The Onkyo TX-NR414 is one of Onkyo’s 2012 offerings to the budget category of AV receivers. Although the external design remains the same, Onkyo did several key improvements to make this budget model a nice high-end model for people that only have 5.1-channel speaker systems to work with and do not plan on upgrading any time soon. While the TX-NR414 is clearly positioned below the TX-NR515 which is also part of the 2012 lineup, it can be difficult for new buyers to decide whether the cheaper but older generation Onkyo TX-N509 should be considered. The Onkyo TX-N509 does have some features that the TX-NR414 lacks such as Audyssey 2EQ calibration enhancements but the TX-NR414 has a couple of nice features that are present in other 2012 models.
Design and Connectivity
One of the nice things about the Onkyo TX-NR414 is that it comes in two different colors. You can go with the plain black model if you have lots of other black home theater equipment. There is also a silver design that rely makes that smart aluminum facade really stand out. There are a small number of connection ports found on the front including a phones jack, aux inputs and a USB port. There is only one knob present that serves as the master volume control along with several buttons for choosing the input with ease.
The back of the Onkyo TX-NR414 shows that this is a great AV receiver to get if you want 6 HDMI inputs to work with. This is a huge improvement over the TX-NR509 which only has 4 HDMI inputs. Like the previous models, the HDMI ports are all 3D Ready so you can use the AV receiver to enjoy all of the latest 3D content. There are also two optical and two coaxial inputs along with an Ethernet port. The cheaper TX-SR313 lacks an Ethernet port making the Onkyo TX-NR414 the cheapest 2012 device for network functionality.
Below is the back panel layout. Click on image to enlarge for a clearer view.
The Onkyo TX-NR414 is targeted towards those people that want a very simple experience in operating their AV receiver. Onkyo strives to separate itself from the competition in terms of usability by incorporating the InstaPrevue feature. This is a very useful feature if you have 4 to 6 devices hooked up to your HDMI ports because that is where things can be confusing when you want to switch to a certain input source without relying on the front panel. With this feature, you can use the on-screen interface to change the exact device you like by displaying thumbnails on the bottom of the screen. These thumbnails play live footage on what is currently going on in these sources so you can easily recognize the device. This is a nice improvement over the traditional method of just giving input sources names.
Although a fairly generic remote control is included in the package, Onkyo has provided another ways to control the vital functions of the Onkyo TX-NR414. If you have an iOS device or an Android smartphone, you can download the Onkyo Remote App to change the input source or adjust the various setting. The Android version of this application also lets you play any files stored in the smartphone wirelessly as long as the smartphone is in the same network as the TX-NR414. This basically gives your audio files the 5.1-channel treatment so you can easily feed your powerful sound system with audio files. This free application is surprisingly well made with a good graphical interface for the smartphone. Another way to play music from a device is to use the USB port found on the front panel.
This USB port is compatible with iPod and iPhone units so any MP3, AAC, WMA and FLAC files found in the device can be played. The remote control can also be used to control the iPod or iPhone remotely so it should be very easy to change the track or playlist. The sound quality is significantly improved because the audio signals are transported in digital. This USB port can accept flash drives as well as long as the aforementioned file types are present. The Onkyo remote is also designed to integrate with the Apple TV making it a great companion for the Onkyo TX-NR414.
The Onkyo TX-NR414 is ready to connect to your home network including any DLNA servers that are present in the network so it is very easy to stream content from other devices. If the home network happens to be connected to the Internet, even more music content can be accessed because it supports online connectivity to a number of top services including Spotify, Rhapsody, Pandora, Slacker, SIRIUS XM, vTuner, AUPEO and Last.fm. It also supports MP3tunes which is a cloud-based online music service that lets you stream from your personal account. You have to upload music files to your personal account before using. An Ethernet cable must be hooked up to the Onkyo TX-NR414 in you want to enjoy these Internet and networking features. There is no wireless support unless you buy the separately sold Onkyo UWF-1 wireless LAN adapter.
One of the biggest improvements that the TX-NR414 has over any 2011 model is the new hybrid standby feature which is a special state that brings down the power consumption while still keeping all of your HDMI components connected.
When playing back the 3D Blu-ray version of Despicable Me, the performance shows that the Onkyo TX-NR414 provides plenty of bang for the buck with the overall picture being very good and the 3D effects properly rendered. Unfortunately, the AV receiver cannot do anything to upscale the video on analog to HDMI configurations so this is really a good AV receiver to get for modern players. The Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound formats are enough to provide a good audio experience but there are no signs of Dolby Pro Logic IIz and Audyssey DSX.
While the Onkyo TX-NR414 is very easy to use, it would have been nice if the Audyssey Room Calibration features were thrown in too so users get the best audio performance out of the box. That being said, generous number of HDMI ports and low power consumption make the Onkyo TX-NR414 a good buy for $500.