While most people are familiar with Onkyo’s consumer electronics equipment, the company’s Onkyo Professional product line may not be as well known — though this may soon change for studios specializing in surround projects. The relatively new Onkyo PR-SC885 is one of the first high-end SSPs (Surround Sound Processors) that offers HDMI 1.3a implementation, which means the support of all current Dolby and DTS formats (even DTS-MA), making it easily adaptable to the surround equipped pro studio as well as a perfect choice for the high-end home theater enthusiast. Consumers and professionals trying to embrace Blu-ray (and the now-fading HD-DVD) require HDMI audio processing to get the most out of the lossless audio locked in the TrueHD and DTS-MA sound tracks on those discs. The PR-SC885 also supports the DSD format on SACD discs as a digital bitstream from an SACD player.
The 17-1/8″ x 7-5/8″ x 17-1/2″ (W x H x D) PR-SC885 weighs 29.3 pounds and includes balanced inputs (though only two) and outputs (eight – supporting 7.1 monitoring) and high quality video processing (HQV Reon-VX). Although it’s better suited for the home theater than the studio, the Audyssey MultEQ XT feature makes speaker setup a cakewalk. The Audyssey technology uses the included microphone to detect and configure the speakers in the room, and then adjusts the level, delay and crossover settings for each channel to best suit the acoustics of the room.
The heart of the PR-SC885P is a toroidal transformer along with two independent audio and video transformers. The unit provides HDMI 1.3a Switching, Reon-HQV HD video scaling up to 1080p, and Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD decoding. Thanks to the high-quality, 24-bit/192kHz Burr Brown DACs on every channel, it sounds great. Also included are four HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs so a second display can be supported (although not simultaneously).
The rear panel of the unit squeezes about a trillion connectors (well, not that many but there are a lot) into a relatively small amount of space. The row of balanced connectors across the bottom support two channels of balanced input and up to 7.1 channels of balanced output via XLR connectors. If you are using the PR-SC885 to monitor your DAW’s surround mix, the only real option you have, unfortunately, is via the unbalanced RCA surround inputs. Ideally, the PR-SC88P would include balanced inputs supporting up to 7.1 channels in addition to its balanced outputs.
Fast Facts Applications
Studio, project studio, audiophile/home
2 balanced inputs; 8 outputs (supporting 7.1 monitoring); four HDMI inputs, two HDMI outputs; CD, tape loop, and phono analog stereo inputs; S-Video and composite stereo inputs; 5 digital audio inputs (3 coaxial and 2 TOSLINK); optical output; HQV Reon-VX; Audyssey MultEQ XT; HDMI 1.3a Switching, Reon-HQV HD video scaling up to 1080p; Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD decoding. 24-bit/192kHz Burr Brown DACs per channel
Onkyo Professional | 201-785-2600 | www.onkyopro.com Analog stereo inputs include CD, tape loop, and phono. Five additional stereo audio inputs provide support for S-Video and composite inputs. Additionally, there are five digital audio inputs (three coaxial and two TOSLINK), as well as an optical output.
The PR-SC885 has an impressive build quality so it would easily stand up to the regular use of a professional recording studio. The setup was as simple as I’ve ever encountered on a receiver. The system’s menu is visually attractive and easy to navigate. One frustration I have with the PR-SC885 is that when the digital format changes from one source to another (e.g. from Stereo PCM to Dolby Digital), there is a one-second delay before the new signal is locked on. I anticipate that this isn’t a factor for home users but in the studio when sound sources are routinely compared, this can become annoying rather quickly. For my testing purposes, I used the built-in Audyssey sound equalization but if I were going to make the box a permanent part of my studio, I would take the time to calculate the exact position of proper speaker placement. For my testing purposes, I was anxious to see how well the Audyssey process worked and needless to say, I was quite impressed.
Between its video and audio options, its reasonable price and the fact that it offers eight channels of balanced output, any surround-equipped studio needing to have the ability to switch between a wide variety of surround formats (Dolby, DTS, SACD, etc.) should give the Onkyo PR-SC885 a serious look.