on July 20, 2012
I was running a Pioneer VSX-512K given as a wedding gift to my wife and it recently gave out. In search of a replacement I also wanted to get a unit with updated features and that didn't force me to update my speakers since I love them and see no need to replace them at this point.
I'm now running this set-up
* PS3 Slim
* Direct TV HD box
* JBL Northridge E30 Front L/R (bi-amped)
* JBL ES25C
There are some tweaks that some users may find aggravating to complete or tiresome to test, but that is the nature of the beast. Great sound from existing equipment will always take a bit of time and adjustment to personal taste. I have immensely enjoyed the sound of my new receiver and though I have no problem with Pioneer, I think the new Onkyo is better suited to my needs, tastes, and set-up.
The feature set of the TX-NR515 is only missing Apple AirPlay, but DLNA is all anyone actually needs. Personal tastes dependent upon the "cult of Apple" may dictate the "need" for AirPlay and the Onkyo option is theOnkyo UBT-1 Bluetooth USB Adapter which allows streaming from an "i" device to the receiver. Perosnally, I applaude Onkyo for removing themselves from the addition of $100 to the price of their units to claim "AirPlay" like other units with fewer audio benefits but greater gimmicky features. Many PCs and Macs can stream the same content via DLNA, so don't feel compelled to buy an Apple TV or the Bluetooth adapter to be compliant with AirPlay - you don't need it - especially since 'i' devices can plug directly into the front USB with the Apple provided cord.
Onkyo has a wifi adapter for the networking to stream internet Radio (sort of redundant if you're just using the receiver for games and movies, and don't have a nice PC speaker setup). The wifi adapter has some connectivity issues when near other networked devices so as is suggested on the wifi adapter page, I ordered the TP-Link TL-WN722N 150Mbps High Gain Wireless USB Adapter for use in lieu of the Onkyo mini USB for the high gain antenna and placement flexibility. The WN722 is the same internal hardware found in the Onkyo adapter. I found that per the suggestion of several other users, this is both better in terms of streaming signal strength and cost efficiency (even with a 9' USB extension cable, the price was less than the Onkyo adapter, at the time of writing this).
Unless you're an audiophile with high-end speakers (which then, why a TX-NR515 over an 818 or up?) or just can't get your speakers balanced by ear, Audessey2EQ is moot (but appreciated). I found having to tweak the settings after the alleged "auto" set-up, but I did learn a number of things about my set-up in the process and for that, the addition was worth it.
PS3 users will notice that the use of "deep color" from the PS3 will cause display issues. Be certain to turn the feature off in the PlayStation system settings, as "deep color" is mandatory 36-bit colors to conform to the standard and the PlayStation outputs 48-bit, optionally - thus the problem and reason for; Onkyo didn't build the receiver to handle the 48-bit depth, only the 36.
The TX-NR515 incorporated HDMI 1.4a, which carries Ethernet and audio return. If your TV does not accept audio return, you'll have to use the TV line out to feed back to the receiver. I would suggest optical out. The PS3 uses HDMI 1.3b-1.4 depending on the model. I suggest the purchase of 1.4a compliant HDMI cables (I got 3 and 6 foot blue rigger) to ensure cable fidelity and signal compliance between legacy devices.
The Onkyo remote app is not the most comprehensive or robust app for user but it was intentionally kept simple and straightforward. Additionally, it is a free app. Personal choice was "O-Remote" because I can run through every option and set-up for my receiver from my iPhone or iPad, easily and effectively. For the price of an additional $5, I prefer "o-remote" on the grounds of flexibility and control.
If I had to buy this again, I would... but if the Onkyo has the same build quality as my old Pioneer, my kids will be in college by then and a TX-NR515 will have gone the way of the Dodo.
As an aside, I've no idea why, nor do I much care why - but the network updating feature generally results in no joy across many features. The best method of firmware update is USB. It takes less time, and there are fewer reported errors. After updating, I suggest turning network notification "off." From past experience as a computer tech, when older computers used to have BIOS updates, or for the more modern person, game hardware updates - can result in undesired results. Best bet, sit on the update for two weeks - wait and see if people report issues. If so, wait for resolution before updating. If not, update via USB.
