Review: Onkyo TX SR 805B Surround Pre

Category: Preamps

The SPECS, FEATURES, and BENEFITS can be seen at the Onkyo USA website for those interested.

The basics are:
130 wpc
1.3A HDMI pass through non up converting video processing. (more on this below)
7.1 audio
Audacy (auto audio setup)
Zone 2 & 3 control (Powered in zone 2)
Assignable input & outputs
Back lit learning remote
3 macro settings
AM/FM; SIRUS; XM compatible
7 BAND graphic EQ for each pairs of speakers
5 BAND graphic EQ for subwoofer
7 ch preamp outputs
Bi amp capability for main loudspeakers via loss of surround back speakers, reducing the receiver to 5.1.

There are far too many features to go into here, so the major ones only will be mentioned In this review. Any questions however will be gladly answered if possible.

First impressions

Well it’s not a basic HT receiver. In the looks department it appears as so many others in it’s sleek, non descript black covering. It’s heavy as well for a receiver these days, pointing to it’s non digital transformered power plant. A nice one as well, hence the THX Ultra II badge.

Flexibility is considerable. Owner’s manual is better than average in it’s explanations using common language throughout. Front and rear panels are well laid out with easy access. The remote is subdivided into areas which are mostly intuitive. 32 bit audio processor handles just about everything currently available on discs. Past and present. Allows video signals to be conveyed all the way up to component from composite (RCA) & S Video. OSD menus operate in any video mode selected as per sources dictate.

Support for the Onkyo is very good with over the phone questions being answered without much of a wait, and with little communication issues. Now and then, you might have to call back to Onkyo support to get someone who actually has a working knowledge of the product line, but isn’t that the current ‘status quo’ in respect to many support teams these days anyhow? At least they answer the phone seven days a week.

Service will require you to box it up and ship it off. Remotes too. Depending on how you buy Onkyo products the service plan for them may change. From as little as one year P&L to the standard of 3 years. Accordingly, the price varies too with lessend warranty periods. Onkyo however will allow you to purchase an extension of the service agreement online prior to the expiration of the current plan.

The learning curve on the TX SR 805 – 875 is more finding out where the adjustable items reside in the menus than starting from scratch. If you have never owned a receiver, or not one possessing HDMI ouput lately, fear not. A couple days of investigation will bare out much if not all of the info you’ll need for fluid control of the unit in virtually all the issues you might encompass.

If you have owned receivers in the past several years, you likely won’t need the owners manual often, and setup is not intimidating. I only ran into trouble in the assigning of video inputs as I added differing sets of analog and digital video devices.

Regarding HDMI, I had no issues what so ever there in terms of the TX SR 805 recognizing either my Motorola FIOS HD box, or Oppo DV 980H multi format disc player. I had no HD or Blue Ray DVD players with which to connect to the HDMI 1.3a receiver. At worst, the componet might need to be powered completely off by unplugging it, then plugging it back in once more while the signal cables are connected to the TX SR 805.

The remote poses little trouble as well, and has more buttons than paris Hilton has online blogs. It can learn other remotes, and of course uses codes for many other components.

I’ve listened to any number of HT receivers past and present over the years. Yamaha, Dennon, Sony, NAD, Integra, Harmon, etc. the TX SR 805 fares very well indeed amongst that lot, surpassing many, and not falling short of but a few of the top tier models. The key to a receivers sound is matching well with the speakers and room.

I used a variety of speakers from 85db 8 ohm, to 93db, 4ohm units, and several in between from Canton, Phase Tech, and Silverline. None presented the TX SR 805 with too difficult a load to bare. However I must say in all fairness here, it does run warm to hot so keeping cooling in mind is an imperitive. I would not suggest you enclose the unit. Rather, place it atop a stand, or in a very well ventilated area. Mine shut down once. Very early on in fact while in an enclosed wall unit of sorts. I rearranged and set it on top of the unit and no other shut down issues occurred after the repositioning.

Initially looking at the rear of the unit, I felt the layout was quite good with the various inputs and outputs being gathered into regions, and the speaker terminations laid out on the bottom most part of the unit.

