REVIEW: ONKYO TX-SR393 5.2 CHANNEL AV RECEIVER
We take a closer look at Onyko's budget-friendly 5.2 Channel AV Receiver that packs grunt along with all the latest immersive sound formats.
5.2 Channel AV Receiver
I got a little nostalgic when Onkyo's TX-SR393 arrived for review. Although it's been some time since I dabbled with Onkyo gear, my experiences have been positive. In fact, the only thing that stopped Onkyo's now venerable TX-DX696 from becoming my first 'serious' AV receiver was a shortage of stock and the impatience of youth.
One of the defining attributes of Onkyo AV Receivers at the time was their Wide Range AMP Technology, referred to as WRAT. While WRAT may be a thing of the past, fortunately Onkyo's philosophy of creating gutsy AVRs isn't, and the packing box mentions the TX-SR393's high current amps and discrete high-power output transistors many times.
The TX-SR393 is a 5.2 channel AVR, quoted as being able to deliver 155 watts per channel. Like many manufacturers, Onkyo's more than a little generous with its specs. Some further reading confirmed that this number was obtained with only one channel driven at 6 ohms with a whopping 10% Total Harmonic Distortion (THD).
Far more reassuring and somewhat surprising for an AV receiver at this price point though is that the TX-SR393 uses a “discrete high-current analogue amp system with 4-ohm drive capability.” I don't know of many other manufacturers who would recommend a 4-ohm load at this price-point.
Unsurprisingly, the TX-SR393 shucks most of the 'smarts' and network capability. Instead, it appears, the TX-SR393 focuses on one thing - home theatre sound. In this regard, it ticks all of the boxes, capable of decoding the latest in surround sound formats, including Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Dolby® TrueHD, and DTS-HD Master Audio™ decoding.
On the video front, the TX-SR393 supports HDCP 2.2, 4K/60p, HDR (Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG, BT.2020), 4:4:4 colour-space, BT.2020, 3D Video, ARC (Audio Return Channel), DeepColor™, x.v.Colour ™, and 1080p to 4K upscaling via its HDMI inputs.
The TX-SR393 rounds out its 'straight to the point' list of features with Zone B outputs (audio only), Bluetooth connectivity, DSP-controlled Vocal Enhancer and Advanced Music Optimiser. The TX-SR393 also features Onkyo's propriety AccuEQ Room Acoustic Calibration, Subwoofer EQ, and AccuReflex.
The TX-SR393's rather svelte dimensions mean it should easily fit in most entertainment units. As always it's prudent to allow some room around the unit for cooling.
The little Onkyo sports the same brushed black aluminium finish of many other receivers, the concave power, volume and menu dials coupled with its flanged bottom being a welcome deviation from its competitors.
No exception at this price-point, the TX-SR393 doesn't hide its front panel inputs and controls behind a pull-down flap. In addition to the power and volume control, the front panel hosts buttons granting access to the listening mode, music optimiser and source control.
Front-panel inputs are limited to a microphone jack and an input for the AccuEQ measurement microphone.
As to be expected, the TX-SR393 provides a limited range of connections when compared to its more expensive siblings. The back hosts four assignable HDMI inputs and one HDMI (ARC) output, next to which is a single USB input.
Audio connections consist of five composite audio inputs, two of which are reserved for Zone B and the TX-SR393's parallel subwoofer outputs. Digital audio is provided for in the form of a single optical and coaxial input.
While there are speaker binding posts for both front speakers, the centre and surround speaker terminals use spring-loaded clips. It's an unfortunate omission, forcing owners to either use the thinnest of speaker wires or in my case, retrofit to accommodate thicker cables.
The TX-SR393 is enclosed in a rigid aluminium chassis and the overall build quality of the TX-SR393 belies its modest asking price.
In addition to the AV Receiver, the box also contained AM/FM aerials, initial setup guide, calibration mic and remote. The included remote does feel somewhat plastic. However, it's easy enough to use, and I didn't have any complaints given the TX-SR393's price-point.
Being neither a network or high channel count AV receiver, set up is a breeze. Connect your speakers and source components, and you're done.
Powering up the TX-SR393 for the first time you're greeted with a somewhat antiquated looking menu system. Gone are the lavish setup menus, which show you how to connect your speakers and source devices.
Nevertheless, the TX-SR393's setup menu is sufficient enough to get the job done, with tests to ensure you've connected your speakers correctly. Likewise, the onscreen display offers an adequate explanation on how to calibrate your system with AccuEQ room correction software.
The question on many people's minds is likely how you can get Dolby Atmos from a 5.2 channel AVR? This is accomplished by forgoing the rear speakers in favour of Atmos height channels. Not exactly my cup of tea, but each to their own, I guess.
Room correction software took less than five minutes to do its thing, but upon checking the results, channel levels did look a little odd. With my SPL meter in hand, I soon discovered all the levels were bang on, the only exception being my right surround speaker, which I increased by 1db.
In addition to setting levels near to perfect, AccuEQ did an excellent job of determining speaker distance, without the need for any manual intervention. Like most other systems, it did set the crossover of my front speakers a little low, but this was easy enough to change.
Speaking of crossovers, these could be sets at increments of 10Hz from 40-120Hz with 30Hz increments after that. Many AVR's at this price-point don't offer that level of control.
The Little Engine that Could
A long-time go-to for testing AV receiver's capabilities is the Blu-ray of The Wolverine. The disc has a wonderful array of test material, with everything from subtle environmental effects to blistering surround sound action.
Kicking off the with the Yakuza ambush at Yoshida's funeral, the TX-SR393 put in a surprisingly muscular performance. Granted, it couldn't come anywhere near the level of my own Denon AVC-X8500H or the Anthem MRX-720 I recently reviewed, but it was enough to easily defy its $699 asking price.
Bass had decent weight to it, and there was enough power on tap to drive my speakers loud enough to create a dynamic home theatre experience. Onkyo's AccuEQ wasn't however able to muster the same level of control over my VAF Gravitas subs as I'm used to.
What also surprised me was the size of the soundstage the little Onkyo produced. The TX-SR393 created a large soundstage, making use of all the speakers at its disposal, placing the listener right in the middle of the action.
With the USS Arkansas going head to head with a soviet Akula class submarine in Hunter Killer, the TX-SR393 created a big sound field, with torpedoes swooshing convincingly about my listening room. Likewise, the Onkyo turned in a reasonably detailed performance, capturing background noise and conversations within the USS Arkansas.
While the TX-SR393 wasn't able to provide the same level of impact I have become accustomed to from Blade Runner 2049 it did again surprise me. By comparison, the Onkyo sounded neither thin or tinny, both of which are common traits at this price-point.
The TX-SR393 always rendered dialogue clearly, without the need to resort to inflating the level of the centre channel.
I'm always a little apprehensive when reviewing entry-level AVRs. You never know what you're going to get, mainly as underpowered amplifiers are often the casualty of working to a budget.
While I'm still getting used to the capabilities of my recently installed VAF speakers, I was expecting I'd need to be a lot more careful than I was when pairing them with an entry-level AVR.
The TX-SR393 proved itself to be quite a muscular little performer.
You're not going to be rivalling the volume levels of the local mega-plex anytime soon, but match the TX-SR393 with the right speakers, and you'll have a superb entry-level home theatre system.
Well done Onkyo, you didn't disappoint!
For more information visit Onkyo.
As the owner of Adelaide based ‘Clarity Audio & Video Calibration’, Tony is a certified ISF Calibrator. Tony is an accomplished Audio-Visual reviewer specialising in theatre and visual products.
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