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Onkyo TX-RZ50 Review (Home Theater AVR)

Rate this product:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 89 33.7%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 102 38.6%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 52 19.7%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 21 8.0%

  • Total voters
    264

valerianf

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As some HD streaming services are providing 24 bit/96khz and even higher on some music, a modern AVR should have a dsp that do the process at 96 kHz.
Is the DTS HD MA ( 96/24) from a blue ray disk downsampled to 48khz by the DSP?
I do not think so.
Same remark regarding the Dolby True HD.
 

KMO

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Is the DTS HD MA ( 96/24) from a blue ray disk downsampled to 48khz by the DSP?
I do not think so.
Same remark regarding the Dolby True HD.
The answer is sadly "yes", for the vast majority of consumer AVRs, at least if you've got all the EQ functions on.

There was a wave of interest in high-res in 2000-2005, along with SACD and DVD-Audio and at that point manufacturers had a surge of implementing and touting their ability to do Hi-res 96kHz processing.

But more recently new functions like Audyssey/Dirac (and potentially newer upmixers like DSU?) have quietly let that slide.

The "Hi-res" thing is currently back in vogue in streaming, but hardware isn't up to scratch. AVRs are downsampling for room EQ, and lots of streaming devices are also just resampling everything to 48kHz (cos they're doing audio mixing, rather than a single dedicated end-to-end audio stream).
 

dlaloum

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As some HD streaming services are providing 24 bit/96khz and even higher on some music, a modern AVR should have a dsp that do the process at 96 kHz.
Is the DTS HD MA ( 96/24) from a blue ray disk downsampled to 48khz by the DSP?
I do not think so.
Same remark regarding the Dolby True HD.

Unfortunately the answer is - YES it has to be - unless you are running in Pure mode where all DSP is turned off, so no Room EQ, no X-Over adjustments, no upmixing/downmixing, just the straight channels decoded and fed through the DAC's to the amps. - as soon as you enable any of the DSP functionality... you are back at 48khz.

We do know that Dirac is capable of runnning at 96 or 192, as the PC version does...

We are also pretty sure that current processing chipsets should be able to do the processing at 96 (and possibly 192) - but using the latest and greatest chipset, might well bring back the heat issues that ultimately caused no end of reliability problems from around 2006 to 2016.

Would be interesting to get the details of the currently used chipsets on the Onkyo's (and Denon's) and compare them to what else their manufacturers have available... - the manufacturer specs on power consumption of the various chipsets will tell a story with regards to heat generation.
 
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amirm

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ight, but can we be consistent? This product gets (rightly) criticised for doing all its DSP processing at 48kHz.

But the MiniDSP Flex got a total pass on that.

But I guess the issue was that the MiniDSP Flex under test reviewed didn't have the Dirac, so was operating at 96kHz - but if you pay extra money for the Dirac then you get 48kHz, same as the Onkyo. (Although I don't know if it switches dynamically based on Dirac being enabled).
The context was bass management. Minidsp does that 96 kHz, this box goes down to 44.1/48 kHz. For EQ, you can manually do that with Minidsp and still maintain the sample rate. None of that is available here.
 
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amirm

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I myself have a Denon AVR that can do other functions at 96kHz, but Audyssey only at 48kHz, but I rarely feel like turning off the Audyssey just to let the hi-res through.
I would manually correct bass and get a proper speaker for the rest of the response. But if the unit still resamples when I use bass management, then that is a problem.
 
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amirm

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Unfortunately the answer is - YES it has to be - unless you are running in Pure mode where all DSP is turned off, so no Room EQ, no X-Over adjustments, no upmixing/downmixing, just the straight channels decoded and fed through the DAC's to the amps. - as soon as you enable any of the DSP functionality... you are back at 48khz.

We do know that Dirac is capable of runnning at 96 or 192, as the PC version does...

We are also pretty sure that current processing chipsets should be able to do the processing at 96 (and possibly 192) - but using the latest and greatest chipset, might well bring back the heat issues that ultimately caused no end of reliability problems from around 2006 to 2016.

