Integra DRX-R1 11.2-Channel Network AV Receiver Review

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The DRX-R1 ($3,200) is Integra’s current flagship AV receiver and leader of the brand’s new elite Research Series of audio products. Manufactured with custom installers and hardcore enthusiasts in mind, the Research Series is loaded with next-gen technologies designed to deliver the absolute best audio and video experiences possible. That means cutting edge immersive sound, streaming music, and razor-sharp Hi-Res audio are all on center stage, along with signal processing designed to delivery squeaky clean output. Of course, that also means compatibility with the latest 4K requirements (including HDCP 2.2, High Dynamic Range, and Wide Color Gamut), allowing for upscaling and passthrough of amazingly detailed video to UHD displays and projectors.


A True Power Ranger
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(Integra)
First and foremost, it’s important to identify the DRX-R1 (THX Select2 Plus certified) as a true 11.2-channel powerhouse, possessing all of the necessary processing and amplification requirements needed to manage a full 7.2.4 Dolby Atmos speaker arrangement without external assistance. Heading into last year, Integra (and its parent company: Onkyo) was one of the few brands offering this kind of performance in one box. And despite the fact that a handful of other manufactures now offer models with 11 channels of onboard power, the DRX-R1 remains one the few AVRs with this capability, placing it in rather rarefied air. There’s certainly tremendous appeal to an all-in-one Atmos performer, especially when considering setup convenience, equipment space requirements, and the potential for added costs associated with external amplification.

The DRX-R1’s amp specs are impressive, boasting a healthy 140 Watts of power per channel (8 Ohms, 20Hz-20kHz, 0.08% THD, 2 Channels Driven). Integra says this output is paired with ultra-efficient digital output stages, oversized low pass filter coils, and various proprietary filtering technologies, all intended to deliver clean performance. And if multi-room integration is a desire, the DRX-R1’s power can be divided across three different zones.

Signal processing is performed by multiple reference DACs (Digital to Analog Converters), including a discrete 384kHz/32-bit AK4490 DAC for the front left and right channels, and a dedicated 768kHz/32-bit AK4458 DAC for surround activity. It also carries dual independent 192kHz/24-bit AK4388 stereo DACs for Zone 2 and Zone 3 audio. Woven into the receiver’s processing circuit is Integra’s proprietary Vector Linear Shaping Circuitry (VLSC). This is a premium feature that removes artifact “pulse noise” created during the digital to analog conversion process, insuring the output audio signal mirrors the same audio signal originally received.

The DRX-R1’s processing prowess includes compatibility with just about every kind of codec and Hi-Res audio format on the planet. While Auro-3D support is notably absent, it does offer both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X processing out of the box (in addition to a lengthy list of the usual legacy codecs). Musically, it can handle audio files mastered in high-resolution (up to 192kHz/24-bit) from formats including 2.8MHz or 5.6MHz DSD, Dolby TrueHD, and gapless AIFF, MP3, FLAC, WAV, ALAC, and WMA files. Full Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) support will be available later this year via a firmware update.


Connectivity
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(Integra)
The backside of the DRX-R1 is loaded with an abundance of connection options. Here you’ll find seven HDMI inputs (five of which offer 4K/60Hz, HDR, WCG, and HDCP 2.2), two HDMI outputs, a single USB port (Mass Storage class), an HDBaseT output, a variety of analog and digital inputs, 11.2 multichannel pre-outs, an RS232 port, three 12V triggers, AM/FM antenna connections, two sub outputs, and a whopping 22 speaker posts. It all makes for an eyeful, but offers more than enough for enthusiasts with demanding system requirements.

The inclusion of HDBaseT gives owners the option of using cat5e/cat6 to carry an HDMI signal over much longer distances (up to 328 feet) than passive HDMI cables can reliably run. The DRX-R1 carries the necessary transmitter, but a separate HDBaseT receiver will need to be integrated on the display side to complete the connection.

The front side of the DRX-R1 carries an additional HDMI input, one stereo headphone jack, and an AccuEQ microphone jack. Notably omitted is a front side USB port and an RCA input, both of which are curiously absent (especially considering USB sticks are used to deliver Hi-Res audio). This is one of the more major dings against the DRX-R1 from a usability standpoint. It’s certainly not a deal-breaker by any stretch of the imagination, but should have been included.

