What are all these state-of-the-art features? Well, there's a massive toroidal transformer - assisted by separate transformers for audio and video processing - to power the Three-Stage Inverted Darlington Circuitry. Other important audiophile features include premium 192 kHz/32-bit DACs, gold-plated speaker posts and terminals, and a differential DAC mode. There's also Audyssey MultEQ XT32 and DTS Neo:X systems, along with high-end video processing thanks to technology from HQV, Qdeo and ISF - including 4K upscaling. There's HDMI support for two displays, 11.4-channel pre-outs, powered audio for up to three zones, remote apps and an HDMI-enabled GUI. If that wasn't enough, there are a total of 11 HDMI ports (including MHL for smart phone), DLNA, and ample legacy connections to allow playback of any of your media. Finally the whole package is wrapped up with THX Ultra2 Plus certification, guaranteeing a benchmark level of quality and performance. OK that's enough of a preamble, let's get down to the brass tacks.
Design and Connectivity
The main display is positioned in the centre and is well laid-out but despite being quite informative it is thankfully still easy to read from a distance. However, it can't be turned off completely unless you're in Pure Audio mode, which could be annoying if the NR5010 is positioned at the front of the room where the display would be visible. The whole chassis has a well-machined finish too, as evidenced by the smooth feel as you turn the master volume control and only the slightly plastic feel of the input buttons lets the side down. Behind the drop-down flap are a number of controls that allow you to setup the NR5010, tune in the built-in FM/AM radio and select different modes or zones. As long as you don't lose the remote control, you're unlikely to use these controls but it's useful to know they're there. Also behind the flap are some additional connectors, including an extra HDMI input, a composite video and stereo analogue inputs, an optical digital input, a USB port for connecting an iDevice, a headphone jack and the connector for the Audyssey setup microphone.
At the rear are the main connections, not only does Onkyo offer a generous selection of inputs but they have also wisely dropped a number of legacy connections in favour of ones that you might actually use. Let's be honest, almost all of our connections these days use HDMI, so do we really need multiple component or composite video inputs and numerous analogue and digital audio connections? Onkyo appear to appreciate this fact and whilst there are a few legacy video inputs and various analogue and digital audio connections, there are a whopping eight HDMI inputs (with a ninth on the front) and two HDMI outputs, with one of them supporting ARC (Audio Return Channel). There's also an Ethernet socket, the AM and FM aerial sockets, a VGA input, an RS232 serial connector for system control and a second USB port for use with Onkyo's optional UWF-1 wireless LAN adaptor. Given the NR5010's flagship status, we would have liked to see the wireless adapter being included as standard, as Pioneer do with their LX86.
You can send independent audio to two additional rooms, either by using the amp to drive speakers directly in zone two or zone three, or by sending line-level signals to dedicated amplifiers in those zones. The NR5010 is also equipped with infrared inputs and outputs and a 12-volt output trigger for each zone. The IR input allows you to control the receiver if it’s installed inside a cabinet or from another room, while the IR output enables you to control other components from the receiver, although you’ll need extra equipment in both cases. The 12-volt triggers enable you to switch on the power amps in zones two and three when you select them from the remote or the receiver’s front panel. You can automatically send the same audio output playing in the main room to zones two and three but there is no ability to send any kind of video to zones two and three. Surprisingly there are no multi-channel analogue inputs but there are multi-channel pre-outs for up to 11-channels, as well as four subwoofers. There are high quality speaker binding posts for a 5-channel, 7-channel or 9-channel configuration using either back, width or height speakers. We particularly liked the layout of the binding posts, with the right hand speakers sensibly on the right and the left hand side speakers on the left.
The remote control is made of black plastic and is reasonably well designed and comfortable to hold. All the controls that you will need are represented including the numerous inputs, the Home button, the volume control, the mute button, the different modes, the menu button, the setup button and navigation controls. The remote can also control other devices, either through entering remote control codes or by learning commands. This can be useful but it does mean you have to continually press the 'Receiver' button to use the remote to actually control the NR5010 itself, which can get annoying. We also found the remote difficult to use in the dark, partly due to the lack of a backlight and partly due to the large number of small buttons crammed in to a limited amount of space. We would expect a backlight at this price point and since the most commonly used control is the main volume, so we would prefer to see it made larger and positioned better.
