Although there isn’t a major step-up in quality from the TX-NR609, the TX-NR515’s performance with blockbuster Blu-rays is fantastic. What makes it so special is its ability to deliver absolutely punishing levels of power and bottom-end oomph while making everything else sound crisp and composed.
It’s this combination of grace and grunt that makes it such an irresistible proposition. It gets the pulse racing when required, but then holds your attention throughout with its meticulous detail and texture.
We tried out Super 8’s pivotal train crash scene and the Onkyo makes it a true spectacle, effortlessly conveying the excitement and drama of the scene with fiery effects, smooth, speedy steering and gut wrenching bass. There’s also a great deal of detail poking its way through, from the top-end twang of metal on metal to the crackle of fire in the aftermath.
Its sense of scale is immense, creating a soundstage that’s high, wide and spacious (even without the vertical expansion of Dolby Pro Logic IIz), yet the effects within it are accurately placed and dialogue is pinned firmly to the centre channel.
It blasts out crashes and explosions that make you cower in fear with their sheer potency without descending into a wild, harsh mess. It’s not coloured, thin or boxy – just a slick, sophisticated and powerful performer that has the talent to breathe new life into your favourite movies.
It’s also a dab hand with music, no matter what you throw at it and what you use to throw it. FLAC files from a USB stick sound pristine, regular MP3s are never less than enjoyable, and provided the broadcast is up to scratch internet radio sounds great. This sort of quality across the board makes the TX-NR515 a wonderful audio epicentre, no matter what you’re into.
Despite its similarities to last year’s models, we can’t recommend the TX-NR515 highly enough. It’s packed with features, chief among which are a healthy range of network streaming services, backed up by fantastic sound quality, decent music format support and useful on-board audio processing.
The spec is terrific for the money, and although stuff like MHL and 4K2K upscaling aren’t exactly essential they’re a nice bonus. The operating system could use a little work, as it can be a little tricky to find music and navigate round certain areas.
But when it comes to features and core audio performance the TX-NR515 is already the AV receiver to beat in 2012.
Score in detail
Sound Quality 9