ONKYO TX SR3100 REVIEW: STOP Falling for the HYPE!

In some Hi-Fi circles, advocating for a home theater receiver is about as popular as calling someone’s baby ugly. The mere idea of using one for stereo playback is often met with disdain. I’ve never quite understood this bias against AVRs, nor the blind adoption of every new tiny amp or DAC of the month.

This confusion is especially pronounced when products like Onkyo’s TX-SR3100 receiver offer so much for the same price. But I digress. Tested at $349.

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The SR3100 from Onkyo is a 5.2 channel Dolby Atmos-enabled receiver, producing 80 watts per channel into 8 ohms using a class AB amplifier. For home theater setups, you can configure the Onkyo as a traditional 5.2 setup, a 3.2.2 Atmos one, and almost everything in between. Regardless of the configuration, the 3100’s AccuEQ room calibration makes setup relatively plug-and-play. It has two subwoofer preamp outs, though they are not independent. For a sub-$400 product, that’s forgivable.

For less than $400, the 3100 offers a lot, including four HDMI 2.1 inputs and one HDMI 2.1 output with ARC and eARC support. All HDMI ports support video signals up to 8K and 4K at 120Hz, with additional support for major HDR formats, including Dolby Vision. Gamers will appreciate the support for VRR and ALLM, making it handy for first-person gaming. Digital inputs include a single optical and coaxial input, and there’s an FM and AM tuner for radio listeners. However, there’s no built-in phono preamp. Vinyl fans can use one of the analog audio inputs for an external preamp or a turntable with a built-in preamp.

four HDMI 2.1 inputs and one HDMI 2.1 output with ARC and eARC support
four HDMI 2.1 inputs and one HDMI 2.1 output with ARC and eARC support
Digital inputs include a single optical and coaxial input
Digital inputs include a single optical and coaxial input,

Wireless connections are limited to Bluetooth; there is no Wi-Fi or Ethernet, meaning no built-in streaming. This may disappoint some, myself included, but if you prefer a separate streamer, you’ll avoid redundancy.

For testing, we used two sets of speakers: the budget-friendly Jamo S7 series and the more upscale Focal Aria Evo X speakers. The Jamo set costs just under $1,500, making it an attainable way to get into home theater. The Focal speakers helped evaluate how the 3100 handles larger, more challenging speakers in a bigger space. Despite the unlikely pairing, the 3100 performed admirably even with high-end speakers.

I also tested the 3100 with a Sony X90L TV, Apple TV 4K, and a Sony PS5. Since the 3100 lacks streaming support, I used a WiiM Pro streamer. The 3100’s performance was impressive, maintaining sound quality and power delivery even at high volumes. Unlike many TI-based amps like the WiiM, which struggle with complex signals at high volumes, the 3100 stayed solid.

In stereo mode, the Onkyo’s sound is balanced and dynamic. Compared to the WiiM, the Onkyo maintained a linear sound as volume increased, whereas the WiiM became treble-forward and shouty. The 3100 delivered a neutral and detailed performance, handling dynamic music tracks with ease.

While the Onkyo 3100 doesn’t match more expensive receivers like the Onkyo RZ50, Marantz Cinema 50, or Denon A1H in texture or separation, it holds its own tonally with budget favorites like the Sony STR-DH790. It has a lively, forward sound, which is common at this price point.

Adding a WiiM streamer to the Onkyo provided a great combination of streaming flexibility and superior amplification. For watching movies, whether in 5.1 or 2.1.2 Atmos setup, the Onkyo delivered a cinematic experience with impressive dynamics and a strong bass response.

A few nitpicks: the 3100 clicks at certain volume levels, which is normal. The AccuEQ room correction is effective but not as advanced as Dirac or Audyssey. The dialog enhancement feature can make vocals stand out but at the expense of overall tonality, so use it sparingly.

Compared to budget receivers under $1,000, the Sony STR-DH790 and Yamaha RX-V6A are notable alternatives. The Sony offers better overall features, while the Yamaha is more flexible but complicated to set up. The Onkyo 5100, another option, offers built-in streaming but has less desirable push-pin binding posts.

In conclusion, the Onkyo TX-SR3100 stands out as a versatile and powerful budget receiver. It’s an excellent choice for those new to home theater, providing strong performance for both movies and music without breaking the bank. If you’re considering exploring this hobby, an AVR like the 3100 is a great place to start.

So, what do you think? Can you use an AVR for Hi-Fi playback? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.


  • 7Review

    Founded in July 2014, 7Review is a free audio resource for beginners, and we're dedicated to helping you create the ultimate movie-watching experience right at home. We pull insights from top audio magazines and trusted industry sources to bring you well-researched, reliable reviews and tips. Whether you're a home cinema pro or just starting out, we aim to give you the info you need to make the best choices for your setup.

ONKYO TX SR3100: Price Comparison
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STOP Falling for the HYPE! ONKYO TXSR3100 REVIEW - 5.2 AV Receiver

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