Reviews

Review: Onkyo TX-8150

474This week we are reviewing the Onkyo TX-8150. This stereo receiver features a network function as well as multiple digital and analog inputs and has the ability to drive two pairs of speakers for a power of 2×55 watts at 8 Ohms ranging from bass to treble. In other words, an all-in-one device which can be used along with a television, a Blu-ray player or a smartphone to listen to music or movie soundtracks. The Onkyo TX-8150 is even labelled Hi-Res Audio.

Onkyo TX-8050

Onkyo TX-8150: An old-school yet ultra-connected receiver

The Onkyo TX-8150 doesn’t fall short in terms of functions, to say the least. AirPlay, DLNA,  Internet radio, Spotify, Deezer, FLAC and DSD playback via USB, FM and DAB+ (RNT) tuners, two pairs of terminals for as many speakers, a subwoofer output and even a phono input for a mobile magnet turntable. This TX-8150 feels like a mid-range home cinema receiver, except it is a stereo model. Although it doesn’t natively decode Dolby Digital or DTS, most Blu-ray players and HDTVs are able to mix multichannel stream in stereo PCM, meaning that this receiver can absolutely be used for stereo home cinema use.

Onkyo TX-8150: True power

If you have already looked at the technical specifications of this Onkyo TX-8150, you have probably noticed that the manufacturer advertises a power of 135 Watts. Once again, remember to be careful with numbers as far as Watts are concerned. While the Onkyo does have the capacity to deliver 135 Watts, it is on one channel at 1 kHz and with a distortion 12 times over the hi-fi standard. In stereo, ranging from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, with a 0.08% distortion rate, the power is 2×55 Watts. This is more than enough for the vast majority of compact and floor-standing midrange speakers.

Onkyo TX-8050

The back panel of the Onkyo TX-8150 is well arranged and features a wide array of inputs. Probably the influence of the TX-NR home cinema receiver series.

Onkyo TX-8150: Functions

Bluetooth: the receiver can be paired up with any device featuring a Bluetooth transmitter (smartphone, tablet, computer, portable player, etc.). Sound is compressed for wireless transmission (SBC). It is then possible to listen to audio files as well as streaming services.

Onkyo Remote

WiFi: for a wireless and compression free listening experience, it is necessary to connect the Onkyo TX-8150 to an internet receiver. The two antennas of the receiver allow good reception, fit for CD and studio quality files (at least it was the case when we tested it). The RJ-45 Ethernet plug allows cable connection.

AirPlay: In the past, Onkyo has overlooked the AirPlay function but not this time. The TX-8150 is compatible with Apple?s streaming protocol for iPhones, iPod touch, iPad and Mac OS X computers (or PCs using iTunes). It is thus possible to listen to music stored in an iPhone or enjoy streaming services such as Deezer, Spotify or Qobuz via their respective app. The transfer is carried out via the local network without any loss. Yet, the sound resolution is limited to CD quality (16 bits / 44.1 kHz).

App Onkyo RemoteSpotify & Deezer: good news for Android smartphone users, who do not benefit from the easy access to streaming which iPhone users enjoy. The TX-8150 is natively compatible with both streaming services once the Onkyo Remote app has been installed.

Onkyo Remote app: now an essential app to operate any receiver featuring a network function, the iOS and Android app developed by Onkyo gives access to all the functions the TX-8150 has to offer. It can even be used to switch on the receiver as long as the network has been activated.

USB port: compatible with flash drives and FAT format hard drives. It is thus possible to play MP3, WAV (24/96) and DSD via the USB port. It is also possible to browse the content of the USB peripheral device via the Onkyo Remote app.

Onkyo TX-8150

The USB port is compatible with PCM files up to 24 bits and 96 kHz as well as DSD.

Digital inputs: there are four of them, enough to connect an HDTV, an optical player or a gaming console. Stereo audio stream up to 24 bits and 192 kHz are handled.

Phono input: besides the 6 stereo inputs, the Onkyo TX-8150 features a phono input with an integrated RIAA preamp. Most entry level turntables will greatly benefit from it.

Radios: it is possible to listen to FM and digital terrestrial radios via the antenna (comes with the receiver).

Tonal adjustments: two potentiometers let the user adjust the bass and treble level to more or less 10 dB. A Pure Audio mode can be activated to bypass analog and digital treatments of the audio signals.

Onkyo TX-8050

The receiver is equipped with limitless potentiometers. The adjusted values are displayed on the receiver?s screen.

Onkyo TX-8150: operation and test configuration

Despite the plethora of buttons on the front panel, this receiver is easy to handle. It is actually almost more enjoyable to use it via its buttons than using the Onkyo Remote app. The connection to our WiFi access point was fast (we used the remote control). Typing the access key was not a monotonous chore.

For this test, we used Focal Aria 906 speakers, connected via Audioquest Starquad Type 4 cables and Viard Audio Silver HD 20 HP cables. We listened to CD and studio quality FLAC files stored on our smartphone as well as a LG 65EG960V TV (optical input, Audioquest Cinnamon Toslink cable).

Onkyo TX-8050

The Pure Audio button deactivates the tonal correction and the balance, as well as the front panel display, in order to protect the audio signal against any possible interference.

Onkyo TX-8150: listening impressions

The listening experience was easy, the medium and treble suffered no excess in clarity. Right from the start, we feel that the 8150 can be used along many different speakers without overworking the tweeters, which is a good thing. Let?s remember that an overworked tweeter will result in poor soundstage depth. We started off with a few home cinema listening sessions with films such as Star Trek Into Darkness, Pacific Rim and Asterix: The Land of the Gods.

The voices are really well delivered, none of the frequency range oozes. Bass is solid without being overpowering and occasionally surprises with nice dives down the sound spectrum.

Listening to FIP via internet radio then via digital terrestrial radio confirmed the tonal balance heard during our home cinema listening session (high frequencies were well handled). This results in a better perception of details pertaining to other frequency ranges. Pure musical listening gave the same impression.

Onkyo TX-8050

Onkyo TX-8150: what we liked

– the overall balance of the sound (regardless of the source)
– the hi-fi and stereo home cinema versatility
– the multiple digital inputs (competing brands don’t offer such a wide range)
– WiFi stability
– the aluminium front panel

Onkyo TX-8150: what we would have liked

– a more intuitive control app

Onkyo TX-8150: conclusion

Difficult to be hard on this Onkyo TX-8150 as we could have expected the many functions to take over the musical performance of this receiver. Dematerialised music and stereo home cinema enthusiasts should find this receiver to their taste and make it the centre, if not the only, electronic component of their stereo or 2.1 system. Yet, this versatility comes with a price, the listening experience might be a little bland, which could be a problem for whoever is looking for a more punchy or vivid sound. One thing is certain, listening to the Onkyo TX-8150 is not tiresome, which is already a good thing in itself.

This post is also available in: French

About the author

Tristan Jacquel

Tristan est rédacteur chez Son-Vidéo.com. Passionné de musique, d'acoustique et de high-tech, il réalise notamment les tests matériels pour notre blog.

21 Comments

  • I find it interesting when reviews find an amp a bit bland or lacking in punchy sound, these are non quantitive assessments and meaningless, an amp should be entirely neutral to the signal being presented. Give use some real measurements ie IMD over the audio spectrum at a rated power. If you dont want bland dont give it a bland input whatever bland means…

  • You say that it is “possible to play MP3, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC (24/96) and DSD files” through the USB port. Did you actually try it? It seems that according to the specs, only WAV, DSD and MP3 are supported. You can play a wider range of formats over the network.

  • Hi,

    you say “iPhone compatibility via USB”. Is it true an iphone or ipod can be connected via USB to play music? I thought this was not possible. Appreciate your confirmation.

    In terms of sound how would the Onkyo compare to a Marantz PM6005?

    Thx,
    Adam

    • I did not review the Bluetooth part. What’s important about Bluetooth is more the quality of the played files than the codec used. If you play MP3 files through Bluetooth connection, it will sound badly with SBC or apt-X. But if you play lossless files (FLAC, ALAC, APE, etc.), it will sound very good, even with SBC codec.

  • Dear Tristan, thank you for the comprehensive review. Do you think th tx 8150 it is underpowered for 2 klipsch RP-280f (Power handling 150w) or RP-260f power handling 125), or even the 250f (power handling 105w). Would it be worth bi-amping them using the output A+B?

    • The Onkyo TX-8150 will sound better with small drivers speakers than large drivers ones. Klipsch RP-280F requires more amp current than RP-250F. Therefore, the little RP-250F will sound better overall. This 2×5″ woofers speakers fit correctly a lot of listening rooms, up to 30 square meters.

  • Right now I’m using 8150 with Paradigm Studio 20. It’s a perfect set. I had few different “audiophile” amplifiers and I can’t see any difference with that Onkyo.

    I’m only courious if it’s goint to work with Paradigm Studio 100 speakers? I have pretty good offer for them. Can you advise me?
    If not, unfortunately I can’t see any other Onkyo that has the same possibilities but with more power.

  • Hi Tristan, thanks for the review. I am thinking of buying the TX 8150 and connecting it to a pair of Elacs Uni-fi UB5. Do you think this is a good idea or you maybe have a better amp in mind in roughly the same price range (maybe the Yamaha R-N602 or something similar)? Those speakers supposedly need quite some power…

    Stereo outputs are enough for my needs, I do however find the network connection essential.

    Thanks in advance.

    • It would be really helpful if you could share some thoughts regarding the mentioned combo (ELAC Uni-fi UB5 & Onkyo TX-8150). I am also considering it.

  • Hello, can i biamping a couple of polk tsx 330 using the A and B Chanels Of the receiver?, do i get better sound?. Thank you.

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