Onkyo recently unveiled two brand new THX certified Network A/V receivers, the TX-NR838, and the TX-NR737, which blend state-of-the-art technology with features that nod to the golden days of analog audio, allowing you to enjoy everything from high-res 4K video, to your favorite vinyl album, all at optimum performance. The new units ship in May, and will join Onkyo’s growing family of 2014 high-performance receivers, including the TX-NR636, and the TX-NR535.
Below we’ll take a quick look at the entire collection as a whole, parse out the dizzying array of features, and help you decide which model might best get you your Onkyo fix for the new year.
Pricing and availability
TX-NR535 5.2 channel – 160 watts – $500 – available now
TX-NR636 7.2 channel – 240 watts – $700 – available now
TX-NR737 7.2 channel – 250 watts – $900 – available in May
TX-NR838 7.2 channel – 300 watts – $1,200 – available in May
All of Onkyo’s new receivers can handle 4K video resolution, with HDMI 2.0 for the ability to pass through the brilliant UHD files at up to 60 frames per second. The top three in the lineup also include the latest HDCP 2.2 Digital Rights Management (DRM) protocol, which allows for the viewing of future copyright-protected 4K studio releases, as well as 4K streaming compatibility. Onkyo claims to be the first receiver brand to have incorporated the new tech.
The newest two members of the family also incorporate Onkyo’s Qdeo resolution upscaling tech, designed to make even your DVD collection look suitable on a 4K display, though we’ll wait to see it in action to determine what kind of miracles it can work with a 480p, DVD-quality signal.
Wide Range Amplifier Technology (WRAT)
Onkyo’s 2014 receivers incorporate the company’s vaunted WRAT amplification technology. While it may not exactly roll of the tongue with elegance in acronym form, WRAT is Onkyo’s proprietary amplifier technology that aims to deliver equal power to all speakers in a system. To do so, Onkyo uses a “massive high-power” transformer to fuel its amps with low distortion, high energy power, as well as Phase-Matching Bass Enhancement, which synchronizes signals to eradicate phase problems between the low end and the higher registers.
High res wireless streaming
Like most new receivers on the market, the Onkyo 2014 models include a bevy of wireless streaming options, including the ability to stream over your local Wi-Fi network, as well as streaming from your mobile device over Bluetooth with “Advanced Music Optimizer” DSP, designed to compensate for compression on low-resolution tracks. In addition, the devices are able to stream high resolution files from a PC or NAS device, with support for multiple file formats including FLAC, DSD, Double DSD, ALAC, and others. The receivers also have on-board access to Internet radio stations such as Spotify, Pandora, and Sirius/XM.
The 737 and 838 also incorporate Dual 32-bit DSP engines, which Onkyo claims doubles the power of most receivers that employ a single chip. The chips allow for decoding multi-channel studio masters of up to 5.6 MHz DSD files, and both receivers are able to stream the high resolution files wirelessly, as well as other lossless formats at up to 24bit/192kHz resolution. And to turn all those ones and zeroes into sound, they both use heralded TI Burr-Brown digital/analog converters for vivid, low distortion conversion.
With AccuEQ calibration, the 2014 receivers can shoot the room and, with the help of the included calibration mic, find all the holes to compensate for bass traps, standing waves, and other issues.
Pure Direct Analog Path mode
What’s the point of listening to an analog sound source if you’re going to run it through a digital sound engine? That’s a question we often ask ourselves in the digital age. But Onkyo has kept its “Pure Direct” mode for just such ocassions. Exclusive to the top tier 737 and 838 receivers, PDAP technology is designed to circumvent all of the digital circuitry and signal processing, including video processing. This lets the signal pass directly from the phono or analog inputs straight to the amp, allowing these receivers to dawn old school sound technology so you can rock out to that vinyl like its 1969.
In addition, the system is also designed to create a more pure pathway for your highest resolution inputs such as SACD (super audio CD) and Bluetooth inputs.
Also exclusive to the 737 and 838 is the latest THX Select2 Plus certification. To earn their stripes, the receivers have passed over 2,000 bench tests across 75 categories to meet the high stipulations outlined by THX to recreate the”high volume, low-distortion sound” of a commercial theater in mid-size rooms. .
Finally, all of the new models, save the lonely 535, offer Zone 2 technology, allowing you to serve a separate room using the receiver as a hub, with 1080p video transmission, and stereo output available.