Onkyo TX-RZ1100 A/V Receiver Review Page 2

Oh yeah, the sound: faultless. There were almost too many sonic highlights to pick just one, but it would be hard to outdo the long battle sequence in chapter 10, which has it all: dynamics, numerous height cues for Atmos to show off its stuff, dialogue over boisterous scenes, wide-stage music, and more. And the TX-RZ1100 aced them all without any evident stress. In quieter scenes, like the final chapter, I was equally taken by deep, multifaceted ambience and fine detail on Foley cues like clinking glasses and clicking heels. No question, the new Onkyo is easily up to the demands of movie sound in a home theater. Beyond abounds

in busy, noisy scenes, and when I temporarily reengaged AccuEQ, the added high-frequency content made them sound distinctly brighter. I preferred my system with AccuEQ defeated, and I instead engaged THX Re-EQ, a very gentle top-octaves down-tilt to mimic the acoustic response of a large theater and screen. (Even now I think Re-EQ is one of the most valuable THX features.) But again, every system and room will be very different.

117onkrec.rem.jpgThe TX-RZ1100 happily streamed all of my hi-res files via wired Ethernet and Wi-Fi alike, including DSD, AAC, and PCM and FLAC up to 192/24. Well, most of my files; I experienced a few instances of DSD click-glitching, but only on a couple of files. I’ve played these same files successfully via some devices, but they’ve glitched or failed to play on several others besides the TX-RZ1100. My only conclusion, to state the obvious, is that streaming DSD can be tricky. Maybe these files are corrupted; maybe some DSD decoders’ error correction is better than others. I simply don’t know. Musically, the receiver sounded great in all cases, leaving me particularly pleased by the timbral and dynamic detail of the Suite for Fiddle and String Orchestra by Norwegian composer Gjermund Larsen (music that suggests what Aaron Copland might have produced had he developed a serious amphetamine habit). The textural transparency and the screech-free bite and resonance on strings from this Nordic DSD download were noteworthy.

Hack It
Most all of the expected extras are aboard the TX-RZ1100. These, of course, include Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, plus a handful of the usual “Orchestra” and “Unplugged” modes nobody ever uses. (Do they?) Unusually, you can configure both a powered zone 2 in stereo and a powered zone 3. (The first can exploit the HDMI 2 output; HDMI is the receiver’s only video-output format.) These are distinct from FireConnect wireless multiroom capability built into the unit. And let’s not forget the usual iOS/Android control apps.

The TX-RZ1100 can scale 1080p to 4K—this looked fine, by the way—but then so can your 4K TV, obviously, and the TV’s own onboard scaler is very likely nondefeatable, so this is of dubious value. There’s a Super Resolution mode that’s said to provide a more “4K-like” picture from regular HD sources. Enabling/defeating this requires a 15-second round trip to and from the picture-blanking main setup menu, so direct comparisons weren’t very practicable. The setting may have amped up video dynamic range (or at least white level) a touch, but I don’t think I noticed much else.

The Onkyo’s streaming résumé is, at least on paper, extensive. On the wireless end, Bluetooth and Apple AirPlay both worked as expected from my iPhone and sounded as usual, with AirPlay obviously the superior choice. But three additional options—Google Cast, Spotify Connect, and the aforementioned FireConnect multiroom wireless—are all awaiting a firmware update. Late in my tenure with the TX-RZ1100, Onkyo pushed an update that added Deezer and Tidal streaming services. (On my first attempt, performing the update via network connection crashed the receiver almost immediately, leaving me trembling with angst that I’d bricked the thing—and with a print deadline looming. But the receiver powered back up normally, and a second attempt proceeded smoothly. Welcome to the connected life.)

FireConnect is yet another of the wireless-multiroom protocols fighting for oxygen in that busy, Sonosdominated space. It looks great on paper—HRA streaming up to 192/24, and multichannel capable—but the only clients I could find yet in evidence or mentioned on the net were a couple of small Harman/Kardon portables that hardly seemed up to real hi-res repro, and the only other companies listed on technology-parent Blackfire Research’s site as “partners” were Onkyo itself and corporate sister Pioneer. What’s more, Onkyo recently announced support for DTS Play-Fi wireless-multiroom, which seems to be gaining traction rapidly. This is promised to “expand into 2017 models,” though there’s no mention of Play-Fi in any TX-RZ1100 materials I could find.