Second, apparently HDMI cables are fragile. For some reason, after an update one of my three cooked. It may or may not have been the receiver, but the fact is the cable died. Be prepared to, at times, switch a cable out if there's undesirable result like loss of picture through HDMI out main.
Many reports of failing HDMI Main Out can be found on the web. I can't speak for everyone, but after being hit with the same "issue," I discovered a workaround: Order of operation. I turn on my receiver first, then my TV. Because my TV switches resolution, frequency, and "mode" which accepting input, it seems to reset and adjust to what the receiver is attempting to hand out.
Onkyo has released a USB only firmware update that resolves the HDMI handshake issue. I have updated my 515 and for the past couple of months not run into a single handshake issue and my device performs as expected. Any potential buyers do not need to worry their device will be faulty or that the fix will brick the unit. Just remember that USB updates are better than OTA updates.
on November 1, 2012
When I started my search for a new receiver (August 2012) to replace an aging Sony (needed HDMI ins and outs!)I was attracted to the Onkyo line of new Network A/V receivers. A look at the specs versus the others and it looked like a winner. When I started reading reviews, I backed off and put my search on hold. They were all 5 star or 1 star. I started back up in October and noticed a different trend in the reviews. If you have not figured it out by now, most new receivers are a cross between a PC and an old amplifier. The more bells and whistles, the better the "computer software" you need (called Firmware). Seems there were issues with a couple of things in the early production. Some bad capacitors, some issues which where blamed on the HDMI card and real buggy firmware. The more I read, the more I figured they had whipped the problems. The firmware has been updated in October and the old firmware might have caused issues with the HDMI display. So two of the three problems might have been fixed. So heck, at this price, why not give it a chance.
The first thing you must do when you get this, and there is a big yellow sheet telling you to do this, you must upgrade the firmware. Unfortunately, the Onkyo written instructions were done by someone who did not actually go through the USB process and they left off some steps in how to use the USB method. If you can do the upgrade by wired Ethernet it seems you can save yourself some trouble based on other reviews. If you do it by USB, after you download and unzip the new firmware file to your USB stick you might seem to get stuck following the USB install directions. If so just press the down arrow on the remote. There are several menus you have to navigate and the written instructions failed to mention that! So you don't see the next prompt as listed in the instructions. I wasted about 20 minutes having my wife read and reread the instructions to me as I repeated the steps to figure out what I was not following correctly. It was not me! Heck, I'd knock off a half a star, but considering what you get once you have passed this step, it was no big deal and worth the effort. Looking at some video clips on the net before you do this might save you the confusion I had.
I will say I am from the 90's when it comes to stereo/AV equipment so this receiver blew me away. I have cheap speakers, so I can't make any real comparisons on sound, other to say it sounds better than my Sony. Speaker set up was a snap using the microphone. My Sony Flat Screen TV picture actually looks better, but that may just be my imagination. The FM tuner works fine, all my other equipment works fine with the Onkyo. The Onkyo remote has small buttons but works well once you get used to it. The whole system set up was easy to do. I was also able to configure my Harmony remote and pretty much had everything up in running in an evening (included stripping out the old stuff, new wires, new connections, firmware update, Harmony remote re-programing, etc). There are a couple of buttons/functions on the Onkyo remote that are missing on my old Harmony remote. So on internet radio, as an example, I use them both or just the Onkyo remote, but that's no big deal for me.
I took the advise of other reviewers and bought the TP-Link 150 MPS High Gain Wireless USB Adapter to connect to my network. Very easy to install and works great. A little cheaper than the Onkyo one, and it comes with an antenna. Has not dropped any signal so far.
The only issue I have run into is the TV display screen saver comes on when I leave the TV on, but go to a non-video function (like CD, FM, Internet radio). When this happens, I use the remote to turn off the TV and then turn it back on and the screen saver is gone. Or just turn off the TV and then turn on Internet radio and the TV and it does not happen. I'm guess it is a firmware thing!!! But again, not a issue for me as it is not unusual for any of my equipment to get out of sync with the rest of the stuff, most often turned off when I want ti turned on. Remember the good old days when you had to walk over to stuff to turn it on or off??
