Onkyo PR-SC886 - Conclusion

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There can't be many surround sound systems like this, but there should be, as it did everything I had hoped! Onkyo's PR-SC886 might suffer AV overload, laden down with every bell and whistle you never knew you needed, and it's also large and runs surprisingly hot for a preamplifier, yet sonically it's a gem. Onkyo have fitted very good digital-to-analogue convertors, great SACD conversion, a wonderful tuner and a fine MM phono stage. Partnered with the supremely smooth Quad II-eighty valve power amplifiers it gave me a system that could play it all and as such it was a great music experience I thoroughly enjoyed.


verdict five globes

Excellent AV preamplifier that plays everything to the highest audio standards.

ONKYO PR-SC886       £1,500

Onkyo UK

+44(0) 1494 681515


- handles all digital formats

- great VHF/FM tuner

- fine SACD decoding

- good phono stage


- big, yet runs hot

- fiddly


Via its analogue CD input and through to the phono socket output the PR-SC886 possess a useful x5.5 (15dB) of gain; this doubles to x11 (21dB) via the balanced XLR output. The overload ceilings are set by overload in the output stages at 5.5V via the unbalanced phono socket output and 11V via the balanced XLR output, so there’s sufficient headroom to drive all power amplifiers. An analogue input signal through the A/D can exceed no more than 1.96V, a limit avoided by selecting Direct or Pure Direct. Distortion was very low at 0.0002% and noise also low at -90dB at full gain, Direct or Pure Direct selected, lowering to 85dB through the input A/D.


Frequency response of the VHF/FM tuner was flat, our analysis shows, and more accurate than most. It has an mpx filter to remove pilot tone at 19kHz, yet bandwidth was wide, reaching 15kHz (-1dB). Hiss was acceptably low at -68dB (IEC weighted) and distortion low at 0.1% (50% mod.). With good separation of 40dB and full quieting (minimum hiss) reached at 0.5mV (p.d.) from the aerial Onkyo’s tuner is a good one, better than usual on AV equipment.


The MM phono stage was accurately equalised, although there was a small +0.3dB lift at 20kHz. Low frequency gain continued unattenuated to 2Hz, there being no warp filter. With very low hiss, good sensitivity and high overload this is a well designed stage.


Frequency response for CD through the D/A convertors via the optical S/PDIF digital input was absolutely flat, reaching 20.6kHz (-1dB). Distortion was low too, measuring 0.21% at -60dB


Results with high resolution digital were excellent. 24bit PCM gave just 0.05% distortion at -60dB, four times less than CD. Bandwidth with 96kHz sample rate extended to 45kHz (-1dB) and 192kHz sample rate output extended up to 90kHz where it was -3.6dB down, our analysis shows. Set to DSD Direct SACD bandwidth reached 50kHz (-1dB) but extended up to 100kHz where it was -5.4dB down. SACD almost matched PCM linearity at -60dB returning a 0.08% distortion figure. A -100dB dithered signal was resolved with just 5% distortion - this is as good as it gets from DSD code.


Every part of the PR-SC886 meets top specifications. It is very strong with SACD, 24/192 PCM and even VHF/FM radio. It could hardly measure better. NK

Frequency response (Direct) 0.8Hz-120kHz

Separation 95dB

Noise (A/D, Direct) -85/-90dB

Distortion 0.0002%

Gain x5.5 / x11

Overload (unbal / bal) 2V in // 5.5V/11V out


Frequency response (-1dB) 6Hz-45, 45, 50kHz

Separation 89dB

Noise -106/107/108dB

Distortion (-60dB) 0.22, 0.05, 0.08%

Disc (LP)

Frequency response 12Hz-26kHz

Separation 68dB

Noise -81dB

Distortion 0.02%

Sensitivity 3.5mV

Overload 65mV


Frequency response 10Hz-15kHz

Stereo separation 40B

Distortion (50% mod.) 0.1%

Hiss (CCIR) -68dB

Signal for minimum hiss 500uV

Sensitivity (stereo) 60µV








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