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Customer Review

on July 13, 2012
I had a bad experience, very bad experience with two Onkyo receivers. A 609 and its replacement, the 616. Let me qualify this evaluation by giving my own background. I've spent a lifetime in the computer business and would be considered an expert on Windows systems. In the old days, it was DOS! Helping me with the setup of the Onkyo's was a young bright neighbor 20 year old who had done the setup of several home theater systems prior to our install. I was using the Onkyo's to front end a new Panasonic 47" TV, two Martin Logan Motion 4's and a Velodyne powered subwoofer.

I first ordered the 609, because I knew that it was approaching the end of its life cycle, but the specs on the new line of receivers was pretty much the same as the old and I thought that much or most of the value in these machines is in the software that has been developed for them. Old software beats new every time.

The 609 came and together we spent the better part of a day setting up the unit. It came with a 100 page manual! It wouldn't connect with the Internet regardless of what we did. Onkyo support finally advised us that we had a defective Ethernet port and that we should return the unit for a replacement. Two man days shot. Compliments to Onkyo support for being reachable without too much difficulty and to Amazon, for making the return so easy.

I went back to my computer to order another from Amazon and - Amazon no longer was stocking the 609. So I ordered the 616. It has a 140 page manual which I printed out in anticipation of its arrival. 2 days via Amazon Prime. A winner. After the better part of a day, we had everything working except the subwoofer and zone 2. After a second day with the help of Onkyo support we had both problems fixed.

The next morning I found that the `pass-thru' for the TV wasn't working. We did a factory reset, which fixed that problem and then went through the setup of all the other features again. Things worked fine for a day. Then I noticed that the subwoofer wasn't working again. To make the story short here's the deal. The continually reoccurring problems involved 1) getting the subwoofer to operate, 2) getting zone 2 working, 3) getting the TV pass through to consistently operate. The next night, I went out to dinner and a house guest tried to watch TV and not knowing how to operate things pushed some buttons until she gave up and couldn't see anything.

The following morning I found nothing at all was working through the Onkyo. No TV, no cable, no internet, no nothing! After a reset and the better part of another day things seemed to be working. But by now I was getting an uneasy feeling about the 616. As we became more familiar with the menus and set up process I was amazed that such a poorly thought out, illogical group of commands that bore no logical relationship to our prior experiences could have been designed by anyone. The names on pick lists made no sense. For example, we got out of one problem when Onkyo told us that we had to choose stereo rather than direct. In another setting the correct choice was "last". These words and choices were like from a foreign language and I wondered if the manual had been in Japanese and subjected to a poor translation. But the manual had no instructions on the kinds of problems we were encountering. And every day there was a new problem.

I started noticing that the remote wasn't working anymore. I put in new batteries and that didn't help. Until I noticed that a workaround was to turn on the 616 at the unit and then the remote would function for a while. I also noticed that the TV pass through had also decided to stop working. And then I found a work around for that also. The work around was to turn on the Onkyo to cable, get the picture on the TV and then I could turn off the 616 and the pass through would work - for a while.

I know I should have realized this earlier, but these work around fixes were continually evolving and I would end up being the only person in the world to operate this equipment. It was then that I realized that I had to return the unit. Once again, Amazon is the king in this process. But here are my ratings:
Amazon customer service, through automation: 5 stars
Onkyo customer service via phone: 4 stars, as they were usually helpful
Onkyo receiver performance: 1 star, I wouldn't wish this product on an enemy
Onkyo software/hardware design: 1 star. This reminded me of something produced by a classroom doing its first design effort ever.
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