Pioneer’s lineup of AV receivers, namely the Pioneer VSX-932, Pioneer VSX-832 and Pioneer VSX-532, offer new features such as HDCP 2.2 compatibility and true 3-dimensional sound with Dolby Atmos® that optimize your audio experience.
The Pioneer VSX-932 is an excellent main AVR or premium secondary unit for elsewhere in the home that delivers a quality sound experience for its price. It supports Dolby Vision, HDR10, and BT.2020 and features a DTS:X next-generation audio codec as well as Pioneer’s Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration System, or MCACC.
The Pioneer VSX-832 is a home theater receiver that supports DTS:X and Dolby Atmos and it beckons a further look with its lower than expected price and advanced calibration system. This 5.2-channel AV receiver not only features DTS-HD Master Audio decoding and Dolby TrueHD, it provides additional audio processing. It also supports FlareConnect, the wireless multiroom audio distribution system announced in late 2017 by Onkyo and Pioneer.
The Pioneer VSX-532 has got to be one of the most affordable new AV receivers on the market! Priced at the mid $200s, this 5.1 channel unit comes with Ultra HD pass-through, built-in Bluetooth and includes Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, on top of Pioneer’s Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration System (MCACC) and Ultra HD (4K/60p/4.4.4) pass-through with HDCP 2.2 support. Despite its no-frills appearrance, its features certainly reinforce its value in today’s market.
Onkyo has been very active in launching new models every year. 2018 is no exception. They just launched two new mid-priced AV receivers: the Onkyo TX-NR686 (MSRP $649) and the TX-NR585 ($549). Both 7.2-channel models support DTS:X and Dolby Atmos, 4K video with HDR10 and Dolby Vision pass-through, AccuEQ Room Acoustic Calibration, hi-res audio playback, AirPlay, DTS Play-Fi, and more. The THX Select-certified TX-NR686 is rated at a respectable 100 watts per channel enough to power most speakers. The TX-NR585 is rated at 80 watts per channel, so a choice of smaller and more efficient speakers will be a better match for this.
Onkyo’s reputation in audio playback are not compromised even at this price range thanks to the high-current, non-phase-shift amplification circuitry with discrete output stages in both receivers. The combination of high current and power will be adequate to provide a satisfying audio performance. As with most modern receivers the NR686 and NR585 supports many digital audio sources like Hi-Res Audio in 5.6-MHz DSD or 192-kHz/24-bit in FLAC, WAV, AIFF, and ALAC over network or USB input. They also benefit from VLSC (Vector Linear Shaping Circuitry) on Front L/R channels. This patented circuit removes high-frequency noise resulting in clear articulation for both movie dialog and music.
No modern receivers can do without streaming services. So Onkyo has included support for Amazon Music, TIDAL, TuneIn, Deezer, Pandora and Spotify. Integration of these services are seamless with easy control from the supplied remote controls or Onkyo Controller or Onkyo Music Control App. All network streaming and control functions, including AirPlay, operate over dual-band 5-GHz/2.4-GHz Wi-Fi for stability in areas with household network congestion. Music streaming capabilities are available through built-in Bluetooth wireless connection.
They are very user friendly. With Graphical User Interface (GUI) over HDMI these receivers are very easy to setup and navigate.
It’s been a while since Marantz launched the SR7010 and SR7011 model. Thus it is high time Marantz refreshed it’s lineup with the SR6012 (MSRP$1499) and SR5012 (MSRP$999). It good to know that Marantz has upped the ante with several new features like multiroom music playback via HEOS integration and also full 4K Ultra HD compatibility.
Both are full-featured networked AV receivers but the Marantz SR6012 is the more sophisticated unit with nine built-in amps plus 11.2-channel processing.
The next model in this high end range is the Marantz SR5012 which comes with a more modest 7.2-channel processing and lesser power output of 110 watts per channel.
To keep up with the latest audio advancements, support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X is included. The SR6012 has 11.2-channel processing to handle 7.1.4-speaker configurations while the SR5012 is compatible with 5.1.2 configurations.
On the video side of things Dolby Vision HDR is also included with more media on the way.
Connectivity is the by-word for tech products. You can use a wired or Wi-Fi connection to access music through their home network. This includes Internet radio and streaming services such as Spotify Connect, Tidal and Pandora. It can also stream music from a computer or NAS drive at up to 192-kHz/24-bit and DSD 5.6 MHz. This is the works guys. High end audio in a box. Can’t ask for more.
The Marantz SR6012 handles 5.1.4 and 7.1.2 speaker configurations without the need for an external amp. Like other top-tier Marantz AVRs, users who opt to use all 11.2 channels can choose between assigning the main left and right speakers, or a pair of the heights to the external amplifier. This AVR provides preamp-out connections for all channels.
