Onkyo 7.2 Channel TX-NR545 Review
THE VERDICT:
The Onkyo 545 is a good sounding amp. The inclusion of Dolby Atmos and HDCP 2.2 means that it should be the center piece of your home theater for years to come. The 545 makes a couple small missteps, but when you look at the total package, the 545 is one of the top mid-range amps this year.

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Design7
Features9
Value9
Sound Quality8.5
The Good
  • The Onkyo TX-NR545 is a typical Onkyo receiver. It's feature rich with WiFi, Bluetooth, HDCP 2.2 and more. On top of this, Onkyo's managed to eek out better audio performance out of this year's model.
The Bad
  • The 545 still uses Onkyo’s tried-and-true out dated interface. Mid-range could use just a tad more refinement.
8.4Overall Score

Onkyo TX-NR545 Review

A few weeks ago I checked out the Onkyo TX-NR646. Thus far, it’s one of the best sounding amps we’ve tested this year. A few weeks later the Onkyo TX-NR545 came in. The 545 is a cheaper alternative to the 646, so I was very curious to see what you lose with the lower price tag. After living with this AV receiver for a few days, I can honestly say, not much.

 


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Appearance & Design

The 545 is your typical blocky AV receiver. It won’t win any design awards, but no one buys a receiver based on its good looks. It’s what’s inside that counts. And the 545 has a heck-of-a-lot going on inside which I’ll touch upon a little later. The remote is well over due for an overhaul. It’s the same one that Onkyo’s bundled with their receivers for the past few years. Also, the on-screen menus of the Onkyo TX-NR545 could be considered archaic by today’s standards. The text-based interface is a bit ordinary, however it gets the job done.

 

If you want to use something a little more modern, then you may want to download the control app that Onkyo supplies for iOS and Android devices. The app basically lets you control most of the basic operations of the receiver. After using the app for a while you’ll probably have a sudden urge to ditch the remote.

 

Connectivity

Onkyo TX-NR545 Rear
Connection wise, the Onkyo TX-NR545 is pretty well armed. On the back of the amp you get seven RCA inputs, two components, three digitals and one ethernet. You also get two subwoofer pre-outs as well as a powered zone two and one analog line-out for a second zone. If you’re looking for a USB input on the front, you won’t find it. Instead, Onkyo’s moved it to the rear this year which is a little inconvenient.

 

The Onkyo 545 also tosses-in six HDMI inputs which are all 4K (UHD) compatible. However, only inputs one through three and the HDMI output are HDCP 2.2 compliant. The Onkyo TX-NR545 can also handle 4K HDR (High Dynamic Range) content which boasts greater contrast ratios and provides a more life-like-image quality.

 

Wireless

Onkyo was one of the first AV manufacturers to embrace WiFi and Bluetooth a few years ago so it’s no surprise that the 545 supports both. What is a bit of a surprise is that the 545 also supports Apple’s AirPlay service which allows you to push your favorite tunes wirelessly to the amp from your iOS device.

 

This marks the first year that Onkyo has shown AirPlay some love so Apple lovers can rejoice. Non-Apple users of course can use bluetooth to send music to the receiver if they choose. Internet streaming options are pretty substantial since the Onkyo TX-NR545 supports Pandora, TuneIn, Spotify, Deezer and Slacker.

 

Audio Formats

The Onkyo 545 is pretty well equipped to handle most standard and hi-res audio files thanks to its 384 kHz/32-bit High Grade DAC. The receiver can handle MP3, WMA, WMA Lossless, FLAC, WAV, AAC, Apple Lossless, and DSD 5.6 MHz formats. Using a network attached storage device or a PC you can stream hi-res files over your network pretty smoothly and easily. You can also use a USB drive, however as mentioned before, the USB port is inconveniently located on the back of the receiver which makes it a little cumbersome to use. On the other hand, the rear input works great for a streaming stick such as a Google Chromecast or Amazon Fire Stick.

Onkyo TX-NR545 Dolby Atmos

For home theater the 545 decodes the normal array of formats including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. The new kid on the block this year is Dolby Atmos. Dolby’s new object based format is designed to provide a 3D audio experience mainly via ceiling speakers or Dolby Atmos speaker modules. For Atmos the Onkyo TX-NR545 supports a 5.1.2. speaker arrangement.

 


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Setup & Calibration

Onkyo’s kicked Audyssey to the curb this year in favor of their own proprietary AccuEQ calibration system. It works pretty much the same except you only need to set the calibration mic in one location in your room. The entire process only occupies a couple minutes of your time and turns in some pretty good results. As always, I recommend you check the settings after calibration as you’ll probably find a couple items you’ll need to adjust to your liking.

 

Onkyo TX-NR545 In Action

Let me start by saying that Dolby Atmos is impressing me with every new Blu-Ray release. The more time I spend with the format, the more I’m starting to think that Atmos could become a dominant format in home theater circles. I wanted to give the Onkyo TX-NR545 a real workout so I plopped in Mad Max: Fury Road on blu ray.

 

Fury Road is one of those rare movies where the audio plays a vital role in the story telling. Just like the characters in the movie, the audio is brash, loud  and in your face. I knew the 545 had its work cut out for it as soon as I inserted the Blu-Ray. To my surprise the Onkyo 545’s sound quality is nearly on par with that of the Onkyo 646. The surround channels were constantly pumping out sound as cars and thunder sticks zoomed by. The 545 created a wall of sound that wrapped around the listening area making it feel as if I was in the middle of the action.

 

Fury Road dishes out it’s fair share of low frequencies and the Onkyo TX-NR545 delivers them up nicely. Long story short, make sure you take all of your breakables off the wall.

 

Adding Atmos to the mix added a whole new dimension to the listening experience as explosions and crunching metal appeared over head. In my case I used Atmos speaker modules which work by reflecting sound off the ceiling and down into my listening area. One thing I have noticed is that in this type of arrangement the reflected sound can sometimes fall a foot or two in front of my preferred listening location. That being said Atmos isn’t perfect but it does make sound tracks far more engaging and immersive.

 

Moving on to music the Onkyo 545 is an exciting performer being agile and dynamic enough to handle all genres of music. The only quibble I had with it, especially when comparing it to its bigger brother, is  it’s mid-range sounded a little soft and was less focused than the 646’s. Onkyo’s music optimizer does provide a little more detail with MP3’s however, I felt the level of improvement was negligible at best.

 

Conclusion

There was a time when the volume of features Onkyo pumped into their receivers made them stand out on a crowded playing field. However, this year many of their opponents are catching up. Despite this, the Onkyo TX-NR545 is a pretty good value. For a relatively low price you get an amp that includes nearly every sought after feature you could want on a mid-range AV receiver.


Where to Buy:

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Onkyo TX-NR545 7.2-Channel Network A/V Receiver

Price: $599.00

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