The DRX-R1 is also devoid of onboard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but does offer both AirPlay and Google Cast. It also supports most major streaming services (including TIDAL, TuneIn Radio, Pandora, and Spotify) and access to network attached storage (NAS). To gain network functionality, the receiver requires a wired Ethernet connection.


Beauty as a Beast
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(Integra)
The DRX-R1 is a true monster. Weighing in at 42 pounds, it has serious tangible girth that immediately announces itself when pulled from the box. Overall build quality generally matches what you’d expect from a receiver with a hefty price tag.

Visually speaking, the DRX-R1 is a looker. Its brushed metal faceplate is ever-so-slightly concave, flanked by edges that are gently angled to the rear. And unlike other receivers that aim to hide buttons, the DRX-R1 has 34 buttons and knobs on full display. The majority of the buttons are black, with the exception of the Master Volume knob and the Power/Standby button (which are silver). Styling aside, this kind of front panel layout has tremendous usability appeal, providing instant access to controls for sources, second and third zones, various listening modes, tone, and presets.

Depressing the various buttons results in a crisp “pop” or “click” sound that provides adequate operational feedback. The volume knob has a notched tactile presentation during rotation; it’s not a heavy feeling knob, though, with a lightness that’s somewhat surprising for a flagship product.

Integra includes a physical remote (with batteries), AM/FM antennae, a power cord, a small microphone, and a basic paper user manual in the box.

The included physical remote is fairly no frills. It’s lightweight, small, and devoid of backlighting, yet retains decent usability. The topside has a selection of source buttons, a “Net” button (for access to TuneIn, Pandora, Deezer, TIDAL, Spotify, Chromecast, AirPlay, a music server, USB media, and devices connected via FireConnect), and a handy “Dimmer” button that reduces the intensity of the receiver's front side LED display. The middle section houses standard selection keys, two menu buttons, and volume controls. And the bottom of the remote controls zone activity, playback listening modes, and controls for network and USB music files.

The real star of the remote show is Integra’s free “Control Pro” app available for iPod/iPhone, Android, and Kindle devices. I installed the iPhone version and was up in running in a matter of seconds. This app is an operational game changer that radically boosts overall user convenience, especially when considering tasks such as searching for songs or artists on a music service or external drive. For example, when operating TIDAL, the physical remote requires multiple clicks to find and open the service, and searching for an artist is a tedious process of slowly moving a cursor across the input menu to select letters. The app, however, turns the entire experience into a fast series of clicks, swipes, and standard text entries, making searching for music and artists a snap. Also, both the app screen (on your device) and the menu (on your display) mirror each other, so both accurately reflect ongoing searches and playback.


Set Up
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(AV NIRVANA)
As noted, the DRX-R1 ships with a basic user manual, with a more advanced manual available for download. I’m a huge proponent of testing the intuitive design of a receiver by attempting set up without looking at any documentation, a test the DRX-R1 passed with flying colors. The install process was a snap, and I believe most anyone with mild tech-sense could tackle system integration without much of an issue.

The DRX-R1’s onscreen menu system was a dream to navigate, offering a simple graphical user interface with eight selectable items, including Input/Output Assign, Speaker, Audio Adjust, Source, Listening Mode Preset, Hardware, Multi Zone, and Miscellaneous. Advancing through the menus and making selections was a cinch, allowing me to quickly configure the DRX-R1 to operate my theater room’s 7.2.4 speaker array.

Kudos to Integra for keeping things streamlined and straight forward.

The DRX-R1 also allows owners advanced access to customization options such as renaming inputs, adjusting volume levels for specific sources, and the like. It’s quite extensive and provides more flexibility to fine tune the user experience and integrate the receiver as a controller for multiple zones and unique audio and video needs.

