this £300 AV 7.1 channel receiver does its best to fit to the needs afforded to it considering the budget.
For your money you get three v1.2a HDMI inputs (plus one output to your TV), two coaxial, two Component (also one output) and two digital optical in sockets giving you plenty of ways to connect your home cinema kit in addition to the usual array of phono connections.
Those HDMI sockets allow for 1080p switching so you can plug in three HD sources into the receiver (PS3, Sky HD, Xbox 360, HD DVD, DVD, etc) however they don't offering upscaling so it's something to bear in mind if you are looking to get more quality out of your current DVD player.
The TX-SR576 supports most but not all audio codecs available. You get Dolby Digital EX, DTS ES, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, DTS Neo:6 and DTS 96/24 decoding however not Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio.
Fear not, however, as if you've got a PS3 or a half-decent Blu-ray player it will do the audio decoding for the codecs not supported anyway meaning you can still benefit.
Get past all the what-it-can-and-can't-do limitations and you're left with a receiver that still performs very well. When it comes to the set-up it's all very simple thanks to the Audyssey 2EQ RoomEQ/auto set-up. The system merely involves you dumping a microphone in the centre of the room and the amp doing the rest. The system then goes about determining how many speakers you've got connected, their size, the distance from the microphone and therefore the optimum settings for your system.
Once you are up and running, it's minutes rather than hours (unless you are really anal about your cable tying), the results are incredibly good giving you a powerful sound that has plenty of oomph for the price.
We tested it with the PS3, to get the extra audio capabilities, with a range of movies from Pirates of the Caribbean to Tears of the Sun (good for all those explosions and gunfire at the end). In all cases we were impressed, and while it won't win out against the more expensive competition you have to remember this is a receiver that is under £300.
The purists will complain that the Onkyo TX-SR576 doesn't offer true support for some of the latest audio codecs out there, however the fact is that your Blu-ray player does it anyway so you shouldn't really be bothered by this shortcoming. Again you could complain that the TX-SR576 doesn't upscale either, but then that can also be done by your average DVD player as well.
You could spend more and get a better more powerful system with plenty of additional features, but if you are looking to make the most of your PS3 without breaking the bank, or opting for an all in one offering, this will do nicely. The only catch? You've now got to start saving for the speakers to match.