Judging from the early reviews, it appears this unit has seen its fair share of issues at introduction. Firmware updates seem to have completely solved any of the early reported issues, as I have...
Sound, Price, Ease of Use, Interface, HDMI Inputs, Quiet Fan
Primitive Applications could use a refresh
Judging from the early reviews, it appears this unit has seen its fair share of issues at introduction. Firmware updates seem to have completely solved any of the early reported issues, as I have yet to experience any video or audio glitches at all. What really makes the TX-NR616 stand out as a bargain now, is the price. It now sits at a near-entry level price for a THX certified receiver with excellent options typically found at nearly twice this price.
While all the features found in receivers like this are really fun, the most important thing is still the sound reproduction. I installed this unit to replace an entry level unit with half the power (at best), coupled with a very large powered subwoofer (Tempest) that generally outpowered the other 5 channels. The other channels were capable of handling quite a bit more power so the THX certified amplifier has made a dramatic change in system headroom, dynamics and lower distortion. This is a high quality amplifier that not only sounds great, but is very efficient. It is installed in a fairly open cabinet, and has little trouble venting heat. The fan is much quieter than the one in the device it replaced so when going from loud passages or scenes to quiet, the fan is below ambient noise.
Auto Calibration with the microphone hasn't been very helpful in my past experience, but I decided to give it a try with this Onkyo. I carefully followed the instructions to mount the mic at ear level and ran through the setup and was very please to find that the crossover points and time alignment were spot on. A few additional EQ tweaks and level adjustments that really were more geared towards my preference and I had excellent sound in a very short time.
Apart from the sound, a big reason I bought this unit was for the HDMI switching and 1080p upscaling. 8 HDMI inputs allows me to switch ALL of my devices. I connected a DVD player and a Roku player and was stunned to see that the picture actually improved in comparison to connecting the devices directly to my TV! Definitely an added bonus that my 480p and 720p devices ended up looking even better with this upgrade.
I haven't played around a great deal with the built in applications such as Pandora, etc. since I generally use the Roku for those, but I did experiment with them and found the interface pretty basic and a little laggy. The Roku definitely has a nicer interface that's smoother and easier to navigate.
Connecting my Android phone to the network took a little figuring out, and made me want to pick up the Bluetooth adapter, as well, to make it a little easier to get sound from my phone to the system.
Connecting either an Android phone or iPhone via a USB got music playing seamlessly, with excellent sound quality, though. That's probably the method I'd use most often.
On Screen Setup
Navigating the menus with the On Screen Menus is great. The interface is intuitive and the quick menu offers easy access to the most frequently adjusted settings. I particularly like being able to assign four listening modes to each device and easily being able to access them with the four color coded buttons near the bottom of the remote control.
Overall, I'm really pleased with this Onkyo. My father had a fantastic Onkyo setup back in the 80's and it's good to see they're still making some quality product. At the MSRP, this might have been a four star product, but at the discounts now available, this is a clear five star winner!