Following initial set up and a few in-room acoustic measurements, I ran the DRX-R1’s onboard AccuEQ calibration software. AccuEQ is a relatively new proprietary equalization package that allows owners to fine tune all 13 speakers in a 7.2.4 arrangement. It addresses issues of speaker distances, channel levels, and crossover points, in addition to correcting standing waves. The process, from start to finish, takes roughly 10 minutes and uses the included microphone. It’s automatically initiated when the microphone is plugged into the front of the receiver, and is completed with a few clicks of the remote.

Post calibration, I manually checked channel levels and found that AccuEQ inaccurately set most channels two to four decibels above reference (75dB). This wasn’t surprising, however, as most calibration suites typically have difficulty setting channel levels to precision. Post calibration measurements showed that AccuEQ did little to effectively influence low frequency response.


Associated Demo Equipment
Audio equipment used during this review included an OPPO UDP-203 4K Blu-ray Player, RTiA5 Towers (left, center, right), FXiA4s (surrounds), 70-RTs (front/middle presence), and RTiA3s (rear). Dimensions of the acoustically treated demo room measure approximately 18.5-ft long x 14 ft wide x 8.5-ft tall.


The Sound and the Fury
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(Warner Bros.)
Before diving into specifics, it’s worth noting how easy the DRX-R1 was to use. Switching between sources was simple, it instantly found my networked music server, logging on to streaming music accounts (such as TIDAL) was a easy, and AirPlay worked without a hitch. I also experienced zero HDMI handshake issues. I hazard to reach for a phrase such as “dummy proof,” but my interaction with the DRX-R1 was quite simply that. It’s a super performer on every front.

I operated the DRX-R1 in my reference system for several weeks and absolutely loved the experience. The receiver possesses endless power and dishes out clean and detailed sound, even when powering all 11 channels during movie playback. Listening to music was a treat, as sound was uncolored, full of pop, and exacting with incredible detail. I ran the receiver through a musical gauntlet, tapping various resolutions of music sourced from compact discs, TIDAL, my network server, USB, and AirPlay, and found nothing but clarity and precision.

Just to note a few of my favorite music demo moments: Doug MacLeod’s Come to Find (CD) was presented with a balanced and transparent sound, completely devoid distracting noise or distortion. All of the album’s subtleties and details were revealed and on full display. The Chainsmokers Collage EP (CD) allowed the DRX-R1 to strut its dynamic powerful nature. Taking my dual subs out of the equation, the receiver powered my stereo pair of Polk RTiA tower speakers to reference levels with complete composure. And Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (SACD) was delivered with a beautiful balance and rich bass. The disc’s multichannel presentation was handled with total precision.

Integra endowed the DRX-R1 with a variety of “Listening Modes.” There are basic Direct, All Channels Stereo, and Full Mono modes, in addition to a host of Dolby and DTS inspired modes. Listeners can also select from modes tailored specifically to music (such as Rock, Unplugged, Studio-Mix, etc.). My personal preference is to keep sound unfettered in its intended presentation, but I did have some fun listening to the effects introduced by some of the more unique listening modes. If this is your kind of thing, then you’ll find plenty to keep your ears occupied.

Moving onto movies, one of my biggest questions heading into this review revolved around the DRX-R1’s ability to mange the demands of a full Dolby Atmos 7.2.4 speaker array. That led me to punish the receiver with disc after disc of incredibly demanding material, and at the end the DRX-R1 stood confidently as the audio dust settled.

To best summarize: This AVR can power a serious show.

Prior to tapping the ranks of my favorite Atmos demo movies, I watched two films loaded with dynamic 5.1 surround presentations (Hanna and Star Trek). These two films rely on two different legacy codecs (DTS-HD MA and Dolby TrueHD), and gave me a chance to test the DRX-R1’s Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X upconversion modes. In both cases, the DRX-R1 confidently delivered supreme audio presentations, making excellent use of all 11 channels (when listening modes were engaged). Of particular mention was the handling of Hanna’s sonic weight, which the DRX-R1 turned into beautiful pulsing sound, laced with devastating bass. The receiver never flinched or showed signs of cracking, delivering the film’s textures and breadth with precision at reference levels.

