This 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-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-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.
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).
Spotify & 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.
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-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-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-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.