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For as long as I've worked in the industry, Integra has been highly regarded as the top choice of AV receivers for custom installers such as myself. The ease of installation, familiar setup menus, and ability to easily integrate with any 3rd party control platform has made Integra a dream to work with. The best way I can describe Integra as a company to someone that has never heard of them is: If Onkyo AV Receivers were a Toyota car, then Integra would be their Lexus. Integra takes all the great things about Onkyo and makes it better, with high-end feature sets that are always on the cutting edge of home theater technology. The new DRX-8.4 is no exception to that reputation.
What’s In The Box
Included with the DRX-8.4 are the remote control, AM and FM radio antennas, Room Calibration Microphone, and a Dirac Live premium license. Dirac currently sets the bar in terms of room correction calibration. The before and after effect when I run Dirac calibration never ceases to amaze me. The fact that this AVR comes equipped with a premium Dirac license and no upgrade is needed to complete a full calibration is just the first of many features that sets the DRX-8.4 a cut above the competition. Now let's get into the detailed specifications. Feel free the chapter links below if you’d like to skip ahead to a specific aspect of this receiver you want to hear about.
Fit, Finish, & Design
If you’re familiar with Integra receivers, there’s no surprise with the design of the DRX-8.4—besides the fact it tips the scales at nearly 50lb. Given its weight, you’ll find a robust aluminum chassis supporting this beast. Overall dimensions are going to be VERY similar as other Integra pieces as well, with the DRX-8.4 being just a bit deeper at 18.5”. Keep that in mind when deciding on where you are going to place the AVR, because fitting into tight cabinets or entertainment centers could prove to be a challenge. The input and navigation buttons feel sturdy, giving a satisfying click when pressed. The LCD display is easy to read, as well as dimmable, and provides feedback on what zones, sources, and audio format are currently playing. Looking at the back quickly, you'll find inputs in the light areas, and outputs on the black—making connections clear and easy.
The DRX-8.4 is an 11.4 channel AV receiver, processing 150 watts per channel into 8 ohms. Although the “.4” should be marked with an asterisk, as there are only two independent subwoofer channels, despite the four total RCA outputs. More on that later. With all channels driven in the main zone, this receiver can create a 7.2.4 home theater environment. Compared to last generation’s flagship DRX-7.3 sporting 135 watts per channel, the new symmetric class A/B amplifier built into the DRX-8.4 is a worthy step-up in power. However, I must qualify that 150 watt power rating in that it is with only 2 channels driven, as Integra doesn’t publish a rating for all channels driven through their AVRs.
Audio & Video Formats
The DRX-8.4 has support for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, IMAX Enhanced, Dolby Atmos Music, and other major audio formats. The next-gen HDMI board features all the latest video formats including 8K 60 and 4K 120. The six HDMI inputs on the backside and one on the front are all rated up to 40gbps HDMI 2.1 and support Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG content.
Gaming enthusiasts will enjoy variable refresh rate, auto low latency, and quick frame transport. When testing the DRX-8.4 I was able to enjoy buttery smooth gameplay on my XBOX Series X when passing the HDMI signal through the AVR. Games like Halo Infinite, Elden Ring, and Doom Eternal were visually stunning and did not suffer from any discernable input lag, dropped frames, or motion stutter at least to my less-than-perfect eyes.
Analog Input & Output
Not only does the DRX-8.4 sport a full compliment of RCA pre-amp outputs for all 11 main zone audio channels. This receiver also includes XLR outputs for the Front Left, Center, Front Right, and both discrete subwoofer channels. XLR cables deliver a balanced audio signal, making them far less susceptible to signal noise, attenuation, and crosstalk. This is a big deal because for those of you that prefer to use your own 3rd party amplifiers for extra power-hungry speakers, the DRX-8.4 offers this superior connection method. Few AV receivers in this category feature any XLR connections at all. Typically, you would only find balanced outputs on pre-amp processors without their own amplification, such as new Marantz AV10 or McIntosh MX123.
But the balanced audio doesn’t stop there. In addition to a smattering of standard RCA inputs, including a moving-magnet phono preamp input, the DRX-8.4 also features one stereo XLR balanced audio input for any high-end audio sources such as SA-CD players or external phono preamps that feature XLR output.
Zone 2 & 3 Audio with Amplification
Another amazing feature of the DRX-8.4 is the amplified and pre-amp zone 2 and zone 3 outputs. What is cool about the amplified side of zone 2 and 3 is that you don’t have to sacrifice any of your main-zone amp outputs to drive Zone 2 or 3. On many entry-level and mid-tier AV receivers, the surround or Atmos height channels are often assignable; and can double as either Zone 2 or 3 outputs. Thus, limiting the total number of channels available in the main-zone when utilizing the Zone 2 or 3 amplification. That is not the case with the DRX-8.4. All 11 channels in the main zone and the Zone 2 and Zone 3 amp channels can be driven, all at the same time.
On the pre-amp side, zone 2 and 3 outputs also include a single subwoofer RCA output for each zone respectively. That is a cool feature because very few multi-zone AVRs have a dedicated subwoofer channel for the secondary zones, allowing you to add bass management to your extra rooms driven by this AVR.
Between the zone 2 and 3 subwoofer outputs, the 4 main-zone RCA sub outputs, and the two XLR subwoofer outputs, that tallies up to eight total subwoofer you could potentially connect on this single AVR. That’s a lot of subwoofers!