The DRX-R1 conducted San Andreas’s massive Atmos attack with all 11 channels blazing. The film’s dynamics were on full display with a super clean presentation; it was a viewing session that sent a smile from ear to ear. Next, I turned to Transformers: Age of Extinction and let the DRX-R1’s raw power engulf my theater room with utter chaos, which grew especially intense as cars and trucks fell from the sky. And then there was Unbroken, a film that let the DRX-R1 stretch its legs and demonstrate its ability to handle subtle height effects (such as the whirring sound inside a World War II bomber’s cabin). The presentation was breathtaking, even as bullets and flack shattered a sense of serenity and peppered my room with crisp sounds of metal being torn to shreds.

During my movie viewing sessions, I would – on occasion – hit pause and switch off my system’s subwoofers. This forced the DRX-R1 to do all of the heavy lifting. The end result was nary a hint of harshness or insufficient capability; the receiver easily handled everything I threw its way.


Conclusion
With little competition in the world of receivers with true onboard 11-channel power, the DRX-R1 shines as a perfect example of what’s possible from one self-contained box. It possesses incredible processing and power, loads of connectivity options, and marries them to create a truly exceptional audio/visual show. There’s zero doubt that the DRX-R1 can drive a full system while maintaining integrity and squeaky clean output. If you’re able to ignore the exclusion of onboard WiFi and Bluetooth (both of which have simple work-arounds), then this receiver is an easy pick to be a system anchor.

Highly Recommended.

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Specifications
Amplifier Section
  • Power Output: (8 Ω, 20 Hz-20 kHz, FTC) 140W / Channel (8 Ω)
  • Dynamic Power: 320W / Channel (3 Ω) 270W / Channel (4 Ω) 160W / Channel (8 Ω)
  • THD: (Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise) 0.04% (1 kHz, 100W)
  • Input Sensitivity and Impedance: 200 mV / 82 k-Ω (LINE) 3.5 mV / 47 k-Ω (Phono MM)
  • Rated RCA Output Level and Impedance: 1 V / 330 Ω (Pre Out, Subwoofer Pre Out) 200 mV / 1.2 k-Ω (Zone Out) 2.0 V / 1.2 k-Ω (Zone Pre Out)
  • Phono Overload: 70 mV (MM 1 kHz, 0.5%)
  • Frequency Response: 5 Hz - 100 kHz / +1 dB-3 dB (Direct Mode)
  • Tone Control: ±10dB, 100 Hz (Bass) ±10dB, 10 kHz (Treble)
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 108 dB (Line, IHF-A) 90 dB (Phono)
  • Speaker Impedance: 4 Ω - 16 Ω
  • Channels: 11.2
  • Zones: 3
Processing
  • Dolby Atmos and Dolby Surround: Yes
  • Dolby TrueHD: Yes
  • DTS:X and DTS Neural:X: Yes
  • DTS-HD Master Audio: Yes
  • THX Processing Modes & Loudness Plus: Yes
  • VLSC for Noise Free Signal Path All Channels
  • AccuEQ Automatic Room Calibration Advanced (Fine Tuned) w/AccuReflex: Yes
  • GAME Surround Modes: Rock, Action, Sports, Role Play
  • Advanced Music Optimizer to Enhance Compressed Audio Files: Yes
  • Standing Wave EQ: User Defined (x3)
  • Premium Quality Digital-to-Analog Conversion: 384k / 32-bit AKM4490 Differential DAC (Front L/R)
  • 768k / 32-bit AKM4458 Differential DAC: x2, Surround Channels
  • 32-Bit DSP Chip for Advanced Processing Analog Devices: SHARC (x3)
  • Ultra-Low-Jitter Circuitry to Improve Audio: Yes
  • Adjustable Crossover by Channel Pair: 40/45/50/55/60/70/80/90/100/110/120/130/150/180/200 Hz
  • Accurate Speaker Distance Setting: 0.1 - foot
  • A/V Sync Delay (by Source): -100 to +500 ms
Video Section
  • Input Sensitivity / Output Level and Impedance: 1.0 Vp-p / 75 Ω (Component Y) 0.7 Vp-p / 75 Ω (Component Pb/Cb, Pr/Cr)
Tuner Section
  • Tuning Frequency Range: FM 87.5 MHz - 107.9 MHz AM 530 kHz - 1,710 kHz
  • FM / AM Preset Memory: 40 Stations
General
  • Power Supply: AC 120 V, 60 Hz
  • Power Consumption: 340 W
  • Stand-by Power Consumption: 0.15 W
  • Dimensions: 17 1/8" W x 7 3/4" H x 17 9/16" D
  • Weight: 42.9 lbs.



