CNET First Look
Onkyo's TX-NR646 offers punchy home theaterConsidering the Onkyo TX-NR646's generous feature set, clean lines and superlative sonic skills, it's one heck of a value buy.
[MUSIC] Hi, I'm Ty Pendlebury and today I'm looking at the Onkyo TX-NR646 receiver. While some of Onkyo's competitors have gone for music streaming features this year, the NR646 sticks to its home cinema centric formula. At the center of this is support for the two newest surround formats. Dolby Atmos and dtsX, which requires the addition of height speakers, which can mean speakers which have an upfiring speaker built into them. The 646 looks similar to other Onkyos of the past with a very stern look and the familiar green LED readout. While most competitors have gone with input selection knobs, the Onkyo has kept its more user friendly source buttons. The remote control is also the same as previous years and has the look of a scientific calculator. Not the most user friendly design but it's okay once you get used to it. Also not very friendly is the onscreen display which harks back to the 1990s. The receiver now offers more inputs than last year and extra HDMI bringing it to seven and more analog ports as well. Plus it adds Apple AirPlay for streaming from iOS devices And Spotify Connect. As a home theater amp, the focus is on movies. And compared head to head against one of its biggest competitors, the Sony SDR-DN 1060, the Onkyo has a bigger, more dynamic sound. The addition of a front height channel for the few movies that do support it is also fun. But don't expect it to change your life. As a music hub, the Onkyo isn't as strong as the Sony, even though they do sound similar, but the the addition of a turntable phono input might sway some people. At around $600 the Onkyo offers a lot of features, and Dolby Atmos is intriguing, but the reason to buy this is that it can do home cinema really, really well. This has been Ty Pendlebury for cnet.com.