Modern home theater receivers that cost $300 to $500 should be sufficient for most home theater systems that could use some extra sound amplification. But there are also some larger and more powerful AV receivers that can cost significantly more than some 1080p TVs. Having a budget of more than $1,000 means that you are sure to get an AV receiver that at least has THX certification but the high-end AV receiver market is still highly competitive so you should check out the features of a pricey AV receiver very carefully to find out how the model stands out. Onkyo’s most affordable 2012 AV receiver with THX Ultra2 Plus certification is the Onkyo TX-NR1010 and it could be the best choice for people that don’t have plans in expanding their existing 7.2-channel home theater system.
The design of the Onkyo TX-NR1010 is very similar to the significantly cheaper Onkyo TX-NR808. It as a very clean and industrial look because most of the buttons are hidden behind a flip down panel. But if you need to change input source, you can press any of the labeled buttons and you are good to go. With a total of 9 HDMI ports along with a USB port and phones jack, you should be able to connect every home theater component to the Onkyo TX-NR1010 and never worry about unplugging a component.
In order to access the USB, HDMI and other inputs on the front, you must open the panel. Doing so will also reveal some other buttons in case you want to do things like set the listening mode or toggle the multi-zone feature.
The back of the TX-NR1010 is more crowded than the cheaper models with the most noticeable difference being the second HDMI output which can also serve as the zone 2 HDMI out if you want to output HD video to another room. There is also a row of S-video ports in case you have any older components that you wish to connect.
While Onkyo focuses a lot on the internals in making sure that the audio quality is as clean as possible, Onkyo has also put a lot of effort on the overall hardware design of premium AV receivers like the Onkyo TX-NR1010. The amplifier design alone focuses on low negative feedback and closed groundloop circuits to eliminate distortion. This proprietary design is called Wide Range Amplifier Technology (WRAT). This technology is further enhanced by the Three-Stage Inverted Darlington Circuitry which makes use of the internal heavy-duty power supply for pure sound quality even when the TX-NR1010 is hard at work.
Below is the back panel layout. Click on image to enlarge for a clearer view.
Setting up a high-end audio component is usually tricky but when it comes to the TX-NR1010, setup is pretty much as simple as any other Onkyo AV receiver. Once you plugged in the components to their corresponding labels, you can immediately proceed to the calibration process which makes use of Audyssey’s most advanced room calibration technology – Audyssey MultEQ XT32. This advanced calibration technique obtains information from over 10,000 control points across 8 different measurement positions. High-resolution filters are then applied to every channel including any subwoofers you have installed.
Even if your HDMI ports are fully loaded, you can easily find the input source you want to look at through the InstaPrevue feature. This convenient feature shows live video thumbnails of any active input sources so you can see what all your components are doing at a glance.
Having more than 5 speakers in your home theater system is great for large rooms but you need a high-end AV receiver like the TX-NR1010 to bring those speakers to their full potential. Thanks to Audyssey DSX and Dolby Pro Logic IIz, you have several options to choose from to make the sound quality more immersive. Choosing Dolby Pro Logic IIz lets you add height channels along with a stereo source expansion. If you have a 5.1-channel source you can also add Height or Wide channels with Audyssey DSX. DTS Neo:X is exclusive to the TX-NR1010 and higher-end models where you can convert 7.1-channel or lower signals into 9.1 and 11.1 channels. Because of the Zone 2 and 3 line outputs, you can distribute the audio playback to other speaker systems found in other rooms.
The Onkyo is ready to interact with your iOS or Android device so you can easily control the input source or change any settings you like even if you decide to go multi-room. All you have to do is download the corresponding Onkyo Remote app for your mobile device and connect your AV receiver to your home router. A separate Wi-Fi dongle is required if you prefer a wireless connection to the network. The applications, however, are free to download.
While it is possible to use Android phones to wirelessly send audio files directly to the Onkyo TX-NR1010, this can drain your device’s battery. If the device has an HDMI port with MHL support, you can charge your device by just plugging it to the front HDMI port of the TX-NR1010. This also gives your device the 7.1-channel treatment and 1080p video output. You can also plug iPods and other Apple products to the USB port so the Onkyo TX-NR1010 can enhance the audio quality.
The Dual Core Video Engine that consists of Marvell’s Qdeo technology and the HQV VHD1900 module provide good video processing power to any component that needs it. It can upscale analog signals to 1080p as well as boost 1080p video to 4K resolution once you upgrade to a 4K display.
If you want to access Internet radio stations, you can do so right from the TX-NR1010. You can use its GUI to access some services like Last.fm, Rhapsody, Spotify, Pandora, and a couple of other services. It also DLNA certified so you can use your Windows 7 laptop or desktop to stream music to the AV receiver even if these computers are not directly connected to your home theater system.
The combination of advanced hardware design and powerful audio technologies is responsible for the THX Ultra2 certification. THX has some tough standards that AV receivers must achieve in order to get this certification so you are pretty much guaranteed a solid audio experience if you consider the Onkyo TX-NR1010. Cheaper THX-certified components should only be considered if you have fewer components in your home theater system and don’t have plans to expand anytime soon.