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Customer Review

108 of 115 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 509 review, September 8, 2011
This review is from: Onkyo TX-NR509 5.1 Channel Network A/V Receiver (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I bought this from another vendor when it was on sale. This receiver is a good receiver for the price, but you get what you pay for. It has great features which is why its such a big seller. These power some brand new Energy RC-10 speakers. Internet radio GUI is fairly plain and the search function does not retrieve the same results as when you search online through a PC. But other than that, it works great. USB works quite well, although once in awhile it won't play the next song. Easy fix though, all you have to do is press next. Setup is straight forward and easy. Audssey 2EQ makes things convenient also.

Now my biggest complaint...the receiver inherently has an audible noise floor. As the volume is turned up, there is a hiss that gets louder and louder. When I surf through my PS3 menu and the volume is about 35 (range is 0-80), you hear an audible hiss from the speakers. Keep in mind I am sitting about 5 feet away from the receiver. This hiss is much very apparent with all listening modes besides stereo and direct. It's not a problem with music, because the hiss is drowned out by the music. But, with movies where there are scenes that are more quiet (which happens pretty often) that hiss will annoy you to no end.

I've exchanged receivers twice thinking that it was a defect, but each time I exchanged it, the hiss was still there. I've ruled out every single possibility: speakers, wire, connection, grounding, and any possible source of interference. I've taken it to a neighbor's house and when everything is hooked up, that hiss is still there. I've unplugged every single input on the receiver to rule out my other devices, and the hiss is still there. I even went to a Fry's demo room to test out their demo model, and the hiss is there.

I would stay away from this receiver if you are an avid movie watcher. That hissing noise is unacceptable. Also, I didn't read too much into this issue, but I heard Onkyo has HDMI switching issues. Not sure if this applies to this model however. If you listen to music only and aren't too critical, music sounds just fine.
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Tracked by 10 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 17 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 18, 2011 1:54:14 PM PDT
Take the 3 prong plug and convert to a 2 prong (with the cheap little adapter) on ALL devices on that plugs circuit.
Should help solve hiss

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2011 6:27:19 AM PST
A grounding problem would cause hum not hiss.

Posted on Nov 23, 2011 6:49:48 PM PST
Right, grounding would be a hum issue. I noticed the 309 and 509 models have 0.7% Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) spec while the 609 and up models have 0.08% or lower THD. While not directly related to "hiss" it does indicate that the amplification section of the lower end receivers is inferior to the better models. This is no shocker, but explains the compromised performance some may experience. In short, most folks won't notice, but if you're picky you'll have to pony up more dough for cleaner audio.

Thanks for the review. It has steered me to at least going to the 609, with it's better specs. I'm not really an audiophile, but I am pretty picky about my sound and another $100 isn't a deal breaker.

Posted on Jan 14, 2012 7:56:41 PM PST
MAK24 says:
thanks for the review. I was seconds from buying this receiver and I do watch a lot of movies and I've heard that kind of hiss before. I would go nuts if I heard it. your positive there's not a setting that would take care or it? I know it has the audyssey tech that I am looking for and I'm wondering if that has something to do with it? did you talk to Onkyo tech support? thanks again for the review.

Posted on Mar 4, 2012 1:55:27 AM PST
Jacob Wunder says:
SR 309 that I got had the same problem. It is fairly loud - i could even hear it when there was some audio going through to the receiver. You really aren't being particular. This is not just the typical background noise you get when no sound signal is coming through. It is a constant thing. I thought mine must be a defective model. Sometimes the hiss will cut out, and the sound is fine, and these Onkyo receivers have gotten mostly positive reviewers. I was going to get a replacement because I liked the receiver, just thought it was a defect. Maybe I should get a yamaha instead.

Posted on Sep 29, 2012 11:15:24 AM PDT
I've owned an Onkyo TX-509 receiver for almost a year. I'm watching a flick on EncoreHD with it as I type this in a 5.1 setup. No hiss now, no hiss ever. Nothing special in my setup. A mix of new Polk center channel speaker, new Polk subwoofer, 20 year old dorm room tower speakers and cheap old Bose satellites. Still sounds very nice.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2012 5:45:08 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 18, 2012 6:19:09 AM PST
Sounds like you have a component in your system that is lowering your total Signal to Noise Ratio and thus causing your hiss which is the total background noise caused by your combination of components. Each compenent in your system contributes its share of interference and background noise. A receiver SNR of 100 dB means the audio signal is 100 dB louder than it's background noise but its not that simple. You have to add all the other noise making components as well. Sometimes too many power plugs in one spot or just the way the wires are configured causes background noise.
Cheap Solution:
Try switching your TV or other component power plugs to a different outlet from your receiver or good quality, filtered UPS. Do this one at a time until you ID the culprit.

If isolating the pwr plug doesn't eliminate the "hiss"
Not so cheap Solution:
Upgrade the offending component

"Total harmonic distortion is measured as a percentage, such as 0.004% THD This means that the level of harmonic distortion is 0.004% of the total output signal. Lower percentages are better.

Why is it Important?

In reality, total harmonic distortion is hardly perceptible to the human ear. Every component adds some level of distortion, but most distortion is insignificant and small differences in specifications between components mean nothing. Some components have distortion so low it cannot be accurately measured. Listening to a component and evaluating its sound characteristics is the most important way to judge a product. Other considerations, such as room acoustics and selecting the right speakers are more important than the percentage of total harmonic distortion." ................excerpted from

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 9:56:25 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 26, 2012 9:56:48 AM PST
Coyote says:
As stated above, distortion is often multiplicative (Systems Theory) where all of the components have their individual distortion levels and though each may seem very low, yet in total they can turn into an annoying hiss. Just as the Space Shuttle had two catastrophic failures in only 135 missions, it was the additive effect of all of those million individual parts and their predicted failure rates when multiplied together that gave the shuttle such a poor overall reliability rating.

What I suspect is that you have one or more components that are performing considerably out of spec and causing your hissing problem. Only a complete bench test diagnostics could determine the root cause. The receiver may continue to work for years hissing away (and driving you crazy) or this could be a prelude to a premature failure, tough to know. If you have to pay someone to bench test it then you may want to consider if it would be better to put that money toward something else since it is going to run you probably anywhere from $90 - $150 or more to have it diagnosed, and then there will be parts and labor for whatever they find wrong.

For whatever it is worth, it has been my experience that whenever I have had something repaired, that it would work for a while and then something else would go wrong and repairing it a second time would mean I might have spent almost as much as I paid for the equipment just in repairs. Seems the days of fixing something and having it run another 10 years are long gone.

Posted on Jan 14, 2013 7:36:15 PM PST
sybermyke says:
Wow thanks for the heads up! I have the same speakers and a 11 year old onkyo HT-R510 6.1 100 watts per channel receiver. No hiss here! I wiil steer clear of this model and just upgrade to a better model.

Posted on Feb 18, 2013 10:20:16 AM PST
D Kimball says:
I am not sure if this is the same problem as I have, but it sounds very similar. There seems to be an issue with some Onkyo receivers. I bought a similar receiver (HT-R390) with the 5.1 speaker system (Onkyo HT-S3400). At first everything was great, then I noticed the receiver would shut off a second or so after turning it on. I also started noticing the static noise at low levels. I googled the problem and found this page . If you have this issue I would suggest you contact Onkyo support. There is a link in the article that has you check your serial number to see if your receiver was a part of the defective receivers. My serial number did not work, but I still had the same problems. After (finally) getting in contact with someone at their support, I was sent a box with a return shipping label. I will comment again when the receiver is returned to me. I hope this helps some of you with this problem.
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