Onkyo's Advanced TX-8160 Stereo Receiver Profiled

Onkyo TX-8160 Network Stereo Receiver
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There is nothing like surround sound to get that home theater audio experience. However, while surround sound is great for movies, not everyone prefers a surround sound-equipped home theater receiver for serious music listening. For many, a solid two-channel stereo receiver is what is required. If you fit that mold, then the Onkyo TX-8160 stereo receiver might just what you are looking for.

Amplifier Configuration and Power

First off, since the TX-8160 is a stereo receiver, and not a home theater receiver, it only provides two channels of built-in amplification to power a left and right channel speaker setup in the front of a room.

In terms of power output, the TX-8160 is rated at 80 watts-per-channel into 2 channels with a .08 THD (measured from 20Hz to 20kHz). The 8160 features Onkyo WRAT (Wide Range Amplifier Technology) for stable output power and low distortion listening.

For more details on what the above-stated power ratings mean with respect to real-world conditions, refer to my article: Understanding Amplifier Power Output Specifications.

Physical Connectivity

As far as physical connectivity for audio goes, the TX-8160 provides six sets of analog stereo inputs and one set of analog stereo line outputs (the outputs can be used for audio recording), as well as a dedicated phono input (take note vinyl record fans!). Added physical connections include two digital optical and two digital coaxial audio inputs (note: the digital optical/coaxial inputs only accept two-channel PCM - they are not Dolby Digital or DTS Digital Surround enabled).

For speakers, the TX-8160 provides two sets of left and right speaker terminals that allow for an A/B speaker configuration, as well as a preamp output for connection of a powered subwoofer. For private listening, a front panel headphone jack is provided.

The 8160 also includes Zone 2 line output that can send both digital and analog sources to a second external amplifier in another location.

However, it is important to point out that hi-res DSD audio files cannot be sent to Zone 2. Also, you cannot listen to internet streaming and Bluetooth sources in both the main and 2nd zone at the same time - For example, if you select Bluetooth for the main zone listening and then select an internet streaming source for Zone 2, the 8160 will default to the Zone 2 source for playback in the main zone also.

As is traditional with both stereo and home theater receivers, the TX8160 also includes a standard AM/FM tuner for traditional radio listening.

Network and Streaming Capabilities

However, a powerful amplifier and physical connectivity isn't the only thing that the 8160 offers. In the digital age, this receiver provides some cutting edge features, including a front, mounted USB port for direct connection of compatible USB devices (such as flash drives).

An Ethernet port and built-in Wifi is also provided for access to internet radio (TuneIn) and music streaming (Deezer, Pandora, Sirius/XM, Spotify) as well as audio content (including hi-res audio files) from DLNA compatible devices.

For even more content access flexibility, the TX-8160 also includes built-in Bluetooth and Apple Airplay for direct streaming from compatible smartphones and tablets.

Control Options

To make control everything easier, in addition to the included remote, the 8160 can also be controlled by the Onkyo Remote Control App for iOS and Android.

The Bottom Line

So, as you can see, the Onkyo TX-8160 is not your Dad's stereo receiver. While it provides all of the traditional features of stereo receivers from the past, it also adds cutting-edge technology for access to today's digital and streaming music sources. However, although you can plug in the audio outputs from video devices, such as TVs, Blu-ray Disc/DVD players, and cable/satellite boxes, the TX-8160 does not have any video connections - this receiver is definitely designed for audio listening in a two-channel home environment.

The Onkyo TX-8160 has a suggested price of $499.

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