Setup and Menus
Once everything is connected, you then need to go through the setup process in the menu system. The NR5010 has a menu system that is well designed, clearly laid out and easy to navigate, which makes setup much easier. The starting point is the Home menu which gives you a choice of Network Service, USB, InstaPrevue, Setup and Firmware Update. If you select the Setup option, you then have nine sub-menus to choose from, each covering a different aspect of the NR5010's performance. First up is Input/Output Assign where you setup the Monitor Out for the two HDMI inputs, as well as the HDMI Inputs. You can also assign inputs for Component Video and Digital Audio.
The second sub-menu is Speaker Setup, where you can select the speaker settings, speaker configuration, speaker distance, level calibration, equaliser settings, THX audio setup and digital processing crossover network. We will cover speaker setup in more detail in the Audio Performance section. The third sub-menu is Audio Adjust where you can fine tune the settings for Multiplex/Mono, Dolby, DTS, Audyssey DSX, Theatre-Dimensional, LFE Level and Sound Programme Edit.
The fourth sub-menu is Source Setup and here you select the settings Audyssey, IntelliVolume, A/V Sync, Name Edit and Audio Selector. It is in this menu that you can also access the Picture Adjustment controls, which we will cover in the Video Performance section. The fifth sub-menu allows you to set the Listening Mode Preset for the main inputs - BD/DVD, CBL/SAT, STB/DVR, GAME1, GAME2, PC and AUX. The sixth sub-menu covers Miscellaneous features like Volume Setup and OSD Setup and the seventh covers Hardware Setup for the Tuner, HDMI, Auto Standby, Network and Initial Setup. The eighth sub-menu is for Remote Controller Setup and finally the last sub-menu is to Lock Setup.
The NR5010 also includes Audyssey’s MultiEQ XT32 room correction suite which equalises the sound to suit the unique acoustics of your listening space. High-resolution filters are applied to all channels - including subwoofers - based on information collected from more than 10,000 individual control points across eight measurement positions. The NR5010 includes all the standard audio formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio and whilst Onkyo has dispensed with many of the DSP algorithms that most people never use - such as stadium, club, church etc. - they’ve retained the ones that expand the sound stage using front height or width and surround back channels. Audyssey DSX, Dolby Pro Logic IIz, and DTS Neo:X expansion systems all offer the freedom to choose your preferred speaker setup. Audyssey DSX can expand 5.1 sources to incorporate width or height channels, the Dolby system adds height channels and stereo source expansion, whilst DTS Neo:X offers width or height channels with cinema, music, or game listening modes.
Three of the best video processing and enhancement systems are included to deliver accurate images on your display. First there is the HQV Vida VHD1900 chip-set which upscales analogue content to 1080p, and ‘enhances’ native high-definition sources. The chip employs multi-cadence tracking, expanded 12-bit colour processing, and four-field motion-adaptive de-interlacing. Auto HQV enhances the incoming image, while HQV StreamClean cleans up video from lower-quality online sources by attempting to eliminate mosquito and macro blocking noise. Qdeo technology upscales 1080p sources to 4K - even content already upscaled from lower resolutions by the HQV Vida processor. The inclusion of [tip=isf]Imaging Science Foundation[/tip] (ISF) video calibration features allows each video input source to be independently calibrated to achieve the best possible performance from your connected display.
The NR5010’s front-panel HDMI port is designed for the connection of compatible smartphones and other portable electronic devices using the new Mobile High-definition Link (MHL) standard. MHL allows you to display full 1080p video and still images on your display with up to 7.1 channels of surround sound. You can use the receiver’s remote to control playback from your phone while it is being recharged over the USB connector on the front. The NR5010 also incorporates InstaPrevue visual port management technology, making input source selection easier. InstaPrevue technology provides a live video thumbnail of the available content on all the devices connected via HDMI. This allows you to preview the images being fed into the NR5010's other inputs, which could be useful if you lose track of the other components you’ve got hooked up.
The NR5010 can be easily connected to your home network using a standard LAN cable, making streaming audio and internet radio simplicity itself. It would be nice to see built-in WiFi but regardless of manufacturer, very few receivers appear to offer that feature. Unlike rival machines from Pioneer and Denon, Onkyo doesn’t include Apple’s AirPlay, at present, so you can't wirelessly stream music from your iDevice directly but you can stream music via DLNA using the Onkyo Remote 2 app. There is also an optional Bluetooth adaptor (UBT-1) available for the NR5010 and you can of course hardwire your iDevice, MP3 player or tablet into the receiver’s front USB input and control music playback through the remote. In terms of file support the NR5010 is fairly comprehensive, providing DLNA streaming and playback for formats such as MP3, AAC, 24bit 96/192kHz FLACs, WAVs, WMA Lossless and Apple Lossless. You can stream music with album art from any DLNA-compliant server and you can also control the receiver remotely from a PC running Windows Media 12.
