Article Index
Onkyo TX-NR3030
page 2
page 3
page 4 Sound Quality
page 5 Conclusion
page 6 Measured Performance
All Pages


As can be seen from the display, Onkyo have fitted an FM tuner - and it’s a goody too!  The front-panel AV inputs (which, like the numerous setup controls, are hidden behind a flap when not required) are of significant practical value; unfortunately, the legends for these controls are barely visible in a darkened room. Backlighting next time, please?



Watching Dolby Atmos-encoded material was little short of revelatory. Yes, it really does make an impact.  And Transformers: Edge of Extinction (played here on a Cambridge Azur 751BD and heard with a Rogers GS6/GS5/C33/ASB60 speaker system) is just the sort of action-driven effects-laden picture that can harness the potential of the system. From the start of the film, during which the alien ‘Creators’ wipe out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, you’re hooked. Spacecraft, fighter-jets, cars, Transformers (both ‘man-made’ and ‘authentic’) and rain show off the positioning prowess and sheer scale that the TX-NR3030 can impart.

   But it’s not just the bombast that works. In one scene, a miniature drone whizzes around the entrance of a corporate headquarters with the intention of scanning an employee ID card for subsequent forgery. As the object moves around, you can audibly place it in the soundscape, thanks in no small part to the Atmos height channels. They buzz around your ears just like the fly you can never swat – and I suspect that was probably the intended effect. In other respects, we’re onto a winner. Detailing is tremendous, while bass (explosions and machine sounds) is tuneful and tightly-controlled. 

It’s maybe a little too sharp on occasions, but treble/bass tone controls are available if you need them. At no time did the TX-NR3030 show any signs of running out of steam – those eleven amplifiers are capable of outputting 185 Watts each into a six-ohm load; we measured considerably more. 

   Surround-sound music also benefits from such punch. I particularly enjoyed listening to the Pure Audio (music-only Blu-ray) of Queen’s classic A Night at the Opera. Here all of the studio tricks have been applied to the multi-track master tapes to yield a 5.1 surround mix of what was originally a stereo album. It does take a while to get used to Brian May’s instantly-recognisable guitar-playing coming from behind you. I wonder what the remix engineers would have done with this album had Dolby Atmos been available?

   The analogue radio tuner may not be the TX-NR3030’s main selling point, but it’s certainly worth talking about. I found the RDS-equipped FM section to be sensitive, tonally-balanced and capable of a natural stereo soundstage with quality live broadcasts from the likes of Radio 3. I was also impressed with the wide choice of stations available from the ‘TuneIn’ Internet radio service. As there are thousands of stations out there, some of which are capable of fine sonics, it’s good that personal ‘favourites’ can be preset. My only beef is that the TuneIn user interface can be sluggish, and it’s too easy to ‘overshoot’ the desired item.

   USB and DLNA playback are excellent, and a wide range of codecs are supported – among them MP3, WAV/FLAC (up to 24-bit/192kHz), Apple Lossless, WMA, OGG Vorbis, AAC and DSD. There is a short gap between tracks if you’re playing them from a DLNA server. This can be annoying if you’re listening to one of those albums where one track joins into another – mix CDs, for example. Funnily enough, the very same album played via USB suffers from no such gaps! In sound quality terms, there’s little to fault here. A rip of The Easy Star All-Stars’ dub-reggae reworking of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (CD) was introduced via the USB port. 

   The insistent rhythms of the drum ‘n’ bass tinged reinterpretation of On The Run were conveyed with the speed and bite due, while the wonderful heavy-reggae low-end that permeates the album was clean yet powerful. 

   Interestingly, switching to TX-NR3030’s Pure Audio mode – which disengages the DSP – yielded a noticeably more ‘forward’ sound. 

Finally, we have the phono stage. This makes for a good introduction to vinyl playback; the sound proved to be warm and acceptably-detailed with my ‘stock’ Technics SL-1200 quartz-locked Direct-Drive with Philips GP412 cartridge – the modern equivalents of which could be comfortably-partnered with a receiver of this nature.


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