Given the need for airing out the little power house, in my own situation posed a bit of a problem circumnavigating the source connections past the dangling speaker leads. Though it is not in surmountable.

I tried a variety of power cords onl the unit, ranging from $8 (yeah, eight dollars) to $1400.00… yeah, I couldn’t resist. Excepting the cheapie $8 cord, the OEM cord was only bested by my more upscale cords. The VD Power III didn’t prove out as wellas expected, and it’s sheer weight precluded me using it as the receiver was placed high on the rack.

Sure the sound being produced would differ, given different cords, though better wasn’t had until my mid level VooDoo Gold Dragons or above were in place on the unit. I currently use the Nirvana power cable directly into a dedicated 20A ckt. I may yet change again off the Nirvana, though I’ll not have to spend much there.

It worked well with my passive power filter/conds too, and the Haley best of all, yet with the Nirvana power cord and the dedicated plug, I liked it there the most.

All by itself, the TX SR 805 sounds quite good. Suprisingly so in fact. Right out of the box there were no complaints at all. Following a couple hundred hours, things improved although not to a night and day difference, just better. Following another 100 or so hours I couldn’t detect any further changes.

The sound via pure analog is very good. The ‘Pure’ setting defeats tone controls and the OSD display is shut down. Direct is the next best setting for pure audio and it defeats the EQ only. There is a noticeable diff with the display off, and the tone controls defeated. In the ‘pure’ setting the TX SR 805 performed admirably. There was not the usual fuzziness attributed to the video circuitry, and a well defined stage is presented to the listener. Balanced, and broad, yet not exceptionally deep. Resolution too was impressive, being handed out in a refined sort of way. Not brash or hi fi-ish. Controlled and with great ease. In fact the TX SR 805 is remarkably listenable in two channel situations, and represents the duynamic swings during those video events which demand explosiveness and impact well enough to envolve the audience and present an entertaining performance.

Used with an outboard amp, everything audible improves noticeably. It’s a nice statement that the TX SR 805 has a very good preamp which hands off a well delineated signal to the amp which does not leave the listener asking for more.

The Audacy feature is negated however if an outboard amp (s) are used and the settings will need to be configured manually. The TX SR 805 allows for .5db changes for each speaker, which I found a very handy item. Adding exterior amp (s) also allowed the TX SR 805 to run cooler.

I usually prefer a receiver over an integrated unit for a secondary outfit, or purely as a dedicated HT provider due to the greater flexibility afforded by receivers over integrated units.

Pursuant to that note I was disappointed to find out that the second and third zones were not able to convey digitally connected sources in their own areas. Onkyo does not point that out explicitly enough and it should as it may be taken as a misleading note for the buyer.

The zones info must be connected via analog only. The third zone is purely info only and a power amp will be required. None of the tone controls are active in that zone yet differing sources can be indepentdantly selected. A powered secondary zone affords the user more, but it uses the secondary rear amplifier channels to do that job, so if a 7.1 event is required, the secondary zone has to be deactivated.

The tuner section is good too, and very esy to set up and has direct access to 30 preset channels and allows for seeking out new ones with the press of the joy stick. The sensitivity is exceptional, but an outside antenna will help immensely of course.


I’ve not had a new receiver in house since December 2000. things have changed. My decision to buy (sans audition) came down to either this or a Marantz 8001. the Marantz lost out due to it’s video section supporting only 480P, and a 1.2 HDMI circuitry. Period. Price was about the same between the two. That and the fact Onkyo was far easier to reach by phone than was Marantz. I waited about an hour to talk to Marantz support and my questions to them about the 8001’s abilities came with a bit of a struggle. Adios Marantz, Buenos Daiz Onkyo.

After unpacking the TX SR 805 and setting it between the Silverline Sonata IIIs in the livistening room, I attached it to them with a set of Synergistic research Alpha Quad x bi wire cables. Plugged in a Rat Shak indoor antenna, the TX SR 805’s power cord and fired up the PC!

