Onkyo TX-RZ800 Review
THE VERDICT:
The Onkyo TX-RZ800 is a solid upper mid-range receiver. As usual, Onkyo doesn't skimp on features. Great movie and music performance makes the 800 one of the best buys available.

See Price on Amazon
Design8
Features9
Value9
Sound Quality9.5
The Good
  • The Onkyo TX-RZ800 has a bold and powerful sound with excellent surround capabilities. The 800 packs-in a bevy of sought after features such as HDCP 2.2, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. Performs better with music than its predecessors.
The Bad
  • The 800's bottom-end can sometimes be overly aggressive. Archaic user interface can use an overhaul. Mildly inconvenient rear USB input.
9Overall Score

 

onkyo-tx-rz800-front

 

The design of Onkyo amps have remained reliably unchanged for the last few model cycles. However, that’s not the case this year. Onkyo decided to shake things up a bit with their new Z-series. The Onkyo TX-RZ800 is the heir apparent to the NR-838 and it sports a cleaner more streamlined look along with a couple of forward thinking technological features.

 

There’s a simple elegance to the RZ800 that past receivers have lacked. The front is mostly free of button clutter save for a cluster of input select buttons on the right and a few buttons on the left side. A large volume button is stationed on the right side with tone adjust and listening mode knobs on the left. Another series of buttons and an HDMI input are concealed by a trap door on the front of the unit. Unfortunately, like most Onkyo models this year, the USB input has disappeared from the front of the unit. Instead, it’s been relegated to the rear which is a little inconvenient.

 

Onkyo TX-RZ800 – Well Connected

Along with the USB input, you’ll also find an impressive amount of connection options on the back. The Onkyo TX-ZR800 gives you a slew of analog connections to go along with two digital coaxial and three optical. If that’s not enough the 800 also has two component inputs (one output), zone 2 outputs, a phono input, one IR input, a 12V Trigger, one RS 232 port, an ethernet input and dual subwoofer pre-outs.

 

Onkyo TX-RZ800 Inputs

HDMI is the chosen input option for modern amps and the RZ800 has 8 of them including two outputs. Five of the inputs are HDCP 2.2 compatible which means the 800 is a safe bet for future 4K compatibility. Ultra HD, or 4K as its commonly known, is four times the resolution of current HD specs. The 800 supports 4:4:4 color space as well as High Dynamic Range content which results in greater contrast and more vibrant colors. The RZ800 will pass through a 4K signal, but it won’t upscale. Is this a big deal? Probably not. Most 4K TV’s on the market offer some sort of 4K upscaling so having a receiver that’s also capable of this may be superfluous. Built-in Bluetooth and WiFi round-out the 800’s connection options.

 

Features

The sudden resurgence of vinyl has av manufacturers putting renewed emphasis on analog audio. Onkyo incorporates Vector Linear Shaping Circuitry on the 800 which is designed to eliminate pulse noise that occurs with digital to analog conversions. The result is smooth detailed audio that can rival dedicated two channel amps.

 

The 7.2 Channel Onkyo TX-RZ800 makes it pretty easy to listen to audio in multiple rooms. The 800 has powered zone 2 as well as zone 2 and 3 pre-outs. With the units whole house mode you can play the same music in all rooms or you can play different music in each zone. The second HDMI output can be used to route 1080p video to a secondary zone as long as the device is connected to HDMI inputs 1-5.

 

WiFi and Bluetooth work flawlessly on the RZ800. Both are easy to setup and use. The 800 has dual antennas on the back which help strengthen the WiFi signal. Even though our router was one floor up with several walls between it and the Onkyo, we experienced no loss of connection or signal drop-outs. Streaming music over WiFi was a painless process. As usual with Onkyo, they give you a gaggle of internet streaming options such as Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM, Slacker, TuneIn and Deezer. Missing from this list is Apple’s fledgling music service Apple Music. However, If you’re a subscriber you can still stream your tunes via AirPlay or Bluetooth.

