• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Onkyo PR-RZ5100 AV Processor Review

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
25,948
Likes
57,781
Location
Seattle Area
#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Onkyo PR-RZ5100 Audio/Video Processor (AVP). It is on kind loan from a member. The PR-RZ5100 was announced (I think) around 2017 and seems to be discontinued. It cost US $2,300.

The outside enclosure certainly gives a "high-end" feel to the PR-RZ5100 with its extra tall front face and large volume knob:

Onkyo PR-RZ5100 AV Home Theater Processor  Dolby Atmos Surround Review.jpg

Unlike many modern AV processors, boot time is very fast.

The back panel shows the usual connector including XLR Outputs:

Onkyo PR-RZ5100 AV Home Theater Processor  Dolby Atmos Surround Rear panel inputs connectors H...jpg

The unit is reasonably heavy although peaking inside, the front half is mostly empty other than a transformer there.

For my testing, I focused on HDMI input and Pure Audio mode for all tests. Pure Audio shuts off the front display as is the case with some other units, making a bit annoying to operate.

The on-screen display was decent quality and easy to navigate. Oddly I could not find a factory reset option so set everything to neutral manually. I only tested the Left and Right channels. I believe a lower quality 8-channel AKM dac is used for the rest.

AV Processor HDMI Performance
As usual we rely on our dashboard of feeding the unit a 1 kHz tone and see what else it produces besides that one tone:

Onkyo PR-RZ5100 AV Home Theater Processor HDMI In Audio Measurements.png


First, it was great to see the output nicely going to 4 volts and beyond. This is the Achilles heel of many AVR and even high-end AV Processors. Then again, SINAD of 82 dB is nothing to write home about:

Best Home Theater AV Processor Review 2020.png


As you see, a whole bunch of AVRs outperform it. The problem is not distortion as the highest spike there is at or below -100 dB. It is extra noise that piles on top of that and drags the combined score down. You will see this as a common theme throughout the measurements.

Seeing if better performance could be extracted at different output voltage, I ran a sweep to quantify that:

Onkyo PR-RZ5100 AV Home Theater Processor HDMI In Distortion vs Output Level Audio Measurements.png


This test is tricky as it seems these AV products look at the volume control position and engage or disengage different gain settings/stages. Here, if I set the volume to 84.5, it naturally maxes out at 4 volts and shows the best performance at that output level. Reason is simple: noise dominates so the more output voltage you have, the better THD+N/SINAD becomes. To see if this continues I had to dial the volume control higher. The moment I did that (regardless of it was at Max or lower), performance drops across the board with increased noise (red line). I suggest getting an amplifier that produces its maximum power at 4 volts or lower so you don't given up even more noise performance.

Signal to noise ratio shows the high noise level and hence poor performance:

Onkyo PR-RZ5100 AV Home Theater Processor HDMI In Dynamic Range Audio Measurements.png


High noise floor kills intermodulation distortion+noise performance to well below that of a cheap phone dongle for most of the output level:

Onkyo PR-RZ5100 AV Home Theater Processor HDMI In IMD Audio Measurements.png


The high noise level kills linearity as well in addition to some other issues in there:
Onkyo PR-RZ5100 AV Home Theater Processor HDMI In Linearity Audio Measurements.png


32-tone signal tells us what we already know: high noise floor and relative high distortion level:

Onkyo PR-RZ5100 AV Home Theater Processor HDMI In Multitone Audio Measurements.png


Jitter performance looks good but this is partially due to high noise floor which is likely hiding some sins:

Onkyo PR-RZ5100 AV Home Theater Processor HDMI In Jitter Audio Measurements.png


Fortunately the spikes are either very close to our main tone which means they will be perceptually masked, or too low/below noise level to be heard.

I ran into a very strange problem in the above test. Even though the output was set to 4 volts, as soon as I fed it the J-test signal it shot up to 8 volt and slightly clipping! Went back to a sine wave without changing anything and the output became 4 volts again. J-Test appears to be a 12 kHz tone but it is not. It is actually a square wave at 12 kHz but because the DAC output gets filtered, it becomes a sine wave as the rest of its harmonics are out of band. Seems like the AVR is examining the digital samples and deciding to switch gain for some odd reason.

Wide-band THD+N versus frequency again emphasize the high level of noise:

Onkyo PR-RZ5100 AV Home Theater Processor HDMI In THD+N vs Frequency Audio Measurements.png


The dashed blue line is a $99 DAC board.

