The Good: The Onkyo TX-NR636 has great sound quality. It also sports some enviable features such as WiFi, Bluetooth, 4K compatability and Dolby Atmos.

 

The Bad:  Pricier than last years Onkyo 626. Outdated user interface.

 

Summary: The Onkyo 636 is loaded with features. It’s overall great sound quality makes it one of the top mid-range AV receivers for this year.

 

Onkyo TX-NR636 Review

The one thing you can say about Onkyo is that they stick to what they know. Design wise their receivers still look like big black tanks. Honestly, throw some tank treads on the Onkyo TX-NR636 and the U.S. government could probably march this into their next combat area. However, with Onkyo, looks aren’t everything and luckily the 636 is packed with great features, including HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2 and Dolby Atmos. Combine it’s impressive feature list with it’s music and movie prowess and you have a combo that’s tough to beat.

 

Onkyo TX-NR636 Performance

The 7.2 Channel Onkyo 636 proved itself to be a more than capable receiver for movie playback. The 2014 Remake of Godzilla seemed to be a good litmus test for the 636. For the most part we weren’t disappointed. When you have three giant monsters colliding on an epic scale you expect there to be copious amounts of bass. Fortunately for us this 115 watt per channel tank like receiver brutalized our subwoofer with it’s low frequencies. Dialogue was precise and clear, and never seemed overwhelmed by intense action scenes. The roars, groans and grunts of monsters bounced from channel to channel effortlessly. However, this is also one area where we felt the 636 faltered slightly. Sometimes the sound effects reproduced by the surround channels were a little too focused and directional for our liking. Despite this it still managed to create a compelling and exciting listening experience.

 

For music playback it performed equally well. Listening to several varieties of music, including Bastille’s All This Bad Blood CD, proved that the Onkyo TX-NR636 is a very capable stereo performer. Vocals were clear and precise. The 636 also projected a wide imaging area which managed to fill the room with sound.

 

Onkyo TX-NR636 Design and Appearance

Onkyo TX-NR636

The Onkyo TX-NR636 has an almost brutish exterior, but strangely enough I like it. There are no curves or slick glossy piano finishes. The 636 is hard and angular, in other words it’s all business. It has a sturdy aluminum construction with a brushed aluminum front grill. Scrolling across the front of the 636 from left to right are buttons for input selections, sound modes etc.

 

The remote of the Onkyo TX-NR636 has remained virtually unchanged from past iterations. It’s not perfect, but for the most part everything’s labeled clearly. It’s not as simple as Sony’s remote’s that come bundled with their crop of receivers for 2014 but all-in-all it’s not bad.

 

The on-screen display of the 636 is a slight improvement over model’s of past years. It’s a little more graphical than previous interfaces that Onkyo has included on their receivers. Onkyo is starting to embrace the trend of using graphical icons to help guide users through the plethora of on screen options. Overall, we found the on-screen menus easy to use. However, the snazzy GUI of the Sony STR-DN1050 receiver has raised the bar for all AV receivers. In this regard, the Onkyo 636 has some catching up to do.

 

Onkyo 636 Connectivity

In the area of connectivity, the Onkyo TX-NR636 really shines. It has a very impressive 7 HDMI inputs. The 636’s inputs are HDMI 2.0 compliant as well as HDCP 2.2 compliant. The HDCP 2.2 compliancy makes the 636 relatively future proof. HDCP 2.2 is the next generation of copy protection which is expected to be utilized in conjunction with Ultra HD video. Currently, with the limited availability of 4K video this isn’t that important. However, in a few years when 4K video is mainstream you’ll be thankful that your Onkyo TX-NR636 is compliant with the latest copy protection technologies. In addition to it’s HDCP 2.2 compliancy, the 636 also allows both 4K passthrough and upscaling. The 636 has an abundant supply of analog connection options to go along with it’s digital connectivity so hooking-up older equipment to the 636 shouldn’t be an issue. In addition to it’s wired connection options, the Onkyo TX-NR636 also has both built-in WiFi and Bluetooth.

Onkyo TX-NR636 Rear

Features & Setup

Onkyo year after year manages to cram a variety of internet streaming services into their receivers. This year is no different. The 636 comes bundled with tunein, SiriusXM, Spotify, Deezer, Pandora, Slacker and Aupeo. All-in-all, it has more internet streaming options than most of it’s competitors. The one thing missing is Apple AirPlay however, being that the 636 is DLNA compatible and has both WiFi and Bluetooth, there’s a variety of avenues open to you to stream music to the receiver.

 

As you’d expect, the Onkyo TX-NR636 is capable of decoding most of the major HD surround formats including Dolby True HD, DD Plus, PLIIz, and DTS-HD Master Audio. As an added twist, the 636 also supports Dolby’s latest creation Atmos. Atmos basically gives sound engineers the ability to add more sound channels. With this added flexibility, they can add additional side and ceiling channels. The end result is a surround sound experience that’s more enveloping than a traditional setup. The 636 requires a firmware update to activate this functionality. For music listening, it supports gapless playback and has the ability to play DSD, Double DSD, FLAC and ALAC.

 

Calibrating the Onkyo-TX-NR636 is quick and painless with Onkyo’s AccuEQ calibration. Once we setup the included microphone, the 636 sent a series of test tones to our set of speakers. Based on the readings it calculated the ideal settings for our setup. Overall, we found it to be on par with the Audyssey calibration system Onkyo used in the past for their receivers. The only issue we encountered was regarding the crossover settings it assigned to our speakers. It set our center channel to an unusually high crossover of 150Hz. Manually adjusting the crossover to a more accurate 80Hz alleviated the issue.

 

Conclusion

The Onkyo TX-NR636 is loaded with features, including 4K and Dolby Atmos. Coupled with It’s great sound quality the 636 represents the total package making it one of the top values in AV receivers for 2014.
 


Where to Buy:

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One Response

  1. KE

    Phono input on the front? I think you meant on the back, the front has a 1/4″ headphone jack.

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