Link Spotlights

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Home Theater Review!
Onkyo TX-NR737
Dolby Atmos-Ready
7.2 Channel Receiver

©Everything Audio Network

Price: $899 retail, $499 street
Likes: good sound, DSD,  great price
Dislikes: no Airplay audio playback
Wow Factor: bang for the buck leader
More info: Onkyo TX-NR737

by Russ Long
  I reviewed Onkyo’s flagship receiver, the TX-NR5010, two years ago and after spending time with the more affordable (list price: $899 — $500 street) TX-NR737, a 7.2-channel Dolby Atmos-ready Network AV receiver, I’m convinced that regardless of the price point, Onkyo does it right. All of Onkyo’s receiver models, including the TX-NR737, now boast HDMI 2.0 making the TX-NR737 the perfect affordable companion to a 4K display.Features

  The 25.4-pound TX-NR737 measures 17.1″W x 6.9″H x 15.6″D and provides 110 watts per channel. To boost performance, the front and center channels utilize discrete three-stage inverted Darlington Circuitry amplification. The 4K/60 Hz-capable HDMI 2.0 inputs are perfectly suited for Ultra-HD gaming and video at 60 fps, as well as support for HDCP 2.2 (a nice feature since several Hollywood film studios are adopting HDCP 2.2 copy protection for future Full HD and 4K releases).
  Qdeo 4K upscaling technology is also included, allowing the user to enjoy older DVDs and games in high resolution. Hi-Res music lovers will enjoy the TX-R737 as it has the ability to stream almost any 192/24 hi-res, lossless, or compressed file format (including 5.6 MHz DSD) from compatible network- attached devices using built-in Wi-Fi or via Onkyo Remote App 2, Onkyo’s free remote app that is available for both Android and iOS devices.

Onkyo's Well-Priced Dolby Atmos Receiver

  The app also plays a large role in multi-zone audio configurations, as you can easily hook up another small system located in another room utilizing the Zone 2 speaker terminals and then use the “Whole House Mode” to play the same track in all zones, or assign a specific source to each zone. The TX-NR737 also includes Bluetooth (version 2.1 EDR) making music streaming from a wireless device easy. Unfortunately there is no AirPlay support so Apple TV is still required for easy streaming from an iPhone or iPad.
  The TX-NR737’s rear panel includes six HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs, which is more than enough connectivity for most configurations. Five of the HDMI inputs support HDMI 2.0 connections — meaning that all the HD media sources can potentially provide full 4K resolution at 50/60 fps. The HDMI Main output supports Audio Return Channel and is compatible with HDCP 2.2. This is important as it provides the ability to view upcoming 4K content from TV broadcasts and other sources that incorporates DRM copy protection. The third HDMI input port, which is designated for a DVR or set-top box, also includes this compatibility.
  The receiver has limited some of the connectivity offered by its more expensive siblings to keep the unit affordable but there is more than enough connectivity to facilitate most configurations: seven Audio/Video Inputs, one Audio-only Input, one Component Video Input, one Component Video Monitor Output, one Optical Digital Input, two Coaxial Digital inputs, two Subwoofer Outputs, one Ethernet Port, one USB Connection and even a Phono Input.

 With the TX-NR737, Onkyo has proven that it can deliver a feature-packed, non-compromising receiver at an affordable price. The unit sounds impressive, and its dual 32-bit processing engines allow it to easily handle hi-res audio, including 5.6 MHz DSD, making it a perfect option for audiophiles and high-res audio enthusiasts.

