PROS / It has unparalleled connectivity at this price point.
CONS / It doesn't support AirPlay, Apple's Wi-Fi audio streaming protocol.
VERDICT / Onkyo's TX-NR636 provides everything you'll need in an AV receiver.
The Onkyo TX-NR636 is an AV receiver with exceptional connectivity and a time-proven design. Perhaps most importantly, it is future-proofed to handle all kinds of 4K content with support for HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2. For its variety of features and smart design, the Onkyo TX-NR636 is our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award winner.
The TX-NR636 is a fairly generic-looking black box. It weighs 22 pounds and is 7 inches high and 17 inches deep. Although it is not unattractive, it doesn't have the sleek aesthetic appeal boasted by several of its competitors.
This AV receiver supports HDMI 2.0, which allows your 4K-enabled television to play 4K videos at a frame rate of up to 60 fps. This feature isn't a great help today, but over the next few years it will become quite important. HDMI 1.4, the version before 2.0, supports 4K video at up to 24 fps. Since almost all movies and television shows are shot at 24 fps, it's not a huge deal. However, more and more movies will be shot at a higher frame rate in the future, and you'll want your surround sound receiver to support those higher frame rates.
It also supports HDCP 2.2. This is an encryption standard that ensures 4K content is not copied. The standard is relatively new, but you'll want to make sure your receiver can pass through a HDCP 2.2 signal; otherwise, eventually you'll have to connect your media player directly to your 4K television.
This home theater receiver has Bluetooth, which allows you to wirelessly send music to it from your smartphone, tablet or computer. One of the best things about this receiver is that it automatically switches to the correct input when you connect to it via Bluetooth.
For Android users, the TX-NR636 has DLNA, which is Android's Wi-Fi-enabled streaming protocol. These wireless capabilities add a layer of functionality to the device. Besides watching movies, you can turn your surround sound system into a wireless speaker system with up to nine speakers playing your favorite music.
This receiver supports all commonly used Dolby and DTS formats. You can watch any DVD you buy in the immersive environment of surround sound. It even supports Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD, the lossless, highest-quality surround sound formats. It also has support for the latest surround sound format, Dolby Atmos, which leverages ceiling-placed speakers, or speakers that reflect sound off of the ceiling, to create a vertically dynamic listening experience.
The TX-NR636 has a total harmonic distortion of .08%. This is one of the lowest ratings among receivers we reviewed, which means you'll listen to clean, undistorted audio. It also has a signal-to-noise ratio of 106 dB, which is the best ratio we've seen in these units. It provides 95 dB of power at 8 ohms to your speakers, which is enough to push most systems. It can support 5.1, 5.2, 7.1 and 7.2 surround sound systems.
Onkyo receivers are known for good audio quality, and the TX-NR636 is no exception. It scored well in several published listening tests. However, buying a good AV receiver is not the best way to boost the audio performance of your home theater, as investing in good speakers yields dramatically better results than investing in a receiver, even one as good as the TX-NR636.
This AV receiver has exceptional connectivity. It can power up to a 7.2 surround sound system, as well as 7.1 and 5.1 systems. It has seven HDMI inputs, which is one of the highest totals among the receivers we reviewed. This allows you to plug many devices into the receiver. This is important, because you can simply run your input sources – your cable, satellite, gaming console, online media streaming device and more – directly into the receiver using HDMI cords. Then you can simply connect the receiver to the television using a single connection.
It also has two optical outputs, which allow you to connect it to an older television that does not have HDMI ports. One of the most unique features of this receiver is its phonograph input. If you're a vinyl aficionado, you can connect your record player to the TX-NR636 and listen to music over your surround sound speakers.
Help & Support
Onkyo offers phone support, telephone support and a responsive Twitter customer service team. It has one of the best warranties in the business, with a two-year parts and service warranty. It does route much of its customer service through its authorized retailers, so make sure you purchase through a certified Onkyo dealer.
The Onkyo TX-NR636 has all the modern features you could want in a premium AV receiver, plus it adds support for HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2. Its connectivity and design combine to make it the best AV receiver on the market.