The Onkyo TX-RZ1100 can not be called a flagship, because Onkyo has a few higher models, such as the RZ3100. But it is a very well-equipped receiver with pure power on surplus. The somewhat cheaper Onkyo TX-RZ820 is hardly affected.
It has been a while since we took a receiver from Onkyo under the microscope. It is nice that we are once again getting to know the brand on the basis of the Onkyo TX-RZ1100, a heavyweight in the Onkyo range. In this test, we concentrate mainly on this receiver, but we also visited the Onkyo TX-RZ820. Occasionally we will refer to this middle class, because there are many similarities between the two. The design, for example, but also the extensive streaming possibilities that Onkyo has made its specialty.
Onkyo TX-RZ1100 and TX-RZ820: powerful and powerful
Both the Onkyo TX-RZ820 and the Onkyo TX-RZ1100 are receivers from the higher class at Onkyo, which you notice with the THX certificate. You can recognize this by the letters ‘RZ’, lower Onkyos bear the inscription ‘NR’. The RZ models like this pair are available in black or silver, and are very tightly drawn. Onkyo undoubtedly has one of the finest receivers in the market. Not everyone thinks that is equally important, especially because AV receivers often end up in the closet. Both the Onkyo TX-RZ820 and Onkyo TX-RZ1100 eyes are solid and show a solid build quality.
If you place the two Onkyo receivers next to each other, you do not immediately see a difference. Yet it is anything but the same devices. The TX-RZ820 is a 7.2 receiver with support for Dolby Atmos / DTS: X 5.2.2, the RZ1100 offers 9.2 surround that can be converted to a 5.2.4 setup. There are pre-outs to bring your surround system to 7.2.4, but then you have to provide an extra stereo amplifier. There is also a considerable difference in power: 180 versus 200 watts. But when unpacking the two brands we quickly notice that the TX-RZ1100 contains a heavier power supply and in use the higher model shows itself more powerful and dynamic.
Having said that, the TX-RZ820 certainly does not perform below par, but it’s just in a different class. You also notice this by the price difference of 500 euros. For extra money you get an extra HDMI port at the RZ1100 (8 instead of 7), more digital connections and extra features. The TX-RZ1100 is also THX Select2 Plus-certified, the RZ820 has ‘only’ THX Certified Select Reference Sound. But let’s be honest: that does not matter that much for an average consumer. The two receivers offer 4K 4:4:4 pass-through, with support for HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision, and are therefore completely future-proof. How it is posed with HDR10 +, however, will have to prove.
Onkyo TX-RZ1100 and TX-RZ820: comprehensive measurement
First we tried the Onkyo TX-RZ820 after our recent test of the Denon AVR-X2400H. If you then set up the RZ1100, you immediately notice some differences between the lower Onkyo and the affordable Denon. The RZ1100 comes with an extensive form of the AccuEQ calibration, which means that the measurement takes a lot longer. The more speakers, the more time is needed, of course. During the eight steps, specific measurements are made to detect standing waves and very accurately place the placement of the speakers.
It takes a while to do everything, but we notice it immediately when we play surround content. Our Dali Opticon-based surround setup (albeit with Monitor Audio Silver W12 sub) never sounded so controlled and accurate. A very nice result! Only the recently tested Arcam AVR-550 with Monitor Audio Silver 5G surround speakers was stronger, but this receiver is much more expensive and has the Dirac measurement system that requires measuring in many positions. The AccuEQ measurements are made from one central listening position.
Onkyo TX-RZ1100 and TX-RZ820: streaming madness
The TX-RZ820 and the TX-RZ1100 share the same streaming options. That way we touch on the biggest asset of Onkyo receivers. Every AV receiver has a lot of streaming options these days, but these devices really have everything. Chromecast, Bluetooth, Airplay, DTS Play-Fi and Spotify Connect already cover a large part of the streaming options. Chromecast allows you to stream virtually any music service from a mobile device and use Bluetooth or Airplay (the better option for Apple users).
For all of the above you use the apps of the music services. Onkyo offers you alternatives that can be controlled via the spacious remote or Onkyo Controller app. Tidal, Deezer, streaming from DLNA servers or music playback from USB can also be done directly from the receiver menus.
