REMOTE NOT BACK LIT, NO AUDYSSEY SUB EQ HT, NO GAPLESS PLAYBACK, NO WIRELESS CAPABILITY WITHOUT DONGLE.
LOTS OF SURPRISES, FEW TRADE OFFS ONKYO'S TX-NR818
I have owned the Onkyo TX-NR818 7.2 Channel Receiver for 6 months, it replaced a Denon 3808. I am using the 818 with Goldenear Triton 2's L/R, SS50C, Mirage OS1's X4, Mirage Omnisat Prestige X2, Monoprice in ceiling speakers, Belkin Power Conditioner PF30 and Sony S790 Bluray Player with Power Sound Audio XS 30 Dual Opposing 15 inch Subwoofer. Here is what i found......I am using the 818 in a 2316 cubic foot theater.
I usually like to own a new piece of gear for about a few months before I give my opinion so I can get to know its strengths and its quirks. With the 818 here is what I found......
There is a lot of high end for a mid priced receiver. Namely Audyssey's XT32 which woke my subwoofer (s) up. The bass is very low and very tight. I didn't have to turn the gain up past Audyssey's setting. It set my Power Sound Audio XS30 at -1.5db. Funny thing is I could not here a bass null as much as I did on the Denon 3808's Audyssey multi eq xt. You get THX certification. Now I know a lot of people scoff at this. The 818 integrated THX modes very well. With the HQV Vida 1900 video chip and Marvells Qdeo upscaler the 818 is offering a lot for my hard earned dollars. 192khz/24 bit DAC to. The sound seems more robust than my Denon 3808 did like using only a few cylinders in a new V8. You know the extra power is there when you hit the gas.
The 818's high end audio....
I converted all of my 4700 songs to 192/24 .wav on my Hitachi 1 terabyte external hard drive which I have plugged into the 818's rear usb port.
I prefer the SB over FH. I felt FH took away from the Front speakers and liked the fuller sound of surround back. With different source material this might change. For video FH works well with Dolby Digital. I am running 9.3 listening. I picked up an Onkyo m-5010. It was a hundred dollars off and I sold some stuff on ebay. It was $65 out of pocket. I feel now that if I went with 11 channel it would be nice but I would end up shutting the FH off for most source material..
Tori Amos: Flavor and Winter from Gold Dust. This is a great album for listening to the imaging and nuances of your speakers. Tori is accompanied by an orchestra for the entire album. The 818 seamlessly integrated Tori's piano into my listening area. Each key stroke was easily heard and if I closed my eyes I could almost picture her playing in my theater.
Sade: Soldier of Love: The 818 especially shines when Sade is played. Her voice with a deep bass track that the 818 produces shook the dining room dishes upstairs. My wife made me turn it down and it was only at 60.0. Thank you Audyssey.
Black Label Society: Another Spoke In The Wheel and Just Killing Time.
What can I say Zakk is amazing. The 818's detail let me almost see Zakk's fingers going up and down the scales on the stock of his guitar during ASITW.
JKT allowed the 818 to send super low bass to the sub and pounded my chest. This made me grin widely.
The Cult: Embers. Ian Astbury has the best voice in rock to me. I have seen The Cult Live many times. Embers is one of those songs that not many people will here but once they do they are hooked. The 818 made me get hooked all over again.
The Expendables 2 with the 11 channel DTS Neo X mix was why I love this 818. (I have 9.3, the 11th channel was mixed down to one of the other channels I guess) the separation and steering was great for the sound and the picture was superb.
The 818 high end video.....
The HQV Vida 1900 chip does a great job presenting the video. Nice colors and deep inky blacks. The Marvel Qdeo upgrades DVD's nicely as well.
My wife wanted to see Disney's Tangled very badly in 3d. The 818 handled this with professionalism. The 3d was jaw dropping. The lanterns seen in the latter part of the movie popped and were floating around the room. The 818 offers many video enhancement for the money. To tests Marvell's Qdeo I used a Cult concert from their Beyond Good and Evil tour. I like using this as it allowed me to compare black levels and upscaling to near 1080p. It wasn't quite as good as a blu, but that is to be expected. It was damn good though.
I used the Avengers 3d as well as a test disc and the colors the 818 produces is like art work on a wall. I ran the Sony S790 on through and compared. The HQV is the way I am going for now.
The 818 GUI:
I found it very easy to navigate and intuitive. When the 818 is first turned on it takes you through an initial set up wizard with ease. It then leads you to Audyssey's XT32 set up. I did all 8 positions and in a matter of 45 minutes or so I was up and running. Audyssey was spot on for all of my settings except the front speakers. The Goldenear Triton II's have to be ran at full band to get full bass. Audyssey set them at 40hz. Otherwise everything is icon based and easy to follow. Firmware updates are as easy as hitting the home button on the remote. Also the 818 allows itself to be set up for automatic update notification. Insta-prevue is a nice touch. Not something I use because I don't usually have multiple components running at the same time. I suppose if your a sports guy and have multiple cable boxes hooked up this would be ideal for you. Overall an excellent job.
I did not test cable as I watch it upstairs on my Pioneer Plasma. So could not comment.
The back panel:
Onkyo like other manufacturers has eliminated some legacy inputs and cleaned the back panel up. I like this a lot. There are 8 hdmi inputs (one on front) 2 hdmi outputs. One with ARC capability and a second sub to hook up another tv. Nice touch. Two game inputs for multi console owners is nice. The speaker binding posts are logical. Left on left and right on right with center above. The classic Onkyo stickers with the name of the speakers and corresponding color are included. I see Denon is now copying with the X4000.
The 818's construction:
Onkyo is the only manufacturer using copper screws on its bus bar. The anatomy of the 818 can be seen best at avland.uk. Which has some of the best reviews of electronics I have seen. Also with the 818 I no longer have the ground loop I did with the Denon 3808. Onkyo's are known for running hot. The 818 has 2 fans for cooling. Mine has yet to get warm. With the 818's 40 pounds of muscle it made me feel like I was getting a lot of quality for my money.
The 818's app:
Onkyo's app is nice but needs some improvement. It gives basic functionality. Where it shines is when running music through usb. The songs can be seen ahead like it would appear on your tv. With a projector I don't want to waste lamp time when I am listening to music. So I like this app. The onkyo troller app would not recognize my 818.
It needs to be backlit. I am sure it does not cost that much to light a remote.
One problem with the remote is the usb. I would have put 2 buttons on the remote. USB (R) and USB (F). The way the remote is constructed now you have to point it in the couch cushion or your leg when switching back from receiver to usb. Otherwise it selects the other usb input (Rear or front). This is annoying. Thankfully the tablet app allows you to choose.
Only minor here...Sub EQ HT. Many forum members have educated me on this and I am sure it does its function well. But the step-up to the 1010-5010 is several hundred dollars more. I didn't think my ears would here that big a difference. Wireless capability for those that need it. That's it. Maybe airplay if you like apple products. Gapless audio. Back lit remote.
The 818 offers the high end for prices around $699. I imagine Onkyo has seen its sales of the 818 spike in recent days. The new TX-NR 828 is a step backwards for Onkyo. The TX-NR929 is this years 818, with a higher price tag of course. I did a lot of research in the two years it took me to build my theater. Many of the forum members educated me and answered my questions. All in all i feel that this deserves a 4.5 out of 5. Electronics are trade-offs, I guess like many things in life. With the 818 there are few.