I have owned this for two weeks now, so it is too early to judge if it will last the 20 years my Sony did. I honestly doubt it, but we'll see. The unit seems to be as heavy as my old Sony so that gives me hope it is well made.
If you have written off this receiver due to the reviews, keep checking back and see if the ratings improve and the problems decrease. I give it two thumbs up. I can now use HDMI from my Roku box, and sound comes from all my HDMI cables instead of RCA cables! So you can see I have moved up to the 21st Century. Not bad for an old geezer.
on September 5, 2012
There is a major flaw with this receiver and the TX-NR616. After long periods of standby (overnight) the receiver will fail to deliver the HDMI video to your monitor or TV. The only way to get your picture back is to unplug the unit and plug it back in. Onkyo is aware of the issue and have been trying to resolve it for months to no avail. I purchased one without knowing and experienced these issues. I returned it back to Amazon. Thank goodness their returns are extremely easy. I encourage you to Google "TX-NR515 - Monitor out issues (no picture)" which will link you to Onkyo's support forum where you will be able to read 19, yes 19 pages of people having this same issue. The price point is very tempting, but this defect makes this receiver useless.
I didn't mention this before, but I am an installer. For the features there really isn't another receiver in this price point that competes. After experiencing the issues above I exchanged the receiver for another one. This time it worked perfectly. I did NOT update the firmware. It was working fine out of the box and didn't want to take a chance on firmware. Since my last update I did another install using the TX-NR515. I was a little apprehensive, but for the client's budget and needs this receiver fit the bill. Guess what... more issues. This time the receiver intermittently fails to power on via IR. You have to physically press the power button. Experienced this issue right out of the box. I have done the most current firmware update via USB and still have the same issue. It's a shame that you can read posts on the Onkyo forum about this issue from over a year ago and no solution. I will be exchanging this unit for another and hope I luck out like I did previously. It does look like the HDMI handshake issues have been resolved (hopefully). I have read that you can turn on network standby to remedy the remote issue, but it draws more power. This might have to be an option after the replacement unit comes in. I would prefer for the unit to run correctly and not have to use workarounds. Buying this receiver is really a gamble, but it's good to have a return option with Amazon. When this thing works correctly, it's awesome. Unfortunately I don't think I want to continue to stake my reputation on this receiver.
on November 30, 2012
I purchased this receiver and had it about half way hooked up when I ran across this "gotcha" buried in a footnote on page 67 of the manual...
"Only analog input sources are output from the ZONE 2 LINE OUT jacks and ZONE 2 L/R terminals. Digital input sources are not output. If no sound is heard when an input source is selected,verify that the source is connected to an analog input."
Since my main source of input (music and TV) is coming from my PC via HDMI cables, this renders Zone 2 useless for me. So, besides wasting hours of time reading the manual and setting this up, I now have to pay $20 to return the thing. I suppose there is some engineering constraint, but why have a receiver with a ton of HDMI inputs be built with a Zone 2 that will not render a signal from them? And why would this important info be buried in a footnote on page 67 of the manual.
I hope that writing this will keep others from falling into this trap.
on August 20, 2012
I researched AV Receivers here on Amazon as well as by visiting several local retailers and extensively reading online reviews at CNET.com and other sites. My needs were pretty basic: at least 4 HDMI ports, internet connectivity, and 5.2 surround sound in a single zone. I wanted Airplay capability but knew I could get it via Airport Express or Apple TV device so I did not make this a "must have" capability built into the receiver.
I had been aware of Onkyo's technical issues with this and related receivers earlier in 2012 so was waiting for them to release major firmware update. On July 28, after such an update, I finally took the step and ordered it from Amazon.
The unit came timely and arrived in good shape. After reconfiguring the equipment in my cabinet to give the Onkyo additional ventilation,I got it configured and turned everything on, and....nothing. To make a long story short(er), my HDMI cable from the Onkyo receiver to the TV was, straight from the store, bad. This prevented me from accessing the receiver configuration displays and kept me at a high frustration level. Which brings me to point #1:
1. To minimize your frustrations as well as your time investment, you should start this installation with a good quality and fully functional HDMI cable connecting the AV Receiver to the TV. The Onkyo receiver only outputs its configuration display onto the HDMI output-- ok, truth be told, I stumbled upon how to do it from the front faceplate of the receiver but it is much more difficult-- and, without a good connection, you will not be able to progress with the setup.