Finally, filter response shows the typical "DAC chip" somewhat lazy response but not as bad as some others (Marantz: I am looking at you):


Onkyo PR-RZ5100 AV Home Theater Processor HDMI In Filter Response Audio Measurements.png


Conclusions
Someone told a designer to slap higher output on this unit and don't worry about anything else. While I am happy to see the higher output level, clearly the rest of the unit is not well-engineered. There are flaws everywhere with the most egregious being high noise level likely due to improper "gain staging." The jump in level with j-test jitter signal shows a clear bug in the implementation. Overall this is one of the most broken AV Processors out there with respect to audio. Shocking then to see a review of it with this indication: https://www.soundandvision.com/content/onkyo-pr-rz5100-surround-processor-review

1588018006636.png


There is some utterly useless "bench test" at the end which explains why they did not see the large set of problems with this processor.

It seems that not only the companies are not paying attention to proper audio fidelity, neither is the press to keep them honest.

It goes without saying that I can NOT recommend the Onkyo PR-RZ5100. Spend your money elsewhere.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Hey, it is not easy to come up with lame jokes every day of the week. So today, I am going to be straight with you to ask you to donate what you can using : https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

Mocs123

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Apr 4, 2020
Messages
40
Likes
25
#2
I have the Onkyo RZ830 receiver that has that same identical front panel and I'm sure it shares a lot of the same components, so I'm sure it has similar issues unfortunately. I guess the one shining light is that I managed to get it for $499 new so I don't have that much invested in it. I'm sure I'll use this in my system for few years

Thanks for doing this review.
 

QMuse

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 20, 2020
Messages
2,573
Likes
2,009
#4
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Onkyo PR-RZ5100 Audio/Video Processor (AVP). It is on kind loan from a member. The PR-RZ5100 was announced (I think) around 2017 and seems to be discontinued. It cost US $2,300.

The outside enclosure certainly gives a "high-end" feel to the PR-RZ5100 with its extra tall front face and large volume knob:


Unlike many modern AV processors, boot time is very fast.

The back panel shows the usual connector including XLR Outputs:


The unit is reasonably heavy although peaking inside, the front half is mostly empty other than a transformer there.

For my testing, I focused on HDMI input and Pure Audio mode for all tests. Pure Audio shuts off the front display as is the case with some other units, making a bit annoying to operate.

The on-screen display was decent quality and easy to navigate. Oddly I could not find a factory reset option so set everything to neutral manually. I only tested the Left and Right channels. I believe a lower quality 8-channel AKM dac is used for the rest.

AV Processor HDMI Performance
As usual we rely on our dashboard of feeding the unit a 1 kHz tone and see what else it produces besides that one tone:

View attachment 60734

First, it was great to see the output nicely going to 4 volts and beyond. This is the Achilles heel of many AVR and even high-end AV Processors. Then again, SINAD of 82 dB is nothing to write home about:

View attachment 60735

As you see, a whole bunch of AVRs outperform it. The problem is not distortion as the highest spike there is at or below -100 dB. It is extra noise that piles on top of that and drags the combined score down. You will see this as a common theme throughout the measurements.

Seeing if better performance could be extracted at different output voltage, I ran a sweep to quantify that:

View attachment 60736

This test is tricky as it seems these AV products look at the volume control position and engage or disengage different gain settings/stages. Here, if I set the volume to 84.5, it naturally maxes out at 4 volts and shows the best performance at that output level. Reason is simple: noise dominates so the more output voltage you have, the better THD+N/SINAD becomes. To see if this continues I had to dial the volume control higher. The moment I did that (regardless of it was at Max or lower), performance drops across the board with increased noise (red line). I suggest getting an amplifier that produces its maximum power at 4 volts or lower so you don't given up even more noise performance.

Signal to noise ratio shows the high noise level and hence poor performance:

View attachment 60737

High noise floor kills intermodulation distortion+noise performance to well below that of a cheap phone dongle for most of the output level:

View attachment 60739

The high noise level kills linearity as well in addition to some other issues in there:
View attachment 60740

32-tone signal tells us what we already know: high noise floor and relative high distortion level:

View attachment 60741

Jitter performance looks good but this is partially due to high noise floor which is likely hiding some sins:

View attachment 60742

Fortunately the spikes are either very close to our main tone which means they will be perceptually masked, or too low/below noise level to be heard.

I ran into a very strange problem in the above test. Even though the output was set to 4 volts, as soon as I fed it the J-test signal it shot up to 8 volt and slightly clipping! Went back to a sine wave without changing anything and the output became 4 volts again. J-Test appears to be a 12 kHz tone but it is not. It is actually a square wave at 12 kHz but because the DAC output gets filtered, it becomes a sine wave as the rest of its harmonics are out of band. Seems like the AVR is examining the digital samples and deciding to switch gain for some odd reason.