The SR6012’s futureproof advanced video section is fully compatible with the latest HDMI and HDCP 2.2 specifications on all 8 HDMI inputs. With 4K Ultra HD 60Hz video, 4:4:4 Pure Color sub-sampling, High Dynamic Range (HDR), 21:9 video, 3D, and BT.2020 and Dolby Vision pass-through on every input, the SR6012 is absolutely future-proof.
It’s been expected for some time but now the demise of 3D is official following the announcement that Sony and LG will be ending support for the format that Samsung and Visio had already abandoned. We are not surprised that it turned out this way as 3D had been a “cumbersome” format needing extra glasses to enjoy its benefits.
With that out of the way, TV manufacturers and content providers are working hard to churn out hardware and content for the new 4K UHD HDR format and the promise of an enhanced viewing experience resulting from the combination of ultra-high resolution, rich colors, and greater contrast. And it has a new official label too – Ultra HD Premium, a joint standard by UHD Alliance, a consortium of TV manufacturers, broadcasters and film producers.
With Ultra HD HDR you get image quality that is many levels sharper and deeper in color beyond what was available just a few years ago. Today’s HD Blu-rays, when playing on a Ultra HD Premium certified TV, offers superior image fidelity to what is available in cinemas.
Fortunately some AV receivers launched last year are already UHD Premium compatible so there is no need to upgrade.
To keep audiophiles ears humming with expectation Onkyo’s 2016 line of advanced RZ Series AV receivers comes with upgraded and customized capacitors and Onkyo’s premium amp circuitry so as to deliver high-current power needed for the most demanding of action movies and full orchestral works.
The top two models – Onkyo TX-RZ810 (MSRP $1399) and Onkyo TX-RZ710 (MSRP $1099) are both THX Select2 Plus-certified for theater grade performance and are ready to decode Dolby Atmos and DTS:X surround formats. Onkyo has introduced separate analog amplification and digital processing blocks as well as solid copper bus bars that limit interference and patented Vector Linear Shaping Circuitry (VLSC) on all channels for noiseless digital to analog conversion for the TX-RZ810. There are 8 HDMI inputs and two outputs making it possible for two 4K/60 Hz video sources to be viewed in separate rooms.
Both the AV receivers can serve the entire home with FireConnect powered by Blackfire wireless technology which mirrors analog and digital audio on a compatible wireless speaker.
At the lower end of this range is the Onkyo TX-RZ610 (MSRP $899). It features a 7.2-channel network A/V receiver that delivers 100 W/ch into 8 ohms. However it does not have THX certification and some multi-zone connectivity. To maintain a similar audio standard Onkyo has included high-quality components like a massive power transformer, custom-spec capacitors, and discrete non-phase-shift amp circuitry. This high-current design enables full-audio reproduction down to 10 Hz while improving control of speaker drivers for full range sound.
The 3-year warranty of these models also proved to be a fantastic selling point especially since people aren’t expected to upgrade their home theater receivers every year.
Onkyo, a company renowned for keeping its line of AV receivers at the cutting edge has again stepped forward ahead of the curve for featuring 4K video support in it’s line of mid range receivers. Along with other modern formats of audio surrounds and video there is a strong focus on multiroom audio too. The receivers comes with FireConnect, powered by Blackfire, allowing any audio source connected to the receiver to be sent to another source as long as it’s also FireConnect compatible.
Onkyo’s proprietary AccuEQ suite that automatically calibrate the receivers to your room dimensions, has also grown with the addition of AccuReflex. This measures sound bounced off the ceiling to make it easier in setting up Dolby Atmos in your home theater.
Coming at the top of this range is the Onkyo TX-NR757 (MSRP $700) featuring a 7.2-channel 180 watts networked receiver and THX Select2 Plus sound. High-resolution audio is achieved through a new AKM 384 kHz/32-bit DAC. The receiver offers AirPlay, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connectivity in addition to streaming support from Spotify and Pandora. FireConnect, Google Cast support, and streaming via Tidal will come in a future firmware update.
Below the TX-NR757 are the Onkyo TX-NR656 (MSRP $600) & Onkyo TX-NR555 (MSRP $500). You get less output power at 170W and 140W respectively but they both come with the same connectivity options and almost similar features. Similarly both of these units will receive FireConnect and connectivity options.
Consistency, innovation and performance are terms we can associate with Yamaha’s receivers. They have been consistent with product quality and keeps making better receivers over the years. They also keep innovating with better features while keeping prices affordable. And we have not been shortchanged with natural sound and video performance.
So we are glad to know that their 2015 lineup of AV receivers in the AVENTAGE range keep up with these ideals. Yamaha has 5 models in the 2015 lineup with prices ranging from $649.95 to $1999.95 for the flagship Yamaha RX-A3040.
Here’s a short summary of their features and specs:
1. Yamaha RX-A740 ($649.95): a 7.2 Channel receiver delivering 90W per channel featuring Apple AirPlay, built-in Wi-Fi and 4K Ultra HD Pass-through.
