Across many industries, single-parent companies often offer different brands at varying price points, which always makes me wonder just how much those products actually differ from each other across any one family of brands. I grew up in Michigan in the 1980s -- what comes immediately to mind is the “badge engineering” of General Motors, with the Chevrolet Cavalier and the Cadillac Cimarron notoriously sharing many parts. Likewise, in consumer electronics, many companies have multiple marques: Denon with Marantz, Sony with ES, Pioneer with Elite, Onkyo with Integra. The suspicious shopper wonders: Am I just paying for the nameplate?
Since 1999, the Integra Home Theater brand has been differentiated from Onkyo by its focus on the custom-installation and integration industry. Integra products are sold exclusively through the custom-installation channel, and contain the features that market sector requires. Integra produces audio/video receivers (AVRs), preamplifiers, amplifiers, Blu-ray players, and CD players, with the preponderance of their products targeting home theater rather than audio. Across the line, one finds the key integration features: 12V trigger, wired IR, and RS-232.
When last I checked, Integra offered seven models of AVR, six with multichannel amplification. In summer 2015, Integra released four 7.2-channel models that included Dolby Atmos: the DTR-20.7, DTR-30.7, DTR-40.7, and DTR-50.7. These models differ in power output, running from 65Wpc (at 8 ohms) to 135Wpc, along with varying feature sets and prices. The DTR-20.7 ($800) is Atmos and 4K ready with HDCP 2.2, and includes the Asahi Kasei AK4458 32-bit/384kHz DAC, Zone 2 outputs, six HDMI inputs, legacy inputs, and a plethora of network and integration features. The DTR-30.7 ($1100) adds 7.2-channel preamp output, a moving-magnet phono stage (with ground terminal), bumps up the power to 100Wpc, and one more HDMI jack, for both input and output. These less expensive models offer Bluetooth and Wi-Fi; the upmarket models don’t, but do include THX certification, support for 4-ohm loads, and HDBaseT connectivity. The DTR-40.7 ($1400) is rated at 110Wpc and the DTR-50.7 ($1700) at 135Wpc; the DTR-50.7 also comes with Zone 3 outputs, Three-Stage Inverted Darlington Circuitry, and independent amplifier and preprocessor block construction.
I was sent for review an Integra DTR-40.7. Some companies now make slimline AVRs, but the DTR-40.7 is full size: 17”W x 6.8”H x 14.7”D and 25.3 pounds -- my NAD C 356BEE integrated amplifier could almost fit inside it. The DTR-40.7’s beveled metal faceplate, filled with exposed buttons, looks like something from another age -- in the models from sister company Onkyo, many buttons and connectors are hidden. However, I appreciate having a dedicated button for each source, as well as for navigation, tuning, and listening modes, right there on the faceplate, for those times when the remote-control handset has wandered off. Also on the front panel are a display that identifies the source, format, and level, as well as a headphone jack, an HDMI input, and an input for the included measurement microphone. The top and bottom plates are vented -- I installed the DTR-40.7 in an open rack that gave it plenty of breathing space. Some 30-40 minutes into each listening/watching session, I heard a single loud click. Integra suggested that this may have been the AVR’s fan switching on, and it may have been -- when I held a hand over the top vents, I could feel air moving, but fortunately I couldn’t hear the fan.
The rear panel is filled with connectivity options that strike a good balance between legacy support and future-proofing. The seven HDMI inputs and two outputs include support for HDMI 2.0a -- to allow for 4K Ultra HD resolution at 60Hz and 3D 1080p at 60Hz -- and High-bandwidth Digital Copy Protection (HDCP) 2.2. However, the Integra’s data sheet notes that only HDMI Input 3 and the Main Output support HDCP 2.2, despite Inputs 1-3 being marked as HDCP 2.2 on the rear panel itself. Like many consumers, I have neither 4K sources nor a 4K display available to test. More important, given the dearth of 4K content for home viewing, the Integra supports 3D, High Dynamic Range (HDR), the 4:4:4 colorspace, x.v.Color, Deep Color, CEC, Audio Return Channel (ARC), and SACD and DVD-Audio via HDMI.
