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A new AV receiver can really make or break an audio set up. Because these devices are like the nucleus of audio set ups, it is very important to make sure that you choose the right one for yours. That’s why today we’re going to be looking at two famous Japanese brands that have been in the audio game for a while: Onkyo and Yamaha.
The initial question we have today is who wins in the battle of audio-video receivers of Onkyo vs Yamaha. But there are other questions that you should keep in mind while continuing reading.
How important is sound quality to you? How much do you need your AV receiver to be streaming compatible? And just how important is build quality to you?
As long as you know the answers to these questions you’ll easily be able to figure out whether Onkyo or Yamaha is the perfect choice for you. With that said, let’s get the comparisons started.
Onkyo vs Yamaha: Build Quality and Design
When buying an expensive piece of audio technology, or quite frankly any sort of expensive devices, build quality is very important. It’s more than just the device looking sleek and firm, it needs to be able to last you many years and still deliver a quality service.
When it comes to build quality, Onkyo can be hit or miss. There are many reports of Onkyo receivers going dead or needing to be repaired in under a year’s time. This is not the biggest issue in the world as it’s really a matter of rolling the dice if your Onkyo receiver will experience problems, plus their products often have a 2 year warranty.
While I never personally experienced this issue, I simply cannot deny that many people online have voiced their concerns about Onkyo’s receivers and their HDMI boards going dead.
On the other hand, Yamaha has a wonderful track record of receivers that will keep on going for years and years. Regardless of the price, Yamaha receivers have always had a strong reputation over the years that their products do indeed stand the test of time. For that reason alone I have to say that Yamaha’s build quality is superior.
Onkyo vs Yamaha: Software and Features
Everyone loves a fancy audio device that comes with as many convenient bonus features as possible. In this day and age it is practically expected for an expensive device to be bundled with at least some kind of interesting software, right?
Well, at least that is the case with Yamaha. Onkyo receivers usually don’t come with anything extra in them that isn’t directly related to the quality of the sound itself. Yamaha, however, has many receivers that offer connectivity to a wide array of online services.
The Yamaha RX-V679BL for example can be connected with Sirius XM Radio, Spotify, Rhapsody, Pandora and many other music streaming platforms. Plus, this receiver and many other products by Yahama come with AirPlay built-in, which allows you to stream content wirelessly to your AV receiver from your computer, phone or another smart device.
In other words, if you really love the idea of being able to wirelessly connect devices to your receiver, or have an AV receiver that can connect to a wide variety of popular streaming services then you are definitely going to want to pick a Yamaha.
Onkyo vs Yamaha: Sound Quality
If you’re the type of person who cares about the quality of sound above all else like a true audiophile then you will want a receiver that delivers on that note as much as possible. So when it comes to being the better high fidelity unit, I would definitely put my money on Onkyo over Yamaha.
The fact of the matter is that when you compare the specs of various receivers by Yamaha and Onkyo, they look very similar on paper. I perused the stats of the Onkyo TX-NR636 and the Yamaha RX-v677 and I could barely spot any differences with my eyes. However, spotting differences with my ears was a completely different story.
Yamaha receivers have a pretty identifiable sound signature, and I’ve noticed this not only with the RX-v677 but with the R-N301 as well. They tend to offer a sound that is a little warm and smooth that really compliments certain kinds of sounds like human voices, acoustic guitars and piano.
Onkyo has a more well-rounded sound signature that also offers more detail. The TX-NR636 and the TX-8140 both have what is often called by audiophiles as a more “clinical” sound.
Their sound quality is a little more neutral and doesn’t favor any side of the audio frequency spectrum – the highs, mids and lows are all equally discernable. This means that in songs or movies where a lot of different tones or frequencies are occurring, Onkyo receivers do a better job of accurately representing much more of the audio spectrum.
I also thought that the highs and trebles were a lot better on Onkyo receivers, although Yamaha receivers were slightly better with the mids.
At the end of the day, my hat definitely goes off to Onkyo for sound quality. If this is the category that really matters to you in picking a new AV receiver, I recommend you pick them.
So here is the bottom line of Onkyo vs Yamaha: while Yamaha receivers are more reliable and have more useful wireless and streaming features, Onkyo receivers sound better and are a little bit cheaper as well.
I really felt tempted to recommend Onkyo above Yamaha without a doubt but they are really being held back by their less than superb reputation on build quality. It may be too risky to some to purchase an Onkyo and have one of the channels just die on them after a year or so.
So which company makes the better receivers? Which one should you buy? Well that all depends on this: if you love streaming and the peace of mind knowing that your receiver will probably never can out on you, definitely pick a Yamaha.
But if you love accurate, clinical sound quality above all else and don’t mind paying a little less for a product that may or may not need to be taken in for repairs someday, pick Onkyo. As long as you consider this choice carefully I’m sure you will be greatly satisfied with whatever choice you make.