 

Audio Formats

It’s no surprise that the THX Select2 Certified Onkyo TX-RZ800 supports the standard HD audio formats such as Dobly TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. The new kids on the audio format block are Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. Both of which are featured on the 800.

 

Atmos and DTS:X are object based schemes that allow audio engineers to place sounds at specific locations. The RZ800 can support a 5.1.2 Atmos arrangement. With the addition of ceiling channels or Atmos modules, the added layer of overhead sounds can create a “3D” like audio experience. DTS:X offers a similar experience, but with DTS:X users can also play the role of audio engineer. DTS:X  gives the listener the ability customize their audio experience by adjusting the room layout, dialogue and dynamic range on the fly.

 

Both pieces of tech have only become available to consumers recently and are somewhat unproven commodities. An ever growing list of movies are beginning to offer the fledgling formats and in our listening tests Atmos shows lots of promise. We haven’t had the chance to put DTS:X thru its paces just yet so it’s difficult to properly compare the two.

 

For hi-res music the Onkyo TX-RZ800 utilizes 384 kHz/32-bit Hi-Grade DAC’s courtesy of Asahi Kasei. As a result, the amp can handle a variety of audio formats, both compressed and hi-res such as MP3, WMA, WMA Lossless, FLAC, WAV, OggVorbis, AAC, Apple Lossless, DSD 5.6 MHz   and LPCM.

 

Setup and Calibration

The on-screen interface of the Onkyo TX-RZ800 won’t win any awards, but it gets the job done. The menus are relatively easy to navigate. They just lack pizzazz. Onkyo’s control app which is a free download from the Google Play and iOS app store is intuitive and is more modern and forward thinking in its design. Onkyo would do well to borrow some elements from the app and adapt them to the on screen GUI of their amps.

 

Calibrating the RZ800 is a straightforward process. Onkyo has dumped Audyssey as its go to calibration system. Instead they’ve opted to use their own AccuEQ calibration system. AccuEQ holds its own against Audyssey. The entire process is faster than Audyssey’s, although it still takes a few minutes to complete. The end results with AccuEQ were solid. It measured the speakers distances fairly accurately and also set the speaker crossovers at respectable levels. The only drawback was that AccuEQ, just like Audyssey in the past, set our fronts to large which we were able to fix easily enough after the initial calibration.

 

Sound Quality

The Onkyo TX-RZ800’s movie performance is rich and powerful and yet, with music, it has enough nuance to tackle complex arrangements with ease. For action movies the Onkyo TX-RZ800 is a beast. Any subwoofer connected to the 800 will get a good work out. The 800’s low-end is strong without being boomy. The amp displayed a detailed and cohesive mid-range. It’s upper and mid-bass performance was equally detailed.

 

High frequencies were represented with the same level of acumen. All told, the 800 performed well across all spectrums. The amp cast an impressively large sound stage with smooth transitions from front to rear channels reminiscent of what we experienced with the Onkyo 646. Dolby Atmos is gaining fans around our office. The audio format sounded as impressive on the Onkyo RZ800 as it has on any receiver we’ve tested this year. Atmos adds another dimension to any movie with it’s over head channels providing height and depth. Early Blu-rays encoded in Atmos struggled to portray the formats true potential. However, more recent Blu-rays have begun pushing the envelope and the Onkyo TX-RZ800 is the perfect receiver to show what Atmos is capable of. If there’s one weakness with the 800’s performance, it’s that it can sometimes be a little too aggressive, especially in the low-end.

 

Musically, the Onkyo RZ800’s was fluid and detailed. Vocals were clean, crisp and uncolored. Even at high volumes the 800 maintained its composure and never struggled. The amp can deliver about 135 watts of power with two channels driven and thanks to its impressive audio capabilities I can honestly say that the 800 is capable of giving a dedicated two channel amp a run for its money.

 

The Verdict

The Onkyo TX-RZ800 is an all around solid performer. Onkyo’s have traditionally put a strong emphasis on home theater audio, however this year, their renewed emphasis on music has put the Z800 on par with some two channel receivers. This, on top of its excellent set of features, means the RZ series is off to a great start.


Where to Buy:

See Price on Amazon



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