Wide-band THD+N versus frequency again emphasize the high level of noise:

View attachment 60744

The dashed blue line is a $99 DAC board.

Finally, filter response shows the typical "DAC chip" somewhat lazy response but not as bad as some others (Marantz: I am looking at you):


View attachment 60743

Conclusions
Someone told a designer to slap higher output on this unit and don't worry about anything else. While I am happy to see the higher output level, clearly the rest of the unit is not well-engineered. There are flaws everywhere with the most egregious being high noise level likely due to improper "gain staging." The jump in level with j-test jitter signal shows a clear bug in the implementation. Overall this is one of the most broken AV Processors out there with respect to audio. Shocking then to see a review of it with this indication: https://www.soundandvision.com/content/onkyo-pr-rz5100-surround-processor-review

View attachment 60745

There is some utterly useless "bench test" at the end which explains why they did not see the large set of problems with this processor.

It seems that not only the companies are not paying attention to proper audio fidelity, neither is the press to keep them honest.

It goes without saying that I can NOT recommend the Onkyo PR-RZ5100. Spend your money elsewhere.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Hey, it is not easy to come up with lame jokes every day of the week. So today, I am going to be straight with you to ask you to donate what you can using : https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
It would be interesting to see if RCA outputs suffer from same noise problem.

Maybe you cranked it too much, as your measurements are showing much worse crosstlak and SNR than this, while THD is identical: :D

The analog THD+N was less than 0.008% at 1 kHz with a 100-millivolt input and the volume control set to 78.
Crosstalk with a 100-mV input was –98.47 dB left to right and –99.57 dB right to left.
The signal-to-noise ratio with “A” weighting was –131.08 dBrA.
 
Last edited:
OP
amirm

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
25,948
Likes
57,781
Location
Seattle Area
Thread Starter #6
It would be interesting to see if RCA outputs suffer from same noise problem.
Not to me. :) When you spend more than $2K for a processor with XLR output, that is what you want to use.
 
OP
amirm

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
25,948
Likes
57,781
Location
Seattle Area
Thread Starter #7
Maybe you cranked it too much, as your measurements are showing much worse crosstlak and SNR than this, while THD is identical: :D
I didn't test crosstalk.
 
Joined
Apr 7, 2018
Messages
65
Likes
54
#8
Review makes the old joke about buying a real brand like ALBA instead of something by Onkyo less funny now
 

jgirado

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 20, 2019
Messages
12
Likes
45
Location
San Diego
#10
Don't worry about resetting it, I did a factory reset before I ship it. Thanks for the test!

Also, not sure if it matters, but I bought the Onkyo a couple of years back at discount, I think around 1500u$s. And now you can buy used one for less than 800u$s (once you find it).

What's really sad is that I relied on Soundandvision review..live and learn I guess.
 
Last edited:

peng

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
May 12, 2019
Messages
370
Likes
315
#11
There is some utterly useless "bench test" at the end which explains why they did not see the large set of problems with this processor.
At least their (soundandvision.com) THD+N of 0.008% is in line with yours.

You are saying 4 V XLR is high? As far as I know XLR typically is rated 2X that of RCAs. For example, Marantz spec would say pre-out rated output 1.2V unbalanced, 2.4 V balanced. So for XLR to be consider high, we should be looking at 8 V, or at least 6 to 7 V right? I have a Bryston power amp that has a gain switch that is to compensate for the 2X higher XLR voltage, by halving the gain. Some amps don't have the "standard" too to one ratio, such as ATI's, but I am pretty sure Onkyo, Yamaha are all like D&M's, a 2:1 ratio.
 
Last edited:
OP
amirm

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
25,948
Likes
57,781
Location
Seattle Area
Thread Starter #12
You are saying 4 V XLR is high?
No, it is not high. It is what it should be but a lot of AV companies think they can set the output to much lower level and create much more distortion above that.
 

GXAlan

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 15, 2020
Messages
218
Likes
277
#14
Not to me. :) When you spend more than $2K for a processor with XLR output, that is what you want to use.
Like the Marantz, I suspect the XLR outs are just for a checklist. The "Rated output" is 1V on the RCA and 2V on XLR. Since this is "THX Certified" I would have expected it to perform a lot better. Onkyo marketing is unusually specific about combining it with a THX-certified amplifier.

For unbalanced inputs, the THX standard gain level is 29dB; utilizing balanced inputs decreases this to 23dB with the pre-amp adding more gain.