However, regarding the subwoofer outputs in the main zone, it is important to note that only two of those four RCA outputs are independent subwoofer channels and the other 2 are parallel outputs that will mirror the same channel. It would be nice if all four outputs were discrete, individual channels, as additional discrete subwoofers outputs in the main zone are trending among other high-end AV receivers such as in the Marantz Cinema 40 and 50.
One of my personal favorite features of the latest Integra receivers is the “Works with Sonos” setting. For existing Sonos customers, the DRX-8.4 can automatically detect when a Sonos port starts playing, turn itself on to the appropriate zone, switch sources to the input your Sonos player is plugged into, and even volume control through the Sonos app through an often overlooked setting called “volume pass-through". This is an awesome way to incorporate Sonos’ wildly popular multi-room music streaming platform into each zone of speakers driven by your DRX-8.4 *Sonos Port or Connect not included.
But even if you don’t own anything Sonos, the DRX-8.4 is still a distributed audio beast all on its own. It can easily stream music to all three zones with either Bluetooth, Chromecast, Airplay 2, Roon Ready, Spotify, Amazon Music, Tidal HD, Deezer, Pandora, and TuneIn radio using their Integra Control Pro mobile app. With all of these ways to stream music to all three zones, the DRX-8.4 stacks up nicely against the competition like Denon, Marantz, and Yamaha which feature their own multi-room music systems such as Heos and MusicCast baked into their AVRs respectively.
But Ben, how does it sound? I tested the DRX-8.4 against a variety of speakers. The brand I was most curious to test was Klipsch because of the built-in EQ settings for many of their most popular models. The relationship between Klipsch and Integra has sparked an uncommon feature among AVRs. Right in the settings menu, you can select which model Klipsch speakers you have hooked up and the AVR automatically sets the crossover and EQ adjustments accordingly. I tried it out using the Klipsch Reference Premier RP-5000F's and was blown away the results. I also tried out the DRX-8.4 with my personal KEF 3-channel passive soundbar at home, a set of B&W 707 S3 bookshelf speakers in our Montgomeryville showroom, and a pair of Focal Vestia No.3 floor standing speakers in our Ardmore showroom. All of which performed beyond my expectations when driven by the DRX-8.4.
Sonically, it could be argued that the DRX-8.4 bears similarity to the Onkyo TX-RZ70 due to the similar ESS Sabre digital to analog converters and the 140 watt per channel amplifiers in the RZ70, despite being 10 watts fewer than the Integra. I found the DRX-8.4 holds to Onkyo and Integra’s reputation, in that the sound stays true to the source or tone-neutral as some might say. I did not hear any major colorization or tone adjustment across the mid or low range, which is what I personally like in an AVR. Sometimes when I am listening to a particular brand of amplifier, I can tell what brand it is by just the warmth or texture on low to mid-levels. That is not the case with the Integra. In a blind A-to-B comparison between the DRX-8.4 and the Denon AVR-X8500HA I was only able to guess which one I was listening to due to the better clarity of highs in dialog from the Integra despite mid and low tonal similarities and overall power they both could output. But don’t trust my ears. Head down to our showrooms in either Ardmore or Montgomeryville, PA and give the DRX-8.4 a listen for yourself!
An Installer’s Perspective
One question I get a lot is: if you are a home theater installer by trade, what makes the Integra so desirable for all you technicians? Well, the answer is the ease of setup and configuration. When doing custom installation, we often attempt to hide AV equipment in closets or server racks. Integra AVRs have always made their settings menu accessible from the face of the device. That means every setting you can tweak in an Integra is accessible from its built-in screen and navigation buttons. Not many other AV Receivers on the market can do that. Alternatively, the Integra Control Pro mobile app also allows in-depth control and setup of the AVR over the local network through a phone or tablet. Therefore, if the receiver is in a different room or an equipment closet, beyond line-of-sight for the stock remote control, you can use the Control Pro mobile app as your remote control. Furthermore, the settings and setup menus can also be accessed through a web browser allowing you to configure the AVR from a computer on the same network. Control systems such as Savant, Crestron, URC, and Control4 integrate seamlessly with Integra’s wide array of discrete commands via IP, IR, or RS232 control. With all these options available, tucking the Integra away in closets or hidden in a basement away from the listening position makes it super easy for initial setup, fine-tuning settings, or integrating with your smart-home system of choice. Finally, the white backplate makes connection visibility for installation in even the darkest of equipment cabinets a breeze.
Accessories & Add-Ons
With any high-end audio equipment, I highly recommend good power conditioning to feed clean/consistent electricity into the amplifier. My favorites include the Furman Elite15 or AudioQuest PowerQuest conditioners. Also, when talking about what we feed into the AVR, high quality sources with top-shelf interconnects to be sure there are no bottle-necks in source material, through the AVR, and out to your eyes and ears. Professionally speaking, AudioQuest always performs the best when it comes to digital or analog cables interconnecting equipment to any AVR. Finally, never ever go cheap on speaker wire. You can find World Wide Stereo’s premium 14 gauge / 4 conductor speaker wire on our website or in either of our showroom locations.
At the start of this review, I asked: “is the DRX-8.4 the mac-daddy" of all surround sound receivers on the market today? And to that I answer: a resounding YES! It checks all the boxes, the specs scream luxury and high-end, and it doesn’t slouch in any category. The only real complaint I have is hauling this thing to and from each location I tested it in. Weighing in at nearly 50 pounds, this thing is a BEAST. But what do you expect from 15 channels of amplification? This receiver will give any AVR and even some pre-amp processors a run for their money, given the feature set this thing packs. If you want the best high-end AV receiver on the market, you should look closely at the DRX-8.4 for your next home theater installation or upgrade.