If you’re looking for a receiver to match with a surround sound speaker system, then the sweet spot is probably in the $400-to-500 region. The high-end models usually come with a few decent features and offer a significant improvement over the budget models.
The NR535 sits at a lower price point, but despite offering a number of features that the previous model did not, not all of them are worth using. It also is equipped with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built-in, enabling it to stream music from your smartphone, NAS (network attached storage) or tablet.
Onkyo didn’t change the layout of the TX-NR535 model, but it made it significantly lighter than its predecessor, making the receiver weigh about 2 pounds less. This lower height gives it a more sleek appearance and also allows it to be more comfortably installed in AV racks and cabinets.
The device features a green LED display, a generally austere look and a single volume knob. There is a row of buttons that are all labeled so that you can easily switch inputs as long as you have made the proper connections.
In 2014, you can buy a Blu-ray player with colorful and easy-to-use software for 70 dollars, but a $400 receiver from Onkyo uses a menu that’s closer to DOS. However, aside from its sheer looks, it’s easy to navigate and logically arranged.
Onkyo cut down a little bit on connectivity too with the TX-NR535 but it shouldn’t be much of a deal for anyone. The speaker ports are now closer to the rest of the ports when 5.1-channel setup is used.
As well as the extra subwoofer output, Onkyo TX-NR535 is rated at 65 watts per channel.
The NR535, unlike the larger NR636, does not support Atmos and has no phono input, but keeps features people purchasing at this price point are likelier to use, like Bluetooth and streaming support. It offers Spotify, Slacker, Pandora, Sirius XM, Rhapsody, and Internet radio.
Even if you don’t have a 4K TV or don’t care about next-gen technology, the Onkyo TX-NR535 comes with built-in wireless LAN and Bluetooth, which may make the upgrade worthwhile.
Since the HDMI terminals have been updated to 2.0, the TX-NR535 can pass full 4K/60Hz signals. Also included are two digital optical inputs, two digital coaxial inputs, wireless and Ethernet, and a front-mounted USB input.
We were impressed right away by the Onkyo TX-NR535’s sound quality. We played the horror film “The Ring,” which includes plenty of scares, and the scene where a frightened horse escapes its stall and jumps ashore required a lot of the receiver’s computational power.
It has a lower power output at 90 watts per channel (6 Ohms) than other audio receivers, but the audio quality has not suffered due to the WRAT (Wide Range Amplifier Technology). Onkyo’s TX-NR535’s sound was thinner than the Sony STR-DN1050 and TX-NR636’s, but we found that the sub volume can be adjusted to make it sound balanced again.
Onkyo dropped Audyssey support for their internal room calibration technology, AccuEQ. This technology considers more variables such as speaker distance, speaker type, crossovers and outputs, as well as reflections from the floor and walls, to properly calibrate the speakers. The calibration process does not change because the setup mic is at the same location.
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The Onkyo TX-NR535 is a good audio device and offers many features, but for a few more bucks, you can get better sound. The 4K experience isn’t fully completed because HDCP 2.2 isn’t supported, but an HDMI 2.0 receiver for $399 was previously unknown.
Overall, it’s a very attractive feature bundle, especially when combined with Onkyo’s reputation for making quality budget AV receivers at a very reasonable price.