Onkyo HT-RC160

The entry level end of the AV receiver market is always popular as lots of people just cannot afford to spend much on their gadgets, and Onkyo are offering the Onkyo HT-RC160 in the sub $500 category putting it in reach of many people. They have a wide range of products on the market, and many of their top end receivers have excellent reviews and are very desirable products. However, what happens when they down scale their technology and make a lower end spec product? Do they manage to retain their reputation for being one of the best in the market? Or, like so many before them, do they fall at the first hurdle and take away too much, leaving a shell that doesn’t really offer much in terms of performance?

Onkyo HT-RC160 Receiver

Onkyo HT-RC160 Receiver | More Details Opens in new window

Design

Looks wise we have to say we like this unit. It doesn’t look as deep as some of their other units, but this again is trickery of the eyes and the actual measurements are never that far apart. This has a well-used look to it. There is no wasted space, no vast expanses of nothingness, but a good spattering of knobs and buttons. We did have to roll our eyes again at the front connectors, which really are our pet hate. But, that said, one of them is the headphones and one the optional iPod connection, so we guess we will forgive them as these are not devices you are likely to have permanently connected, therefore there won’t always be trailing wires at the front of the machine.

Sleek and black with very little in the way of credit signage, does this mean that there are none of the supporting technologies we love so much, or have they just chosen not to splash them all over the box? Starting to feel a little unsure, we got the unit set up for testing and got the tech spec sheet out to try and reassure ourselves that there was at least something cool inside this box.

Actual user review:
“When it comes to great sound quality at a low price, you can’t go wrong with Onkyo, they make some of the best receivers that are always at a fair price. The HT-RC160 is very easy to install. It also comes packed with a super technology called “2EQ automatic calibration system” which does exactly what it says, all you have to do is plug the included mic into the unit, follow some onscreen instructions and in about 10 minutes it will be done calibrating your surround sound system, to give you the best home theatre experience possible! It comes with 5 HDMI inputs, which is very good at any price range. Sound is without a doubt the sweetest part of this deal, it’s clear, it’s loud and it’s all around you! You’ll have a good time watching any action movie. Onkyo units are not known for being slim and sexy, they’re known for delivering quality at a great price, you’ll be glad you went with Onkyo. I’m really glad to have this product. I would definitely recommend it to a friend who is on a budget and wants something worth more than what he’s paying for!” – S.Sanjuan (CA,USA)

 

Functionality

Ok, we can breathe again. Dolby is there and thankfully so is Audyssey, so this shouldn’t actually be a bad performance for the price. This is another standard 7.2 channel AV receiver and each channel has a somewhat lightweight 80-watt punch, but we do have to remember what money category we are looking at.

Feeling adventurous we decided to test the visuals first today as we always seem to start with the audio, so we grabbed a selection of DVD’s in various formats and settled back. We are pleased to see that a budget unit is offering analogue to HDMI video conversion with upscaling technologies, which is great for those of us that haven’t caught up with the Blu-ray revolution. The video output was acceptable and we felt that for the money (yes, we keep coming back to the money, but this is a budget end receiver and you do need to remember that) you are not really going to better the performance by much. On an audio front Audyssey is present and has room correction functionality which we did find good to see on this level of product, as it takes away some of the need to be really clever with your speaker set up. It will adjust and compensate for their position and the size of your room all by itself, which really is useful if you have never had an AV receiver before and this is your first attempt to create a home cinema experience in your living room.

There are plenty of features on offer, including the AM/FM tuner which is nice to see, and turning the unit around the back side isn’t badly laid out. There are enough connectors to do what you need to do, and they are clearly labeled and explained well in the instruction manual. The remote control is a good shape and easy to hold and doesn’t seem too cluttered or confused either.

Bottom Line

For an entry level AV receiver, we have to say we like the Onkyo HT-RC160. Ironically the big brother the HT-RC180 that is a level above really doesn’t review well but this one is pretty impressive. If the entry level range is where your budget allows you to shop, then you could do a lot worse than this receiver. It doesn’t seem to be short on technologies. Although some are not the top end technologies they do what is needed of them with ease and really combine well to make the overall performance from this unit well worth the money. Our advice is to go get one.

Average User Rating:

  • “This Onkyo receiver is a great value for the quality and features. As an owner of a previous Onkyo receiver, I was excited to see what type of improvements they have made to the product over the past few years. First, the sound quality is excellent when paired with a set of Polk RM85 speakers. In addition, Onkyo has made it incredibly easy to tune the receiver to your listening environment with the Audyssey functionality. It’s important to put the microphone at ear level for the best test results. During the process, the receiver will emit various test sounds via individual speakers and analyze the result. Overall, the tuning takes 15-20 minutes, but it’s well worth your time to get the best audio possible for your room.” – C.Bailey (MO,USA)
  • “Onkyo makes some of the best receivers for the money. This unit from Onkyo has 1080i upsampling with 5 HDMI inputs. Most competing models only have passive pass-through of signals. The Onkyo HT-RC160 has nearly the same functionality as the TX-SR607, for about $60 less. I have mine hooked up to the cable box, ps3 and dvd player. 80 watts is more than powerful enough for me. I would say that it is a solid, well-made, great sounding receiver. Highly recommended and relatively inexpensive. “ – D.Nox (USA)

 

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