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Onkyo TX-NR656 Review: Everything You Need to Know

Looking for a new receiver for your sound system can be an intimidating experience. What is the best option? What should you consider before you buy? Is there anything specific you should look for?

There are plenty of excellent options on the market, so it’s important that you know the one that’s going to work best for you.

One example of a receiver you might consider is the Onkyo TX-NR656. The TX-NR656 is a solid choice because it took all the great features from its previous models and tweaked them.

Onkyo TX-NR656 Receiver
$399.99
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10/23/2021 10:05 am GMT

But what makes this receiver so great? Let’s take a closer look at the Onkyo TX-NR656 to find out.

Onkyo TX-NR656

If you’re in the market for a high-quality receiver to pair with your existing home theater system, the Onkyo TX-NR656 might be just what you’re looking for. This device is loaded with features and won’t require your life savings to take one home.

It doesn’t matter if you’re someone who likes to play around with their home theater as a hobby or someone who is seriously into audio. The TX-NR656 is a receiver that’s sure to impress. This receiver has so much to offer you’ll be left wondering how they keep any in stock.

Design

One of the first things users will notice about the Onkyo TX-NR656 is its appearance. The buttons and controls on the receiver are sleek and attractive.

The front panel has a black display in the center with a green indicator, and underneath are source buttons. The connectors on the back are made with quality and are very dense and sturdy.

The whole device only weighs 10kg. At 435mm wide, 173.5mm tall, and 378mm deep, it’s an average size receiver and works great for speakers with 6-16 Ohm resistance. However, in my experience, I’ve had no problems with 4 Ohm speakers.

The way the layout was designed makes a lot of sense. The wires were carefully thought out so as not to be in the way and you won’t see extraneous wires hanging around. The transformer is screwed into the base securely.

The downside to this receiver is that it uses a piece of sheet metal for a radiator instead of aluminum, which isn’t as effective at removing heat.

The graphics menu is neat and easy to navigate without any unnecessary items and the setup wizard is the same. It walks you through the set up without any extra confusing steps.

The remote control has a convenient “Q” button that allows you to access the quick menu that contains all of your necessary functions, but it’s not really any easier than having a menu button.

Setup

Thanks to an easy menu, the setup is straightforward and simple. The receive is easy to setup at the beginning and works great from there on. There are two menus that you can use.

The quick menu is for your basic controls like on and off activity settings and subwoofer levels. The on-screen menu allows you to adjust the frequency of absorption for each channel individually.

Features

This product goes above and beyond the previous model with high-altitude audio channels and additional tuning, calibration, and DSP-processing. However, there’s a catch. You can’t do the DSP-processing without a separate kit from the company.

Otherwise, the Onkyo TX-NR646 is fully-loaded with all of the up-to-date technology you need. It has DTS-X surround formats and Dolby ATmos, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay, and excellent sound quality.

It leads its class in dynamics and exciting sonics. It has eight HDMI inputs, one on the front and seven in the back. It also has two outputs and one phono input.

With all of this multimedia capability and support, you’ll be able to playback plenty of audio formats in high-definition, too. You’ll also be able to support Hi-Res formats and should be pleased with the power of the high-output amplifiers.

Performance

The Onkyo TX-NR656 creates a more modern picture. It penetrates deeper into the scene than other receivers, clearly shaping the outline of all images, even those in the distance.

One of the best things about this receiver is that it replaces weak images with strong ones, rather than just masking them.

Not only that, but the receiver will do the same with the sound. It’s unobtrusively modern, filling your ears with a sound that’s both deeper and higher. The soundtrack will fill the space with bass.

You’ll even be able to pick up small noises like wind in the meadow. You’ll enjoy the charm of your very own home theatre with every little engine noise thanks to the TX-NR656’s AccuReflex technology.

Every sound and image come together to add to the whole in a comprehensive way, revealing something that you feel like you’ve never seen before, even if you’ve already watched it a thousand times before.

Car chases mix road noise and music well. Gunfights put you in the middle of whistling bullets. Dialogue scenes offer awesome detail. The receiver even has enough power in reserve to reproduce a huge range of noises at lower frequencies, too.

Music on the Onkyo leads its class in resolution. Male voices pass through all channels on the receiver for perfect reproduction while female voices come through with charisma and excellent leveling.

Onkyo TX-NR656 Receiver
$399.99
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10/23/2021 10:05 am GMT

Sound quality

Running a second set of speakers on this unit gives you great sound quality and balance. The acoustic properties of this receiver are unique and it leaves most of the competitors in the dust.

