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Lifewire / James Huenink
Sometimes mediocre midrange performance
Too many spring loaded speaker terminals
Pulls front channels to surround sound
The Onkyo TX-SR373 is a low-cost home theater receiver for those who don’t mind sacrificing some sound quality for price.
With 4K becoming increasingly ubiquitous and 8K TVs just over the horizon, receiver manufacturers are hustling to ensure our audio game keeps pace with this new era of breathtaking visuals. We tested the Onkyo TX-SR373 to see if you can get quality sound without breaking the bank.
Entertainment equipment tends to have a standard set of design principles to which most devices adhere, a black metal box with a black plastic face and controls, and the Onkyo TX-SR373 is no exception. This receiver isn’t going to win any design awards, but it’s an unobtrusive addition to most standard home theater setups.
The backset of inputs and outputs are intuitively laid out, and it’s easy to get all the wires and cables into the right places. Each is clearly labeled, and there are even instructions about how to insert speaker wire printed on the back side.
We put the Onkyo TX-SR373 through a series of tests with music, video, and video games on a set of Monoprice 5.1 speakers. Before we dive into the weeds, a general note: We were disappointed that the Onkyo TX-SR373 doesn’t support the latest audio formats, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, designed to enhance surround sound largely by adding height as a dimension to a sound stage.
Let’s start with music. We played several different genres of music including jazz, classical, metal, pop, and folk. In classical music, the mid range instruments came through clearly without losing any supporting sound from the bass or the violins, but the vocals for some of our favorite battle metal bands were more difficult to understand than we’re used to, suggesting some problems in the mid range. The receiver also flattened out the sound somewhat, without as much of the high treble and the low bass. Even with those issues, though, we loved the TX-SR373 for music, especially when using Bluetooth.
We liked the sound of the Onkyo TX-SR373, but it was a little flat compared to some of it’s more expensive competition.
We played a couple different games to test out the sound, starting with XCOM 2, which features lots of individual sound effects without loud music to cover them up. The subwoofer added depth to a lot of the effects, and higher pitched sounds were crisp and clear. In Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeros, the opening mission takes place on a rainy day, and the rain sound effects made us feel like we were right there, slipping past marine guards in the mud.
Streaming The Walking Dead, a show with lots of whispering and quiet voices, we could hear dialog clearly. On other systems, we had to turn the volume way up, often high enough to disturb people in other rooms. It did flatten some of the surround sound, pulling some of the front channels to the back, and in general the surround effect is somewhat attenuated. The center channel cleared up the midrange tones so voices came through even at a whisper.
We also watched Across The Universe. While we loved the depth of sound, sometimes the vocals didn’t come through as clearly as we’d like, another small midrange problem.
We liked the sound of the Onkyo TX-SR373, but it was a little flat compared to some of it’s more expensive competition. We also noticed that it didn’t offer as much contrast. It’s much better than a TV alone, but it doesn’t compare to more expensive receivers.
We really liked how the remote control offers direct control of the bass and treble without going into the system menu, which made customizing audio fast and easy. That made a huge difference in most kinds of music, but we saw the effect less in orchestral works which have a much more complex range of tones that many pop genres.
The TX-SR373 has a feature they call Advanced Music Optimizer which made a huge difference in the sound, expanding both the bass tones and the higher range. It even improved on the CD player’s digital coax input. It’s a great feature for quality sound, but it may mess up the timing with games like Guitar Hero or other games that rely on high response rate without input delay. For those scenarios, the Direct option is designed to eliminate input lag by pausing processing.
There’s also a Late menu button, which lowers the dynamic range for late-night sound. It cuts the upper and lower range to highlight voices. It’s a big deal if you want to use the system while others are asleep, and it works pretty well.
After we sorted out which speaker wire was which, setup was easy. We liked that the TX-SR373 has screw-on-posts for the two front speakers, but unfortunately, the rest of the speaker posts are springloaded. It takes a lot more work, and they aren’t compatible with banana plugs or spade connectors.
The key to setting up a home theater system is attuning the speakers to the room. The Onkyo TX-SR373 does this automatically, with a feature they call “AccuEQ.” We stuck the mic into the setup mic port, and we set it where we usually sit to watch TV. The system ran a series of tests and sounds to calibrate it for that spot. It made a huge difference from the default settings.
It was also easy to pair a Bluetooth device. We hit the Bluetooth button, selected the receiver from our iPad, and we were paired. Simple and easy.
The Onkyo TX-SR373 has all the ports you’d expect a home theater receiver to have. There are four HDMI inputs that take in your Cable, Blu-Ray or DVD player, game system, or streaming box. It’s all 4K enabled, too. The HDMI output is supports ARC, so you can use a single remote for the most common functions, but you need a TV that’s ARC compatible too. There are also two radio ports for AM and FM. If you don’t have an HDMI connection, it also has analog inputs for BD/DVD, Cable, and CDs.
It doesn’t have some of the connected features that many home receivers have, but if you’re not interested in these features, the TX-SR373 is a great choice.
For the speakers, there are two sets of 5-way binding posts for the front left and front right speakers. The speakers center and two surround channels use spring clip speaker posts. It’d be really nice if all the speaker connections were binding posts, because the spring clip posts are annoying to use.
The normal price for the Onkyo TX-SR373 is $250, on the low end of this range of home theater receivers. But that lower cost means fewer features. It doesn’t have some of the connected features that many home receivers have, like Wi-Fi, smart device compatibility, or native support for streaming services, but if you’re not interested in these features, the TX-SR373 is a great choice.
Yamaha RX-V385: The Yamaha RX-V385 costs about $50 more ($300) than the Onkyo TX-SR373, but it doesn’t have many extra features. We do like that all the speaker posts are binder posts, so you can use a banana plug or spade connector to quickly connect and disconnect your speakers from the unit. Otherwise, the extra $50 doesn’t get you much.
Pioneer VSX-532: The Pioneer VSX-532 is their newest low-cost home theater receiver. It costs just a little more than the Onkyo TX-SR373 at $279, but it supports the latest audio formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. These formats offer a lot of flexibility that the older ones don’t, and that extra support goes a long way towards justifying the additional cost.
An ideal receiver for those who don’t care about high end features.
The Onkyo TX-SR373 is an excellent choice for people who don’t want to pay for the extra features that some home theater receivers. It offers quality sound with the ability to customize your setup if you want, and automated setup if you don’t.
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