Onkyo has been top dog in the AV receiver world for some time now, but last year’s TX-NR609 was a particularly stunning achievement. It melded the company’s best-ever sound quality with a truly eye-popping array of features, all for a much lower price than you might expect given the spec.
So how do you top that? The answer is you don’t. Onkyo has clearly adhered to the ‘if it ain’t broke’ school of product development with the Onkyo TX-NR515 and its other 2012 brethren.
They’re not exactly the same as last year, with a few new titbits to keep punters interested, but it’s more of a subtle refresh than a wholesale redesign.
This is definitely a good thing, because it means you get all the same network features and music streaming options (including Spotify), plus plenty of power in the tank and even 4K2K upscaling for the next generation of hi-def TVs.
Onkyo has also kept the external design fairly similar, again offering a choice of black or silver. Build quality is satisfying and the front panel is uncluttered, cleverly concealing the main buttonry within the grooves and ridges under the large display panel.
There are a few sockets, including HDMI, USB, composite video and setup microphone inputs, plus a headphone jack, but unlike some of Onkyo’s higher-end models, these aren’t covered up by a flap, which would have offered extra protection. The USB port can be used as a direct connection for iPods or for playing digital media.
Around the back is a healthy array of sockets including seven more HDMI inputs and two outputs, which could come in handy if you want to feed two displays at once. It also offers a Hybrid Standby mode with an HDMI passthrough function, which means you don’t have to turn it on if you just want to watch something through your TV speakers.
Four digital (two coaxial, two optical) and five analogue inputs cater for external audio equipment, while component and composite ins and outs make this a versatile video switcher. An Ethernet port lets you access the network features, but if wires aren’t your thing then Onkyo sells an optional LAN adapter that plugs into the second USB port.
Elsewhere you’ll find line and speaker-level outputs for Zone 2 use, plus not one but two subwoofer pre-outs, which will please bass-heads everywhere.