2. Yamaha RX-A840 ($849.95): also a 7.2-channel unit with higher power rated at 110W per channel. Features the latest HDMI version with 4K Ultra HD 50/60p support, AirPlay, built-in Spotify, Pandora and Rhapsody. YPAO Volume, 17 DSP programs and 3D support. It has 8 HDMI inputs and dual HDMI outputs (simultaneous output) to connect to a projector and flatscreen. It also features high resolution 192/24-bit Burr-Brown DACs.
3. Yamaha RX-A1040 ($1099.95): same features as the RX-A840 but with higher power rating of 120W per channel, higher quality DAC, more connectivity options including additional analog inputs, an additional 12v trigger and analog video outputs for the second zone.
4. Yamaha RX-A2040 ($1599.95): 9.2 channels with 140W per channel, 23 DSP programs, a high resolution music enhancer and dual ESS Technology ES9006 Sabre audio DACs. It features zone 2 and zone 3 powered speakers with HDMI for the second zone and audio pre-outs for audio in the 3rd zone.
5. Yamaha RX-A3040 ($1999.95): an audio powerhouse with 11.2 channels with 150W per channel of power. Super-high quality 192 kHz/32-bit SABRE32 DACs, optimized power amplifier layout with ultra-low jitter circuitry housed inside a double bottom chassis with a fifth foot. Advanced HDMI Zone Switching and Dolby Atmos Surround Processing also added.
All in all a complete range for the entry level and the most discerning audiophile.
Dolby calls its new Atmos technology “The most significant development in cinema audio since surround sound”. Onkyo is the first to embrace Dolby Atmos, ditching Audyssey in the process.
The new Onkyo TX-NR1030 and TX-NR3030 receivers and the flagship Onkyo PR-SC5530 network AV controller, will all come with Dolby Atmos surround sound. Firmware updates are now available also for TX-NR636, TX-NR737 and TX-NR838 receivers.
Pioneer has also confirmed it will be releasing a firmware update for its Elite range of receivers to allow them to support Dolby Atmos.
To enjoy Atmos to its full potential users will need to add a pair or more of ceiling speakers to an existing surround sound system. Unlike Dolby Pro Logic IIz, they are designed to appear discretely in the mix and not be simply “matrixed” from the front channels. The addition of height speakers adds a new dimension to the sound making it sound more full.
The first Blu-ray disc Transformers: Age of Extinction has just been released on Amazon UK. Dolby says that you do not need a dedicated blu-ray player to enjoy Atmos content as long as your player fully conforms to the current Blu-ray specification. Movies Gravity, Godzilla, and Edge of Tomorrow were also filmed with Atmos encoding. But don’t expect many blu-ray titles with Atmos anytime time soon. It is early days yet and the distributors do not want to get stucked with older stocks.
If you do not want to spend more on your home theater system, Dolby’s “hardware partners” will also make side speakers that will emulate the experience of sound coming from above your head.
Denon and Marantz have announced new receivers which will be Dolby Atmos compatible. Look out for reviews of these coming up soon.
Complementing the new entry level receivers launched recently, Onkyo launches two new mid-range receivers – the TX-NR737 and TX-NR838 priced at $949 and $1299 respectively. They have just been shipped and you should be able to get them from stores now.
Both these receivers come with Bluetooth and built-in WiFi, plus the latest HDMI standard and HDCP 2.2 spec to support 4K UltraHD content; and are THX Select2 Plus-certified to comply with cinema standards for larger rooms.
Onkyo is proud of their audio standards and takes great pains to make them sound as good as they look. Smooth current delivery is their aim for their higher end receivers and not surprisingly the TX-NR737 and NR838 are endowed with Onkyo’s proprietary Wide Range Amplifier Technology (WRAT). At the core are a custom high-output transformer, extra-large customised capacitors and low-impedance copper bus-plates. They also feature dual Digital Signal Processing (DSP) engines and 24/192 Burr-Brown DACs.
Room calibration is by way of AccuEQ software which by design bypasses the front left and right channels leaving their sound as they are. The surround speakers are then calibrated for a balanced surround sound. With turntables making a massive comeback in the midst of burgeoning vinyl record sales, Onkyo has a Pure Direct Analogue Path (PDAP) feature that routes the audio path from the turntable directly through the receiver without being affected by the digital circuitry.
Connectivity wise, both models have 7 HDMI inputs; 6 on the rear and one MHL certified input on the front and supports 4K Ultra HD video at 60fps. The usual DLNA and Wi-Fi are built-in. DSD files and gapless 192kHz/24-bit FLAC and WAV are also supported. Bluetooth 2.1 is also built-in to both receivers to provide wireless streaming option.
These are good upgrades to last years’ models and with better audio fidelity and Ultra HD support these 2 new receivers should create quite a buzz with Onkyo users.