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on April 14, 2017
First thing I wanted to say, I was about to buy this item on Thursday night 4/13/2017 from Amazon, but ordering and shipping the item would not reach me till monday. Bought it locally in a Best Buy, but doing the review here.

I was very hesitant at first, I'm coming from the same model except it was upper model from this one but 3-4 years older lacking Atmos and DTS X, and newer updated feature. My older unit did have 30 watts more power and almost jumped to the matching similar unit, however, this one has more than enough and is updated with all newer sound codecs and older ones like DTS MASTER AUDIO, TRUE HD and legacy DOLBY DIGITAL, DTS, PCM etc. I choose this one because of the 4k 60fps, HDR10 pass thru, wireless AC and bluetooth. As a bonus it supports FireConnect and multiple streaming services like Pandora and Google Cast etc. Specs wise its up to date and supports everything out now in 2017.

The 2nd main reason for the purchase: It fits my home layout.

I have a 5.1 system installed and buying over head speakers in a month to make it 5.1.2. Jumping to newer upper models would only get me more power, visual changes and more speaker connections like 9.2, 11.1 etc so if you have no desire of adding more speakers to expand the sound, its not worth the jump because you'll pay for features you wont use. This 7.1 model will allow you to add two more speakers for Atmos and DTS X: (two speakers on top of your left and right speakers aimed at the ceiling to reverb back down or two on the walls aimed down). Which are easy installations than a 9.1 or an 11.1 and above system. The receiver allows you to select what layout you have. Menu is easy to use, simple, and very straight forward. Includes a setup microphone to determine distance and calibrates to avoid standing waves as well as speaker crossover.

After running the microphone calibration, you may need to fine tweak the crossover hertz rating on each speakers if you know them before hand. Sometimes auto calibrations changes them lower than they actually are, which can affect bass to your powered subwoofer. Lower the crossover on a speaker, less bass is pushed to the subwoofer, the unit 'assumes' the other speakers can push out heavy bass so it passes less bass signal to the subwoofer.

TIP: If you lack bass from a powered subwoofer after calibration, set all speaker crossovers to 80hz in the menu. Settings, crossovers, and switch them to 80hz. That should tell the receiver to allow the subwoofer to handle all low bass and midbass. If you have speakers that can output some bass, you can lower them but normally it's encouraged to let the subwoofer handle all bass no matter what setup you have. If you have satellite speakers (which have no bass) auto calibration should set them correctly (higher). This tip is only for more heavy duty tower/bookshelf speakers that lack built in 10 woofers.

TIP 2: Auto calibration does an excellent job measuring distance and also calibrates room resonance. This can be disabled and you'll run the receiver with whatever signal you send it. Quick setting on remote, AccuEx and set to off. You can also disabled Cinema Filter but not needed. (it only balances harsh recordings and makes it tamed for a home). When set to off, speaker distance stays active, but any fine tuning from the system is turned off. You have to make the choice, since each house sounds different.

PROS: Great sound, very clean, supports 4k 60fps,HDR 10, Playstation 4 and PRO compatible, Atmos and DTS X for object based surround (3D audio), more than enough power for a middle to large rooms, two wireless antenna, wireless AC blazing fast wireless speed and supports multiple digital radio stations like: spotify, sirius radio etc. Easy to follow and read menu, very straightforward not overly complex. Has two menu settings 'quick menu' for basic controls: subwoofer levels, on and off calibration settings. More compact remote which supports fast sound mode switching for movies, games and music. Keep pressing the button it cycles through various built in modes.. $799 to now $400 came out may 2016 and still getting firmware updates: latest one was Feb 23 which added: Support for FireConnect and enabled streaming from Network Services/USB/Bluetooth/Music server. Also Dolby Vision will be added in an update sometime in 2017.

CONS: It's very hard finding a con since the unit is pretty up to date spec wise and perfect price. If I had to nit pick, I would say the front chassis on the unit is not heavy aluminium like upper models. It's a brush, semi metal finish, semi plasticky, not solid metal. Sorta like a hybrid. Basic front design.

Final Thoughts. Completely worth the upgrade if you have a 5.1 layout and have no plans on jumping to 9.1 or 11.1 speaker system. You can take advantage of the 5.1 by adding the height speakers for Atmos and DTS X converting it into 5.1.2. My older unit had 30 watts extra per channel which allowed me to dial up the volume less to get more sound. You can do the same by just increasing the volume levels. No one plays receivers at full volume. The only benefit of higher volume would be less time to get to a higher volume level. Even though this unit has less power than my older system, it performers better, and much cleaner sounding than my old 3-4 year model. Very happy with the unit and only a day of playing with it.