My owner’s manual is always the ‘pdf’ variety. Two days later I was able to get the tuner going. The sound right out of the box was fabulous! Impressive! Beyond expectations to be sure. I had envisioned a bright, thin, and vague sounding unit for the first week or so… or at least until it ran past the 100 hr mark. I really was shocked to find such a different sound being wrought from the TX SR 805. Needless to say, I was very impressed.

I decided to hook my Python VX up to it for that first week of running in… and things got more delightful. Skipping about from station to station on the FM dial I got reacquainted with all the local info and why I’m not a big fan of FM any longer.

Moving on past the initial grins I got more into the how’s and why’s and more importantly the what’s of the unit’s prowess and its Achilles. If one uses all the analog connections as they are relegated or marked, all is well and good.

Some hiccups did occur during changing from one source to another, though only by the aspect of the time delays required for the TX SR 805 to perform the needed internal setup for that source. During TV channel changing there were also brief periods where the TX SR 805 would make the needed changes to deliver the differing incoming audio information. For example, if you went from a channel providing stereo to one providing multi channel audio, there was a second or two delay as the unit recognized and then output the proper sound field. Although disconcerting at first, the time delay seems to become briefer or I got used to it and it wasn’t an issue for me.

For normally attached items things are a little different. Press the Receiver button, and then push the CD button in the input section of the remote… and Violin! Cd playback occurs without a hitch. Use of the digital inputs, TOS, SPDIF, or HDMI, some further tinkering via the INPUT OUTPUT MENU is required. Especially if you plan on using differing video types and up convert them to HDMI, though it is not a major issue, just different. Again, IF you choose to use other than the ‘labled’ sources for those digital components some clicking about in the menus is required.

Onkyo’s philosophy seems to lend itself to coaxial RCA over TOS… so be prepared to seek out or break out a former fav coaxial link. Yes, it is worth it to do so.

Used in conjunction with my BenQ PE7700 via a 26 foot Blue Jeans HDMI cable the TX SR 805 720P video experience on a 116 inch 16:9 DIY screen was very good indeed. Enclosing the room to control light and aid the audio, made it even more so and exciting event.

For the $800 entry fee on the TX SR 805 I can’t really kick. It works without a hitch, conveying video and audio integrally, and involvingly. It integrates well with other non Onkyo devices via HDMI. It has good flexibility, a more than solid presentation and I feel it an over achiever given the price point I paid. Even at the $1129 circuit City price tag it presents a decent value. I recommend either the TX SR 805 or the 875 be at least thought about if you are looking for a mid level receiver as it’s support, use, and flexibility are very good.

Performance … I’m hard pressed to ask for more here without being embarrassed. Definitely recommended.

Menu oriented appliance without nominal free hand alterations or direct access.
Almost every change across the board requires the use of a menu or the use of the OSD via the screen or receiver’s face plate.
Zone 2 & 3 output is limited to analog connected devices, except for the tuner.
No Ghosting or virtual center ch speaker settings. (Eliminating the center ch speaker from the speaker setup menu did not eliminate the center ch audio however and it was blended into the front left and right chs)
Overall physical bulk & Weight… for some perhaps
Runs quite warm.

Audio and video performance is extremely good given the entry fee.
Automatic conversion of video signals from analog to digital.
Allows Upsampling of video resolutions via HDMI devices to 1080P.
Good power
THX Ultra II rating
Bi amping of the main speakers

Thanks for you time. Hopefully you found this helpful.

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Thanks - Interesting Review.

You say "The Audacy feature is negated however if an outboard amp (s) are used and the settings will need to be configured manually".

Can you "remember" the curves in some fashion and manually input the same ones back after installing outboard amps?

Also - does erything upconvert (like even component inputs or SVHS inputs) and come out of the HDMI output (including sound?)


Thanks much.

“You say "The Audacy feature is negated however if an outboard amp (s) are used and the settings will need to be configured manually". “

Actually what happens if extra amps are used is this… nothing. Nada. Audacy won’t begin when the mike is plugged in like it would were there no outboard amps connected and strickly the 805 was doing all the power amplification duties..

Wether or not those settings will remain in place or not once another amp is added, is beyond my experience with this unit. I’ve always set any I’ve owned up manually as I tend to prefer my settings over those of others… and it takes less time.

