Controls and networking

Navigating the NR5008 is not massively intuitive, but to save you digging into the Setup menu every five minutes (which snatches you away from any source selected), there is now a simple Home overlay which offers basic video, audio and listening control.

The NR5008 offers a good selection of networking audio tools. You can pull your MP3s from networked NAS devices, PCs and USB media, or stream audio from the internet. A range of music formats are supported, including FLAC, AAC, MP3, WAV, WMA and Ogg Vobis.

The 'net radio option comes pre-loaded with subscription services Last FM and Napster, while VTuner internet radio makes Japanese rockhouse Someya Junkie Station just a few clicks away. You can add other 'net radio aggregators by accessing the NR5008 via a browser.

Moving around the receiver's net/USB environment feels a little shoddy. You can't call up the Home overlay over the net playback screen; it flips away to a blue-screen. And occasionally, for no apparent reason, the transport keys became nonresponsive when playing back a track.

Still, hooking up my iPod to the front USB allowed the NR5008 to perform a neat trick: displaying album art. However, while the AVR found all my networked music servers, disappointingly, it was unable to display album art from them.

This is a receiver that rewards high-quality sources. A Studio Master recording of Subbuteo, by Admiral Fallow (Linn Records), brought the Glaswegian indie rockers stomping into my living room. The 24bit FLAC recording, played from USB Flash drive, offers three-dimensional vocals and raw, nuanced guitar.

The NR5008 will also accept a DSD stream from a Super Audio CD player over HDMI. I hooked the AVR to Sony's BDP-S570 and was amazed at just how precise the imaging was. Emi Fujita's melodious vocal work on the SACD Camomile Best Audio (Leafage) had a tangible sense of air and space, while her unplugged version of Walking in the Air reveals just how refined the AVR can sound when not wound to the wick.

Shining star

Onkyo tx-nr5008

An effective update on an already well-regarded AV receiver design, the TX-NR5008 does almost everything with élan.

As a movie machine, it's a West End theatre capable of throwing a sonic envelope wide and loud; but it's also a sophisticated musician, at home with hi-res source material. While integration of new media sources could be a little more seamless, it's well worth an audition