After going back to the store to get more HDMI cables (just in case...), getting the rest of the setup was pretty straight forward. In a few more hours, I had my speakers calibrated and updated my Harmony Remote 650 to operate the receiver, TV, DVD, and Pandora internet radio.
That worked for about 2 days when, this past Sunday, after an extended Pandora music listening session, I could not get any video signal to the TV. I tested all the HDMI cables and they were ok. I re-cabled my system to drive the TV direct, bypassing the receiver, and those components worked. From what I could tell, the receiver HDMI board failed and would not output any HDMI signal regardless of the source. This HDMI failure occurred with less than 100 hours of operation on the receiver. I was (am) astounded) at such lack of reliability.
I have been debugging this issue and was preparing to send the unit in for warranty service when I happened upon a recommendation on Onkyo support forums to perform a unit reset to factory defaults. Earlier tonight, I tried this and was successful in getting the HDMI board back operational. Interestingly enough, the unit kept all the firmware updates I performed but did lose all my customized settings. Which brings me to point #2:
2. Read the Onkyo Support forums and follow all advice especially regarding the HDMI ports. The "factory reset" cost me 20 mins of time to reconfigure the devices but saved me $25 in shipping costs and 4+ weeks of inconvenience.
I am rating this receiver at 3 Stars because, while it delivers great sound and video when all is working, at present I cannot express full satisfaction with its reliability.
on November 7, 2012
This review requires a preface. Let me start out by empathazing with you if you are searching desperately for a quality receiver. The reason you are probably reading the reviews is because you NEED to make sure your money is well spent--and you don't want to deal with returning and trying other models over and over. I am in your boat (rather, WAS in your boat). My search for a new receiver began months ago when my aging old Sony without HDMI inputs just wasn't keeping up. I did the furious scouring of the internet and quickly found out there are really only a handful of honest, legitimate hardware vendors with real reviews: Amazon, Newegg, B&H Photo, CNet (not a vendor), and Crutchfield. Long story short, two brands that were within my price range surfaced as obvious choices: Yamaha and Onkyo. However, the reviews for the Onkyo 414, 515, and 616 were all showing the same deficiencies. And subsequent research on Onkyo forums revealed that, indeed, the 2012 Onkyos were plagued with faulty hardware, or it SEEMED (actually, it was firmware). As needing a quality receiver that I could count on, I went with the Yamaha V473 as there a few things my wife and I needed in a receiver:
-Ethernet/wireless for home networking
-Internet radio capable
-tablet app capable (we have iPad 2)
-Powered Zone 2
The Yamaha V473 didn't really satisfy in terms of its specs, it didn't even have Zone 2 out, let alone Powered Zone 2, but the reliability sold me. It only had 4 HDMI ports, only 1 coaxial and 1 optical input, and was only 5.1 capable. So, after painstakingly installing it and neatly tucking wires, I decide to update the firmware over ethernet. But, I was never really satisfied. The on screen display was like looking into an Atari or Colecovision with its ridiculously aged graphics--isn't this a 2012 receiver?? I end up returning it.
So, I do it. I jump for the Onkyo NR515 after I see that the forums, and reviews here on Amazon, were beginning to look up for the firmware fixing the issues. I get it over at B&H, which also pitched in a free wireless USB adapter, for about $80 less than my blah Yamaha! I waited anxiously for it, because I just could imagine getting it and starting up a complete dud. But, no, I got a gem...
The NR515 is beautiful to behold, if you fancy electronics and build quality. The finish is a brushed appearance with a slight sheen. The buttons are slightly understated, and the thing just dominates your entertainment stand. The rear panel is utter geek-topia. 2 optical and 2 coaxial are more than enough with SEVEN 1.4a HDMIs!! You just will not find that many inputs on any competing receiver, period. Plus, there is one on the front, making EIGHT all together! Ethernet and 1.1 USB on back (front USB is 2.0).The wire terminals are nicely color coded and a pleasure to work with, unlike the Yamaha terminals, which even felt like a cheaper plastic and were not color coded (a small detail in my book, but small ones are cumulative). The quality really just is all over this thing. The front panel LCD is also quite attractive with a well colored and slightly italicized font. It will even read out songs you play over the internet radio.
