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Onkyo 2012 Budget Receiver Line Preview

Onkyo TX-NR616 A/V Receiver

Onkyo TX-NR616 A/V Receiver


  • Product Name: TX-NR616, TX-NR515, TX-NR414, TX-SR313 Receivers
  • Manufacturer: Onkyo
  • Review Date: February 22, 2012 20:20
  • MSRP: $699-$299
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool

TX-NR616 - 7.2-Ch THX Certified Network A/V Receiver

TX-NR515 - 7.2-Channel Network A/V Receiver

TX-NR414 - 5.1-Channel 3-D Ready Network A/V Receiver

TX-SR313 - 5.1-Channel 3-D Ready Home Theater Receiver

There is very little that we find more interesting than new budget receivers. While we love reading about huge amps and multi-thousand dollar speakers, we know that many of our readers are looking for some advice on which of the new receiver offerings are worth their hard earned dollar. Onkyo has made a name for themselves over the last few years for offering the highest feature-to-dollar ratio. So when they announced that they were updating their 2012 receivers, we couldn't help but perk up.

This new line of receivers from Onkyo is called the 2012 line. While manufacturers usually like to have some sort of standardized naming nomenclature in their lines, Onkyo has eschewed that for having almost completely unique model numbers. If anything, we'd have to call it the -1- line (the last three numbers are something-one-something). But we're not going to do that. We're going to do a quick overview of each of the four new receivers.

The top of the 2012 budget line is the new TX-NR616 Receiver (pictured above). This is a THX Select2+ Certified 7.2 channel receiver. Featuring 100 watts per channel, this 24.3 pound receiver has just about every feature you might expect on a budget product. It has eight HDMI 1.4a inputs and two outputs - and all support 3D and Audio Return Channel. Like many of Onkyo's recent receiver offerings, Marvell Qdeo 4K upconversion is on board as are the new Silicon Image InstaPrevue and Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) technologies. IntaPrevue provides thumbnail previews of any HDMI inputs currently connected to the receiver while the MHL provides an interface protocol that facilitates the playback of 1080p video and still images with 7.1 channels of surround sound over HDMI from MHL compatible smartphones and other portable devices.

All the latest surround sound modes are supported including Audyssey DSX and Dolby PLIIz for height/width channels. A front mounted USB port is "Made for iPod/iPhone" certified. The rear Ethernet port allows access to vTuner for Internet radio, Pandora, Spotify (Onkyo remains the only manufacturer at press time that supports this service), Rhapsody, Sirius/XM iRadio, Slacker, and LastFM iRadio. The TX-NR616 is one of the first receivers on the market to support MP3tunes 'Cloud' services. Across the network, you can control the TX-NR616 via the Onkyo Remote App for iPod/iPhone/Android.


There is a second USB port on the back for integration of USB storage plus a single component video input and two (each) optical and coaxial digital audio inputs. There are dual (mirrored) RCA outputs for twin subwoofers plus two pairs of outputs for Zone 2 and 3. The seven main channels of amplification sport five-way binding posts with a set of spring-type outputs for Zone 2 in the event you'd like to run 5.2 with an integrated Zone 2. The TX-NR616 supports analogue to HDMI conversion so a true one-cable connection is possible.

The TX-NR616 has a ton of features for its $699 price point but there are a few things missing. If you have more than one component video source (doubtful unless you haven't upgraded anything recently), you'll be out of luck. The Audyssey 2EQ room correction is very long in the tooth for a receiver at this price point. Still, if you are more interested in HDMI inputs and streaming, this may very well be the receiver for you.

The next in the line is the 7.2 channel TX-NR515 Receiver. This receiver gets a $100 price break from the TX-NR616 and loses very little. It is no longer THX certified, it drops the Audyssey DSX processing (though it keeps the 2EQ room correction) as well as Zone 3 support. These seem to be fairly reasonable concessions for the price savings. At 80 watts per channel and 19.8 pounds, the NR-TX515 is not a lightweight and should have little problems in most home theaters.

txnr515_front     txnr515_back

The TX-NR414 Receiver brings the price of the 2012 line down to $499 - the coveted sub-$500 price point. Here we see Onkyo forced to make even deeper cuts. The TX-NR414 loses two HDMI inputs (bringing the total number down to six - still a respectable number for most users). Gone is Dolby PLIIz, any room correction solution, and the Marvell Qdeo 4k upconversion (or any 1080p upconversion for that matter). It also drops the new Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) but retains Silicon Image's InstaPrevue - a feature probably much more likely to be used by consumers. The 80 watt per channel, 19 pound TX-NR414 is a five- instead of seven-channel receiver and only supports a single subwoofer output. Zone 2 is only supported at line level via RCA outputs and the rear USB port is gone (though the front remains and is still "Made for iPod/iPhone" certified). Interestingly, the TX-NR414 gains a component video input (a total of two) which is really thoughtful since consumers at lower price points probably have more legacy gear. It is important to note that analogue to HDMI upconversion is not available on the TX-NR414, so a separate connection to your television will be needed for each type of input.

txnr414_front     txnr414_back

The last in the line is the TX-SR313 Receiver. This is the only one in the new line that isn't networked (so all those features are gone). The front-mounted USB input is still "Made for iPhone/iPod" certified and the TX-SR313 drops the price down to $299 - well within the reach of most consumers. The receiver sports 5.1 channels, 80 watts per channel, and comes in at a fairly featherweight 16.8 pounds. We see that Onkyo has had to settle for the spring-type speaker terminals for all channels, though the TX-SR313 is the only model to support a Front B speaker configuration (in lieu of a Zone 2 function). The Onkyo website lists the TX-SR313 as having six HDMI inputs but we only see four. One of the two coaxial digital audio inputs is also missing, though the rest of the inputs look identical to the TX-NR414. Again, analogue to HDMI upconversion is not supported and the Zone 2 RCA outputs are gone. Silicon Image's convenient InstaPrevue has also finally made its exit from the line. The TX-SR313 is a fairly bare-bones receiver, but while retaining native iPod/iPhone support and 3D, it may be enough for your average neophyte.

txsr313_front     txsr313_back


All in all, the 2012 budget receivers look to be a solid offering from Onkyo. It is clear that they have chosen, when possible, to go with networking and compatibility features rather than with upgraded room correction systems. Having a $500 receiver without any sort of room correction seems like an odd decision to us. We like to see at least some sort of room EQ feature for users that need it most - the ones with the tightest budget. But the entire line sports Onkyo's WRAT (Wide Range Amplifier Technology) which (according to our internal crew of geeks) is a "low negative-feedback topology that reduces signal noise and ensures optimal performance with minimal distortion". Even in the entry model TX-SR313 receiver, Onkyo now uses this discrete-component output stage rather than lower cost integrated circuit amplifiers. While we think users of all but the bare bones TX-SR313 will appreciate Silicon Image's InstaPrevue feature, most would also be more impressed with a room correction system rather than a better amplifier typology. We'll have to see how the public receives the new Onkyo 2012 receiver line to know for sure.

For more information, please visit www.onkyousa.com.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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