Onkyo recently knocked us for six with the TX-NR5010, a truly staggering flagship AV receiver offering more horsepower than a frozen lasagne and a comprehensive list of features. Thing is, to get your hands on this home cinema superstar you’ll need a spare three grand kicking around in your bank account.
Thankfully Onkyo has another big hitter in its range that costs considerably less but still brings a generous range of features and powerhouse performance to the table.
The receiver in question is the TX-NR818, a 7.2-channel THX Select2 Plus-certified model that kicks out a quoted 180W per channel. It sits three steps down from the NR5010, but three up from the NR515 we also reviewed last year.
As well as boasting some serious surround sound credentials, it’s also a nifty network streamer that pulls music from DLNA media servers and the internet and boasts some high-spec video processing. Let’s dive in…
As you’d expect from a high-end receiver, it’s a massive, chunky piece of kit, standing all of 20cm high and boasting build quality that could stop a tank in its tracks. Onkyo has done its best to make it as attractive as possible – the brushed silver finish is classy (also available in black) and the front controls have been arranged as discreetly as possible – but there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s more functional than fashionable.
The front panel features a large, easy to read display panel, a row of buttons for input selection across the middle and a huge illuminated volume dial. The rest of the buttons are hidden under a flap at the bottom, including a menu direction pad for up-close navigation, tone controls, listening modes and multi-room output.
Front sockets include an HDMI input, optical digital audio input, a USB port (which can be used to play music from iPod/iPhone and USB flash drives) and AV input. The HDMI port supports Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) for viewing HD videos from a smartphone on your TV.
Onkyo adds seven more HDMI v1.4 inputs on the back, taking the total to eight, and backs them up with five digital audio inputs (two optical, three coaxial) and wealth of analogue inputs – two component video, four composite video, six analogue stereo, phono and PC (D-Sub 15-pin). Two HDMI outputs allow you to feed two displays at once.
You’ll also find plenty of video outputs, as well as another USB port, Ethernet, 9.2-channel pre-outs, line out for Zones 2 and 3 and custom install ports in the form of RS-232, IR in/out 12V trigger outs. No stone is left unturned, except multichannel analogue inputs.
Also on the back are eleven sturdy binding posts. These include terminals for the front, centre, surround and surround back channels, as well as front wide and front height channels for the built-in Dolby Pro Logic IIz, Audyssey DSX and DTS Neo:X ‘sound expansion’ processing. However because it’s only a seven-channel amp you have to choose between surround back, front height or front width.