AV RECEIVER REVIEWS

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 18, 2005 Published: Jan 19, 2005 0 comments
Practicality trumps mystique.

Years ago, I crossed swords with the editor-in-chief of a magazine that covered tech only in passing. His deputy editor took me aside, and a reflective look came into his eyes as he explained why his distinguished boss hated my work: "There's a kind of hardheaded practicality to him, and the whizbang stuff you write just leaves him cold. High-end cars he understands, but not high-end audio, and he wants you to convince him that this stuff is really worth paying good money for." Ever since then, I've tried to recognize that hardheaded practicality when I run across it—especially in readers.

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Fred Manteghian Posted: Nov 14, 2011 5 comments
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,600 At A Glance: Future-proof modular construction • Great ergonomics • Trades features for performance

Oh, it’s coming, all right. Are you ready for it? That’s right, Smell-O-Vision! I’m not talking about old-school scratch-n-sniff cards, but the real, electrified olfactory emitters specified in the HDMI 1.5 standard. OK, I’m clearly exaggerating the contents of the next HDMI version, but even if that travesty comes to pass, NAD’s Modular Design Construction topology means the T 757 can be upgraded by your dealer, instead of a forklift.

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Barry Willis Posted: Nov 05, 2004 0 comments

New Acoustic Dimensions, aka NAD, has been building reliable, affordable, good-sounding audio equipment for well over a quarter of a century. Anecdotal evidence: My NAD 7225PE receiver, 20+ years old, is still working perfectly as the heart of my garage workshop audio system.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Aug 02, 2012 10 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $4,000 At A Glance: Seven powerful amplifiers • Complexity simplified • Future-proof modular design

For good reason, grizzled veterans of the audio/video hardware wars eagerly anticipate reviewing NAD gear. The company’s distinguished history began in the 1970s with the invention of the business model that was adopted years later by Apple, among others. Rather than building a factory to produce its products, NAD contracted with existing manufacturing facilities, thus avoiding high capitalization costs.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 23, 2006 0 comments
Chairman of the boards.

A receiver that doesn't handle the latest video and surround formats is a doorstop. A similarly outmoded high-end receiver is a very expensive doorstop. And that's a problem for anyone who bought one during the 20th century. Most DVDs have Dolby Digital and/or DTS soundtracks—those are must-haves. Stereo material usually sounds much better to me in Dolby Pro Logic II than in DPLI or stereo. And, for the largest rooms, Surround EX and DTS ES have added the back channels some people deem necessary. HDMI is on its way in, component video is on its way out, XM and HD radio are knocking at AM/FM's door, and, in a few years, surround receivers will be called on to do things that we can barely begin to imagine today.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jan 27, 2012 0 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,399 At A Glance: Fabulous video processing • Outstanding audio performance • Nine channels of amplification

When one looks to upgrade an AVR, one must take much into consideration: features, number of inputs and outputs, multizone capability, channels of amplification, power rating, and, of course, cost. The sub-$1,000 market is loaded with AVRs that offer a terrific value but lack many of the bells and whistles that are found once you cross the $1,000 barrier, such as multizone, nine channels of amplification, and more HDMI inputs than the average person will ever need.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 07, 2012 4 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $2,299 At A Glance: Audyssey’s best room correction • ISF, THX certifications • Nine amp channels

Onkyo is the quintessential feature-conscious audio/video receiver maker. The company is the champion of the mid-priced receiver, providing things like THX certification, Audyssey room correction, and other goodies at a poor man’s price point. The upper reaches of Onkyo’s line get a bit less attention in the press, however. So today we swing the spotlight onto the Onkyo TX-NR3010, second from the top of the line. At $2,299, it has a few logo-tattoos you may not have heard of before. It also has a lot more power and more ambitious build quality than its slightly less tattooed siblings.

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David Vaughn Posted: Aug 24, 2012 0 comments
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $499 At A Glance: Internet radio with a plethora of cloud streaming services • PiP source input preview • iDevice and Android Onkyo Remote app

Last year I had the pleasure of reviewing the Onkyo TX-NR609 AVR (Home Theater, August 2011), which offered a boatload of features, including seven channels of amplification, firstrate video processing, THX-Select certification, and many of the goodies found on the flagship products for the attractive price of $599. When I was done with my audition, I gladly gave the product Top Pick status and recommended it for anyone looking for near-flagship performance on a tight budget.

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Fred Manteghian Posted: Nov 29, 2010 3 comments
Price: $2,699 At A Glance: Gobs of clean power • Super ergonomics and my favorite onscreen display • Super-detailed audio

A Bigger Boat

So the red-felt-topped pool table with the Bud Light (get it?) lamp suspended above it in your man cave doesn’t illicit “oohs” and “aahs” from visitors like it once did? Maybe it’s time to re-create that 1980s Crazy Eddie’s look by installing a showroom’s worth of speakers and driving them with the Onkyo TX-NR5008 AVR.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Aug 27, 2015 6 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $599

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Dolby Atmos
Wi-Fi, AirPlay, Bluetooth
HDR support
Minus
No Ultra HD scaling

THE VERDICT
The Onkyo TX-NR545 is a wireless-triple-threat receiver with an intrinsically good-sounding amp.