The on screen display is simply futuristic compared to the Yamahas. It actually uses icons and is much more complete in its offering of options. All options are clearly laid out and the English is proper (if you were worrying about Engrish). Now, for the network capability, this is where the NR515 simply SHINES!! I used the UWF-1 that B&H supplied for free and was connected to my Netgear router in about 3 minutes, using the WPS button. The NR515 is loaded with every kind of internet music option you can probably ever need--all I needed was DLNA (to stream from our main Windows 7 computer) and Pandora. Both work exceptionally well, and it will even display the album artwork for both services. The other services I have not used. Probably one of the slickest things about the Onkyo is the apps to control it. We downloaded the "Onkyo Remote 2" for our iPad 2. It can turn the unit on, change inputs, select mode of input (say go from DLNA to Pandora), change volume, select sound mode, and a bunch more (google Onkyo Remote 2 app). As soon as we hook up Zone 2 in our bedroom, we will be able to wake up in the morning, grab the iPad, turn on Zone 2 only, select Pandora, pick a station, change the volume, and enjoy whatever we want without having to grab the remote or even get out of bed. This is INVALUABLE to my wife and me, especially as we love listening to music at all times of the day. Good work Onkyo!
***Update Sep 2013***
So, after having this unit for quite some time now and setting up my Zone 2 in our bedroom, I can attest to the utter joy of this particular function--the powered zone 2 with streaming internet radio. Almost every day now, my wife or I will get on our phones or tablets (supports both iOS and Android) and turn on the Zone 2 from our bedroom and pick Pandora to listen to music while still in bed. This is a killer-app for this receiver, and one that I would be willing to pay more for but don't have to!
Ok, I'm not an audiophile or pretend to be...I am using this on my standard bookshelf Sony speakers in 6.1. We really enjoy the sound, especially compared to old Sony, but I can't give an objective comparison to the Yamaha. All I know, is that this thing is LOUD and is CLEAR. Classical on the NR515 will make you feel you are first row at the Chicago Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra! It seriously is majestic and it does the job. I popped in WALL-E and Back to the Future on BluRay with DTS-HD and they were absolutely pristine...crisp and enveloping. No issues.
I guess we all know that these Onkyos were initially made with defunct firmware...sorry for those individuals who were affected. But, I am also sorry for those individuals who got rid of their NR515 for other receivers, because now, Onkyo has rectified the situation and released updated firmware that should correct most problems. I haven't had the receiver for a while, but I have not ran into the early stated problems after updated to the 1141-0108-0400 version (the latest as of this writing). You need to do an ethernet/wireless update FIRST, then do a second update with the 1141-0108-0400 firmware via a USB drive. It is time consuming, but the results are well worth it.
For the price you just WILL NOT go wrong. God forbid you get a defunct unit, then I am sorry. I just cannot believe the value of the Onkyo NR515...I got this for $300 with a free wireless adapter--is there even a remotely close comparable receiver? I haven't found it. Hope this helps.
on August 7, 2012
This was the 5th Onkyo AVR that I have purchased. This particular unit was destined to replace an old bedroom surround unit, but when I opened it up, I discovered to my dismay that there was a huge, green paper warning saying to not run the initial setup until you'd done a firmware update. They were extremely clear that you were not to run this unit without doing so.
Well, after following their instructions, the amp wouldn't get past the "NET Update" screen...for 2 hours". It had warned me that it "could" take an hour. I turned it off and restarted...same problem. The next morning, I started the update before work...came home 8 hours later to see the same "NET Update" screen.