In terms of older connection formats, it has two component video, three composite video, two optical, one digital coaxial, seven analog audio, and a moving-magnet phono stage. As the DTR-40.7 is a receiver, it can tune AM and FM frequencies with up to 40 presets. As a network AVR, it has a 100Mbps Ethernet jack, but no Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. The Integra powers seven channels for the main output -- with two channels assignable as rear or height -- and two channels for Zone 2. For use as a preamplifier-processor, with some or all of its power amplifiers bypassed, the DTR-40.7 provides 7.2 channels of pre-out connectivity; a Zone 2 output is switchable between pre- and line-level output. While the main zone can output any source, Zone 2 is restricted to external analog and PCM sources, the built-in tuner, and network playback of everything but DSD and Dolby TrueHD, as is typical for copyright reasons. For the targeted custom-integration market, Integra provides HDBaseT, a bidirectional RS-232 port, two IR inputs and one output, three programmable 12V triggers, and a proprietary Remote Interactive (RI) port for a wired remote signal. (My one RI device, an Onkyo tape deck, didn’t respond when connected to this port.) Integrators can permanently store and lock memory settings. Finally, an optional rackmount kit is available.
Digital processing formats are a moving target, but firmware pushes have made staying current somewhat easier. Sefton explains: “The DTR-40.7 as well as all upgradable Integra receivers use firmware updates to fix issues in promised product functionality. Very rarely is it used to add a previously un-promised feature. If an update is required to deliver/restore the stated feature set, we will provide one under almost all circumstances regardless of the model’s age.” The DTR-40.7 comes with a full complement of decoders. From Dolby, there are: Atmos, Digital, Digital Plus, Surround, and TrueHD. From DTS: DTS, DTS 96/24, Express, High Resolution Audio, HD Master Audio, Neo:6, and ES Discrete and Matrix. A firmware update to support DTS:X -- an object-based competitor to Dolby Atmos -- is promised “in the coming months.” Besides a variety of Integra’s own listening modes, this THX Select2 Plus model offers THX Cinema, Games, Music, and Surround EX options. What will be usable to the buyer will depend on the source format, connected equipment, and selected output. To cycle through the various listening modes, the well-balanced remote control has four buttons -- Movie/TV, Music, Game, and THX -- and default modes can be set on the bases of source or signal type. This allowed me to set the input to which my Blu-ray player is connected to default to a movie mode (THX Cinema) for Dolby TrueHD signals, and to a music mode (Direct) for PCM signals. Often, I ended up choosing another mode: Straight Decode.
Apart from a turntable, all of the external sources I at first connected to the DTR-40.7 were via HDMI: streamer, BD player, PC. I don’t use a separate cable/satellite box, but rather the tuner in my HDTV, so I much appreciated the DTR-40.7’s Audio Return Channel functionality. I also connected five channels of speakers, a powered subwoofer, and 100Mbps Ethernet. When I first received the DTR-40.7, it wasn’t yet listed in Logitech Harmony’s database for my Smart Control universal remote, so I had to use last year’s model and tweak the settings -- “TV” was not accessing the ARC content. The DTR-40.7 is now in the Harmony database, with the appropriate settings.
Like many AVRs, the Integra comes equipped with a calibration mike that plugs into its front panel and has a tripod socket in its base. I adjusted my tripod to human height in my listening position and, after answering basic questions about size and number of speakers, let Integra’s own AccuEQ Room Calibration software run through its routine. The loud test tones made several passes through the listening room over a few minutes, and then the results were displayed on my TV; they seemed reasonable enough. Another time, I deliberately placed the speakers suboptimally and was presented with different measurements. In my time with the DTR-40.7, I also checked how it would handle the absence of a subwoofer. As expected, it let my front speakers work lower in the audioband.
Specifically, AccuEQ confirms the presence of the speakers wired to the DTR-40.7, sets the bandwidth within which each will work (except in THX mode, which has a fixed low-end cutoff at 80Hz), measures the distance of each speaker from the mike, and equalizes all but the front left and right speakers to the room. You can choose to EQ those speakers as well.
Although Onkyo products start at much lower prices than do Integra’s, there is substantial overlap in pricing and features between the two lines. Onkyo’s TX-NR838 AVR, which I reviewed in 2014, has many of the same specifications (similar power, THX Select2, Atmos, HDCP 2.2, similar connectivity including a phono stage), lacking only some integration features (HDBaseT, fewer 12V triggers, wired infrared) and using a 24-bit/192kHz TI Burr-Brown instead of the 32/384 AK chip for a list price $200 lower. On the other hand, the Onkyo had a Pure Audio mode for audio-only output, which disables processing, the front-panel display, and the analog video circuitry (Integra’s Direct mode deactivates only the first), a dedicated DSD mode, and both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support. Integra’s receivers are warranted for three years, vs. two years for the Onkyo models.
