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Customer Review

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)

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.

****UPDATE 2****

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.
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