The Dolby Atmos season continues! And in a big way with the new Integra 80.6. I have to admit I was one of the first to cringe when Onkyo/Integra announced they were not using Audyssey in this year's line up. I have always been a big fan. I actually grimaced when I placed the included mic (pic below) in the center of the main listening area and their very own AccuEQ calibrated the ONE spot. I am used to dedicating at least 20 minutes or longer for a speaker calibration. Each speaker did get a few turns with the process but it did not take near as long just doing the one spot. So how would the results end up? Well they claim the system analyzes speaker set up and room acoustics from one position (which simplifies the process) and optimizes frequency response and output levels for maximum clarity. The very first thing I did was turn on my DirecTV Genie and check out football. The QB sounded excellent and was very easy to understand when calling his plays. The other cool thing I did not expect and did not hear as well with the Marantz 7009 was at the snap. The second the ball is hiked I could hear the first collisions and grunts as if I were front row at the game! That was very cool. I also was very impressed with the fans cheering and their constant chatter. The game commentators also were pronounced just enough to where you could hear them perfectly over the crowd. You could even hear the PA announcer in the Atmos speakers in Surround mode (Atmos up mixed mode) with the crowd. I know everyone who has heard Atmos with movies is very excited but I really think they would be equally impressed using it with sports. As I type this I have Auburn versus Ole Miss going and I have heard a specific gentleman behind me complaining a few times. It is almost like he is two or three rows behind me. We all have been at a game and there is that one obnoxious jerk in the crowd. Well the Integra 80.6 does not disappoint. I have always liked Onkyo/Integra more for sports than any other brand. Until I check out a Marantz 8802 the Integra is the leader for sports. So how do movies sound?
Blu-ray... Let's start with the very first title released with an Atmos soundtrack. The new Transformers! Going immediately to a few of my favorite scenes my ears were delighted. I will say evidence that Onkyo/Integra has put all their eggs in the Dolby Atmos basket is the sight of the white light indicating an Atmos soundtrack is engaged on the front left side (pic below) of the 80.6. Speaking of soundtracks we also picked up Step Up All In (my Wife loves those movies- I swear) which also has an Atmos dedicated soundtrack. As much as I wanted to hate this movie the sound was captivating. Our basement turned into an auditorium and it was like a live air band show from high school! Speaking of music the Doly Atmos Demo disc has an Enrique Iglesias video "Bailando" which also sounds very concert like. The Demo disc (more info towards the bottom of this page) has some great material. It is really helpful with demonstrating Atmos to my theater guests. Other titles that had great moments were Pearl Harbor, Maleficent 3D, Lone Survivor and Hercules 3D. The Purge Anarchy (which we like better than the first one) is an excellent example of how just how effective Dolby Surround (again Atmos up mix) can be. The second you put the disc in you are greeted with a preview for a new Chucky movie. This preview also had a couple of jarring moments. Fans of Chucky get ready! As for The Purge Anarchy I have to say the hairs on your neck will stand up when you first hear those sirens warning the commencement of the annual purge. Right in the beginning though there is a "jump" moment which will make you do just that. The husband is talking to his wife before he gets in the car and BAM! If your sound is set up correctly this will make your audience jump. I have showed this scene a few times now to different people and it has yet to have failed. There is a Center Spread center under the Audio Adjust section of the set up menu. Now I have never been a fan of playing too much with the Center speaker except Dialog Enhancer on the Marantz/Denon models but I have to say this has a cool effect. It is specifically for Dolby. The Center Spread when set to On adjusts the width of the front sound field created during Dolby Surround playback. It is "Spread" from left to right. Off and it is more centralized in your center speaker. The Purge Anarchy moment I described is a good example. When set to On you hear the moment starting "however slightly" from the left then to the center. With the adjustment Off you hear it mainly in the center. This is a cool setting that does have that extra impact many of us appreciate. Try it!
Selecting Dolby Atmos turns on the white light indicator on the 80.6. Very cool to see and hear!
So after months of speculation about the new high end models from Integra and Onkyo I believe the 80.6 has come out strong and proved to be a force to be reckoned with. So what is making this model special? Is it the triple transformers (Toroidal and two separate for Audio and Video), independent block construction for the Amp/Preprocessor? The independent power supply or the high quality extruded aluminum heatsink? Maybe the gold-plated 11.4 channel XLR pre-outs help? Possibly because they choose hand selected, audio tuned parts to ensure low impedance and high current performance? What about fully discrete output stage circuitry? THX Ultra 2 classification? Almost forgot about the Dual 32 Bit DSP chip for advanced processing. I would not dare say it was their new AccuEQ! Why? It's not Audyssey XT32 which is what many of us consider top dog for components in this price range. It also did less with the front speakers during the calibration process. Well, as my Mom taught me sometimes less is MORE. I have waited on purpose to publish this Review because I wanted to make sure it was not a honeymoon feeling since it is different from what I have been hearing. And I am first to admit I was wrong. The new Onkyo/Integra flagship models are excellent and not the train wreck many have predicted they would be. Of course it helps to have awesome speakers and I believe I do with my Martin Logan set up. Their Stage X and Theos (Review here) have electrostatic panels which to my ears truly make a difference. I could never go back to "regular" passive speakers from my fronts and center. I am using ML Axis for my Surround Backs and the one of a kind Vanquish for the Atmos speakers. And the pair of  BalancedForce 212s put the "B" in boom or bass. We don't have a pocket in our soundfield. And that seamless enveloping with accurately placed object sound is all thanks to Atmos. The new king of home sound!  

