Onkyo's 2016 RZ-Series Home Theater Receivers Profiled

Onkyo TX-RZ810 Home Theater Receiver
Onkyo TX-RZ810 Home Theater Receiver. Images provided by Onkyo USA
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Onkyo always offers up a large of number of home theater receiver choices, and the 2016 model year continued that trend. As a follow-up to its very affordable TX-SR and TX-NR series, Onkyo also unveiled three 2016 RZ-Series units, the TX-RZ610, TX-RZ710, and TX-RZ810.

The RZ-Series occupies the upper-mid and high-end space in Onkyo's home theater receiver product line.

All three receivers announced so far incorporate solid physical construction, more flexible audio/video connectivity and processing, and additional control features that are desired for more custom-type home theater installation setups.

There is definitely more to these receivers than can be included in a brief report, but the following are highlights of the core features of importance included in the Onkyo RZ-Series.

Audio Support

Audio Decoding: Decoding for most Dolby and DTS surround sound audio formats, including Dolby TrueHD/Dolby Atmos and DTS-HD Master Audio/DTS:X. This means that no matter what the source, all three receivers have the necessary capability to extract the proper surround sound format, in combination with a compatible speaker setup.

Audio Processing: Additional Surround modes for Rock, Sports, Action, and more. This means, that on top of the provided surround sound decoding, Onkyo provides additional surround sound processing modes that can optimize the listening experience further for specific types of content.

Channels: 7 channels of built-in amplification are provided, along with 2 subwoofer preamp outputs.

This means that all three receivers can be configured for the following speaker setup options: 6.1 channels, 5.1 channels in main room and 2 channels in a Zone 2 setup, or a 5.1.2 channel setup for Dolby Atmos.. In all cases you can opt to use either one or two subwoofers.

VLSC: This is a feature that aids in smoothing out some of the harshness that you may experience with listening to digital audio sources, such as CDs, MP3's, etc...

VLSC stands for Vector Linear Shaping Circuitry.

Music Optimizer: This feature is designed to enhance the quality of compressed music files (such as MP3 and AAC) by restoring missing high frequency information that is normally thrown away during the compression process.

AccuEQ Room Calibration: This feature provides an easy way of setting up your speakers and get your home theater system up and running. With a provided microphone that you place in the listening position, the receiver sends out specific test tones to each speaker and the subwoofer. The receiver then analyzes the results and determines the distance of each speaker from listening position, sets the volume level relationship between each speaker, as well as the best crossover point between the speakers and the subwoofer, and then determines the best equalization settings in relation to the room's acoustics properties. For more details, refer to the Official Onkyo AccuEQ Room Calibration Page.

Video Support

Analog To HDMI Upconversion - This is an important feature for those that have older video gear that use composite or component video connections. Although the RZ-Series receivers have composite and component video inputs, they do not have those output options.

Instead, all analog video input sources are automatically unconverted to HDMI for output purposes. This means that your TV or video projector has to have HDMI inputs. Note: Upconversion is the process of converting an analog signal to an HDMI-compatible signal, is not the same as upscaling, in which the signal is further processed after conversion.

1080p to 4K Upscaling: If you use any of the RZ-Series receivers, 1080p to 4K upscaling is provided. This means the RZ-Series receivers will upscaling existing Blu-ray Discs (or other 1080p sources) to 4K in order to provide the best possible viewing experience on a 4K TV.

4K Pass-through: In addition to 1080p to 4K upscaling, if you have a native 4K sources (such as from a 4K streaming source via a compatible media streamer, or an Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc player, those signals will be pass-through untouched to a compatible 4K Ultra HD TV.

HDMI Support: 3D Pass-Through, Audio Return Channel and CEC are all supported by the RZ-Series receivers.

BT.2020 and HDR Support: What this means is that the RZ-Series receivers are compatible with the new extended color and wide contrast formats that are now being encoded on select sources available via Streaming or Ultra HD Blu-ray disc, and that can be displayed on compatible 4K Ultra HD TVs.

HDCP 2.2 Copy-Protection: This means that the RZ-Series receivers comply with the required copy-protection specifications that allow the pass-through of current and future 4K streaming and ultra HD Blu-ray disc sources.

Connectivity Options

HDMI: All three receivers provide 8 HDMI Inputs/2 HDMI Outputs. The two HDMI outputs on the RZ610 are parallel (both outputs send out the same signal), while the RZ710 and RZ810 have the ability to send out two independent source signals via each of their HDMI outputs.

Zone 2: All three receivers provide the option of 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 of each receiver.

USB: All three receivers provide a USB port that allows access to compatible media files stored on select USB devices, such as flash drives.

Digital and Analog Audio Inputs: All RZ-Series Receivers provide Digital Optical/Coaxial and Analog Stereo audio input options. This means you can access audio from DVD players, Audio Cassette Decks, VCRs, or any combination of older home theater source components that many not provide an HDMI connection option.

Phono Input: Here is a great bonus feature - All RZ-Series receivers provide a good ol' fashioned phono input for listening to vinyl records (turntable required).

Network Connectivity and Streaming

In addition to all the physical audio, video, and connectivity features of the RZ-Series receivers, these units also provide extensive network and streaming options.

Ethernet and Wifi: These options allow connection to a home network/internet using either an Ethernet cable or WiFi. If the receiver is close to an internet router, Ethernet would be preferred as it provides a more stable connection. On other hand, if the receiver placed far from your router, and the router includes Wifi, that would eliminate the need to connect a long cable between the receiver and the router.

