Onkyo RZ50 THX Certified AV Receiver Overview
The new Onkyo RZ50 THX Certified AV receiver is ready for preorder now. It will ship in October. At $1400 retail, it sports nine channels of amplification and eleven channel processing. But before you order, let’s discuss some of the things you can expect from this newest receiver on the block. We break down, in crazy detail (thanks to Rob H. of the AV Rant podcast) some of the important capabilities and limitations of the new Onkyo RZ50 THX Certified AV receiver.
Just the Facts on the Onkyo RZ50 THX Certified AV Receiver
The Onkyo RZ50 THX Certified AV receiver has nine channels of amplification with the ability to process up to eleven channels. If you want to add those last two channels, and you are running a 7.1.4 configuration, Surround Backs must be externally amplified. No options. It is rated 125 watts into two channels full range. The THX Certification means it will work well with 8ohm speakers at 12 feet or less.
It has wireless and wired capability and is loaded up with streaming options. Also, it both Bluetooth In and Out and is compatible with th AptX HD codec and Low Latency Mode. In addition, the Onkyo RZ50 THX Certified AV receiver can be used with AirPlay2, Sonos, DTS Play-Fi, and, of course, Alexa and Google voice assistants.
HDMI and Zone 2 Compatibility
One of the first things most people will be concerned about is HDMI compatibility. Since all the 2020 AV receivers had HDMI 2.1 issues, making sure your new receiver is fully capable is important. For the most part, the Onkyo RZ50 AV receiver delivers. The Onkyo RZ50 THX Certified AV receiver has six HDMI inputs on the back and one on the front. HDMI 1, 2, and 3 are 40 Gbps; 4, 5 & 6 are 24 Gbps; Front (7) is 9 Gbps. This means you’ll want to plug your highest performing devices (Xbox Series X, PS5, gaming computer) into the first three inputs, and reserve the rest for your lower bandwidth devices. HDMI 4-6 can technically do 4k/120Hz but only if you limit the source to outputting 4:2:0 video
The HDMI outs are labeled Main and Sub. They are both capable of 40 Gbps output but if you set the Sub output to Zone 2, it will only output 18 Gbps. For…reasons. In fact, Zone 2 can only play two-channel signals and only from HDMI inputs 1, 2, and 3. You cannot play surround in the Main zone and send the same audio to Zone 2. If you try, the Main zone will get two-channel as well. There is a button on the remote to switch between Main, Sub, or Main+Sub.
Of course of interest is the THX Certification on the Onkyo RZ50 THX Certified AV receiver. It has received THX’s “Select” certification which ensures that it will perform well when you are sitting no further than 3 meters (about 12 feet) from your display. With the Certification also comes some listening modes and other features. This includes THX’s “Loudness Plus” which is their version of curves of equal loudness (makes bass sound more natural at lower volumes). Unfortunately, you can’t use any of the THX modes or features on Atmos or DTS:X tracks making it all but useless.
Room Correction and Other Listening Modes
Onkyo has long had their “AccuEQ” which has been fine for setting levels and distances, but not so good for actual room correction. Fortunately, Onkyo has included with their RZ50 THX Certified AV receiver access to Dirac Live room correction. To control it, you’ll need to access Onkyo’s app, or use a separate computer and microphone. If you use the app, you can use the included mic. There are three memory slots for Dirac Live so you can save different configurations if needed. Again, the THX Loudness Plus will not work with Dirac Live making it pretty much worthless. We like curves of equal loudness, but we like room correction more.
Also included is the new IMAX Enhanced listening mode. Onkyo has included the IMAX Bass Feeding solution. This disables how IMAX Enhanced normally handles bass (which is confusing and can only be changed while you are playing IMAX content).
For those interested in Direct (not to be confused with Dirac) listening mode, there are some things you should know. With the Onkyo RZ50 THX Certified AV receiver, Dirac and all digital audio process are disabled in Direct Listening Mode. If you select Pure, it will disable the video feed as well.
One neat and nearly unheard-of feature is how you can direct Stereo with the Onkyo RZ50 THX Certified AV receiver. When in Stereo mode, you can choose which pair of speakers you use. This is handy if you are testing out your speakers or if you have an office at the back of your theater room and want to use your surround back speakers as your stereo pair (for example).
This, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg for what the RZ50 can do. We’ve picked out the features and limitations that we think are important. When you are shopping for a receiver, you need to know what features are important to you. This breakdown should help you decide if the Onkyo RZ50 THX Certified AV receiver is right for you.
For more information, visit OnkyoUSA.com.