Onkyo ships the receiver with the company’s familiar, full-size remote. It has a decent, solidly usable layout, but it’s completely unilluminated, which seems rather a pinch for a $2,199 receiver. It’s also dedicated—no system-remote options to control other components. Onscreen menus are simple, text-based displays, and they’re clear and easy to use. I particularly favored the Quick Menu button that brings up immediate access to a Level menu for easy trims of center or sub (but not, alas, surrounds or heights). The full-screen setup/parameter menu is very slow to display and recede (3 to 4 seconds on my TV) because it displays in 720p, and thus the screen must re-sync on every appearance. But this is a fairly infrequent trip, so not a very big deal.

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A slightly bigger deal, at least for me, is Onkyo’s approach to owner’s manuals. The “Basic Manual” packed in the box tells you how to hook up, turn on, press play, and select surround, all of which it does quite nicely. But the online “Advanced Manual” (a link is printed, rather coyly, in small print on the Basic’s cover) is disappointing. It’s far from complete, poorly hyperlink-organized, and not searchable. I’d have much preferred a full, detailed manual in PDF format, like the ones that Onkyo produced for earlier generations.

The Sum-Up
In matters both audio and video, Onkyo’s TX-RZ1100 is a very fine receiver, with its multichannel amp—fully nine channels and thus ready for 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos and DTS:X—winning special mention for power and dynamics. But while it’s true that manufacturers are all charging substantial premiums for nine-channel power compared with their seven-channel, “minimum-Atmos” models, and especially for models like this, offering 11.2-channel processing, you can also find 9.2 offerings now for substantially less coin. Of course, these may not equal this Onkyo’s genuine power prowess. And when the TXRZ1100 is updated to fully operational status, and we get a handle on its remaining features, it may very well shine brighter still. Whether you can justify the premium is a decision you alone will have to make, but if you choose to ante up, you’ll at least know where the extra money went.

COMPANY INFO
Onkyo
(800) 229-1687
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COMMENTS
badboy07's picture

...it must be a Pioneer Elite.

mhdaniels31's picture

at over 43 lbs this supposed 140wattx2 (125watts in reality ) weighs 10 lbs heavier then an sc95 and puts out less power is there a brick hidden inside and you'ld think if they were going to use the d3 amps maybe they should have used the EQ as well it would have made more sense then developing something that took everybody else years to do before they got it right

Decibel's picture

Good review. I recently got the TX RZ810 and whole heartedly agree with your review. The sonic signature you describe is exactly what I hear with the 810. I've had a whole slew of amps and receivers and this one is unique. Detailed, powerful, and clear. Yes clear. For some reason this amp just sounds clear. The measurements for the 1100 show a 1 db high frequency boost which I seem to hear in the 810 as well I wouldn't describe this amp as bright, but it does lean to that side ever so slightly. Great amp the 810 and probably gonna buy the 1100 for my other place. Sounds awesome. Running the 810 on Klipsch RP 260, RP 250 and RP 440C btw. Good movie set up and reasonably priced.

drny's picture

Sadly the A/V receiver will soon become a specialty niche product, just as separate components are now (pre-amp/processor and Amplifiers).
That is to say only dedicated videophiles will be on the market for them.
A decent desktop in the near future will be able to do all the processing that a good A/V does now. It is the Amplifier that will continue to live in some new iteration as part of any A/V system.
A/V receivers are simply highly over priced considering that good speakers and source players are affordable in comparison.

PeterC's picture

I recently purchased the Integra DRC-R1 Pre/Pro which is also an Onkyo product.
Am very happy with the sound but It has the same very poor online manual. I have contacted Integra to find out if there is a more complete manual available. They say that there isn't one.
The remote is also very basic for this level of product and is not backlit.
Very frustrating!

dommyluc's picture

This review belongs in the "Electronics/AV Receivers" section, not in the "Displays/4K Ultra HD TV" section of the reviews. I actually had to find this review on Google because it isn't listed in the proper section.

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