Hi-Res Audio: All RZ Series receivers are compatible with several Hi-Res Audio formats, which can be accessed via USB flash drive or compatible home network connected devices.

Bluetooth: This feature allows direct music streaming from compatible devices, such as many smartphones and tablets.

Internet Streaming: Access to Internet Radio (TuneIn) and other music streaming sources (Pandora, Spotify, TIDAL, and more...)  is provided.

Additional Streaming Options: Apple AirPlay, GoogleCast, and FireConnect By BlackFire Research, capability is also included in all three receivers. The FireConnect option allows the receivers to stream audio directly to compatible Onkyo wireless speakers placed in other locations throughout the home (specific products to be announced later in 2016).

Control Options

In addition to all the connectivity and content access options, several control options are provided with each receiver. In addition to the provided remote control, consumers have the option using the Onkyo Remote Control App for compatbile iOS and Android Devices, as well as custom control options via 12 volt triggers and RS232C port.

Added Features on the RZ710

Moving up to the RZ710 (which includes all of the features of the RZ610), you get the addition of THX Select2 Certification which means that this receiver is optimized for performance in a medium-sized room (about 2,000 cubic feet) where screen-to-seating distance is from 10-to-12 feet. Of course, this does not mean you can't use this receiver in other size rooms or screen-to-seat distance scenarios, but does provide a guideline.

Also, as mentioned previously, the RZ710 has the ability to output send two separate HDMI output signals to two separate TVs or video projectors (or a TV and a video projector) - adding more flexibility if you have a two room AV setup.

Added Features on the RZ810

Moving up to the RZ810 (which includes all of the features of the 610 and 710), two added features include 7.2 channel analog audio outputs. This means that you can connect up to 7 external power amplifiers to the RZ810. However, for each external amplifier channel used, you disable the corresponding internal channel. If you decide to use all 7 possible external amplifiers, you would be using the RZ810 as a preamp/processor, rather than a receiver. However, this option does come in handy if you have a very large room and desire more powerful external amplifier(s) than the built-in amp(s) provided on the RZ810.

One additional option that is provided on the RZ810 is a Zone 3 preamp output. What this allows you to do is send an additional audio-only source out to a 3rd zone (additional amplifiers required), which is controlled by via RZ810.

One additional option that is provided on the RZ810 is a Zone 3 preamp output. What this allows you to do is send an additional audio-only source out to a 3rd zone (additional amplifiers required), which is controlled by via RZ810. For more details, read my article: How Multi-Zone Features Work On A Home Theater Receiver.

Power Output

The official stated power output of each receiver is as follows:

TX-RZ610 - 100wpc, TX-RZ710 - 110wpc, TX-RZ810 - 130wpc.

All power ratings stated above were determined as follows: 20 Hz to 20 kHz test tones running through 2 channels, at 8 Ohms, with 0.08% THD. For more details on what the stated power ratings mean with respect to real-world conditions, refer to my article: Understanding Amplifier Power Output Specifications

More Info

TX-RZ610 - Initial Suggested Price: $799.99

TX-RZ710 - Initial Suggested Price: $999.99

TX-RZ810 - Initial Suggested Price: $1,299.99

Also, stay tuned as Onkyo has indicated the three more RZ-Series Home Theater Receivers (TX-RZ1100 - 9.2 channels), (TX-RZ3100 - 11.2 channels), and an AV Preamp/Processor (PR-RZ5100 - 11.2 channels) will become available during 2016 - additional details forthcoming.

UPDATE 09/08/2016: Onkyo Adds Two More RZ-Series High-End Home Theater Receivers its 2016 line-up - The TX-RZ1100 and TX-RZ3100

Onkyo builds on the features that the TX-RZ610, 710, and 810 offer with some added tweaks.

The RZ1100 and 3100 are also THX Select 2 certified and provide the same audio decoding and process features as the rest of the RZ series.

The  Onkyo TX-RZ1100 includes built-in 9.2 channel configuration (can be expanded to 11.2 channels via addition of external amplifiers). This means that for Dolby Atmos, out the of box, the RZ1100 can accommodate either a 5.1.4 or 7.1.2 speaker setup, but when used with two external amplifiers, can provide up to a 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos speaker setup. The TX-RZ3100 comes with 11 amplified channels built-in, so external amplifiers are not necessary for an 11.2 or 7.1.4 channel speaker setup.

In terms of connectivity, the TX-RZ1100 and 3100 provide 8 HDMI inputs and two independent HDMI outputs, supported by 1080p, 4K, HDR, Wide Color Gamut, and 3D pass-through, as well as analog-to-HDMI video conversion, and both 1080p and 4K upscaling.

Just as with most Onkyo receivers, the TX RZ-1100 and 3100 provide Network connectivity (via ethernet or WiFi), as well as both local and internet streaming options via Bluetooth, Pandora, Spotify, TIDAL, and more.

Also, just as with most of their previously announced receivers, FireConnect Multi-room audio and GoogleCast will be offered via forthcoming firmware update.

For added flexibility, the RZ1100 and 3100 also provide powered and line outputs for a Zone 2 configuration, as well as preamp line output for a Zone 3 option (the preamp output options required external amplifiers).

The stated power output for both the RZ1100 and 3100 is 140 wpc, using the same test parameters as the RZ610, 710, and 810.

Onkyo TX-RZ1100 - Initial Suggested Price: $2,199

Onkyo TX-RZ3100 - Features everything that the TX-RZ1100 offers, but adds those 2 additional built-in amplified channels (11 total). Watch out! This adds $1,000 to the price! -  Initial Suggested Price: $3,199