  The TX-NR737 is simple to navigate, a single-knob provides master volume control and a row of buttons along the middle of the receiver provides easy switching between inputs. A front-panel mounted MHL-equipped HDMI port appropriately accepts signal from any HDMI equipped device. If you’re not familiar with MHL, it stands for Mobile High-definition Link, and it is a specification that provides connectivity for connecting smart phones, tablets, and other devices to an HDTV, while simultaneously powering and charging the device. It supports 1080p video and 7.1-channel digital multi-channel audio, and it also carries control data allowing the TV remote to control the connected device. Even with MHL support, the TX-NR737’s Wi-Fi integration is a God-send, as it allows the user to enjoy streaming services such as Spotify, TuneIn, Deezer, etc. to be accessed without having to rely on a mobile phone or tablet.
  The TX-NR737 fully supports Atmos. If you have a pre-Atmos version of the receiver, Atmos support is simple and free via a firmware upgrade via thumb-drive or directly from the web. My review unit was a pre-Atmos, so I had to upgrade the firmware, which I found extremely simple. The receiver utilizes dual 32-bit DSP engines to decode and scale Dolby Atmos to the user’s home theater configuration, providing a much larger multi-dimensional sound listening experience with as many as 10 speakers. A Dolby surround up-mixer algorithm provides for current channel-based content that has not been mixed for Atmos (including 5.6 MHz DSD) to be expanded to fill a Dolby Atmos configuration.

The Setup
  The bulk of my testing was done utilizing the Onkyo TX-NR737 along with a 5.1 configuration of Episode 700 Series speakers (2 x ES-700-MON-6, 1 x EX-700-LCR-5, 2 x ES-500-SAT-4, and 1 x ES-SUB-12-300). My standard setup includes the ES-700-MON-6 speakers on a pair of 18” speaker stands with the ES-700-LCR-5 at the same height, mounted just below a Sony KDL-46EX640 LCD TV. The ES-500-SAT-4’s are mounted slightly higher at 36.” All five tweeters are focused at the listening position. The entire Episode speaker system, with the exception of the ES-SUB-12-300 powered sub was powered with the TX-NR737. Playback was primarily via the Pioneer Elite BDP-53FD Blu-ray player, Sony BDP-N460 Blu-ray Player, USB thumb drive and an Apple iPhone 6.

The Audition
  Before any listening or viewing, I calibrated my system using the AccuEQ Room Calibration utility, which was easy and straightforward to use. I used my staple pallet of evaluation material to test the receiver’s audio performance and ease of use. This includes Hi-Res music sources: Pink Floyd -Dark Side of the Moon, James Taylor - Hourglass, and Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road SACDs and a wide variety of DVD-A discs including The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds and The Beatles - Love.

Fewer connections, less-cluttered back panel

  I was thoroughly impressed with the receiver’s performance and sound quality. I used my MacBook Pro running Audacity to playback several high-res albums including James Taylor - JT, Roxy Music - Avalon and Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms and, again, was pleased with the results. The receiver utilizes TI Burr-Brown D/A conversion that make lossless formats (FLAC, WAV and ALAC) really shine. As was the case with the Onkyo TX-NR5010 that I reviewed in 2013, I found the Onkyo TX-NR737 to be perfectly suited for music playback.
  Moving onto movies, I auditioned Blu-ray discs of Hugo, Ratatouille, The Dark Knight and Hard Days Night and in each instance the TX-NR737 did a wonderful job reproducing the film’s audio tracks. These four films are among my favorites in regards to audio performance and they each translated beautifully with the TX-NR737. In fact, the sonic signature is similar to the flagship NR-5010, with a touch less finesse on the top when played at the loudest, listenable levels

The verdict
  With the TX-NR737, Onkyo has proven that it can deliver a feature-packed, non-compromising receiver at an affordable price. The unit sounds impressive, and its dual 32-bit processing engines allow it to easily handle hi-res audio, including 5.6 MHz DSD making it a perfect option for audiophiles and high-res audio enthusiasts. This audio engines also shines in the home theater realm, offering great value for its connectivity/sound and video quality, plus it is Atmos-ready. We don’t see many well under-$1,000 receivers we like but this one is a winner. An Everything Audio Network Stellar Sound Award winner that is.

  An avid home theater and audiophile listener, Russ Long makes his living as a Nashville-based professional audio engineer, who has recorded hundreds of albums for various artists, including Grammy Award winner Sixpence None The Richer. Articles on this site are the copyright of the ©Everything Audio Network. Any unauthorized use, via print or Internet, without written permission is prohibited.

No comments: