Integra DRX-R1 AV Receiver Review - My Single Best Home Theater Experience to Date
THE VERDICT
The Integra DRX-R1 is hands down one of the best AV receivers to ever grace my home theater space. Its lack of WiFi and Bluetooth may scare some people off, but if you want an amp that sounds amazing and has tons of flexible features then the DRX-R1 needs to be on your radar.

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Design10
Features9.5
Value10
Ease of Use9.5
Sound Quality10
The Good
  • Just about everything. The Integra DRX-R1 is one of the best, if not the best, AV receivers I've heard in a long time.
The Bad
  • Not a whole lot to speak of. The only two issues I have with this model, is its lack of Bluetooth and WiFi.
9.9Overall Score

Integra isn’t as popular as some of the AV brands that you see in your nearest big box stores. Integra is known as Onkyo’s “high-end” line and is mainly found in home theater specialty shops. Their current top-of-the-line model is the 11.2 channel Integra DRX-R1. This beast purportedly has a power output of 140 watts per channel at 8 ohms.  The R1 has the features to match its enviable power output. From 4K video, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X to HDBaseT connections, Integra’s flagship model takes AV receivers to a whole new level.

integra-drx-r1-front

Pulling the DRX-R1 out of the box you can tell the amp has some heavy duty innards. The thing is big and heavy weighing in at nearly 50lbs.  I imagine if this beast fell out of the sky 65 million years ago it could have wiped out the dinosaurs. Integra threw everything they had into this amps construction and it shows. The DRX-R1 is built with a heavy-duty steel chassis and extruded aluminum heat sinks. The amps over-constructed body is designed specifically to eliminate unwanted vibrations that may harm the audio experience.

 

The on-screen menu of the DRX-R1 is nearly identical to what you’ll find on Onkyo’s current models. The menu isn’t flashy, but it’s well laid out and intuitive. You’d expect a feature rich receiver like the Integra DRX-R1 to have a big and complicated remote, but it doesn’t. It’s the exact opposite.  The remote is void of extraneous buttons which makes it extremely easy to pick-up and use.

Integra DRX-R1 Remote

The app is nearly as good. The Integra control app is a free download from the iTunes and Google Play stores. The app, like the remote, is sleek and simple. Put the app on your smartphone or tablet and you can control all the functions of the receiver. The DRX-R1 has an ample list of streaming services that you can pull music from. All of which are easily accessible through the app.

 

Connectivity

The Integra DRX-R1 has nearly every connection you could need or want for a home theater. The DRX-R1 has a total of 8 HDMI inputs including 1 on the front. The first 5 inputs on the back are fully 4K compatible with HDCP 2.2, 4:4:4 color space, HDR and BT.2020. The amp also upscales standard HD video to 4K quality. Analog audio inputs are plentiful on the DRX-R1 as are digital inputs. Three optical and two coaxial digital inputs are present and accounted for. Of course, the amp also includes a phono input for all of you vinyl lovers out there. An ethernet input is embedded on the back to accommodate wired network connections. If you have a flash drive or external hard drive you can plug it into the supplied USB input on the amps backside. If you want to send audio to another room, the DRX-R1 has connections for a powered zone 2 and 3.

Integra DRX-R1 Review

Where the Integra DRX-R1 really shines is with home automation. The unit has an impressive three 12V triggers for home automation. So if you have a projector screen you want to raise or lower at the touch of a button, you can use one the amp’s 12V triggers. In addition to the triggers, the Integra DRX-R1 includes two IR inputs and an output for remote controls as well as an RS232 input for home control systems. If you need more, the receiver also has an HDBaseT IN/OUT jack which is a rarity on AV receivers. The HDBaseT connection lets you transmit audio and video up to 328 feet using a cat5e/cat6 cable. So if you have an especially long run to a projector or 2nd or 3rd audio zone, this input/output comes in handy.

 

There are only two things missing from the Integra DRX-R1 and that’s Bluetooth and WiFi. As long as you’re OK using a wired connection these two items won’t be missed much; however, considering there are less expensive receivers on the market that include both, it’s a little surprising that the top-of-the-line R1 doesn’t.

