The Onkyo TX-RZ830 is a new 9.2 AV receiver from Onkyo. It tries first and foremost to tempt you with a THX label and unlikely many streaming options, including Chromecast. That Google Assistant support and Sonos compatibility make him an outsider. We look at the TX-RZ830 in this review.
Introduction Onkyo TX-RZ830
The TX-RZ830 is the successor of the TX-RZ820 that we tested last year. With AV receivers it is customary to publish an update every year, which is mostly done for commercial reasons. Because every year offer important new features, that is not possible. And then the Onkyo TX-RZ830 is blowing inside, a device that you can see as the exception that confirms the rule. Because there is a lot of news to this generation of Onkyo receivers, including the ‘Works with Sonos’ feature that we discussed earlier in depth. In this test we will not look at the compatibility of Sonos compatibility, because it is identical to the function at the VSX-933 of sister brand Pioneer. Read our background article about Works with Sonos and you are completely at. Another important difference between the 820 and 830 is the number of channels: the older Onkyo is a 7.2 receiver, the new version has two channels.
With a price tag of 1.499 euros, the TX-RZ830 is an AV receiver the upper middle class. We immediately say that Onkyo and Pioneer seem to be entering the market aggressively, and that you can purchase this receiver for a lot less if you look around. Whatever you pay, for that money you get a 9.2 receiver that you can use in a variety of surround arrangements. Thanks to the presence of DTS: X and Dolby Atmos the Onkyo can directly control a 5.2.4 or 7.2.2 setup, possibly expand to 7.2.4 if you add an additional stereo amplifier to your system . Thanks to a recent firmware update, the TX-RZ830 is one of the first receivers with eARC support.
Can also be used as a processor
With a middle-class device you will not easily connect. short. This also applies to the Onkyo TX-RZ830, which sports a very full back. A large part of this is occupied by the loudspeaker terminals of a decent – but more importantly not – quality. The five classic surround channels are supplemented with front channel channels (which you can also use as bi-amp channels for the stereo channels), for surround back (also usable for a second set of height channels or a third zone) and connections for zone 2. You can also use the TX-RZ830 purely as an AV processor, because a pre-out is available for all 11.2 channels. This is typically a function that you only find on a midrange, interesting if you want to listen to your music on a better, dedicated stereo amplifier.
Six HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs give you a lot of flexibility. Conveniently, there is a USB port with 1A in the port, so you can feed a Chromecast video stick. Legacy video inputs are also present, for those who want to connect an antique console. Projector enthusiasts may appreciate the 12V trigger and there is also an IR sensor input, in addition to an RS232 connection. So you can integrate it into a home automation system. According to Onkyo, the receiver is also compatible with Google Assistant, but we did not see the receiver popping up in the Home app and we could not test this feature.
Incidentally, the back of the Onkyo TX-RZ830 is classified differently from the 820, indicating that this is not just a reissue of an old device.
Typical Onkyo design
The sleek design of the TX-RZ830 is very familiar. Onkyo loves its own approach, which translates visibly to a front panel with many buttons. Much more than you see with other receivers, it seems. This is mainly because the brand chooses to give each input a separate key, instead of working with a dial that selects inputs. As if those many buttons are not enough, there is a large flap beneath the display, followed by a series of buttons and connections. Thanks to this valve, the Onkyo receiver is slightly less busy, fortunately. The many controls you find on the front do have the advantage that you can adjust the receiver from here completely, because not always possible. As usual with Onkyo, the TX-RZ830 is available in black (with green display) and silver (with white letters). The build quality of the device is on level for a middle class: heavier and slightly more refined than budget receivers, but also not as slick as an AV receiver from the highest segment. For example, the fine finish is especially focused on the front, but the rest of the device is more ordinary, with visible screws and seams. Whether this is all important, you have to decide for yourself.
A plus point is – just like in the VSX-933 – the compact remote control. Not that it is finished so high, but because it contains relatively few buttons. Onkyo goes for the essentials, and that makes this box remarkably more convenient to use than with Denon or Yamaha. What we find very useful is the Mode button, allowing you to quickly switch between CEC mode (and the buttons control a connected source such as a player) and a direct mode where the same buttons control the receiver.
Onkyo’s trusted AccuEQ-calibration system is of course in full swing. The TX-RZ830 is a rather extensive measurement in eight steps, with test tones being measured from a single measurement site for about five minutes. It is very loud tones, so watch your ears. At the end of this extensive measurement, where the distances of the speakers and standing waves are detected, you have the option to have measurements taken at two additional positions. It should not be, but it is a good idea to adjust the sound even better to your space. You are busy anyway, so why not? These second and third measurements are much shorter and only serve to detect standing waves even better. A small disadvantage is that the Onkyo interface does not really tell you where to place the measuring microphone for these additional measurements. A graphical representation, as with almost all competitors, would make that much clearer.
