Onkyo focuses on a lot of different product categories that mainly have something to do with audio. It also takes the home theater receiver category a bit more seriously than other competitors as there are more than 15 models in the AV receiver category alone and it doesn’t even include the older models. Prices range from just under $300 all the way up to $3,000. Onkyo receiver models that begin with TX-NR are the main models that are sold worldwide. But there is a fairly newer model with an entirely different model name. The Onkyo HT-R2295 manages to hit the $500 sweet spot although the older TX-NR525 costs the same amount too. Although these 2 Onkyo receivers have similar layouts on the front panel, they are quite different.
The Onkyo HT-R2295 is a little bit shorter in height than the TX-NR525 but the button and port arrangement on the front is similar. Despite the low number of HDMI ports, there are still plenty of input selector buttons. You can directly switch to AM or FM radio or access the Internet or playback the contents of a USB drive. The rest of the buttons are commonly found on other home theater receivers so those switching from another model should be familiar with the layout. No HDMI port can be found on the front so you have to settle with the aux inputs. If you have an iPod or iPhone, you can still plug in the device to the front USB port.
The differences between the Onkyo HT-R2295 and the TX-NR525 are even more apparent when look at the back of the receiver. Only 4 HDMI inputs and a single HDMI output can be found on the back as opposed to the 6 HDMI ports available for the TX-NR525. However, the HT-R2295 features additional L and R channels for front high or surround back. There are also a pair of speaker terminals specifically for Zone 2. There is no Ethernet jack or USB port on the back though.
Below is the back panel layout. Click on image to enlarge for a clearer view.
The Onkyo HT-R2295 is the more powerful $499 home theater receiver with 130 watts powering each of the 7 channels. The receiver forgoes 4K support as a tradeoff (unlike the 85-watt TX-NR525) but it is a pretty smart move considering the fact that 4K displays aren’t exactly for the budget-minded home theater system builder anyway. 3D support for each of the 4 HDMI inputs is as good as the receiver gets so your 3D Blu-ray players and 3D HDTVs should work just fine. These HDMI ports also support the Audio Return Channel so you can keep the cable clutter to a minimal while enjoying high-resolution sound.
You get a lot more versatility with the HT-R2295 too. Thanks to the surround back/front high terminals for 7.1-channel purposes, the Onkyo HT-R2295 supports Dolby Pro Logic IIz upmixing. This is fantastic for action movies where you can really feel the depth of different sound effects. Then there is a still the powered Zone 2 in case you wish to set up a simple sound system in another room and wish to distribute the audio there.
The HT-R2295 puzzlingly lacks a quick setup feature but the on-screen display is still pretty friendly as you can explore through the 10 different categories and adjust the necessary options. These options can be accessed without interrupting your active input source.
Like other Onkyo home theater receivers, the Onkyo HT-R2295 employs some of Audyssey’s technologies to better optimize the sound. The HT-R2295 uses the most basic form of Audyssey’s room calibration technology. Audyssey 2EQ uses basic resolution filters to make the proper adjustments and it doesn’t support subwoofers. In terms of easy calibration, theTX-NR525 gets the slight leg up since it uses the Audyssey MultEQ which should calibrate the entire system. But always remember that you can perform manual calibrations yourself and that can further improve the surround sound experience. You also have Audyssey’s Dynamic EQ and Dynamic Volume technologies at your disposal. The Audyssey Dynamic EQ adds some consistency to the sound so all aspects of the sound are clear even at the lower volume levels. If you experience frequent volume fluctuations for certain sources or TV channels, you can apply the Audyssey Dynamic Volume to correct it.
The Onkyo HT-R2295 may not be as feature rich as the more expensive home theater receivers but it still strives to meet high standards in the audio quality department. A few characteristics helps this receiver achieve this goal. The receiver uses discrete transistors to minimize distortion and keeps the receiver running cool. The Burr-Brown 24-bit chips also contribute to very good sound reproduction. The Wide Range Amplifier Technology design that many higher-end Onkyo receivers have is applied to the HT-R2295 too for higher fidelity.
iPod, iPod Touch, iPad and iPhone owners can get a real kick out of the Onkyo HT-R2295 too. There is no fancy dock attachment so even the newer Apple products can connect to the receiver’s front USB port. Of course, any USB flash drives containing MP3 and AAC files can be played back as well. No matter what the source is, the Advanced Music Optimizer can boost the quality of MP3 files even if the bitrate is low. Without an Ethernet port or built-in Wi-Fi, wireless streaming is impossible. You can add Bluetooth wireless audio streaming support by buying the UBT-I adapter separately.
Deciding whether to get the Onkyo HT-R2295 or the TX-NR525 is pretty tricky for the budget consumer that both of these receivers target. But all you need to do is ask yourself if you really desire a 7.1-channel AV receiver with Dolby Digital IIz support with better audio performance. If you are fine with the 4 HDMI ports, lack of Internet and mediocre automatic speaker calibration, the Onkyo HT-R2295 is a smart budget pick. Although you may have to spend more time comparing these 2 fine $499 receivers, it is still a win for Onkyo because people have more ways to spend their $499 without checking out other competitors.