Would be interesting to get the details of the currently used chipsets on the Onkyo's (and Denon's) and compare them to what else their manufacturers have available... - the manufacturer specs on power consumption of the various chipsets will tell a story with regards to heat generation.
As I noted, there is a work-around here: only do this for 2-channel music. That is the main application for high-res audio. Yes, there is some multichannel as well but for now, we need proper bass management and room EQ for 2 channel music. AVR/AVP pipelines need an optimized music mode not this "Pure" thing that just disables stuff. Such a mode would remove the headroom it is reserving for Dolby, etc. giving us back some SNR/dynamic range. Some high-end processor companies are actually working on this based on feedback from our testing here. And that is the right solution. Given this, power consumption and heat will not be an issue since you are trading channel count for sample rate.
 

KMO

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Unfortunately the answer is - YES it has to be - unless you are running in Pure mode where all DSP is turned off, so no Room EQ, no X-Over adjustments, no upmixing/downmixing, just the straight channels decoded and fed through the DAC's to the amps. - as soon as you enable any of the DSP functionality... you are back at 48khz.
I don't know that we can generalise that strongly. I've seen hardly any detailed analysis of how various features affect the signal processing paths.

It seems that this Onkyo can do 192kHz pure only, 48kHz otherwise. (I'm assuming nothing other than bass management was enabled when it dropped to 48kHz).

But other devices will differ. I think 192kHz direct, 96kHz without room EQ, 48kHz with Audyssey is the current state of Denon/Marantz, but I'm not certain, and I don't know if the current upmixers limit to 48kHz. (I'm pretty certain Dolby Pro Logic II operated at 96kHz for older models).

If anyone has ability to investigate this, it would be appreciated!
 

capslock

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My take on this is that the DAC and analog preamp sections are ok-ish at 96 dB SINAD and > -101 dB HD. Certainly dedicated DACs or the miniDSP are a lot better, and resampling to 48 kHz and the jitter artefacts aren't nice, but it will competently deliver Redbook audio and a little more. This cannot be said of legions of other AVRs tested here.

However, the amps just stink. Are they still class AB? I haven't found a service manual yet, but I suspect a minimal long tailed pair with no current mirror, a minimal VAS and an EF2 output stage implemented with integrated Darlington transistors. Onkyo used to do much better, using discrete power transistors or even their legendary triple inverted Darlington output stage. Fixing the protection algorithm won't fix the output stage distortion. If my guess about the topology is right, there is lots of crossover distortion because the integrated drivers cannot share a common emitter resistor, and there is plenty of distortion in the VAS because gain linearity and bandwidth of integrated Darlingtons is usally poorer than a discrete implementation.
 
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restorer-john

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BTW, there is a "free" way from them to do this. When someone plays just two channel audio, up the sample rate. There is a ton of computing power here spread to 9+ channels. Lower that to two channels and sample rate can be much higher. Indeed, I have advocated that these companies have a proper, 2-channel mode which gets rid of a ton of assumptions they make about the format. SNR, SINAD, etc. can all be improved substantially in this mode.

Not just up the sample rate, run the 'unused' D/A converters in parallel to improve SNR as well. Does any avr/processor out there do that for 2ch 'pure'?
 

dlaloum

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The former suggestion could be done in software - the latter (running DAC's in parallel) would require additional hardware....
 

hmt

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You are drawing the wrong conclusion. People who play high res music pay extra for that and like to know that their system is playing such. To the extend this AVR can't, then the work-around is as I suggested: build your system around full-range speakers. Then you are not missing anything. Your solution neuters high-res music and is just not acceptable. I have thousands of dollars worth of high-res music that I own. I want to play them that way. Period. I am not bending over to what this AVR wants to do.

Your suggestion says to get something as basic as bass management, I have to give up sample rate. And with it, give a pass to these manufacturers. So they will never up the sample rate. They have been doing this for decades now. Maybe 10 years ago they could justify keeping rates this low but not anymore, and not in something that costs $1,500.
Then you must not use room correction becauso almost every AVR or Prepro resamples to 44,1/48KHz then anyway.
What is more important ist that the Onkyo only uses a 12 db oct slope for the bass management of the mains. That will cause problems when using portet speakers or any speaker that has an in room response digging deeper than the crossover. Then the crossover slopes will be asymetric. That would be some audible flaw not the imo pointless discussion of sample rates.
 
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Vovgan

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Some high-end processor companies are actually working on this based on feedback from our testing here.
I hope Denon does too… !!
 
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simple6

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I would manually correct bass and get a proper speaker for the rest of the response. But if the unit still resamples when I use bass management, then that is a problem.

