REVIEW: Integra DTR-60.6 home theatre receiver
Integra may not be a brand familiar to regular retail users, but it is certainly very well known to professionals in the installation industry, to whom it is targeted. It is in fact a very close relation to Onkyo, but generally with features that suit it to higher end, professionally performed installations.
Near the top of Integra’s line up is this, the Integra DTS-60.6, a nine channel Dolby Atmos-enabled receiver.
With Dolby Atmos nine channels of amplification are, rather than often being excessive, very welcome. Atmos, you will remember, introduces a real height element to home theatre, in addition to other features that assist sound engineers to get the best out of the more multidimensional sound field on offer (in particular, the ability to use ‘objects’ in the mix). Atmos of course defines the sound inputs, but also provides for remapping them to the exact mix of speakers used in a given installation.
In addition to Atmos, Dolby has enhanced its Pro Logic line of processors, which upmix 2.0 or multichannel mixes to a new system called Dolby Surround. In addition to extracting surround channels (from 2.0 sources), it can extract material for the height channels (from both 2.0 and multichannel sources). Obviously this is important since actual Atmos encoded material still remains rare.
So with all those extra channels of sound, nine power amps are very useful. With these the receiver can deliver 5.1.4 (the last digital is the number of height channels) or 7.1.2. If you add two more power amps to a couple of the pre-outs, the receiver will got to a full 7.1.4. I went with 5.1.4 since in my test room surround rear channels are of limited value.
Those amps are very well specified, offering 135 watts into eight ohms each across the full audio bandwidth at vanishing small levels of distortion (two channels driven). By default they support speakers with nominal impedances of down to six ohms, and with a setting in the menu are happy with four ohm loudspeakers.
There are eight HDMI inputs – one on the front panel – plus support for component and composite video (including stereo analogue audio and composite video on the front panel). One of the HDMI inputs supports the new HDCP 2.2 standard, so that a future commercial 4K player should work with it. There are two HDMI outputs, so you can conveniently run a front projector and a panel display without having to rewire the unit. A full set of 7.1 channel analogue inputs are fitted, plus phono (for moving magnet level inputs). Eleven sets of loudspeaker terminals are provided, allowing for easy switching between a couple of different connection options.
And there are 11.4 channel pre-outs so you can upgrade any or all amplifiers. And if you’re using particular high end amps for the front stereo pair, you can feed the signal to them using balanced XLR connections.
One highly unusual feature was that in addition to the usual re-allocation options for the amps (front bi-wiring, second zone and so on) you can use some of the amps for powering up to two passive subwoofers. A rare feature to be sure, but some may find it useful. Do note that with this function you lose Dolby Atmos capability. Alternatively, you can have two pairs of amplifiers power two external stereo zones, leaving your theatre system as 5.1.
Support for three zones is provided, with not only line level audio outputs but also a dedicated HDMI Zone B output. The problem with HDMI outputs for the second zone is that HDMI cable length is quite restrictive. So this receiver also has an additional HDMI input (which you connect with the included HDMI cable to the Zone HDMI output) and a HDBaseT output. These are both hidden under a removable cover. HDBaseT allows full HD video to run over network cabling. Add a HDBaseT receiver at the other end of up to one hundred metres of cable and HDMI is available for a TV at the far end of the house, indeed, mansion.
An RJ45 Ethernet is on the back for network services, while a USB socket is provided on the front panel. There are plenty of system integration features, including sockets for remote infrared, triggers, and RS-232C.
The receiver is clearly well built, weighing in at a solid twenty kilograms, and it is THX Select 2 certified. A full featured infrared remote control – it features the ability to record other remote control signals and run macros – is supplemented by fairly basic control apps available on iOS and Android devices.
Integra gear used to use the Audyssey room calibration system but the company has moved to its own system, called AccuEQ in the last year or two. This operates in a similar manner to most such things: you put the supplied microphone where your head would normally be and plug it into the receiver and allow the wizard to run. This makes a series of sounds to determine which speakers are connected, makes the appropriate settings for levels and delay and applies equalisation for room and speaker anomalies.