Onkyo clearly opts for user-friendliness with AccuEQ. For example, after the measurement you will not receive information about what has been observed or what has been compensated. Making adjustments yourself is hardly possible. This is perfect for many people. For lazy people who like to adjust things yourself, you have some options via the interface or the accompanying Onkyo app, but the options are more limited than with receivers equipped with Audyssey or Dirac.
The choice for user-friendliness, see the menus of the TX-RZ830. It all looks very familiar to those who know Onkyo or started working with the latest Pioneers. The interface is very clean and presents relatively few options. There are small, useful things. This way you can easily specify the start-up volume and you can determine a maximum volume. Also very positive is that you can manually enter the distance to the ceiling for Dolby Enabled speakers. This has a major impact on the display of height channels and is often wrongly estimated by calibration systems. And yes, the interface is still in 720p, but due to the sleek typeface and the sparse graphics it still looks neat on a large 4K screen.
Music options at the skate
We noticed the earlier in this review on: you have the Onkyo TX-RZ830 unlikely many ways to listen to music. Because Onkyo and Pioneer build in the same platform on their receivers, this also applies to all new receivers of those brands, from the lowest to the highest model. Only exceptions may be absolute basic models that appear on the market in some markets without real streaming options.
We take a deep breath and sum up … Anyone who wants to stream from a mobile device to the Onkyo TX-RZ830 can choose from Bluetooth (unfortunately no aptX or equivalent), Airplay (Airplay 2 not yet) or Chromecast. Spotify Connect can not be missed and lets you send music directly to the Onkyo from the Spotify app. Via the interface or the Onkyo app you can play your own music files stored on a NAS with a DLNA server, a USB drive or the mobile device on which the app runs. Multiroom playback is possible via the Flareconnect platform, but you can also work with the embedded support for Deezer, Tidal, Amazon Music and TuneIn. You search and select music or radio stations via the Onkyo app. If you want to do it differently, tap the Play-Fi button in this app. You will then be taken to the Onkyo Music Control App, which is just an Onkyo shell around the existing Play-Fi app.
For those who do not know Play-Fi: it is a streaming platform from DTS that works as a gateway to all kinds of streaming services and own files. It is used by a number of American audio brands and Onkyo / Pioneer, and has the advantage that you can build a multiroom system consisting of devices of different brands. But as a European consumer you do not have many reasons to work with Play-Fi, because most of those Play-Fi devices are not available here. The supported services via Play-Fi are also largely the same as the services embedded in the Onkyo TX-RZ830 interface. The only ‘unique’ relevant service that Play-Fi offers is Qobuz – but that can also be listened to via the Chromecast icon in Qobuz’s own app. Just to say: you have many dual streaming options with this receiver. That gives freedom, but sometimes also makes it a bit more busy. We should note that the Onkyo TX-RZ830 responds quickly to all streaming functions, except for Chromecast. That sometimes started out slowly from the starting blocks. This certainly applies to Qobuz, whose app in the field of casting has been showing miserable behavior for some time.
And then there is the Sonos option. Anyone who dreams of an AV receiver that appears in the Sonos app and can be operated immediately, is a bit disappointed. This is only possible if you connect a Sonos Connect to the TX-RZ830, after which you can set up the receiver so that you can do a number of things from the Sonos app. An additional expense of around 400 euros is therefore required if you indeed want to connect the receiver to your Sonos system.
We have first set up the TX-RZ830 with the excellent ELAC Debut 2.0 speakers that we recently tested and then with the elegant Jamo Studio 8, a 5.1.2 surround set with two Dolby speakers on top of the front floorstanders. The Jamo set is somewhat unusually composed, because the left and right channels in front are two large floorstanders, while the center and the two rear channels are provided by very compact loudspeakers. The Jamo approach is more challenging for the AV receiver because the differences are large, also in terms of sensitivity. So we are curious what the TX-RZ830 makes of it.
For the music test we listened to some tracks of the Blu-ray of ‘Automatic for the People’, released on the occasion of the 25 th birthday of this REM-album, played through a Panasonic DMP-UB820 (824 in the Netherlands). A special feature is that a Dolby Atmos mix was made from well-known tracks like ‘Drive’, ‘Everybody Hurts’ and ‘The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite’. Especially the middle track sounds great with the altitude channels, because the remix technician wisely decided to distribute the instruments and vocals well over the front channels and send relatively little instrumental information to the rear channels. It sounds like REM is literally standing in front of you on a big stage, but at the same time it remains warm and intimate. A nice combination, and this is one of the best Atmos music tracks you can find.
