Officially it's known as the Onkyo HT-RC260 7.2 Channel Home Theater Receiver but you can start with just two speakers and it makes a great stereo.
Add a center speaker and subwoofer and you've got an outstanding 3.1 channel system. And another two speakers to the surround jacks and you've now moved up to an amazing 5.1 surround sound system. Connect two more speakers to the rear surround jacks and you've got a stunning 7.1 channel surround sound system. Add a second subwoofer and you've got the ultimate 7.2 channel home theater system.
That's just one of the great features of the RC260. You can start with a modest investment in a superb A/V amplifier and grow your home theater as your time and budget allows. Money a little tight right now? Back in college when you were listening to Pink Floyd all you had was stereo and you loved it. Relive your salad days until you've got enough bread for more speakers. Just got a raise? Go nuts, buy all nine speakers and start living in 7.2 home theater nirvana with more than 805 watts of power. We can't give you an exact number because Onkyo recommends powered subwoofers and their output will vary depending on the specs of the ones you buy. But figure you'll probably top out in the neighborhood of a thousand watts.
Another budget-friendly feature: You can plug in your current DVD player and the Faroudja Labs DCDi Cinema upconverting circuitry will generate a 1080p picture for your HDTV. Your entire library of DVDs will be upgraded to look nearly as good as Blu-ray discs.
When you do buy a Blu-ray player you can go first class and get a 3-D capable unit. All six of the RC260's HDMI 1.4a ports are 3-D ready. It's OK if you don't yet have a 3-D capable HDTV set yet. Your 3-D Blu-ray discs will play back fine on a conventional 2-D set. Once you've got the entire setup (3-D Blu-ray player, 3-D Blu-ray discs, 3-D glasses and a 3-D capable 3-D set) you can step into the third dimension in style. But again, you don't have to bust your budget by getting everything at once.
HDMI 1.4a cables also offer audio return channel. This allows an ARC-compatible HDTV to send audio to the receiver over the same cable it's getting audio and video from the receiver. If you need to send audio from your HDTV to the RC260 that's one less wire you'll have to plug in.
One feature that sets the RC260 apart is the insane number of audio processors it has. We counted 17 Dolby and DTS codecs alone. To them Onkyo adds 11 audio DSPs (digital signal processors)—four of them for different types of video games alone. There are also a couple of enhancers from Audyssey Labs.
Audyssey's coolest feature is its 2EQ room correction and speaker setup. Every listening environment is different. Carpets absorb sound. Hardwood floors reflect it. Lamps, artwork hanging on the wall, hallways and curtains all absorb and reflect sound in an infinite and unpredictable number of ways. Audyssey 2EQ compensates for all of it.
You plug in the included microphone and place it in your main listening position. Push a couple of buttons on the remote and each speaker in turn emits some test tones. You can repeat the process for two more listening positions. The whole process takes about 15 minutes. At the end EQ2 has "fingerprinted" your listening environment. And you end up with a home theater that sounds more like a real theater, minus the Milk Dud wrappers and the gum stuck to the floor.
But of course there is more to life than video. Your RC260 is an AM/FM radio too. It's got 40 station presets and you can divide them between AM and FM any way you please.
If you've read this far, music is probably important to you and you're got some kind of portable music player. If a lot of the files on your player are MP3's you probably know (just from listening to them or reading about them) that MP3's "lossy" compression scheme sacrifices audio quality for smaller file size. So you'll really appreciate your RC260's Music Optimizer mode, which enhances the sound quality of compressed files.
If your portable music device is an iPod you might like to invest in the optional iPod doc. It's compatible with various iPods and it plugs into your RC260's Universal Port. You can also plug an Onkyo HD Radio tuner into the port. HD Radio is an increasingly popular way for both AM and FM stations to add additional programming to their signals. (And the additional programming is free!)
You know we haven't even told you about every great feature your RC260 has but there's only so much we can write and you care to read. So suffice it to say that when you open up the box your HT-RC260 7.2 Channel Home Theater Receiver comes in, look it over and start reading the manual (it's actually fairly well-written) you're likely to find one pleasant surprise after another.