Dolby’s surround-heavy Atmos sound technology seems to be taking its time to get out there, and the lack of movies sure isn’t helping, but at least there’s one more model out there to choose from.
Expanding the Atmos range, Onkyo is delivering a new model capable of taking a look at the object-based audio tracks Dolby Atmos works with and send the several sounds to spaces around your skull.
The model is the 7.2 TX-NR545, and before you ask why none of these have names you can remember, it’s worth taking a look at the specs, with the amp including support for Dolby’s 360 degree technology provided you have some Atmos-compatible speakers plugged in.
These are optional, that said, but when connected and working with an Atmos emulation mode, or even a movie title with an Atmos audio track, the result is a surround mode closer to that of the concept, with true surround.
Aside for that neat feature, you’ll find built in Bluetooth, built in WiFi, with support for streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer, with iPhones and iPads able to stream music directly to the amp via AirPlay.
One downside to Atmos is the price, and while the speakers required to make Dolby Atmos work are special, so are the amps.
Last year, the entry level price for Atmos started at $1199, and this year’s NR545 raises that another hundred to $1299, and yet brings less power to the table, dropping from 160W to 120W.
We’re checking with Onkyo to find out if this one replaces last year’s NR646, because the features are similar, but a little less grunty all up, questioning why the new model commands a higher price.
That said, if you want Atmos, this is practically where you start from. Now you just need movie titles to go with it, as right now, the list is small, though growing, with “Transformers: Age of Extinction” supporting the technology locally, while international Atmos-supported releases also include “Unbroken”, “John Wick”, “Gravity”, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, “The Expendable 3”, and “American Sniper”.
If that list a little uninspiring, rest assured that the 4K Ultra High Definition Blu-ray format will also include support for the Atmos object-based sound technology, so there should be more titles coming for both the Full HD Blu-ray we have now and the Ultra HD version arriving next year.
We’re hoping that Onkyo manages to make Atmos a little more compelling to everyone, though, with a drop in price past the thousand dollar mark, because right now, it’s a technology made for people who want to think ahead of the game, and not just 4K ahead, which too lacks content.
Representatives for Onkyo distributors in this country, Amber Technology, have sent word that “making the Atmos technology available to the more price sensitive consumer is a priority for Onkyo” and that it would have more to say on this topic in the near future.
So that’s something, but still, if the idea of a next-gen sound format is a little too far off for you to handle, it might be worth looking at an amp made without Atmos.
For that, Onkyo has a 5.1 channel AV receiver in the form of the SR343, providing support for 100W of power per channel, several HDMI ports, Bluetooth streaming, and even the ability to run USB devices like the Google Chromecast via the on-board USB port.
One thing of note is that while the TX-SR343 lacks Dolby Atmos technology, it can handle Ultra HD video and work with the 4K Blu-rays we’ve previously mentioned, which the larger TXNR545 can also handle.
Pricing for this smaller model is a little different, that said, with the TX-SR343 coming in at a recommended retail price of $699, half the price of the Atmos-friendly TX-NR545 for $1299. Both receivers should be landing in electronics retailers across the country in July.