Onkyo TX-SR304 5.1 Channels Receiver Reviews

Onkyo TX-SR304 5.1 Channels Receiver

3 ratings (3 Epinions reviews)
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Basic function at a low price

Dec 18, 2006 (Updated Dec 18, 2006)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Very Good

  • Sound:
  • Ease of Use:
  • Durability:

Pros:Inexpensive and versatile, can hold its own with today's technology

Cons:Quirky switching on optical inputs, odd remote control issue, only fair quality sound

The Bottom Line: This is a decent, entry level unit for a very low price, but it did not fill my needs.


I purchased this unit for under $200 at a local box store. My requirements were simple; find a suitable replacement for an aging and malfunctioning 10-year old first generation Dolby Digital receiver. I run a 5.1 speaker setup at home for my 60" Sony SXRD and use the system for music as well. The HD-DVR cable box has HDMI and optical outputs which I wanted to use. My DVD player has component, digital coax, and optical audio outputs. Plus, I wanted to connect the old VCR just in case. Video switching is not important to me, as my SXRD has a bazillion inputs and I wanted to stick with them.

The Onkyo has some impressive features for its price; two optical inputs and component audio inputs were not expected at the entry level. There was no S-video or HDMI switching, but I needed neither.

I spent under 30 minutes connecting the Onkyo and configuring the unit for my speakers. The manual is simple and the user interface is very intuitive. The optical inputs are assignable and I had no problem getting the inputs set the way I wanted them. I was amused at how similar the Onkyo was to my old Kenwood and wondered if they had the same DNA. I only had to consult the owners manual a couple of times during my setup. There is no automatic level feature with this unit, so you have to use the test tone and set the levels manually. This takes some time to get right.

Once I got everything working I settled in with a Coldplay DVD. I found the Onkyo display easy to read from 14 feet away and there were plenty of options for custom tuning the sound to any liking. In fact, there was so much processing going on that, at times, I thought I detected delays in the playback. The sound was very good and reproduction seemed at least as accurate as my 10-year old Kenwood, but there were obvious limitations in headroom dynamics. Despite touting the same power as my old unit, some vocals got lost in the din and the louder it got the more muddled everything became. I quickly concluded this is not a device for prolonged, high-volume listening.

Switching inputs to watch some television revealed a flaw; the Onkyo reads the data stream from its optical input and adjusts itself accordingly, saving many steps for the user. But every time I changed channels the unit would sense the input loss and emit a loud "click" as the display switched to "Stereo". Once the HD-DVR would tune the next channel and the signal was restored the unit would click again as it changed output parameters. Annoying and distracting. my old Kenwood never made so much noise.

The multibrand remote was destined to live in the bottom drawer of my entertainment center with the rest of my remotes. I use a very nice, multibrand remote provided by my cable company to run everything. I programmed my remote to operate the Onkyo and discovered an oddity; the power function on the remote turned the unit on, but would not turn it off. I tried a different multibrand remote and got the same thing. I could only turn off the Onkyo with its own remote or by pressing the power button.

I lived with it for a week and ended up returning it for a better unit. I got the Onkyo at a rock-bottom price and expected decent performance, but this unit did not serve my needs. Although inexpensive and livable, I wanted something better. I'd recommend it to someone setting up a playroom system, a simple home theatre system without multiple inputs, or using it with less demanding requirements than mine.


Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): 169.00

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