Onkyo places great emphasis on the online features of its receivers, and the NR5010 includes easy access to internet radio channels from Last.fm and vTuner, cloud-based music streaming from AUPEO! and MP3tunes. There’s also music streaming subscription services from SIMFY and Spotify. The choice is impressive, although it is limited to audio services rather than video, and the best addition is Spotify which means you get access to a vast amount of music, as well as certain aspects of your account like pre-saved playlists and any music you've "starred". As you might imagine, you can't access your imported music this way, but since the Onkyo can connect with your home network via DLNA, you can also listen to your own music collection. There is a full suite of internet radio stations, which means access to literally thousands of global channels and if you find any good ones, you can save them to your favourites.
As with just about every manufacturer these days, Onkyo provide free remote apps for both iOS and Android devices. The Remote 2 App is for iDevice control and the Onkyo Remote app is for Android devices but both are designed to provide a more intuitive way to operate Onkyo network A/V receivers. You can use the apps to control input sources, adjust settings, and play audio stored on a smartphone via DLNA using the application’s interactive graphical display. We tested the NR5010 with both varieties and our initial impressions were positive and definitely easier than fiddling around with the provided remote in the dark. However, after a period of use, we found the interaction could be a little slow and the layout could be more intuitive. The design is also rather uninspired and the controls are a little over-sensitive; given some of the really impressive apps available from the competition, Onkyo might want to give their current app design a makeover.
When it comes to handling standard and high definition content, the NR5010 delivers the goods with a very impressive performance. The built-in HQV Vida VHD1900 chipset can deinterlace 480i, 576i and 1080i signals and upscale and output at 1080p over both component and HDMI. Of course it will also pass through 1080p/24 signals from Blu-rays and it can happily pass a 3D signal as well. We tested the deinterlacing and scaling capabilities of the NR5010 and we were pleased to see that it had no problems detecting both 3:2 and 2:2 cadences, as well as scaling standard definition content without introducing unwanted artefacts or jaggies. If you decide to use the Film Mode for cadence detection, make sure you turn it off on your display otherwise there’s a danger of creating more problems than you solve. As well as a Film Mode, the NR5010 also includes a Game Mode (to reduce delay), Edge Enhancement (best left off) and a number of Noise Reduction features. The NR5010 can help reduce Mosquito, Random and Block noise, which can prove useful if you watch a lot of heavily compressed video content from the internet.
In fact the video processing in the NR5010 video processor is as good as most modern TVs so if you want to, you can connect all your sources to the receiver, do the deinterlacing and scaling there and pass 1080p straight to your display. Thanks to the inclusion of two HDMI outputs, you can even use the NR5010 to feed a signal to two different displays, perhaps a TV and a projector. The receiver is also as flexible in terms of video as it is in terms of audio, you can create different setups for different inputs and you can also match any audio input with any video input. The NR5010 also offers extensive picture controls, which mean you can use it to help calibrate your display if you need to. There are a number of Picture Modes and both Through and Direct leave the signal alone, although whilst Direct is completely untouched, Through allows you to still deinterlace and scale the signal. The other modes all affect the signal to varying degrees but we found that the main impact of the ISF Day mode is to lower the gamma to lighten the picture, whilst the ISF Night mode raises the gamma to darken it.
If you use the Custom Picture Mode, its default setting is the same as Direct and Through but by choosing it you do get access to additional picture controls. Here you can adjust the Brightness, Contrast, Hue, Saturation (Colour), as well as select a different [tip=Colortemp]Colour Temperature[/tip] or change the [tip=gamma]Gamma[/tip]. To be honest you will find all of these controls on a modern display, so it makes more sense to adjust them there, rather than using the NR5010. However one useful feature is the inclusion of a two point [tip=WhiteBal]white balance[/tip] control, which you could use for adjusting the [tip=Greyscale]greyscale[/tip] on your display if it doesn't have a white balance control of its own. Again, most modern displays do have at least two point white balance controls but it might prove handy with older displays, although we did find the controls of the NR5010 to be quite coarse in practice. If Onkyo really want to set their receivers apart from the competition, what they should include is a [tip=CMS]colour management system[/tip] because a lot of displays don't have this feature. The addition of a CMS along with the excellent deinterlacing and scaling would make an Onkyo receiver a video processor that's really worth having.
The Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction software worked extremely well, although as always the more measurements you take, the better the results. Given the size and dimensions of our room, we took the maximum eight measurements, the three seating positions, three other positions at varying heights in the front and two at the rear. The Audyssey software did an excellent job of integrating the speakers in our system and adjusting for the room itself, with very impressive results. We did check the automated readings by taking our own measurements and the Audyssey microphone appeared to have done its job very well. Of course if you're more old school and have necessary equipment, then you can always measure the EQ settings yourself. Whichever approach you take, you can turn the Audyssey EQ on and off, thus giving you an opportunity to compare how the audio sounds with and without correcting for the acoustical impact of the room itself.
The NR5010 can decode all the usual audio formats such as DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD, as well as DTS, Dolby Digital and all the different versions of Dolby Pro Logic. Thanks to the excellent setup and the inherent capabilities of the NR5010, the resulting performance was very impressive. Although if we had to describe the NR5010 in one word it would be 'powerful', this should come as no surprise given its specifications and Onkyo pedigree. As Spider-Man knows, with much power comes much responsibility and the NR5010 clearly takes its responsibilities seriously. It is no easy task to take all this power and employ it in a controlled and effective manner but the NR5010 manages with great aplomb. The result of this power and control is an aggressively rendered soundstage, especially when it comes to movie soundtracks that manage to be both precise and exciting. The integration of the overall soundfield was impressive and the rears retained a lively presence that resulted in an immersive surround experience. When watching films the precise imaging of the sound mix was evident, with expert placement of effects and panning of sounds that resulted in a visceral experience.
As the amplification and THX Ultra2 Plus certification would imply, the NR5010 is capable of going very loud and filling a decent sized room but more importantly it has the necessary headroom to give soundtracks a truly staggering dynamic range. The same is true of the bass which manages to be both subterranean and responsive at the same time. We recently picked up the 3D Blu-ray of Dredd and whilst we loved the film, it could hardly be called subtle. However the NR5010 was perfectly suited to the task, delivering the audio pyrotechnics with composure and excitement. The bass heavy soundtrack is expertly replicated and the immersive nature of the soundfield perfectly matches the 3D visuals. Bullet hits, explosions and shell casings were all precisely rendered and imaged within the soundfield and, despite the general cacophony, Dredd's gravely vocals were never lost in the mix. Other soundtracks were handled just as well with the dust storm in Prometheus giving the whole system a robust workout, whilst the NR5010 was also able to deliver the more subtle elements such as the sounds onboard the ship itself. The same was true of The Hunger Games, where the carefully chosen and precisely located sounds of the forest helped recreate an immersive illusion of reality.
One of the more interesting features on the NR5010 is the inclusion of DTS Neo: X and Audyssey DSX and specifically the addition of two additional channels of amplification. This allowed us to utilise the extra width channels and, as we have found in previous reviews, this opened up the front soundstage and aided front to rear pans. We had a copy of The Expendables 2 on Blu-ray, which is the first disc to include a DTS Neo: X 11.1 soundtrack and although we weren't able to take advantage of all the channels, with the nine at our disposal, we were able to experience a taste of what it had to offer. Whilst we couldn't say there was a massive difference when compared to a standard 7.1 mix, there was definitely a fuller more expansive soundstage at the front. The inclusion of extra width and height channels does offer the possibility of more immersive soundtracks and it gives us an idea of what might lie ahead when new cinema audio formats like Dolby Atmos are eventually implemented in the home.
If the NR5010 is so great with movie soundtracks thanks to all this power and aggression, how does it fare with music? Well this has traditionally been where the muscular Japanese amps and receivers have struggled, lacking a degree of musicality. For example, we found that whilst the Pioneer LX86 shared the NR5010's ability to deliver a visceral experience with a movie soundtrack, it could be a little clinical with music. Conversely whilst the Anthem receivers are not as bombastic as their Japanese competitors, they could render music beautifully. With the NR5010, it depends entirely on the genre of music you're listening to and if your tastes run to heavy metal, rock and bass driven tracks, you'll be well served by the NR5010. Orchestral scores and multi-channel audio are also very engaging, with the NR5010 proving surprisingly adept at handling complex pieces. Where it struggled was with acoustic music, jazz or female vocals and piano, here the NR5010 could occasionally stomp over the gossamer wings of the lighter more ethereal content with its size 12 boots. That's not to say that the results weren't perfectly listenable and the NR5010 did a good job of maintaining the clarity of the vocals and the crispness of the higher frequencies. However we always had the feeling that there was a barely contained beast lurking in the background, like Arnold Schwarzenegger squeezing into a silk shirt two sizes too small.