For the next 4 hours I initialized the unit to factory defaults...tried different network connections...tried power cycling. Never once did I get even one of the multiple updates to install. The first update (VSP?) would download 33%...then crash. Next time, 99%...then crash. Then 3% and crash. No difference in behavior on being connected to different network ports. And this is on a 100% stable fiber optic Internet line that routinely handles 10GB+ uploads and 100GB downloads with no problem. We're not dropping packets, we aren't losing signal. Only the Onkyo has ever had a problem.
The best part of this process is not only is the download percentage unpredictable, but the ability to even start the download is unpredictable. The firmware update menu itself freezes at different points! Sometimes you can't select "Update Now" to start it. Sometimes you can't get past the next screen, "[Enter]: Update Now" (disclaimer, these screen text snippets could be slightly off as I'm doing this from memory, having already packed up the unit to return). Most often you get stuck at the final screen "NET Update". So, good luck updating the firmware like the bright, flourescent green warning insert insists that you do...and enjoy the "Update Now?" screen (yes, you can set it to never remind you again, but this unit NEEDS the update, it is too flawed to function).
So, aside from software glitches, there are the design flaws. This is a bedroom unit, and I have a HD cable box that is not a DVR (DVR downstairs on main screen). This box also only has 1080i Component video outputs. Which is fine...as the Onkyo has component video inputs. What is horrific failure on Onkyo's part is that the component video has to be 480p! If you try to send HD/1080i over component video, it will NOT send the signal over HDMI. So that nice, 1-line HDMI cable that I have set to run from my AV closet to the flat panel mounted on the wall? Doesn't work. You have to run a 2nd component video run just to use component video. And all of this from a unit that only has 1 component input. Why, then, would I bother running my Cable to the ONLY component IN, downgrade it to old-school TV quality, only to then send it back up to the TV over it's own dedicated component video line? It makes no sense whatsoever! It would be better to simply run the audio only to the AVR and run the cable to the TV...at which point you negate the usefullness of this AVR/video switch!
I sincerely hope this detailed review helps stave many of you away from this unit. It is an epic failure on Onkyo's part.
(PS - I've tried calling Onkyo 3x in the last 2 days, and every time I get told to leave a number and they'll call me right back. Not once have they actually done so.)
on April 19, 2012
I think a lot of people will be interested in this receiver for the low price point with a secondary HDMI output. While it does work, there are some limitations that I wish I was aware of.
First of all, here is my setup:
Samsung PN64550 3D Plasma
Onkyo NR 515
Direct TV HR24-100
Samsung LN46530 LCD (Non-3D)
Issue #1 with second HDMI output
You can't get sound out of your receiver speakers and your internal speakers on the second TV at the same time. As I mentioned above, my TV's are in two different rooms. The 3D plasma is using the speakers hooked up to the AVR and I would like to use the internal speakers on the second TV. Once I turn off the receiver, it will send audio to the second TV via the HDMI standby pass through. If you are never planning to watch both TV's at once, then I guess this isn't a big deal. I asked Onkyo support for a work around but I haven't heard back yet.
###UPDATE### - I have been able to get audio out of the AVR speakers and the second TV. When you Turn on "Audio TV Out" it mutes the AVR speakers and you can just unmute them. The issue now is that when you do that, you only get 2 ch PCM audio which is unacceptable to me. Also, the OSD wasn't working.
If only one of your TV's is 3D, this receiver will not pass a 3D signal. The only way to get this to work is to go into the menu on the Receiver and turn off the output to the second TV and then 3D will work. I worked with Onkyo customer support to figure this out. I don't really know if there is anything the Receiver can do about this as it probably has to do with the components.
If you are using the HDMI pass through to watch the secondary TV, you have to turn on the receiver (which you will then lose audio due to issue #1) to switch the source. So if I want to use the PS3 in the second room I have to turn on the receiver, select BD/DVD, and then turn it back off. I setup my Harmony remote to do this so not a huge deal buy annoying any-the less.
As far as the rest of the receiver it seems pretty good. I am coming from an Onkyo SR-606 and I would say the audio quality is about the same (which isn't a bad thing). The Android remote app works well as does the internet apps. The 1080p on screen menu is very nice and fairly easy to use.
Also, you can still Bi-amp the front speakers even though the back of the receiver doesn't have this labeled anymore.
