Onkyo TX-NR838 AV-receiver

Dolby Atmos, the sound system that has taken theatrical audio to another degree courtesy of item-based design and metadata-driven picture positioning, has migrated to your home, and nothing will ever sound the same.

By the finish of 2014, it is possible to get to see Dolby Atmos-prepared AV receivers from most AV sound brands, but the first comes from Onkyo. The £1,000 TX-NR838 is an upperclass proposal, strategically placed above the TX-NR737 and entry level Atmos-ready TX-NR636 versions of the brand.

As befits its price tag, the general specification is all-inclusive and it is long of muscle. The power output is rated by Onkyo at 150W 'Dynamic' or 130 W driven.

The TX-NR838 offers six back-set HDMI inputs and two outputs, among which is ARC compatible, augmented with a front-facing HDMI input signal. The primary output signal can be duplicated by the secondary Sub HDMI output signal for multi-zone or TV/projector use. This may appear to be a reasonable futureproofing provision.

Things get a lot more intriguing when you reach the loudspeaker binding places. Besides the conventional L/C/R terminals you will find Environment and Surround Back choices, plus Height and Width. Not all may be driven in exactly the same time; this model your responsibility to pick your favorite configuration as it simply offers seven channels of amplification. Therefore, it is impossible to execute a double seven- Atmos home cinema layout and station.

The TX-NR838 is network understanding. Along with Bluetooth, there is Spotify with Aupeo, Deezer, Connect!, internet radio and local LAN media playback (sound only). Along with wired Ethernet, the receiver has integrated WiFi (evidenced by both aerials on the rear panel), so getting shouldn't prove difficult. File support is all-inclusive.

Still, it is the Dolby Atmos operation which is of prime interest. But executing it is not any cakewalk. Long story short: for house cinemaphiles that is serious there are problems to address.

My very own home theatre occurs to be a committed room with in wall and in ceiling loudspeakers ordered in a conventional 7.2 configuration. On paper at least, it is a comparatively straightforward job to repurpose two in-ceilings to adapt the 5.1.2 end product of the TX-NR838. In practice several problems become clear.

Dolby Atmos-encoded software is, unsurprisingly, quite thin on the floor at the moment.

The very first surprise was finding just how much better the system sounds -empowered loudspeakers giving the height ambiance, when compared with dedicated in-ceilings. The latter proved just too directional, localizing the sound sent to the height channel in ways which was frequently diverting.

The small boxes' placement provides a unique challenge. It is broadly envisaged that they will be placed atop the leading stereo pair. Inside my room, that was not an alternative. Nevertheless mimicking the place using the small Onks on loudspeaker stands did not seem to function.

The Dolby Atmos soundstage itself is rather unlike conventional 5.1. There is not an awareness of tiered sound although we speak of height channels. Picture positioning is just realistic. The result isn't unlike wearing headset that are great, albeit without the physical sense of earcups. The insect seems to dance all around your face, moving on an unpredictable vector; subsequently an exotic fowl does a whole as well as seamless flyaround when a mosquito buzzes at the start of forest clip Amaze. The LFE rumble is deep, before rain seems to engulf the listening room when the thunderstorm breaks.

A twig breaks sending the titular leaf it is possible to practically feel the air pressure before touchdown using a deep bass guitar ripple front left as it moves across the soundstage. These clips and I played constantly for days, and not quit grinning.

Sonically, the Onkyo TX-NR838 is quite skillful. It is tumultuous drama and effective at clear, fine nuance. In two channel way it is not astonishingly inarticulate, thanks to some wonderful Burr Brown 192 kHz/24-Bit DAC magic. It revels in light classics and unplugged sessions equally; in normal multichannel manner it is a rock solid actioneer. Factor Dolby Atmos to the mixture also it becomes a lot more remarkable.

The TX-NR838 can additionally upmix 5.1 content.

The sole catch, needless to say, is the physical organization I landed upon optimum for Atmos functionality isn't a thing which would work in many houses. Having height speakers that were reflective placed nearly mid-room is not simply practical. Conversely, I suppose that a Atmos 5.1.2 setup in a considerably smaller space isn't just going to function nicely, but will be more straightforward to set up. Needless to say, I can not vouch for what'll occur if you've artex, and woe betide you if your ceiling has any kind -killing treatment that is acoustic.


As truly one of earth 's first Atmos-empowered AVRs, the TX-NR838 can rightly claim to be in the vanguard of a fresh age. Without Dolby Atmos compatibility, this Onkyo could be a formidable proposal that is sonic. Specification, design and operation are remarkable. But in total immersive Atmos guise it thrills with existence and remarkable precision. On the Onkyo TX-NR838's effectiveness, I call the times of purchasing a non-Dolby Atmos-enabled AV receiver are attracting quickly to a close. The future starts here. The trick is going to learn to live by it.

Onkyo TX-NR838 AV-receiver photo