Quick hits... The remote is much like last year's model (pic above). I am surprised there is not a dedicated Atmos button. Since the front panel has it. Of course the first tap of the Movies Sound Mode button and it's first... 

Video processing is adequate using the Qdeo processing. I say adequate because I have not seen any real progress in the Onkyo/Integra line the last few gens. My favorite chip they used to use with their high end models was the HQV chip. There are also ISF Video settings for those that want a bland image. The scaling by any means is not poor just not great. It does get the job done however. I can finally compare 4K up scaling to my little device from DVDO reviewed here. Still looking for a component that can match or surpass it. I may be looking for awhile. 

Other hits... The knows are not a bright silver. They are a darker color gray which I prefer. 

Last hit... I have been asked about CLICKING by a lot of people. The past generation models from Onkyo/Integra would make a distinct "click" when the sound mode would change. This was annoying for some when watching TV and a commercial would come on or you would change your channel. Personally it never bothered me. I am happy to report though there is absolutely no CLICKING whatsoever. 
Their new AccuEQ mic resembles a UFO...
Special thank you to my Wife Jaclyn (standing between her best friends Rachel and Jen at the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Run in Chicago) for all her support. ----- >
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Thanks for reading. Next up, the Marantz 8802... And the Martin Logan Motion Vision 5 channel sound bar...
I would like to say a very special thank you to my Mom (Back row) who just recently passed away from ALS. Her mental toughness even in her last moments is a lesson about staying positive no matter what life gives you. Her courage and strength will never be forgotten. Rest in peace Mom, we love you!
Another thank you to my guys at Audio Video Interiors Chicago. If you are around the Oakbrook Mall you have to stop in and check out this new amazing Sony. The XBR 85 X950B is a 85" LED 4K Ultra 3D Smart TV is as impressive in person as in the pic above. MSRP is $24,999.98. This TV is for the person who has it all but just wants some extra wall candy...
1S 550 IL Route 83 Unit C
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181
(across from Oakbrook Mall on Hodges)
(630) 607- 0054 Give them a call!
Special thanks to my good friends Robert and Wendy of VE for getting me a copy of the Atmos Demo. It lives in my Oppo 103D these days!
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Image was taken with an iPhone 6 Plus and was not enhanced in any way...

Sony VPL-VW1100ES, INTEGRA DHC-80.6, Marantz SR 7009 Receiver/pre-pro, DVDO Mini 4K Scaler,  
Simplay Labs DVDO DUO VP, DirecTV Genie, Xbox One, Sony FMP-X1 4K server, Monster Power HTS 5100, Oppo 103D Blu ray, Monster/Optoma/Sony 3D glasses, Parasound HALO A51 AMP x 2, Parasound HALO A21 AMP, Antec Component Coolers, Vutec SilverStar Curved 3D Screen, Speakers: MARTIN LOGAN STAGE X Center, THEOS (Left and Right), VANQUISH (Surrounds & ATMOS), AXIS (Backs), Subwoofers- Martin Logan BalancedForce 212 X 2, Dayton APA150 Sub AMP x 2, 8 Aura Pro Bass Shakers, 8 Black Seatcraft Venetian Home Theater Chairs, Remote: Harmony 1100. Monster 1000 HDX Ultimate HDMI cables top to bottom. And two Monster 35 foot HDX Hyperspeed HDMI cables.