As if all that was not enough, these Onkyo’s are Fireconnect compatible. This means that they fit into a multiroom configuration consisting of Onkyo and / or Pioneer devices. In this phase, this means that you can play music on the Onkyo receiver and listen simultaneously via certain brand wireless speakers. For example, streaming a source from a receiver in the living room to one in the hobby room is not possible. However, this is only the beginning, we hear in the corridors. Updates will soon come up that will greatly expand the multi-job possibilities.
Onkyo TX-RZ1100 and TX-RZ820: beautiful interface
After the extremely simple interface of Arcam and the clever (but unfortunately low-resolution) menus from Denon, Onkyo’s interface is the icing on the cake. It can be placed in Dutch and both the setup menus and the settings are very well taken care of. The funny thing is that the resolution is not so high (1,280 x 720), but it is designed to be well appreciated for use on a large 4K screen. Text remains pretty sharp and readable. The settings are clearly arranged. You get a sentence or two explanations everywhere, but it has to be said that Denon is still ahead in terms of helpfulness.
An exception to the rule is the Quick Menu, which you call via the Q button on your remote. This allows you to quickly adjust certain settings, such as equalizer presets and speaker levels. The functionality prevails here, because you only get to see text on a colored surface. But it is useful that you can adjust these things very quickly.
Onkyo also scores with his app. It combines direct control of the receiver with the multiro possibilities. So you can use it to adjust many of the settings of the RZ1100 or RZ820 (the sound mode for example), but also to control multiple devices. Both receivers can control two additional zones in addition to the main zone, which appear separately in the app.
If you do things in the Controller app, it is immediately mirrored on the TV screen. We like that, especially when we snoop around on a NAS in search of music. When you finally select a track to play, the coverart on the TV is beautifully presented. Ok, it’s a detail, but small things like this increase the user satisfaction. You feel that Onkyo also thought of the smallest things.
Onkyo TX-RZ1100 and TX-RZ820: big bang
We already said that after the calibration of the TX-RZ1100 we were immediately impressed by the adjustment. And that was only based on an episode of ‘The Tick’, the new live-action series on Amazon Prime based on the famous comic / animation series. It may only be a TV series, since we are now living in the golden age of TV productions, it has a 5.1-soundtrack (almost) on Hollywood level. The TX-RZ820 did not provide the same immediate wow feeling, but the adjustment was fine. In terms of fine-tuning, the RZ1100 gives you a number of options, such as a standing wave compensation, which gives you the opportunity to really tune your home cinema at the top level.
Back to the TX-RZ1100. We put the Fast & Furious 8 Ultra HD Blu-ray disc back into the player and jump straight to the massive fistfight in the prison, with the climax reaching between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. The RZ1100 puts this hectic scene to a good level, with prisoners dealing with armed guards around your seating position – and with an inflammatory hip-hop track in the background. An interesting test is also the ambush in the streets of Jedha in ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’.
The chaos as storm troopers fall into the trap and a gigantic battle occurs only with a real surround setup, a soundbar can not put down what the Opticons, MA and Onkyo do here. The extra power that the RZ1100 has put under the bonnet gives the receiver noticeable amount of breathing space to be very dynamic and clean, even if we turn up the volume when the Death Star is destroyed by the Death Star. Not everyone looks at movies like that, but it is at those times that you notice how much power an AV receiver really has. The RZ1100 has bins, enough for even a larger home cinema.
The RZ820 is also not a slip-on, so you do not easily run against its limitations. Both Onkyos also performed quite well on music. Onkyo prefers to display detailed views, but the many tuning options allow you to adjust this – if desired. The TX-RZ1100 was slightly stronger in this area.
Onkyo TX-RZ1100 and Onkyo TX-RZ820: conclusion
The Onkyo TX-RZ1100 is a premium receiver and therefore not for everyone. But if you are planning to build a 5.1.4 setup, then you are all right with this Onkyo. His ample reserves ensure that he handles every dynamic jump well. Strengths are undoubtedly the extensive streaming options, the clear app and interface, and the effective calibration. The first two pluses also apply to the TX-RZ820, a slightly less powerful receiver (but still more competent than an entry receiver under 1,000 euros).
The RZ820 costs 500 euros less, a significant amount that you can save if you do not aim for an Atmos setup or have a medium-sized living room. (We also have to be honest and say that the gap between the RZ820 and RZ1100 can also be smaller in practice.) But if we did not look at the price tag – unfortunately we usually do – we would have the Onkyo TX-RZ1100 without reservations recommend. The Onkyo TX-RZ1100 receives from us a nine and Onkyo TX-RZ820 an eight.