That’s a bit too hard of an ask for the average enthusiast. What if the task is to integrate 2-4 subs? Do that manually?

Reading through forums, less than 50% of the people that attempt it are successful. I’d prefer auto bass management any day compared to an extra resampling.

I see your point about the need to raise the standards, and why we need to push. However, there are some clear arguments to help someone decide on bass management/auto eq vs high res/resampling.
 
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Sprint

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That’s a bit too hard of an ask for the average enthusiast. What if the task is to integrate 2-4 subs? Do that manually?

Reading through forums, less than 50% of the people that attempt it are successful. I’d prefer auto bass management any day compared to an extra resampling.

I see your point about the need to raise the standards, and why we need to push. However, there are some clear arguments to help someone decide on bass management/auto eq vs high res/resampling.
Fully Agree. Most of us stream movies Netflix, Amazon instead of physical discs nowadays where anyway the signals are lossy. The streamers like ATV 4K also plays its part in this game. For movies, I rely on AVP for the auto bass management. For 2ch, I fully bypass my AVP with a cheaper solution of RPI4 -> Topping D10s where I do not suffer any resampling. The subs receive everything corrected via MiniDSP Dirac and I set a high pass filter in my Genelec for 80HZ using GLM.
 

dlaloum

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Yeah Onkyo is out. They posted detailed note on their website in Japanese. Have been losing too much money for too long.
This raises the question of whether the products are now Orphaned - with warranty / spares being..... anyone's guess!!

Or whether Voxx and Sharp - the partners in distribution who took at least part ownership of the Home Entertainment and AV part of the Onkyo business, can now take it over fully, and therefore the Audio/AV brand continues through that vehicle...
 

ThatM1key

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Third, this is a matter of transparency and proper advertising to the user. Here is a bit of the spec from the manual:

View attachment 186300

And top level feature list in the product datasheet:
View attachment 186301
I remember seeing lower tier Onkyo's that have 32bit/384khz DAC's. Maybe the 24bit/192khz DAC is actually "high quality".

Screenshot 2022-02-13 061723.jpg
 

KxDx

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I am starting to think that these AVR's have too many features and are just too complex to design, develop, and produce at the volumes and prices required. They get it 90%+ right but the "bugs".... like "30 watts @ 4 Ohms" are just killer and not easily "fixed". Every single AVR tested here has had some serious "bugs".
The marketers want BIG WATTS on the box, and the beancounters don’t want warranty claims for burned up amplifiers.

The engineers are in a no-win situation. If they make it more robust, they have to price it out of its intended market.
 

Martin_320

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But other devices will differ. I think 192kHz direct, 96kHz without room EQ, 48kHz with Audyssey is the current state of Denon/Marantz, but I'm not certain, and I don't know if the current upmixers limit to 48kHz. (I'm pretty certain Dolby Pro Logic II operated at 96kHz for older models).

If anyone has ability to investigate this, it would be appreciated!

Thanks to Amir for raising this point and about DSP pipeline downsampling.
This is important to me and many others who care about hi-rez music played back in our multi-channel setups.

last year out of interest I did a few tests at home with my Marantz AV7705:

~ From my Dune HD media player I fed the Marantz with a 96kHz 2-ch music FLAC which I know has lots of hi-frequency content going beyond 30kHz;
~ I hooked-up the Marantz's front-right analog pre-out to one of the analog pre-ins of my Presonus Audiobox interface;
~ I sampled it at 96kHz (the max sample rate capability of this interface), and recorded 24-bit WAV files into Audacity at 96kHz.
~ then I analysed the resulting WAV files using Audacity.

I concluded the following:

~ Marantz's digital Tone Control setting (which only works on the L & R stereo channels!) correctly preserves the high sample rates.
~ However, Marantz's Graphic Equalizer function (which works on any/all channels) downsamples the audio to 44/48kHz.
~ Applying a Bass Management crossover (I use a 5.1 speaker setup) on its own did not appear to downsample the audio (I would need to re-check);
~ As for Dolby Surround, again I would need to re-check, but this on its own did not appear to downsample the audio.
 

sarumbear

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The RZ50 also put out more than its rated power - into 8ohm with 2 channels running. (136W where it is rated for 120W)

Where things get hairy, is continuous output into 4ohm - lots of current
The unit has 11 channels, why shall I bother with the 2ch spec?

Almost all modern speakers drop below 4ohm.
 
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