Built-in apps and network services
The DTR-40.7 is billed as a network A/V receiver. It comes with built-in Apple AirPlay and DLNA 1.5 functionality, along with a number of apps: TuneIn Radio, Pandora, SiriusXM, Slacker, Deezer, and Spotify Connect. I was pleased to find that, apart from Spotify, the account information could be entered by accessing the Integra’s Web server rather than by the tedious process of using an IR remote with a direction pad. (I like to keep my passwords complicated.) On the DLNA side, the DTR-40.7 supports DSD (2.8 and 5.6MHz), ALAC, WAV, WMA Lossless, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, LPCM, and MP3. For the last, there’s a feature called Music Optimizer, with this brief description: “Playback sound of lossy compressed files such as MP3 will be improved.” After listening, I was unconvinced. The rear-panel USB port supports most of these formats from a flash drive, excepting DSD 5.6MHz, multichannel FLAC, and LPCM.
The DTR-40.7’s DLNA functionality allows for playback to be controlled in several ways: from the remote, from free first-party remote apps available for iOS and Android, and from a Windows computer using PlayTo functionality. While not mentioned in the documentation, the DTR-40.7 showed up in the Cast to Device context menu for photos, music, and videos in Windows 10. As I want to get away from the computer’s fans while listening, I prefer using a mobile app to control playback, pulling files off of my Synology NAS. While the front panel’s one-line display can be used for navigation, it’s cumbersome -- you really need to know the server’s file structure, and be patient while scrolling one file/folder at a time. Regardless of the screen used, occasionally, navigation of DLNA tracks was quite slow, particularly when I was many levels deep in a DLNA folder structure. The latency grew so long that it was sometimes difficult to know which selection I’d made. Most of the time, however, there were no problems, and turning the Integra off and then on again cleared any issues. During playback itself, I never had any performance problems.
Most of my music collection is of the two-channel variety. With “Trust Me,” from Shelby Lynne’s Love, Shelby (CD, Island 314 586 436-2), the bass was boomy and indistinct when compared to the tightly controlled low end of my NAD C 356BEE DAC-integrated amplifier, whether the subwoofer was on or off. I tried dialing in a better listening mode, and found that All Channel Stereo worked well enough for background music, though the soundstage was largely unidentifiable -- and THX Music sent too much of a typical center-oriented mix to the center channel. Like many center-channel speakers, mine is primarily designed to reproduce movie dialogue, and doesn’t go as low as my left and right front speakers. With THX Music, the audioband always felt a bit truncated through the center channel; activating the subwoofer addressed some of this issue. Direct, which bypasses the DTR-40.7’s internal DSP, including the AccuEQ functions, was the most natural-sounding mode; Stereo was louder and more centered. Multichannel mixes of SACDs, delivered to the DTR-40.7 by my Sony Blu-ray player via HDMI, were much more pleasing. The Integra was quite at home playing the surround mix of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (SACD/CD, Capitol CDP 5 82136 2). The DTR-40.7 rendered “Money” in an enveloping and engaging manner, the sounds passing around the room.
Of the DTR-40.7’s built-in apps, I mostly used TuneIn Radio and DLNA. TuneIn Radio lets you listen to over 100,000 Internet Radio stations, organized by format and location. While the DTR-40.7’s DLNA functionality is claimed to support DSD files, it was unable to play the DSD files (.dff and .dsf) I’ve downloaded from Channel Classics Records. However, I was able to play FLAC and MP3 files from my Synology NAS over a 100Mbps wired network. Using the DTR-40.7’s built-in DLNA functionality, I compared tracks streamed from my network with a Raspberry Pi 2 running Volumio, connected to my NAD integrated. Particularly at low volume levels, string passages sounded amorphous through the Integra, lacking bite and crispness with large-scale orchestral works such as Elgar’s Enigma Variations, as performed by the Houston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lawrence Foster (24/192 FLAC, High Definition Tape Transfers).
I found the DTR-40.7’s MM phono stage quite functional with my Goldring turntable -- it raised the signal level appropriately -- but adding my Cambridge Audio 540P phono preamp to the chain broadened the soundstage, tightened the ensemble, and accentuated the bass notes in “Happy Robots,” from Jean-Luc Ponty’s Civilized Evil (LP, Atlantic SD 16020).
