A Look at Three Affordable AV Receivers from Onkyo

Onkyo TX-SR444 Home Theater Receiver - Front/Rear Views
Onkyo TX-SR444 Home Theater Receiver - Front/Rear Views. Image provided by Onkyo USA

When planning a home theater setup, one of core components you need is a good home theater receiver. In addition to providing a central place to connect all your components and providing the power to run your speakers, in the past few years, these devices have added a lot more features. With that in mind, check out three new additions to Onkyo's 2015 home theater receiver line-up - the TX-SR343, TX-SR444, and TX-NR545.

TX-SR343

If you a looking for solid basics, the TX-SR343 may what you need. Features include: Up to a 5.1 channel speaker configuration, 4 3D and 4K pass-through HDMI 2.O connections (with HDCP 2.2 copy-protection). Also, Analog-to-HDMI conversion is provided for more efficient connection to today's HDTVs and 4K Ultra HD TVs, but no video upscaling is offered.

The TX-SR343 also includes decoding and processing for most Dolby and DTS surround sound formats, up to Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. Additional audio flexibility is provided by built-in Bluetooth, and although network and internet streaming capability is not built-in, one of the HDMI ports on the back of the TX-SR343 is right next to a USB input, which allows connection and power for third party streaming media sticks (Roku, Amazon Fire, BiggiFi, etc...).

Also, in order to provide an easier way to connect everything up, Onkyo provides an actual illustrated rear connection panel that not only provides the connections, but images of the types of devices that you can plug into each connection, as well as a speaker layout diagram example.

The stated power output rating for the TX-SR343 is 65 wpc (measured using 20 Hz to 20 kHz test tones, 2 channels driven, at 8 Ohms, with 0.7% THD).

The TX-SR343 is Available at Amazon.

TX-SR444

The Onkyo TX-SR444 is the immediate step-up from the TX-SR343. Most of the core features are carried over from the TX-SR343, but instead of 5.1 channels, you have access to up to 7.1 channels, and, with added bonus of Dolby Atmos audio decoding.

  Those 7.1 channels can be reconfigured to 5.1.2 channels, which allow you either place two additional speakers overhead, or add a pair of vertically firing speakers, for a more immersive surround experience with Dolby Atmos-encoded content.

Added bonuses on the TX-SR444 include a Zone B output that allows you to send audio to another location (limited to the same source you have in your main setup - functions like A/B speaker switch found on many old and new stereo receivers), as well as the incorporation of Onkyo's AccuEQ Room Calibration system, which balances the characteristics of your speakers to the room's acoustical environment.

On the HDMI connection side, Onkyo has added Insta-Prevue HDMI switching for easier management of your connected HDMI sources.

The stated power output rating for the TX-SR444 is 65 wpc (measured using 20 Hz to 20 kHz test tones, 2 channels driven, at 8 Ohms, with 0.7% THD).

The TX-SR444 is available at Amazon.

TX-NR545

The TX-NR545 tops out this trio of receivers from Onkyo, and if you decide to make the jump, here are some of the added features you will get.

The TX-NR545 includes all of the audio processing that comes with the TX-SR444, but there are some added tweaks, including the addition of a second subwoofer output, as well as both powered and line-output options for Zone 2 operation.

However, keep in mind that if you use the powered Zone 2 option, you cannot run a 7.2 or Dolby Atmos setup in your main room at the same time, and if you use the line-output option, you will need an external amplifier to power the Zone 2 speaker setup. More details are provided in the user manual.

Another added bonus is, in addition to Bluetooth, is the incorporation of full network connectivity via Ethernet or Built-in Wifi, that allows you to access streaming content from the internet (Pandora, Spotify, Sirius/XM, and more...), as well as your home network. Apple Airplay access is also included.

Also, hi-res audio file playback compatibility via local network or connected USB devices is also provided.

On the HDMI/Video connection side, the TX-NR545 expands the number of inputs from 4 to 6, as well as well as providing compatibility with HDR encoded source content. However, just as with the TX-NR343 and 444, Analog to HDMI conversion is included, but no video upscaling or additional video processing is provided.

The stated power output rating for the TX-NR545 is 65 wpc (measured using 20 Hz to 20 kHz test tones, 2 channels driven, at 8 Ohms, with 0.7% THD).

The TX-NR545 available at Amazon.

As usual, Onkyo crams in a lot for not much cash - However, if you looking for something a little more upper-midrange-to-lower high end in a home theater receiver, also check out my recent report on the Onkyo TX-NR646 and TX-NR747 with Dolby Atmos/DTS:X, as well as up to 4K video upscaling built-in.

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