As other reviews have pointed out, I just had the issue where my HDMI outputs stopped working. I unplugged the receiver and plugged it back in and the outputs started working again. This is the first time it happened to me in almost 2 months of use so I hope this isn't a persistant issue. I'll keep an eye on it.
on October 15, 2012
I am from the 70's, an era where good sound was important. Your stereo components were a big deal. Day was that I could talk the talk and actually knew what all the arcane specs for receivers and speakers actually meant. The 80's brought the computer, the 90's brought the Net and this new millennium yields the A/V receiver that connects just about every bit of technology that might be featured at Best Buy.
The good news is that the A/V receiver can do dozens of things that didn't exist to be done even 10 years ago. The bad news is that all the new capabilities come with a steep learning curve. Do not expect to have this up and running in an hour.
Long to short, I decided it was time to replace my 20 year old Onkyo receiver with the Onkyo TXNR 515. The big upgrade was all of the new connections and capabilities. The downside was that the
new receiver was not equal to the old in terms of pure sound. On the other hand, my music still sounds great using the 515 and I don't know if I could actually tell the difference. The 80 watts seems to drive my speakers happily. The sound has been clean.
The 515 arrived in a large box and with all kinds of instructions and accessories. There is a Quick Start guide but, alas, no printed manual. You get to do that yourself or you can read the manual from the supplied disk or go online. The printed manual runs to over 100 pages. The day when you hook up the speakers, plug it in and press the power button are gone. Your relationship with the receiver is based on the included remote. The buttons on the remote are small and plentiful. Navigating through all of the setup menus and procedures was a challenge but most operations need only be done once. Setting up the wireless connection to the Net was easy. If you have a wireless network then get the $25 connector that fits into the front USB port.
Step One-Install the firmware update. I used a thumb drive to download the update from Onkyo's website. Connect your TV to the receiver so that you can use the on-screen menus to complete the initial setup. Getting used to the menu system takes a bit but everything works once you do.
Connecting the components to the Onkyo 515 was straight forward. I have a Panasonic flat screen, Tivo, a play station and an older CD player. The Play Station and the Tivo connect to the 515 via HDMI cables (buy these from amazon for $5 apiece-trust me) The receiver connects everything to the TV using a single HDMI cable.
I used the included microphone to calibrate my 5-1 speaker setup and was pleased with the result. The process took about 15 minutes and it is explained in the manual. This was very cool and amazing.
The Internet radio options are a huge plus. I live in rural New Hampshire and there are only two or three stations that I can pull in. Using the Vtuner option, I was able to listen to stations from all over the world with crystal clarity. It took me all of 15 minutes to program 8 of my favorite stations including one from Istanbul. Pandora is also running through the 515. If you haven't used Pandora, it is excellent, and like vtuner, it is free. There are other services supported that I haven't had time to explore.
At this point, I have the basics up and running and am very happy with the TXNR 515. There are many features that I have not looked at. This is a piece of equipment that will take a while to get to know. I did see some freezing and pixelization on my TV during one broadcast but am not sure that the cause was not my refurbished Tivo box which arrived last week. I will re-visit this issue if it becomes evident that the 515 is the culprit.
Certainly, this receiver offers a gateway to all of the new connected technology at a more than reasonable price. I am not crazy about the remote. The buttons are small any my fingers are not. It is a universal remote, so it can be programmed. A small quibble.
on May 15, 2012
There is a problem that some of us are currently experiencing that we hope Onkyo will fix with a firmware update. Intermittently, the main HDMI out will just go dark when it goes from standby to active. It can be "fixed" by either using the second HDMI out (but you lose your onscreen displays) or by unplugging the unit and plugging it back in. I am just leaving mine on, muted, to prevent the problem, but that is not ideal either.
Onkyo is aware of the problem and is working to replicate it and find a fix. For now... I love the receiver totally and completely except for this - which, without a fix, for most people would be a deal breaker. So I don't know whether to give it five stars because it is a completely awesome piece of equipment, or a one star for the current problem. So I am cutting it in the middle and giving it a 3 star. 1 if I have to return it over this issue, 5 if they fix it. It really is a good amp.
Onkyo discussion boards have an active thread on this: [...]