On a clear Sunday afternoon, with an indoor antenna, the DTR-40.7’s built-in FM receiver pulled in 34 stations -- among the most of the tuners I’ve tested. The 20 local (within 30 miles) stations it found bested my Sangean tuner. By default, the FM tuner input is set to All Channel Stereo; I tried several music modes, including THX Music, but ended up with Direct, which uses minimal processing. As the FM stations were, at best, stereo, there was no need for multichannel machinations. In terms of its tuner’s sound, the Integra was quite good.
Multichannel soundtracks on BDs were delivered vividly. An early scene in Aloft (2015) depicts a falcon flying away -- the sounds of its wings fluttering, and then the sounds as the bird hit the winter-bared branches of trees, clattered around my listening room. Likewise, the cannonballs whizzing about the lapping sea and the creaking 18th-century pirate ships in the opening sequence of the Starz! series Black Sails (2014) elucidated the action onscreen. In a later, suspenseful scene, I was enveloped by the crashing of waves and the creaking of ropes on timbers, even as center-channel dialogue, shouted or whispered, was always clear.
When I switched the TV setup for Audio Return Channel, or changed channels on my TV’s built-in ATSC tuner, there were quite a few seconds of delay before the sound resumed. While digital tuning has always been noticeably slower than analog tuning, Integra’s ARC introduced yet more delay. However, once the sound began, I had no problems, and the sound and video content remained in sync. On the other hand, when streaming from Netflix via my Roku 2, I noticed lip-sync problems with dialogue-heavy material, such as the series Years of Living Dangerously. The Integra’s Quick Setup Menu allows for setting a different A/V Sync delay for each input. Unfortunately, the 5ms increment wasn’t fine enough -- I needed about 3ms -- to precisely synchronize the sound of speech with the movements of the actors’ mouths. I had some degree of lip-sync problems with each HDMI source I tried, and always needed to make finer adjustments than were possible.
Spending some time going through the Integra DTR-40.7’s settings menus to tweak the defaults and try the various listening modes is well worthwhile. In fact, my experience of the DTR-40.7 right out of its box didn’t show this AVR in the best light. Perhaps this is no great concern -- as it’s sold through the CI channel, such dealers would tweak each unit to its buyer’s room, system, and preferences. Ultimately, I found the DTR-40.7 more at home and more impressive with movies than with music. For those who spend most of their entertainment hours watching movies and TV, it will be a solid performer, and functional for two-channel music. Action sequences, and other scenes that take advantage of complex multichannel soundscapes, were impressive, and dialogue was always clearly intelligible over a film’s sound effects, ambient cues, and music. Movies were quite involving. Although you can get similar performance from less-expensive receivers, those who need and intend to use its full suite of integration features will greatly enjoy the added benefits offered by the DTR-40.7.
. . . Sathyan Sundaram
- Speakers -- Wharfedale: Diamond 8.2, Diamond 8 Centre, PowerCube 10 subwoofer; Infinity Primus P162, M-Audio Studiophile DX4 nearfield monitors
- Headphones -- Grado Labs SR80, Shure E3
- Analog sources -- Goldring GR1 turntable and Elektra cartridge, Rega Research RB100 tonearm; Cambridge Audio 540P phono preamplifier; Sangean HDT-1 tuner; Onkyo TA-RW244 tape deck
- Digital sources -- Music Hall MMF CD-25 CD player; Pioneer DV-563A DVD/SACD player; Sony BDP-S590 BD player; Roku 2; custom PC desktop running Windows 10 Professional (64-bit), VLC, foobar2000 and MediaMonkey, with Realtek ALC887 DAC/optical output (WASAPI drivers); E-MU 0404 USB DAC (WASAPI); Synology DS211j SMB/DLNA server; Google Chromecast (2013), Raspberry Pi 2 running volumio 1.5; Amazon Fire TV stick (2014); Google Chromecast Audio (2015)
- Subscription services -- Google Play Music All Access (via Chromecast/Chromecast Audio), Netflix (Roku), Amazon Prime Instant Video (Roku), YouTube Red (Roku/Chromecast)
- Integrated amplifier -- NAD C 356BEE with built-in DAC2 DAC
- FM antenna -- Fanfare FM-2G
- TV -- Panasonic TC-P50S30
- Remote controls -- Logitech Harmony Smart Control, Samsung Galaxy Player 5 (Android 2.3), Asus Nexus 7 (Android 6.0)
- Power conditioner -- APC Line-R LE1200
Integra DTR-40.7 Audio/Video Receiver
Price: $1400 USD.
Warranty: Three years parts and labor.
Integra Division of Onkyo U.S.A. Corporation
18 Park Way
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Phone: (800) 225-1946
Fax: (201) 785-2650