The built-in amplifiers give you stable performance. It’s a powerful receiver that has no problem supplying serious acoustics with its active subwoofer.

Because of its ability to handle a large number of varying sound effects at the same time, you can hear each one of them clearly and independently of the others, yet they form one cohesive sound.

Not only that, but the sound of musical instruments is clean, but percussion doesn’t always seem to have quite enough dynamics. Despite this downfall, the resolution is still satisfying. In this price range, it’s still pretty impressive.

The AccuEQ calibration system couldn’t compete with systems like YPAO, MCACC, or Audyssey when it first came out. However, now that it’s been around for a few years, it’s much better.

The Onkyo TX-NR656 is equipped with such a system, and the sound is clear, the volume is balanced, and the sound is awesome. It’s a huge step beyond previous generations.

Connectivity

Because the Onkyo TX-NR656 is able to connect via AirPlay or Bluetooth to any of your devices, you can manage your receiver and stream your favorite media from your smartphone, tablet, or clock.

You can also connect an external hard drive and play media from any storage device. Hook up an HDTV using a mobile app on your phone or tablet and control every bit of your menu. The app is thoughtfully planned and not clumsy.

The built-in Wi-Fi makes it easy to listen to music from your laptop or any music streaming services from your phone. It includes support for Spotify, Pandora, and TuneIn. It will also respond to Apple AirPlay from your iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, or any computer running iTunes.

It also plays high-resolution music files from a USB device or a PC on your network. It will also play DSD files from your networked PC or a USB storage device.

Alternatives

If you’re not sold on the Onkyo TX-NR656, here are some alternatives that you may want to consider before you make a final decision.

Denon AVR-S510BT

Denon AVR-S510BT offers dual subwoofers. It gives you a few more options for fine-tuning your entire system and provides great sound at a lot of different listening positions. You have several options for placing your subwoofers wherever you want.

It’s easy to set up, especially for beginners, and it’s even easier if you follow the instructions included. Just make sure you connect all of the parts that enable its use. It also has 5 HDMI ports, which isn’t quite as many as the Onkyo, but is still quite a few.

This is a great solution for beginners. It may not have any Wi-Fi or Ethernet ports, but it’s also relatively simplistic, so there’s nothing to distract you from the easiest setup possible. You will miss out on streaming from your favorite services, though.

You’ll also need an extra cable to get sound from your TV. It can be annoying to have to connect this extra, and without it, you won’t have any sound. It doesn’t come with an Audio Return Channel, which means you’ll need an optical cable.

While this receiver also uses lower quality connectors, it’s also one of the things that keeps the cost low and makes it a great beginner device. It’s a great stepping stone to something better.

Denon AVR-S510B
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Pioneer VSX-530-K

This device may not come with network options, but it does come with streaming options built-in. If you like the music services that come with it, you’ll be golden. You can also connect a flash drive or use Bluetooth as a convenient way to play everything you want.

The Pioneer VSX-530-K isn’t the best device for beginners because it doesn’t have automatic sound calibration. If you’re an experienced audio technician and you know how to calibrate the audio on a receiver like this, it can be a great option, because the price is so low.

It comes with all of the ingredients that make up a great sound, so if you can manually achieve that, you’ll have a fantastic home theatre system, making this a great value.

With 4 HDMI inputs and 1 HDMI output compliant with HDCP 2.2, you’ll have a device that can support content that’s future copyrighted in 4K resolution, which is a plus, but it does use an inferior speaker connection method.

Spring clips have a smaller contact area that can result in poor performance. You may choose to get binding posts for the two main speakers instead.

Pioneer VSX-530-K 5.1
$319.00
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10/23/2021 07:41 am GMT

Yamaha RX-V379BL

For a device that makes it easy to change settings, this is the receiver you want. If you’re constantly finding that you’re adjusting the settings based on what you watch, you may want something that simplifies the menu a bit.

The Yamaha RX-V379BL also really good at adjusting its own audio settings based on what’s playing. The built-in microphone can pick up on unique sounds in the room and then adjusts the sounds accordingly.

It features something called Virtual Cinema Front which imitates surround sound even if you place all five of your speakers in the front. It won’t replace proper surround sound, but it can be a close second.

This entry-level receiver does have limited features that won’t cut it if you decide to expand your home theatre later. It uses lower quality connectors with spring clips rather than binding posts.

It also has limited music playback options and doesn’t have a USB port or music streaming. It does have Bluetooth, but it’s only for use with wireless speakers and not available as an additional input.