The Onkyo TX-RZ830, for its part, puts AftP’s hits very accurately and accurately. For those who like the Marantz approach, for example, it may be a bit too analytical, but with this source material there is really little to complain about. Acoustic or light rock is the Onkyo receiver completely. Just place in the Direct mode and enjoy. But what about 2-channel music? We use our test files and Max Richter’s War Anthem track that we use for every audio test nowadays. It is a track characterized by very deep layer information (which must evoke the firing of artillery in the distance) and a very fine cello line, supported by an orchestral accompaniment that swells through the song. A first observation is that the difference between the sound modes on the Onkyo TX-RZ830 is huge, and that while the receiver does not have the artificial Yamaha-like DSP modes that try to simulate different spaces. Especially when you switch between a Dolby upgrade and one of the modes with DTS: Neural X transforms the display completely. Dolby Audio – Surround Orchestra does tracks like this one the most, but if you like the authentic stereo experience Pure Audio is the one that sounds the most natural. We actually astonish ourselves a bit that we still find the Music sound modes useful. Usually we leave DSP presets on the left because the result sounds way too artificial, but this is not the case here. The Orchestra mode effectively adds value to classical, for example. Beethoven’s Symphony n ° 9 in DSD 2.0 format via an Deutsche Grammophon SACD is in this mode very well upgraded to enveloping view in a large concert hall. A nice upgrade for a beautiful recording anyway.
Only regret that you can only change step by step through the various movie and sound modes via the app or remote. It would be nice if you saw a list in the app and you could immediately choose the right one from there.
The conclusion is that you have to try everything you need to find a good music reproduction with the Onkyo TX-RZ830. The Onkyo receiver can – and not only – but the Marantz SR7012 we found just that slightly warmer and more inviting. That is a matter of taste, of course. With theOnkyo TX-RZ830 you can count on a detailed music reproduction in a quality that is much better than budget receivers, such as the Pioneer VSX-933.
View film material with a Dolby Atmos or DTS : X soundtrack in Direct mode and it’s likely that the Onkyo TX-RZ830 plays the way it should, as we noticed with our Ultra HD Blu-ray test discs from ‘Dunkirk’ and ‘Blade Runner 2049’. Both on the ELACs and the Jamo’s, the AccuEQ measurement ensured good integration, making for example the fierce air battle between the Spitfires of the RAF and Messerschmitt Bf 109s of the Luftwaffe in the war film of Nolan realistically. Of course, AccuEQ will integrate the subwoofer into the whole, but it is noticeable that the ELAC sub just fitted in better with the speakers. And that may have to do with the own room correction that is built into the German sub. A small irritation point is that the receiver does not seem to have manual adjustments to the sub and center levels when you switch the unit on and off. We found that the Onkyo TX-RZ830 had set the Jamo subwoofer really too weak via the AccuEQ measurement, but they had to adjust a little higher each time in the viewing session.
The VR race in the beginning of ‘Ready Player One’ (Ultra HD Blu-ray, Dolby Atmos) is in our opinion a new reference fragment if you want to test a surround setup. It is full of spectacular sound effects, such as explosions, buildings that collapse and the leaps of King Kong, but also subtle (like the coins that fly around when a player dies). What strikes us with the Onkyo TX-RZ830 and the Jamo Studio 8-set is that the receiver has nicely balanced the speakers – despite the large differences in size between the speakers. Even the small center speaker that stands between the two large floor stands is well integrated. The second time that Parzival participates in the race, he drives under the race track and those high channels are used correctly by the Onkyo to represent the action above him.
Here too we can make the same comment as in the Music modes: the differences in film modes are sometimes enormous, but in this case less valuable. Theater-Dimensional, which reduces all channels to 3.1 for example, we found surprising punishment for what it did. But in the end it is not that useful in a real home theater.
The quoted power of 180 watts is obviously a paper value, measured in a load on one channel. Onkyo does not give any values for realistic loads, but both the ELAC and JAMO sets it smoothly. The receiver clearly has more power on surplus than the budget receivers we saw in the past few months. For a living room or smaller home cinema, you’re fine with this receiver, depending on the sensitivity of your speakers.
Like the other Onkyos and Pioneers this year, the TX-RZ830 has a lot to offer from streaming and smart home. The versatility and the pleasant operation are absolute advantages. The fact that streaming, mainly during casting, sometimes falters is a bit regrettable. But that can also be due to other matters. What is clear is that Onkyo wants to take a leading role with its receivers in terms of new features that you will not find elsewhere yet. Think of Sonos compatibility, but also Google Assistant support and eARC. That makes the TX-RZ830 one of the most future-proof receivers of the moment.