It looks like Onkyo has discontinued their amps, but their last THX amp had:
Input Sensitivity/Impedance:
  • RCA (unbalanced): 1 volt, 47 kΩ
  • XLR (balanced): 2 volts, 22 kΩ
And the Parasound A51 also indicates that THX input sensitivity requires 1V.

This may be a case where THX certification is harming the performance of the pre-amp because THX has made mandates to the output voltage based upon 1990's equipment.

I would be interesting to see if the numbers are "spectacular" at 1V unbalanced or 2V balanced.

EDIT: Yes, confirmed that
1. THX Certified Receivers or Pre-Amps must reproduce studio Reference Level, 85dB SPL with 20dB of headroom at 0 on the volume dial.
2. Input Sensitivity for THX certified amplifiers must be 1V for THX unbalanced and 2V balanced connections.
 
Last edited:

Matias

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 1, 2019
Messages
735
Likes
880
Location
São Paulo, Brazil
#15
I just wish 1 HDMI eARC input and 5.2 XLRs output, nothing else. Is there something like that?

All HDMI go into the TV anyway.
 
Last edited:
OP
amirm

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
25,948
Likes
57,781
Location
Seattle Area
Thread Starter #16
I would be interesting to see if the numbers are "spectacular" at 1V unbalanced or 2V balanced.
I showed 2 volt balanced:



As you see, at 2 volts SINAD degrades down to 77 dB or so (blue line).
 

peng

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
May 12, 2019
Messages
370
Likes
315
#17
Like the Marantz, I suspect the XLR outs are just for a checklist. The "Rated output" is 1V on the RCA and 2V on XLR. Since this is "THX Certified" I would have expected it to perform a lot better. Onkyo marketing is unusually specific about combining it with a THX-certified amplifier.

For unbalanced inputs, the THX standard gain level is 29dB; utilizing balanced inputs decreases this to 23dB with the pre-amp adding more gain.

It looks like Onkyo has discontinued their amps, but their last THX amp had:
Input Sensitivity/Impedance:
  • RCA (unbalanced): 1 volt, 47 kΩ
  • XLR (balanced): 2 volts, 22 kΩ
And the Parasound A51 also indicates that THX input sensitivity requires 1V.

This may be a case where THX certification is harming the performance of the pre-amp because THX has made mandates to the output voltage based upon 1990's equipment.

I would be interesting to see if the numbers are "spectacular" at 1V unbalanced or 2V balanced.

EDIT: Yes, confirmed that
1. THX Certified Receivers or Pre-Amps must reproduce studio Reference Level, 85dB SPL with 20dB of headroom at 0 on the volume dial.
2. Input Sensitivity for THX certified amplifiers must be 1V for THX unbalanced and 2V balanced connections.
Agreed, except

a) I am quite Marantz's were 1.2/2.4 V bal/unbal, not 1/2. Yamaha's were 1/2 V bal/unbal but then they also provide the Max specs that were 4/8 V bal/unbal. I wish they get together and come up with a standard for specifying pre-out voltage under the same conditions (such as at certain load impedance and/or current etc..)

b) Parasound A51 did not say 1 V for rated output, just 1 V for 28.28 is V, pasted below:

Input sensitivity:
1 V for 28.28 V, THX Reference Lev

Output into 8 ohms for 28.28 V is about 100 W, that's well below the rated 250 W. So to drive the A51 to its rated power you would need about 1.6 V RCA unbalanced or 3.2 V XLR unbalanced (they called it 1.6 V still, but "per leg")
 
Last edited:

GXAlan

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 15, 2020
Messages
218
Likes
277
#18
I showed 2 volt balanced:
As you see, at 2 volts SINAD degrades down to 77 dB or so (blue line).
Ah, I missed that the first time I read through the review.

That answers it. I originally thought that THX certification lost its luster because it wasn't worth the marketing costs. This suggests that the minimum passing requirements are too loose.
 

peng

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
May 12, 2019
Messages
370
Likes
315
#19
I showed 2 volt balanced:



As you see, at 2 volts SINAD degrades down to 77 dB or so (blue line).
How about the input voltage from the AP? S&V used 100 mV for their "useless tests", what's yours? I would imagine if the voltage is too high the preamp volume control IC may offer higher distortions.
 
OP
amirm

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
25,948
Likes
57,781
Location
Seattle Area
Thread Starter #20
How about the input voltage from the AP? S&V used 100 mV for their "useless tests", what's yours? I would imagine if the voltage is too high the preamp volume control IC may offer higher distortions.
I am feeding it digital samples through HDMI so there is no voltage involved. It is for that reason that I called their tests useless. 100 millivolts? Over some analog input? How is that relevant for an AV processor?
 
Top Bottom