 
Last edited:

Todd Anderson

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Kevin, I don't have any hands-on experience with the Anthem MRX1120, so I can't speak directly to user experience. Just in looking at specs, it has built-in wireless functionality... Looks like it has plenty of amp power per channel. You also have access to ARC room correction, which is fairly popular.

It comes down to (1) $500 difference and (2) built-in versus Ethernet/external wi-fi and (3) two different kinds of room correction.

I'd have to to run the Anthem through its paces to see how it stacks-up, usability-wise. The Integra certainly has usability and confirmed performance on its side.
 

Kevin Duthoy

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One more question for you, Todd, and I will try to leave you alone! When you had this unit during your review trial period, did it run hot? Some have commented that driving speakers with an AVR shortens its life as it causes heat damage? Thoughts or comments? Much thanks as always.
 

Kevin Duthoy

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In particular, I think some recall the past Onkyo/Integra issues with heat damage to the HDMI boards. Care to comment?
 

Todd Anderson

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Kevin, ask away! ;-) That's what this forum is for :T

Just to back pedal... quite a few years ago there was a rash of issues the HDMI board failures on some Onkyo products. Onkyo has - to my knowledge - addressed/fixed the issue long ago. And they're taking care of past customers. In fact, owners of those units can still send their Onkyo receivers back to have them repaired free of charge. How much of that was due to heat versus faulty boards that would have failed anyway? Don't know.

You're going to want to make sure you put any AVR in a position to have good air flow around (or else you might run into problems). I did feel the AVR during the review process and never found it to be exceedingly hot. It's not going to run as cool as a Class D amp... but it's not an oven, either.

Check back on the homepage tomorrow... I'm posting a story about two new AVRs that you might find interesting. :T
 

Tony V.

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I agree, heat would be an issue with ANY receiver that has built in amplification. Those HDMI board failures could have been caused by many factors and there are alot of speculation out there so no point in beating a dead horse.

Allowing a receiver to breath is essential for a long life as heat is the number two killer of electronics next to liquids being split on them.
 

Kevin Duthoy

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Thanks Todd and Tony. I am thinking of using a USB fan from AC Infinity designed to dissipate electronic components heat. I also think Integra/Onkyo have new internal cooling that was not present back when they experienced the HDMI board failures. Thanks again.
 

Todd Anderson

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SVS Ultra Bookshelf
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SVS Prime Elevation x4 (Top Front, Top Mid-Front)
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SVS Prime Elevation x4 (Top Middle, Top Rear)
Subwoofers
dual SVS SB16s + dual PSA XS30s
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Deuce

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Looks like a winner! Im in the market for a new one and Integra is on my list. I still find it funny how a receiver with full on board amplification weighs 45lbs given my old Onkyo 805 is 54lbs and has less channels of amplification. Are they using class D amps now?
For sure- and there is no toroidal transformer it appears from the picture with the cover off. Esp with that many channels cant see how they accomplish that with headroom in one chassis without using D topolgy on most/all channels . My anthem 1120 (also 11.2 with 11 on board amps has a toroidal power supply , class AB topology for F-R-L channels, and D class surround atmosphere channels. (Notably it is only 42 pounds -vs and putts out 570 vs 320 watts draw total) I’m not a toriodal snob, and several smart EE degrees people have told more you CAN design a very good sounding powerful supply using straight inundation coils, but takes more space and shielding . Amazing how these modern AVRS get 11 great powerful clean robust headroom amps in one rack sized chassis for less than 35 , let alone 45 , pounds weight.

wondering if anyone on the board has compared this Integra vs anthem flagship 11.2 (1120) ?? Not sure there is anything slea out there to compete with it currently save upcoming EMOTIVA AVR...
 
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