I need to get this off my chest right at the giddy-up. If you came into this review hoping for a laundry-list rundown of all the capabilities packed into Integra’s DTR-70.6 11.2-channel Dolby Atmos-ready network AV receiver, you’re going to find yourself sorely disappointed after another 1,100 words or so.
The Integra DTR-70.6 is capable of upmixing standard surround content to make use of Atmos speakers. To understand why, you merely need to look at the back of the thing; it’s an unmitigated beast of a receiver, weighing in at nearly 50 pounds and boasting more inputs and outputs than I frankly know what to do with; even ones you wouldn’t expect in an AV receiver at this price point, like your choice of stereo high-grade 18 mm-pitch RCA pre-outs or balanced XLRs for the front left and right channels. There are also HDBaseT capabilities and a fully featured second-zone HDMI output. I could go on.
Simply put, the DTR-70.6 is the first receiver in nearly a decade with backpanel that made me say to myself, “Self, we’re going to need an instruction manual for this bad boy.” In the end, I didn’t need it thanks to Integra’s excellent setup menus (excellent in terms of labeling and layout, not necessarily in terms of aesthetics, but what’re you gonna do?) But I did end up pulling up the manual anyway, just out of respect for the poor sod that had to write the thing, because there are simply so many options, so many features, so many interconnected bits and pieces, and changing any one of them redefines the possibility space for so many others.
Take the speaker connections for example. Firstly, kudos to Integra for employing a horizontal configuration for the binding posts along the bottom of the unit. It makes the setup so much easier, so much less cluttered, and for the life of me I cannot comprehend why all receiver manufacturers don’t adopt the same layout. That’s the big picture. Zoom in a bit, though, and you do have to put a lot of thought into what you hook up where. The second set of binding posts in from the left, for instance, can be configured to power a front height right channel, the top front right or top middle right channel in a Dolby Atmos setup, a powered Zone 3, the high-frequency channel for a bi-amped front right speaker, or a second (yep, I said a second) passive subwoofer.
The Integra DTR-70.6 is the first receiver in nearly a decade with backpanel that made the author say to himself, “we’re going to need an instruction manual for this bad boy.” In my case, I kept things reasonably simple: a 5.1 set of Aperion Audio Intimus 5B Harmony SD speakers at ear level, with four of GoldenEar Technology’s excellent SuperSat 3s temporarily bracketed to the ceiling to serve as the overhead speakers in what’s referred to as a 5.1.4-channel Dolby Atmos setup. One could argue, of course, that I failed to really exploit anything near the full capabilities of the DTR-70.6, and one might a point. But I don’t think Integra created the receiver in the belief that anyone would ever use all of its inputs and outputs all the time. It seems to me that it’s more about making sure you have all of the tools you need to tackle a wide variety of installations, and the flexibility to adapt to the changing needs of the homeowner without having to replace this big black box.
Maybe your clients just aren’t interested in Dolby Atmos at the moment (and given that, at the time of this writing, the only interesting movie slated for release in Atmos on Blu-ray still hasn’t arrived at my door, I’m not very interested myself). You’d think that might make the receiver a hard sale. Far from it! Firstly, the DTR-70.6 is capable of upmixing standard surround content to make use of Atmos speakers. Secondly, if that doesn’t seem worth it yet, you could always use all of those extra channels for a basic distributed audio system, then reconfigure the DTR-70.6 for Atmos once some interesting discs hit the market, and then upgrade the home for more advanced multiroom sound. That’s just one permutation out of the nearly infinite possibility space created by all of these magical manipulatable outputs.
I did, for the record, audition a few of the available Atmos discs via the receiver: the last Transformers film, along with Step Up All In. Both sounded incredible, especially given that the DTR-70.6 is capable of handling four object-based ceiling channels, compared with many Atmos-capable receivers that are not. What’s also cool on the Atmos front is that the receiver allows you to specify whether you’re using in-ceiling speakers for the top channels or Atmos-enabled speakers with top-firing drivers that bounce sound off the ceiling.
But what impressed me most was just the overall quality of sound. I had serious issues with the audio performance of both Integra’s and Onkyo’s 2013 slate of receivers and preamps. I have no such reservations with this year’s offerings. The DTR-70.6 delivers a beautifully balanced and coherent soundscape that’s rich, nuanced, and dynamic. Of course, with all of those amps packed into one chassis, it does get a little toasty, so proper ventilation is a must. But I never had the slightest trouble driving even some pretty difficult loads. (Toward the end my testing I uninstalled the ceiling speakers, connected some RBH speakers in 5.1 mode and switched the receiver to its 4-ohm setting. It didn’t flinch, even when I threw some seriously loud and dynamic music its way.)
Some of the improvement in sound quality I mentioned above (although certainly not all) may have something to do with the fact that Integra and Onkyo have ditched Audyssey for the proprietary AccuEQ room correction system, which isn’t as sophisticated as the Audyssey offerings you’d typically expect at this price level. But to my ears it does less damage to the signal than Audyssey does, especially in the mid and high frequencies. My one hope for the future is that Integra works to add some additional processing power to the system and enables subwoofer correction capabilities. For the time being, I would recommend using the DTR-70.6 with a subwoofer that has its own EQ feature, e.g. a good Paradigm or Sunfire sub.
Given that AccuEQ only measures from one position (via a hockey puck mic), overall setup is quick and easy after all the physical connections are made. Even automation integration turned out to be a snap for me, since the DTR-70.6 supports Control4’s Simple Device Discovery Protocol via IP. With a mere press of a button in Control4’s Composer Pro setup software, I had control over all of the receiver’s capabilities and direct access to its wealth of streaming media options.
If IP isn’t your bag, it also includes RS-232 control and IR ports on the back (two in, one out) along with three 12v triggers. I feel like I should almost be bored with Integra’s commitment to control integration by now, but the company still has a soft, squishy spot in my heart for exactly that reason.
What else can I say? When Integra pitched this review to me, I was chomping at the bit to install my first Atmos receiver. A few months later, the Atmos capabilities almost seem like a really kick-ass optional feature on a receiver that would be a worth trumpeting about even without the Atmos capabilities.
Integra’s DTR-70.6 11.2 is a big, bold, beautiful sounding receiver whose Dolby Atmos capabilities are almost overshadowed by its exceptional sound quality, amazing video processing, and ridiculous customization and integration options.
If your room needs bass correction (and which room doesn’t?) you’re going to need to bring your own EQ-equipped subwoofer to the table.
► 11.2 Channels
► Power (8 ohms 20-20kHZ 0.08%)/Ch: 135 watts
► Amplifier Frequency Response (WRAT): 5Hz – 100kHz
► Discrete Output Stages for All Channels: Check
► Dolby Atmos Ready