Yamaha RX-V379BL
$224.00
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10/23/2021 07:50 am GMT

Sony STR-DN850

This device goes above and beyond, but so does the price. For increased depth of sound, a great interface, multiple streaming services, 4K resolution support, and additional music playback, this is a fantastic option.

The Sony STR-DN850 receiver comes with seven speakers that add detail to the sound compared to your standard five speakers. It also has two subwoofers that gives you some freedom in configuration and more listening positions.

Sony STR-DN850

The 7.2 channel configuration gives you fuller sound and a more immersive experience. The interface is easy to understand and simple to navigate. It’s also nice to look at. The remote is also easy to use. It’s not cluttered with a bunch of buttons.

It offers access to multiple streaming services as well as Ethernet and Wi-Fi connections. Included is Apple AirPlay, TuneIn, and Spotify.

With a SongPal app, you can use your phone as a remote and have access to basic options like music playback, source selection, volume settings, and you can even add different effects to your audio.

The USB port and Bluetooth connectivity give you extra music playback options, and there’s alos NFC support. The receiver also supports 4K resolution with 5 HDMI inputs and 1HDMI output.

The problem with this receiver is that it’s not protected against the future. It doesn’t have HDCP 2.2 support, so you won’t be able to watch copyrighted 4K content. It also doesn’t have Dolby Atmos technology.

Setting up the receiver isn’t too hard, but if you don’t set it up accurately, the sound can be wildly off. It’s definitely not suited for people who can’t rely on their ears to modify sound.

Sony STR-DN850
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Yamaha RX-V481BL

Perhaps the best alternative is this option that’s easy to set up. While it only has five speakers, they use binding posts rather than the cheap spring clips that others use, offering better contact, which means they won’t come loose. You can also use banana plugs, which are easy to swap if you decide to move your speakers around.

This receiver also offers better picture accuracy than other devices in the same price range by using High Dynamic Range technology that gives you a more contrast, while the BT.2020 feature gives you a wider range of colors.

When you put both of these features together, you get a deeper, more pronounced picture that resonates on all levels, yet looks natural.

The depth of sound is also better than other receivers at the price. It has great clarity and you can enjoy it with a range of playback options as well as USB, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. You can even control the receiver from your smartphone using the MusicCast app. Customize the look of the app to make it your own.

The only thing that’s not so great about this option is that the box is full of buttons which can be confusing. While they all serve a purpose, it can seem cluttered and overwhelming. You can make scene shortcuts on your menu to help with this, but it still could be improved.

FAQs

If you’re still not sure which receiver is right for you, here are some frequently asked questions that should help you decide.

Question: Is Onkto a good receiver?

Answer: A lot of people worry about whether they’re choosing a good brand or not, and it’s understandable. Onkyo isn’t the most well-known brands on the market, especially when comparing them side by side with names like Pioneer, Sony, Bose, or Denon.
However, Onkyo has some top quality receivers, and they’ve even been named some of the best overall receivers for the money. They’ve been the best selling AVR brand for years and are the best seller at sites like Amazon and a few others.
There’s no reason to fear a brand you don’t know much about, as long as you do your research first.

Question: Is Onkyo high end?

Answer: What’s great about Onkyo is that they’ve been making receivers and other high-quality audio equipment since the 1940s, so they know what they’re doing. They make premium speakers and a wide range of receivers.
They feature models that fit every budget, so while they do have high end products, they also have budget options for those who are looking for a great value. You may also find a great device for beginners.

Question: Is Onkyo better than Bose?

Answer: One of the most common questions for many people is this one. Is “insert the name of my chosen brand here” better than Bose? Bose is a top name in premium audio equipment, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best.
Bose is great if you want to spend a lot of money on items that don’t take up a ton of space. However, there are a lot of other systems out there that you can put together for a lot less money, and they’ll sound better, too.
Onkyo is just one of those options. No, it won’t sit nicely on a tiny shelf out of the way and be practically invisible, but you won’t waste your entire life’s savings on your home theatre system, either.

Final Thoughts

The Onkyo TX-NR656 was built sensibly. It works great, but without a lot of frills. It has everything you need and not a ton more. The bass is tight and you’ll get everything you need out of the entire acoustic spectrum.

There’s the perfect compilation of sound and it corresponds perfectly with the clear, crisp image.

It’s fast and easy to set up, and the remote is simple to understand and use. Even without the ability to process video signals internally, this receiver is a great AV receiver with a great build quality and sleek design.

Onkyo TX-NR656 Receiver
$399.99
Check Price
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
10/23/2021 10:05 am GMT

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