- Excellent sound quality
- Nine channels of amplification
- Full set of 11.4 pre-outs
- Comprehensive connections
- Impressive video processing
- Attractive design
- Superb build quality
- Flexible setup and configuration
- Good internet and networking features
- No 4K pass-through
- No multi-channel analogue inputs
- Remote app needs work
- No built-in WiFi
- Front display can't be turned off
- No backlight on remote control
Onkyo TX-NR5010 AV Receiver Review
As we mentioned in the introduction, there's no denying that when it comes to specifications and features, the Onkyo TX-NR5010 is second to none. Few manufacturers have tried to incorporate so much into their receivers as Onkyo's and, thanks to their efforts, the NR5010 has got the lot. First of all there are 9-channels of amplification, meaning you can immediately add either height or width speakers to a traditional 7.1 setup. There are also 11.4 pre-outs, allowing one to add two additional channels of amplification and more powered subs, thus providing the opportunity to take full advantage of the DTS Neo:X and Audyssey DSX processing. Once you include the audiophile components and construction, the 192 kHz/32-bit DACs and the THX Ultra2 Plus certification, you clearly have a receiver that means business.
The NR5010 can be easily connected to your home network using a standard LAN cable or an optional wireless adaptor, making streaming audio and internet radio simplicity itself. There is also an optional Bluetooth adaptor and you can, of course, hardwire your iDevice, MP3 player or tablet into the receiver’s front USB input and control music playback through the remote. The NR5010 is DLNA compliant, compatible with Windows Media 12 and it offers an impressive degree of file support including lossless formats. Onkyo places great emphasis on the online features of its receivers, and the NR5010 includes easy access to internet radio channels from Last.fm and vTuner, cloud-based music streaming from AUPEO!, MP3tunes and music streaming subscription services from SIMFY and Spotify. Onkyo also provide free remote apps for both iOS and Android devices and whilst both versions worked fine, we found them a little uninspired.
It isn't just feature packed either, the NR5010 has got the looks too and delivers the kind of stylish design and excellent build quality that we have come to expect from Onkyo. The front facia is clean and uncluttered, although you can't turn the display off completely, and the chassis comes in a choice of either black or silver. The remote control is well made and comfortable to hold but we found the buttons too crowded and it was difficult to use due to the lack of a backlight and some rather idiosyncratic functions. There is also a fairly comprehensive selection of connections, including 9 HDMI inputs and 2 HDMI outputs, as well as a number of legacy inputs, USB ports, a LAN socket, 12V triggers and an RS232 connector for system control. However, there are no analogue audio inputs, which seems strange for a flagship receiver.
Setting up the NR5010 correctly is relatively straightforward thanks to a concise and intuitive menu system and with the help of the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction software, you can easily adjust for your specific listening environment. All you need to do is decide which speaker configuration you want or can accommodate, and then let the NR5010 do the rest. The receiver includes some impressive video processing and although the 4K upscaling works very well, the lack of native 4K pass-through is a disappointment. The inclusion of a white balance control is a nice touch, although the adjustments are a little carse, but we feel the addition of a colour management system would really make the NR5010 really stand out from the crowd. The NR5010 also incorporates InstaPrevue visual port management technology, which provides a live video thumbnail of all the devices connected via HDMI, which could be useful if you lose track of the other components you’ve got hooked up.
Of course all the features in the world are pointless if the receiver can't cut the audio mustard and here the NR5010 takes full advantage of its superb processing capabilities, audiophile components, superior construction and weapon's grade amplification. The NR5010 has power to spare, meaning it can run at reference levels without breaking a sweat and maintain sufficient headroom to deliver a fantastic dynamic range. When it comes to delivering movie soundtracks with power and excitement there are few receivers on the market to compete with the NR5010. The aggressive nature of the Onkyo's soundstage doesn't preclude the receiver from rendering the more subtle moments in certain soundtracks but there's no denying that the bigger the soundtrack, the more exciting the performance. However, depending on your choice of music, the NR5010 can either be perfectly suited or feel a little over-powering, especially where more delicate recordings are concerned.
Overall the Onkyo NR5010 is a fantastic receiver that combines power and control to deliver a genuinely entertaining multi-channel experience especially with film soundtracks. It also has an unbeatable set of features, an attractive design and superior construction, making it a very tempting proposition for anyone interested in the higher-end models. It isn't cheap but if you have the means and are in the market for a new receiver, you owe it to yourself to give the NR5010 a demo - Highly Recommended.
Value For Money
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