Onkyo Dolby Atmos Network Receiver with AirPlay, WiFi & Bluetooth
- The cheapest, easiest way to get fully three-dimensional Atmos sound in your house
- That’s a real thing: check today’s story for details or Google it
- 5.1.2 Atmos 3D sound, or regular old 7.1 surround
- Built-in AirPlay, WiFi, and Bluetooth for streaming ‘n’ whatnot
- Also has other current hotness like HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2, and UltraHD and 4K readiness
- We’re totally certified official badasses, as you can see on Onkyo’s site, unless you think we hacked it
- Model: TX-NR545 (OK, let’s figure this one out: the T stands for… um… and the X means… well, maybe the NR is… ah, screw it, it’s just a bunch of letters and numbers unless you work for Onkyo)
A home theater technology that needs MORE hype?
Some features get all the hype. Like 3D TV. For years it was the next big thing. The star of CES. The game-changing paradigm shifter. Problem was, nobody wanted it. You have to wear glasses to use it. And is it really better if some parts of a video image seem more lifelike but other parts are blurrier to the point of inducing headaches? If you fell for 3D TV a couple of years ago and bought one, you probably don’t even remember what drawer you left those glasses in.
At the opposite end of the hype spectrum, there’s 3D audio. Never heard of it? You’re not alone. But the best screens at any reasonably high-end movie theater have had it for a year or two now, and it’s on its way to your house.
But what is 3D audio, exactly? Well, where regular surround sound systems (5.1, 7.1, etc.) spread the audio out over a 360-degree plane, 3D audio systems like Auro and Dolby Atmos add a vertical dimension. So the sound field doesn’t just have width and depth - it has height, too. They do this by adding more channels of audio for additional front speakers, either speakers angled upward or speakers mounted higher or in the ceiling.
Jumping from 2.1 sound (stereo) to 5.1 sound (surround) was a big deal. But the step up from 5.1 to 7.1 (and beyond) yields underwhelming, diminishing returns because it just adds more points along a flat circle. The height channel in 3D audio expands that circle into a sphere. The new dimension even gets its own decimal place: 7.1 surround sound becomes 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos sound when you use two channels for that vertical dimension.
3D audio is the easiest thing you can do to bring your home theater to a totally new holy-shit next-level experience. And outside of home-theater geek circles, people are just starting to catch on.
There’s been next-to-no hype. It doesn’t make for snappy 15-second TV news segments from CES. Names like Atmos and Auro doesn’t tell you anything about what it does. And unlike us, most retailers are not about to risk losing your attention with a lengthy article explaining it.
Here’s how new this is and how fast it’s moving: about a year and a half ago, our CEO @Snapster was winning awards for having the first in-home 3D audio system in the world. It wasn’t in, like, Quincy Jones’s house, or Michael Bay’s house, or Vladimir Putin’s house. It was in the house of the guy who started Woot. Insane.
Yeah, Snapster went a little nuts. His home theater has 11.1.12 sound. Or 11.14.12, if you count all the subwoofers. Or, if you’re talking about channels, 55 amplified channels. We’re not sure what he’s compensating for. How many channels will it take to fill that void in his soul? Fortunately, he got a handle on his spiraling addiction before it completely destroyed him. Now he just feels stupid every time he buys a ticket to see a movie in a theater.
The point is, as recently as 2014, the only way to get 3D audio in your house was to spend seven figures on a system that people would come from Europe to study.
Now, thanks to this Onkyo receiver, you can get started on it for a few hundred bucks. 3D audio has gone from “one weirdo on the planet has this” to “anybody can have this” in the span of months.
You’re not going to top a real movie theater in your home. And sorry, @Snapster is probably not going to invite you to his. He didn’t drop all that lettuce to have to share an armrest with the great unwashed. But unlike 3D TV, Atmos unequivocally raises the game of your home theater in a way that’s reminiscent of going out to the movies. Unlike 3D TV, there’s plenty of Atmos content you can watch right now, with more coming along every day. Unlike 3D TV, you don’t need glasses to enjoy Atmos.
In a reversal of our usual M.O., we got these not because the technology is old or failed, but because word hasn’t really gotten out yet. You’ll look like a genius for jumping on it early (and cheaply). Is this the best Atmos receiver? No. Is it even the best Atmos receiver by Onkyo? No way. If money is no object, stop reading this right now and go buy this one from Amazon so we can skim off some sweet affiliate revenue.
Is this the cheapest way on Earth to get Atmos in your house? Absolutely. If you just have to watch a movie in 3D video, you’ll have plenty of money left over for movie tickets. And you won’t feel stupid for spending it.