 

Integra DRX-R1 – Audio Formats Galore

The DRX-R1 has multiple reference grade DACs (digital to analog converters). The amp uses a 384 kHz / 32-bit AK4490 DAC for the front left and right channels and an independent 768 kHz / 32-bit AK4458 DAC for the surround channels. If that’s not enough, the Integra DRX-R1 has two independent 192 kHz / 24-bit AK4388 Stereo DACs for the second and third zones.

 

So what does all of this mean? Essentially this amp can process a hell of a lot of audio. It can handle nearly every hi-res audio format you can throw at it such as 2.8 or 5.6 MHz DSD, FLAC, WAV, ALAC and WMA files. It can also tackle Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio home theater formats. Dolby Atmos and DTS:X are supported as well by the amp. With its 11 channels, it’s possible to set up a 7.2.4 Atmos/DTS:X speaker arrangement.

 

I mentioned that the Integra DRX-R1 doesn’t have WiFi or Bluetooth however, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use internet music streaming services. In fact, as long as you can make a wired internet connection you’ll find that the DRX-R1 supports an immense range of music streaming apps including; Pandora, Spotify, Deezer, TuneIn and Tidal. Plus, the amp is also AirPlay compatible. The R1 supports FireConnect for multi-room audio as well. The one caveat with this is that FireConnect thus far doesn’t have the same amount of support that other multi-room systems such as Yamaha’s MusicCast have.  This could change in the near future and if it does, the R1 will be ready.

 

Setup

Calibration is surprisingly simple with the Integra DRX-R1. After you connect the included microphone, the amp sends out test tones and calibrates your speakers. Calibration only requires the microphone to be placed at one location. Integra, like Onkyo, uses AccuEQ to handle calibration duties. AccuEQ sets the speaker distances, crossover frequencies, and speaker levels.  It also makes adjustments for any weird room acoustics. The calibration results were nearly spot on. The only thing I changed upon completion was the crossover frequency for my front mains. The receiver set the crossover a tad too high for my liking so I dropped it down to a THX recommended 80Hz in the settings menu.

 

Sound Quality

When I sat down to listen to the Integra DRX-R1, I had no idea what laid in wait for me. The DRX-R1 gave the single best audio performance that I’ve ever had in my modest listening room. The amps spatial performance was off the charts. Atmos and DTS:X never sounded this good.

 

Mad Max: Fury Road on Blu-ray has a brilliant soundtrack. The sound effects and powerful drum beats are nearly as critical to the storyline as the on-screen action. The DRX-R1 reproduced the ferocity of the growling car engines with more power and force than I had ever experienced in my home theater. I have to say I was a little gobsmacked. The impact of Atmos was immediate upon booting up the movie. As Max desperately attempts to escape the wild boys, their piecemealed vehicles zoom overhead. I’ve watched and listened to this scene many times on a variety of AV receivers and never have the overhead effects been so convincing and all encompassing.

 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was next on my list and it was just as impressive. The Integra DRX-R1 conjured up all magic that I had experienced in the movie theater. Its soundstage was wide and expansive. Low frequencies that I had never heard before rumbled from my SVS subwoofer. The Integra created a layer cake of sound that washed over me. The amp had plenty of nuance and subtlety too. Dialogue was articulate and pristine coming from the DRX-R1. The overall audio from the receiver was perfectly balanced.

 

In stereo mode, the receiver was a dynamo. Chuck Mangione’s flugelhorn on “Feels So Good” sounded incredibly life-like and transparent. Rolling over to more modern tracks like the Weeknds Starboy album, the amp continued its impressive performance with vocals sounding detailed, rich and warm. The DRX-R1’s stereo capabilities give any dedicated stereo amp a run for its money.

 

The Verdict

The Integra DRX-R1 is an amazing sounding receiver. This thing pulls sounds out of audio tracks that I’ve never heard before. It’s a little pricey, but considering its feature set and incredible sound quality I think it’s a bargain. The only thing that would make the R1 a perfect receiver is the inclusion of WiFi and Bluetooth; however, when something sounds this good, who needs it.


Where to Buy:

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