EDIT 4/19/2017:


“Dolby Vision, will be coming to the company’s 2016 lineup of network 7, 9 and 11-channel models, ranging from the TX-NR555 to the PR-RZ5100, via a firmware update scheduled for later this year (2017).“ (That also includes this unit, the TX-NR656). I verified this over the phone with a representative from Onkyo after reading a few articles online on it.
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on September 26, 2017
Purchase from Amazon March of this year. I have done 3 updates using WI-FI without any problems. The sound quality is above the price range of this unit. I have had No HDMI problems or any other problems with this unit. Others have reported units arriving DOA right out the box or HDMI issues. Just a note, if you research other units of other manufacturers have or had issues in the past or present issues it happens. For what I paid for this unit 349.00 new so far it's money well spent..I am using this unit in a 5.1.2 really like the DTS-X. For 2.1 music I have the EQ, set to my liking . I could go on about this unit, but the reviews are spot on with this unit. It is a good unit and it's performance is that of a much higher price unit.
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on August 26, 2017
Everything works awesome but couldn't get the blu ray to work at all. All I had was sound. I found the solution.
Called Onkyo Tech Support and they had this problem straightened out in short order. Apparantly there is a feature called "HDMI Deep Color" that is present in Blu-ray players and also a variation of it supported by their receivers. Apparantly the problem is compatibility between the 2 devices. If both the blu ray and the receiver both have the deep color option enabled, a conflict can occur and all you get is audio through the HDMI chain. The solution is to turn off the deep color feature on one device or the other. To disable it on the TX-NR646, you press and hold the "Strm Box" button and toggle the Power button until you see a message in the display indicating that DpColor is disabled. Power off the receiver, turn it on, and the issue should be resolved.
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on May 26, 2017
I can't express how happy I am with this receiver. I have always had Yamaha's and even recently purchased a new Rx-V679. The HDMI Out went out on it within the first few months. I returned it and instead of trying it again, I went with this because it was so highly reviewed. I will say, it took a lot of getting used to the different sound/options/interface/etc., but once I did, I have to say I am ecstatic with my move to the Onkyo. The sound right out of the box was very bright. I adjusted it a little and changed some of the crossovers until I got it where I like it. I have Klipsch towers/center/sub and they're always heavy on the mid/bass. It's like I got new speakers! The change is still a little hard to believe. It's still bright an clear, but with enough mid/bass to be full and rich. Like I said, this is my first Onkyo, but I am so very impressed. Yamaha is really into the different sound fields, which I never really used much. This has minimal sound fields, so the interface is much simpler. The sound is probably tailored to movies more than music, but I can't complain about the music reproduction. It's bright and full for most everything I listen to. I use the app when I need to make any menu changes and so far I'm pretty pleased with that too. It could use some minor user interface changes to the overall design, but it's not unusable like some I've seen. Overall, this new receiver, which is a direct competitor to the Yamaha replaced, has given new life to my home theater.
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on June 8, 2017
Great sound! I found the setup to be simple and straightforward (I do not understand the reviews to the contrary). My system is 5.1. DTS:X sparkles with exceptionally clear dialog. I have music tweeted to Nero 6. I am particularly pleased not only with the sound but with the fact that the unit provides a DLNA client that is very well designed. Comparable to Plex and superior to, say, Roku Media Player. ARC works perfectly; CEC needs some assist from the remote to alter the source.

THE (Android) APP IS AWFUL. This unit deserves something that is fully functional. Onkyo provides one that is awkward, incomplete and counter-intuitive.

I cannot get Bluetooth to connect to any of my devices or a Bluetooth speaker. In fact, in pairing mode it does not show up in a scan from any of my devices. I do not need to play material from my phone or tablet. However, I would like to be able to use my Bluetooth shower speaker. Disappointed.

This replaces a five-year old Denton with a zillion settings and terrible movie sound. I am neutral on the lack of DSP settings. It does offer three customizable equalizer presets. DSP on other AVRs can emulate a hall, for example, with a timing difference between front and surround speakers. I can do without the intentional introduction of distortion. The auto setup was very good. I had to reduce the volume of my sub-woofer a tad.

Overall Onkyo keeps it relatively simple and that is fine with me. The Bluetooth issue can probably be resolved with a firmware update. They need to start from scratch with their app. With those fixes this would receive a five-star review.

Indeed, I think that I will splurge on some Atmos speakers.
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on January 19, 2018
I've recently decided to upgrade my system from a older 5.1 pioneer D308 system (which was at it's limit for inputs etc). I have spent a day or so setting up this system as a 5.1 system with the intention to go to either a 5.1.2 or a 7.1 once I get my speakers sorted out. I am currently using Polks as my front speakers and Wharfdales for my rears and the sound is superb. I've tried auditioning music with 'direct' stereo mode and the sounds are crisp but a little lossy at the higher frequencies, however I have also used the stereo mode and my god it's like having the band be right in front of you. The sound-stage is incredibly clear. I have adjusted a couple of the levels and have used the MP3 enhancer which sorts out some lacking tones in the compressed audio. I am very impressed and as I do my own Audio mixing I can now actually hear the nuances of the professionally mixed stuff on my hi-fi vs my studio headphones. I believe the equalisation using the supplied microphone has really sorted out the echoics using pink noise profiling. I have not had a chance to use Atmos yet due to my speaker configuration but DTX and DTS both work well. The menus are clear and easy to navigate. I now use the app on my iPad to control the system and it works well (albeit with some minor issues). I am streaming all my music from my NAS (netgear readyNAS) and this system works well. It basically makes my SlimServer device redundant (which is a good thing since I'm trying to get rid of stuff). The Bluetooth connectivity works flawlessly as does the Airplay. Network radio is something new to me and I really like the fact that I can play any radio station in the world using my internet connection. If I don't have internet I can always use my local FM/AM reception!! Video passes through simply and the whole configuration of video/audio pairing is pretty straight forward. Basically you can assign any audio to pair with any video. All in all, I am very happy with my upgrade. I was not after a bells and whistle system but more for an all round entertainment unit for my living room. This unit has delivered in spades. Recommended for the normal person. I'm sure there are features on the more expensive units but in reality all I want to do is watch movies with surround sound, 4K resolution and listen to Pink Floyd in crisp fidelity (which I and doing right now and really enjoying it!!).
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on May 16, 2016
This was my second 4K receiver. I didn't look at ONKYO the first time I purchased. When I needed a 2nd 4K receiver I looked at this model's specifications, and it had EVERYTHING I needed. Its price point was much lower than premium models with very similar specifications.

