The Master of Geeks

Review: Onkyo TX-NR838

By Craig Whitmore, in , posted: 8-Jul-2014 19:26

I've had Onkyo AMP for a couple of years and I decided to upgrade my 2012 Onkyo TX-NR818 to a new 2014 TX-NR838 last week. I have been waiting for a while for it to be available in NZ so when they came down I ran (drove) down to Avalon (The Distributors in NZ) and bought the first one in New Zealand.

Vaughan (The owner) and Steve where great to talk to and I got some new Main Front Speakers as well (Onkyo D509's) and moved my KEF T305's around to get 7.1. I'll probably go back to 5.1 and get my 2+3 zones plugged in when I get time and bi-amp the Main Front Speakers to make it sound better.

From the outside there isn't much difference to see (my wife said it looks exactly the same as my old one - and it does ) but there are new features which come with the 838.

The Main Differences are:

 - HDMI 2.0 on all Ports
 - HDCP 2.2 on output and one of the inputs
 - Built in WIFI and Bluetooth
 - Not as deep as the 818 so fits better in cabinets
 - Dolby Atmos Capable (

Onkyo also make some lower end models and some higher end models ( like the NR3030 up to 11.2 sound but they won't be available for a few months more in NZ)

My TV (Sony 4K) has HDMI 2.0/HDCP2.2 input but at the moment there is nothing in the market which has HDMI 2.0 output as of yet but I expect in the next few months (or longer) - These will be media players and Blureay Players (When they decide on a 4K Standard) most likely as I don't expect Sky or anyone else to do 4K for a LONG time.

The Wifi I don't use at all but the Bluetooth is a great feature as I don't have to play music (via airplay from my iPhone) to my AppleTV which is plugged into the AMP and now can play directly to the AMP.

At the moment the 838 at the moment doesn't have Atmos but they have promised support soon via Firmware upgrade. Atmos is a new Dolby system which quite a few manufacturers as going with which allows more of 3D sound engineering system with sound above you thus things sound better but we'll have to see when bluray's with Atmos Dolby sound comes and then I might be impressed.

The set up of the 838 was just as easy as the 818 but remember to remove the little black stoppers in the posts so the banana plugs fit in (why do they put them in in the first place?). Make sure all the speakers are plugged in and it will find all the speakers itself with the automated set up and your away). If people have used Onkyo's in the past they will find it the same mostly as the others. There are lots of other features such as renaming inputs/output, using HDMI Control/ARC etc and most people will want to turn those on as well.

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Comment by Dunnersfella, on 9-Jul-2014 23:01

The stoppers are put in the speaker terminals to make them compliant with European safety standards (it's easy to stick a power plug into it with their configuration of plug pins).

Comment by richms, on 9-Jul-2014 23:08

The stoppers are there, as in europe its illegal to sell things with banana posts as extra low voltage connectors as they are muppets and stick speakers into mains sockets, so they invented the aweful BFA connector to get around that rule, then someone decided it was easier to just put a shroud over the banana holes and make no mention of removing the bung or shroud in the manual. So if you do it and then fry yourself you have modified it.