Most A/V receivers have seven audio channels for reasons that date back to 1999 and are all but forgotten. The original rationale for adding two channels to surround sound’s basic 5.1 footprint was to accommodate back-surround speakers for THX Surround EX (later renamed Dolby Digital EX) and DTS-ES. While I mean no disrespect to the many readers who enjoy the back surrounds in their 7.1 systems, I’ve been against back surrounds from the beginning. My argument in one sentence is: Three channels in front, four in back—what’s wrong with this picture? I’ve always considered 5.1 the bedrock standard of surround sound, and I still do, even today.

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David Vaughn Posted: Aug 10, 2011 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $599 At A Glance: THX Select2 Plus certified • Audyssey and THX loudness modes • iDevice Onkyo Remote app

With gas approaching $5 a gallon in some parts of the country, most consumers are cutting back on discretionary spending in order to make ends meet. If you have to drive an SUV (like I do), then a trip to the local gas station could set you back $100 to fill the tank. In times like these, your quest to find the greatest bang for your buck might even extend all the way to your equipment rack. If you’re in the market for a new AVR, you won’t have to look far thanks to Onkyo. What if I told you you could have seven channels of amplification, first-rate video processing, and many of the features found on the flagship products for less than $600? If I’ve piqued your interest, then keep on reading, because the TX-NR609 is one of the best values that’s come down the pike in a long time.

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Jul 03, 2014 Published: Jul 02, 2014 7 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $700

AT A GLANCE
Plus
HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2-compliant
Solid amplifier performance
Fine Qdeo video processing on tap
Upgradeable for Dolby Atmos
Minus
Some menu layouts a bit unintuitive
Cramped, non-illuminated remote

THE VERDICT
Onkyo’s latest high-value offering arrives in an up-to-the-minute HDMI 2.0 flavor.

Want to know what next year’s $700 AV receivers will offer? Just take a look at this year’s $1,000 models. With every spring season, a whole new crop of receivers sprouts up, offering more for less. Competitive pressures and the relentless march of HDMI standards are the likely catalysts, but whatever the reasons, all the major brands roll out whole phalanxes of new AVRs. And with each iteration, last year’s step-up features seem to move one place lower on the price grid.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 02, 2009 0 comments
Price: $1,099 At A Glance: THX Select2, DPLIIz, full Audyssey suite • Home networking features • Activities Setup Menu organizes activities into macro commands of separates

Two Ways Up

This year my rent passed the $1,000 mark. There’s something about a four-figure number that intimidates people. My apartment doesn’t cost much more than it did before—my rent only increased by about 50 bucks. And by Manhattan standards, I’ve got a sweet deal. Yet, I’ve started looking at my bizarre L-shaped kitchen and closet-like bathroom with new eyes. Is this worth more than a thousand dollars a month?

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 06, 2013 0 comments
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price $1,099

At A Glance
Plus Integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth • Audessey Mult EQ Room Correction • THX Select 2 Certification • Excellent video processing
Minus Lean sonic character can be fatiguing

The Verdict
Chock-full of the latest features and connectivity, the TX-NR828’s less-than-warm sound was more suited to movies than music in our auditions.

Onkyo is like that kid in elementary school. You remember: The one whose hand went up first in response to every question from the teacher.

“Who was the first presi–”

“George Washington!”

“Onkyo, I haven’t even finished asking the question.”

When it comes to features, Onkyo aims to be there firstest with the mostest. Name a feature, and Onkyo’s usually got it, typically in a licensed version with a hip logo, and quite often before anyone else. For the consumer who wants the latest features and wants them now, Onkyo is generally an excellent choice.

Filed under
Daniel Kumin Posted: Aug 14, 2014 14 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,199

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Ready for UHD with HDMI 2.0
Refined amplifiers headline strong sonics
Outstanding multiroom abilities, including dual HD-on-HDMI programs
Dolby Atmos capability
Minus
Proprietary auto-EQ had much subtler effect than previous-gen’s Audyssey

THE VERDICT
Onkyo’s usual benchmark audio and video get incremental upgrades, plus new features that include future-proofing HDMI 2.0 and Dolby Atmos.

Onkyo may or may not be the actual market leader in audio/video receivers, measured by unit sales, dollars, or any other B-school metric you care to name. But I’m fairly certain that, year in, year out, they produce more new AVR models combining performance, value, and innovation than anyone else. The TX-NR838 is a suitable example. On the face of things, the receiver seems identical to last year’s TX-NR828, which it replaces: unchanged power ratings, same basic specs, nearly identical quantities of inputs and outputs (this year’s version drops the composite count by one and kicks S-video to the curb altogether), and largely untouched cosmetics and user interface. But look a bit closer, and distinctions begin to come to light.

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