I also get to see how accurately it can be set.

BTW…. PLEASE… make all the connections while the rec is unplugged!! Double check them, and THEN, plug it in.

“Can you "remember" the curves in some fashion and manually input the same ones back after installing outboard amps?”

Hmmm… well, yeah, but with a different amp in the chain then, perhaps the settings would differ in respect to the channels this added amp drives. Tonal changes are very likely to occur by adding an amp… maybe less bass is needed, less treble, etc. Levels too likely will need to be changed.

Of course, you could simply go into the set up menu to see what the differing freqs are in the EQ, and write them down, also in the speaker distance & level control menu too for the channels which aren’t being supported by an extra amp.

However, I’ve read some folks didn’t care for the Audacy settings once they were done allowing it to automatically run.

Speaker set up is easy enough to do however… Go into the SPEAKER SETUP menu.
Starting at the top, in the first selection, set the impedance of the speakers.

Tell the unit how many you are using, and set them all to type (large or small) in Speaker config, set the cut offs on the small ones if present. Subwoofer, yes/no, etc.

If a THX sub is being used this gets simpler… as the unit will set things up accordingly, and automatically once THX is chosen. Everything then gets cut off at 80Hz.

set the distances from yourself to the various speaker

SET THE LEVELS OF THE SPEAKERS HERE… a test tone will be applied so the levels can then be adjusted.

If EQ is desired or required, go there to set the EQ by the pairs of speakers. Full band units have a seven band EQ adjustment. You can adjust any of or all of the bands as you deem necessary.

All of these items by the way can be adjusted either on the 805’s display or buy looking at the TV screen as you move along. Trust me, if I can do this, anyone can… and remember, the settings you make can be re-arranged later on. They ain’t cast in stone.

Also - does erything upconvert (like even component inputs or SVHS inputs) and come out of the HDMI output (including sound?)

Only the video signals being input via, RCA, S Video, and component, can be up converted to HDMI.

The exception to this case is if a TV set is used that has speakers, and HDMI input…. I think.

I use a PROJECTOR so that doesn’t apply to me, but I believe I recalled that it will, but only to the TV or selected display. I’m not sure however.

Which ever way the audio is being input to the receiver, it can and does come out either via the speaker outputs, or if HDMI 1.2 OR HIGHER IS USED, then via the HDMI out. In the latter, though you have to make one change for HDMI audio output… like for a TV set, in the Input output assign menu, and the HDMI menu.

Also do remember, if sound and or video is required in other zones, there is no HDMI out for them. Those connections for aux zone use must be via analog… RCA & or S video to get sound and visuals.

For instance, if you have connected your DVD player via HDMI only to the 805/875, you’ll get nothing in the second zone from that particular source… unless it also has RCA audio outputs and they too are connected. In that case you will further have to select which inputs you want to use when that source is selected by pressing the same source selection button again..

What I did to avoid confusion, and the further need to select which inputs to use (as my vision is not up to snuff these days) I just picked out another source to input them to…. And I’d select that one when using another zone.

Like I have my cable box set for HDMI to the cable box input…. And have it’s analog audio outputs connected to GAME so I can listen only, to the music channels. FIOS provides about 80 or so..

You can remane all of the imnputs to suit yourself too, so their ‘newly input name’ will appear as you pick each input to play via the remote on your display as you move through them. This makes things easier for those who can actually see them being displayed on the screen I suppose.

The whole thing doesn’t take more than about 20 minutes to do. Connecting and running cables will likely take longer.

It seems like a lot to do, but once you get your feet wet, it’s easy.

Do remember also if the DIRECT audio function is used, none of the EQ settings will be applied… no sub output is available either. Only in PURE (HDMI) and STEREO (standard) WILL THE SUB BE IN PLAY.

BTW…. The subwoofer also has 5 bands of eq, and some ADVANCED settings too.

Precautionary note:

Under no circumstances, and at any time, never, ever, drop the remote... or sit on it... or kick it... or step on it... not even by accident or even lightly.

You'll have to trust me on this one. it's not as robust as are telephones... calculators... or even CDs.