Look out everyone, the onslaught of 4K Ultra HD receivers is in full effect! Just last week, Pioneer released four 4K Ultra HD models ranging from $400 to $700. These two new Onkyo models, announced in the wee hours of St. Patty’s day, appear to be directly competing with those models and are similarly priced. Onkyo’s 5.2-channel TX-NR535 goes for $499, while the 7.2-channel TX-NR636 is $699.
Figuring out what to look for in a receiver is challenging to say the least, and most consumers don’t have a clue what to look for. So for these two lucky receivers, we’re gonna break it down by function to make it all a little easier to digest.
Ultra HD Video
Ultra HD is a great reason to upgrade your receiver. After all, if you have an Ultra HD set running through a non-UHD receiver, you’re not getting all the resolution you are paying for. In fact, that’s why more and more 4K models are appearing on the scene. Manufacturers obviously see the opportunity as well. Onkyo is one of the first to incorporate HDMI that supports 4K/60 Hz capability in a receiver, meaning that when it’s time to watch some live-action in Ultra HD, it is poised to look a lot smoother. PC gamers who want to add surround sound to their 4K/60 Hz experience will be thrilled. In addition to the receivers’ Ultra HD chops, both receivers display 21:9 widescreen images, a growing trend in TVs that allows users to watch CinemaScope movies on their TVs without black bars.
Of course, any receiver these days has to keep up with all the wireless streaming technologies in order to be worthy of placing in your home media system. These two both have built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and universal support for hi-res network audio. The TX-NR636 adds HDCP 2.2 compatibility to support the latest DRM copy-protection standard. This receiver also lays claim to the title, “first receiver to support HDCP 2.2.” That’s the latest DRM copy-protection standard that will be adopted for future 4K releases. Who cares and what does it mean? According to Onkyo, it means if you try to play certain 4K content through a non-HDCP-compliant receiver, it will be downconverted to, gasp, standard definition!
In addition to its “custom high-current architecture” which is touted to manage impedance fluctuations, these receivers include DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD. Better yet, users can locate and stream network-attached hi-res audio tracks using the free Onkyo remote app for iOS and Android devices. As far as your plain-old digital music goes, you can stream it from a tablet or phone, or browse and stream from Spotify, Deezer, AUPEO!, and TuneIn directly from the app. (Support for Spotify Connect will be added later this year via firmware update.) Dial in your speakers using Onkyo’s AccuEQ calibration system to optimize the surround sound to suit individual room acoustics and speaker setups.
The TX-NR535 will be available in March, while the TX-NR636 will be available in April. If you have an Ultra HD TV set, check these out, along with the four from Pioneer. And even if you don’t have a 4K set, yet need a new receiver, it will behoove you to upgrade to one of these that can accommodate all the latest resolution technologies–be it video or audio.