Surround Receivers

Receiver Wars: Onkyo TX-RZ50 vs TX-NR7100

I don’t know about you, but choosing a new AV receiver can be a frustrating experience. First, you have a lot of choices out there, which is never a bad thing. But then you have to compare features, prices, your needs, and any number of criteria that you may have. And to add to it, each brand has several options, making the choice harder! Well, what if you let us do all the hard work? That’s right, folks; I am continuing my series, Receiver Wars. In this installment, we are pitting two up-and-comers against one another, the Onkyo TX-RZ50 ($1599) against the TX-NR7100 ($1299). Who will win this Receiver War? Let’s find out!

The Criteria

In this round of Receiver Wars, we are pitting the mid-tier AV receivers from Onkyo (the TX-NRZ50 and TX-NR7100) against each other. Here, price is not as important as features, but will still play a factor. Both of these AV receivers have a higher price, so they will have to fight hard for the victory. As always, I’ll utilize one of Rob H’s (AV Rant podcast co-host) favorite tools, the ZKelectronics AV receiver comparison tool. It’s a quick and easy way to compare AV receivers at a glance. I highly recommend you use it for your comparisons.

Round 1 – Base Specs

These AV receivers feature 9.2 channels allowing you to add Atmos/DTS:X in a 5.2.4 configuration. They are also HDMI 2.1 compliant (7 inputs with full bandwidth), enabling you to use your next-gen console. But is there a spec that will set these two apart? Let’s dive in!

Onkyo TX-RZ50Onkyo TX-NR7100Winner
9.2 channels9.2 channelsDraw
11.2 channel processing9.1 channel processingOnkyo TX-RZ50
120 W (8 Ω, 20 Hz – 20 kHz, 2 channel driven)100 W (8 Ω, 20 Hz – 20 kHz, 2 channel driven)Onkyo TX-RZ50
HDMI 2.1 (7 inputs)HDMI 2.1 (7 inputs)Draw
Dolby Atmos, DTS:X capableDolby Atmos, DTS:X capableDraw
HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, 8K Upscaling, 8K PassthroughHDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, 8K Upscaling, 8K PassthroughDraw
AirPlay 2, ChromecastAirPlay 2, Chromecast, DTS Play-FiOnkyo TX-NR7100
Ethernet, Wi-Fi, BluetoothEthernet, Wi-Fi, BluetoothDraw
USB and Phono inputsUSB and Phono inputsDraw
Receiver Wars: Onkyo TX-RZ50 vs TX-NR7100
Look at all those pre-outs!

Result – Winner – TX-RZ50

The Onkyo TX-RZ50 is the winner this round. The 20 watts per channel difference didn’t sway me. In most rooms, 100 or 120 WPC is overkill and functionally the same amount of power. The winning feature is the number of channels you can process. Both can give you 5.2.4 right out of the box. But the TXRZ50 has two extra processing channels, allowing you to get a 7.2.4 configuration with some external amplification. And before you ask, the RZ50 doesn’t have Front Wide, Auro 3D or 5.2.6 Atmos. The RZ50 is 7.2.4 or bust!

I also want to point out that the Onkyo TX-RZ50 EQs each subwoofer channel independently, whereas the TX-NR7100 treats both subs as a mono signal. That’s not hugely important (we actually prefer that around here) and didn’t sway me as much as the extra processing channels. In most cases, you want to treat your subs as a mono signal and level-match them before running EQ.

Round 2 – Price

As I stated in my last article, pricing is often THE major consideration when choosing an AV receiver, especially an entry-level receiver. The Onkyo TX-RZ50 is $1599 (currently on sale for $1229), and the TX-NR7100 is $1299 (on sale for $828). Both are NOT budget-conscious decisions, so they might not be as cut and dry as you think.

Result – Winner – Onkyo TX-NR7100

The Onkyo TX-NR7100 is the clear winner here, not just because it’s $3-400 cheaper (even more if you get a refurb). Here I am looking at the price-to-performance ratio between the TX-RZ50 and TZ-NR7100. For $3-400 more, you get two extra channels, a bit more power, and independent subwoofers. In most rooms, 5.2.6 or 7.2.4 doesn’t make a lot of sense. Most home theater setups I see are shared spaces and don’t have room for that many speakers.

Plus, I am talking from experience. I have had all the configurations – 3.1, 5.2. 7.2, 5.2.2 7.2.4, and finally 5.2.4. By far, 5.2.4 has been the best experience for my 21×13′ space.

Round 3 – Features

Price is important, but features are where it is at! Most people don’t mind paying a little more if they get enough value for their money. Let’s see how these two stack up against each other!

FeatureOnkyo TX-RZ50Onkyo TX-NR7100Winner
Bi-amp capabilityYesYesDraw*
Room CorrectionDirac LiveDirac LiveDraw
RCA Pre-outsYesNoOnkyo TX-RZ50
Zone 3 Pre-OutsYesNoDraw*
Warranty3 years2 yearsOnkyo TX-RZ50
* Draw, but most people won’t use this feature.

Result – Winner – Onkyo TX-RZ50

This round is a lot closer than I would care to admit. IF you want a 7.2.4 system, having the RCA pre-outs is a must-have. But if you want to add external amplification and bypass the internal amps, not so much. Again, before you ask, I have been there,done that and have the debt to prove it! In most cases, for most people, external amplification doesn’t make an objective or subjective difference.

The three-year warranty is also very nice to have. I don’t expect most AV gear to die in two to three years, but if you get a lemon (it happens in every brand), the TX-RZ50 gives you a bit more peace of mind.

And the Winner Is – Onkyo TX-NR7100

In Receiver Wars: Onkyo TX-RZ50 vs TX-NR7100, the TX-NR7100 pulls off the win. I know that this is going to be a controversial win. Of course, because I own the TX-NR7100, I know everyone will think I am biased, but give me a chance. Before I wrote this article, I went through this whole exercise in real life. I went from a Denon AVR-X3600H in a 7.2.4 configuration with external amplification! Because of that, the Onkyo TX-RZ50 was my go-to.

Receiver Wars: Onkyo TX-RZ50 vs TX-NR7100

But then I looked at my room, and my experiences and asked myself if I needed all that stuff. The honest answer was no. I sit 8′ away from very sensitive speakers, so I didn’t need an external amp, let alone the 100WPC that the TX-NR7100 delivers. 7.2.4? I have a 21X13′ room. I sit 8′ away from my TV. So there is 13′ of space between me and the rear surrounds. Not worth it. What did I do? I sold my external amp, my rear surround speakers, and I actually made money going to the Onkyo TX-NR7100. For me, the price-to-performance ratio is what gives the TX-NR7100 the win.

When Might You Choose the Onkyo TX-RZ50?

If your room is perfect for 7.2.4, or you have speakers that are far away or legitimately need external amplification, the Onkyo TX-RZ50 is the receiver for your needs. Otherwise, save yourself $300 and make yourself some DIY acoustic panels!

What do you think? Did I get it right? Let us know in the comments below and let us know what AV receivers you want us to put head to head.

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