The setup wizard will also guide you through connecting the various inputs if you let it, and give you information to program the remote to operate many of those devices.
With one exception I found the resulting balance of the automatic speaker setup delivered a rich and powerful sound field. The exception was that the subwoofer output was a too hot, both for the LFE in surround material and for bass redirected to the subwoofer from the left and right channels with stereo music. This gave the sound of the system overall a powerful, immensely solid feel, but lacked accuracy. Winding it back by 4dB restored the accuracy.
It set the bass crossover frequencies for all my speakers a bit too low, going for 40 or 50 hertz for all of them, including the ceiling speakers. The ceiling speakers in particular are far happier with an 80 to 100 hertz crossover, and some of the test discs I use can overload some of the main loudspeakers if allowed to go down to 50 hertz at high volume. A manual change to 80 hertz all round fixed that and left the system sounding just as good.
As delivered the receiver was running an older firmware which lacked Spotify Connect support. I updated it via the built in network update feature and twenty minutes later the process was complete, settings preserved, but now with Spotify Connect running.
In addition to this, the receiver has TuneIn, Deezer, Pandora and Aupeo! Network services built in, plus it supports DLNA playback and playback of music files from shared folders on the network. It plays a wide range of media, including stereo FLAC files up to 192kHz, and stereo ALAC files up to 96kHz. It would play DSD files when accessing them in shared folders – including 5.6MHz sampled ones – but would not accept any DSD music served up via DLNA protocols by the MinimServer software I use on my NAS.
The receiver can do quite a bit of video processing if you want it to, or you can have it pass through your source’s video without touching it. Amongst the things it can do is upscale the output to 4K (although it wouldn’t do this with 50 hertz material). In general, I’d advise against using a receiver to upscale from 1080p to 4K. It makes the performance of your HDMI cables more critical, and 4K displays are quite competent at upscaling 1080p to 4K since that is for them a bread and butter function. A receiver isn’t going to offer an improvement on this front.
At least when plugged into my 2014 model LG 4K TV, an interesting array of output resolutions were on offer in addition to 4K and the usual 480p/576p, 720p, 1080i and 1080p. One was 1680 by 720p, and the other was 2560 by 1080p. The latter is clearly for a super wide display. In either case, if you have a display with either of these native resolutions, things are still more likely to run smoothly if you just scale to regular 1080p and let the display do the rest.
Making adjustments to video settings is done in a slightly odd way. Although the unit is clearly capable of overlaying text over the displayed picture (it does this when you adjust the volume, for example, or press the key for the information display), the setup menus blank out the underlying video. When you make a change you press ‘Enter’ while in that part of the menu and the receiver switches over to display the picture so you can see what changes you’ve made. You then hit ‘Return’ to go back to the menu.
The video processing gives you a choice of a number of modes, including ISF Day and Night (these will of course need to be tuned to your environment and TV or projector), plus an adjustable custom mode. With this last you can tweak hue, colour saturation, contrast and brightness, but no control is offered over progressive scan conversion. This is left to an automatic process that worked quite well. On my test clips with Australian 576i50 DVDs it mostly correctly determined the style of video – video or film sourced – and deinterlaced it correctly. With 1080i50 from the occasional Australian Blu-ray adhering to that standard, the receiver was one of the very few automatic progressive scan converters to score 100% on my test clips.
This receiver delivered a very strong performance on stereo music … once I’d switched off the ‘All Channel Stereo’ mode to which the receiver defaults when it receives a stereo signal.
When it came to surround sound, the performance was uniformly exciting. The power and balance of the system was first class, and I got into the habit of employing the Dolby Surround mode which did a first class and entirely appropriate job of pulling out sounds and sending them up high. This worked nicely with both 5.1/7.1 audio and even quite a bit of two channel material from broadcast TV.
The Dolby Atmos processing worked perfectly, and on the two Dolby Atmos test discs and the two actual Atmos-encoded movies I have, the delivery was exemplary.
Well built, powerful, with full support for Dolby Atmos and the ability to really support a second zone with HDBaseT built in, the Integra DTR-60.6 is a worthy home theatre receiver for any installation.