The ONKYO met or exceeded all of my expectations. The audio was ample, crisp and clear including the subwoofer output.
It played all of my 4K HDR titles no sweat. The 8 input HDMI set up was a breeze, a definite improvement over my other 4K receiver. As soon as I brought it up, it found my network and did a software update effortlessly. I bought it from Amazon through a third party seller, and I was very satisfied with that transaction too.

The ONKYO TX-NR656 has not disappointed in any way. I can recommend it without reservation to anyone who needs a state-of-the-art 4K UHD receiver with ATMOS and HDR. It is the most bang for the buck out there.
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on July 11, 2017
I purchased this to drive my HT Setup. I am not near as demanding for HT as I am for music - so my needs were pretty simple. Good decoder, enough power to drive a small (13x19 room) for HT. That was pretty much it.

Out of the box, for the money, I am seriously impressed. I haven't used half the features, I'm sure, but I've had it in my room for about a week, and it is flawless. It drives everything, takes everything, and connectivity with HDMI is simplicity in itself. (Except for displayport to HDMI... it doesn't like that for some reason, but converting displayport to HDMI in my experience is an iffy thing. The Xbox One S took care of that using the pass through).

The Hobbit is seriously amazing in 7.1. There is NO distortion to speak of, and small things, like the clanging of the lantern early in the film where someone walks by Bilbo's Hobbit Hole are readily apparent. Gandalf's speech to the assembled dwarves roars from back to front, filling you with the sense of angry wizard. (If I say he's a burglar). Oblivion in UltraHD is equally amazing - the separation is clear and things pass overhead and around - voices are distinct, even at lower volumes.

It's hard to go wrong with this for any reasonably sized HT setup. I had an Onkyo integrated amplifier in college, and it was a beast. It lasted for a long, long time. If I have gripes, they are minor - I don't immediately see a way to kill the display, but it does dim. Plastic is a bit cheap in places, but since I'm mainly using a Harmony remote, it isn't something I pay any mind to. Setup, and configuration is easy - as soon as you plug in the mic, it detects it and starts the EQ process.

I setup wireless on it and updated the firmware over the net. I never downloaded any instructions, the UI was on-screen and easy to follow.

For the money - I've seen a heck of a lot less, for a heck of a lot more. Audiophile since 1988, main setup is a Magnus Audio MA-200, Cary SL-100 preamp, with B&W 703's and a Genesis sub.
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on August 6, 2017
This is an awesome receiver. I see the price has increased from $396 to $599.I planned on buying another one but since the price went up so much I think I'll wait for the next new feature. I liked the one I got for my girlfriend so much, that I wanted to replace my five year old Onkyo.
I'm kicking myself for not recognizing what a deal I got with the first one.
11/22/2017 ---- Somehow the price came down to $349,so I jumped on it. This is a steal. I know this probably means there is a new model with newer features but I still know that I am getting a great receiver. Yes, I'll probably want to upgrade in a couple of years. Atoms is awesome. What's next?
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on July 12, 2017
It satisfied my expectations and went beyond. Phono input a plus. Built-in Net access is amazing; TuneIn radio provides free internet radio access where you can even search stations by continent. (Even Antarctica has a radio station!) I found the 2nd zone useful to simultaneously send the output to my wireless system throughout the house. A microphone is included to balance all of your main/surround speakers & subwoofer(s) through a pre-programmed process. I can't speak for its 7.2 performance as I only have a 5.1 setup. Note that the thin manual does not fully reveal all the options the unit has to offer, so you'll have to explore. Note: if you connect your CD player via optical cable and your CD tracks start immediately after the track marker, the first split-second of such tracks may be clipped. This is not the fault of the receiver! It's the need for the digital PCM signal to be evaluated at the start of each track. If you use RCA (red/white) analog jacks to connect your CD player, you will avoid this characteristic entirely. Another nice feature is that you can change the input name displayed. For example, my CD recorder uses the GAME input, but when I press GAME, I have programmed "CD~REC" to be displayed instead. Also, the BD/DVD selector expects HDMI input, so I had to replace my old DVD player with one with HDMI output. (I could have used the vacant CD optical input but thought that it might cause a conflict with the analog CD input.)
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