Onkyo TX-NR838

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    • 7.2 Channels
    • 7.1 Channel Processing
    • 130 W (8 Ω, 20 Hz - 20 kHz, 2 channel driven)
    • THX™Select™2 Plus Certified
    • Dolby Atmos
    • 4K/60Hz Passthrough, 4K/30Hz Upscaling
    • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ethernet
    • Phono Input
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    Disclosure: We earn money from the affiliate links to products associated with content in this article.


    Onkyo TX-NR838 was introduced in 2014. It is equipped with 7 channel amplifier with 130 W (8 Ω, 20 Hz - 20 kHz and 2 channel driven) power per channel and is capable of 7.1 maximum channel processing. It supports Dolby Atmos, passes 4K/60Hz and upscales up to 4K/30p (Marvell Qdeo) video signal.

    We evaluated the a/v receiver and gave 85 overall score out of 100. Our ranking system is based on the amplifier specifications, audio and video features, connectivity, multizone capabilities, radio and many other details.

    Here is a history of the series, where you can view and compare the main specifications of the receivers.

    Evolution of the series
    Model Year Chann. Power Dolby Atmos DTS:X HDR10 HDR10+ Dolby Vision Pass. Price
    TX-RZ840 Image cannot be found 2019 9.2 120 W 4K
    TX-RZ830 Image cannot be found 2018 9.2 120 W 4K
    TX-RZ820 Image cannot be found 2017 7.2 130 W 4K
    TX-RZ810 Image cannot be found 2016 7.2 130 W 4K
    TX-RZ800 Image cannot be found 2015 7.2 135 W 4K
    TX-NR838 Image cannot be found 2014 7.2 130 W 4K
    TX-NR828 Image cannot be found 2013 7.2 130 W 4K
    TX-NR818 Image cannot be found 2012 7.2 135 W 1080p
    TX-NR809 Image cannot be found 2011 7.2 135 W 1080p

    You can view their side-by-side comparison here: Onkyo TX-RZ840 vs TX-RZ830 vs TX-RZ820 vs TX-RZ810 vs TX-RZ800 vs TX-NR838.

    Pros and Cons

    In this section we present pros and cons of Onkyo TX-NR838.


    •   High Power Output - 130 W
    •   Front Wide Channel Support
    •   THX™ Certification
    •   Dolby Atmos
    •   DSD via HDMI
    •   Auto Speaker Calibration System with Mic.
    •   New HDCP Version
    •   Analog To HDMI Upconversion
    •   Wi-Fi
    •   Bluetooth
    •   7 HDMI Inputs
    •   USB Input
    •   Many RCA Line Inputs
    •   Phono Input
    •   RCA Pre-Outs
    •   Composite Video Inputs
    •   Component Video Inputs
    •   Ethernet
    •   3 Zones
    •   Analog Tuner
    •   Pandora
    •   Spotify
    •   Independent Power Supply


    •   No Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization
    •   No DTS:X
    •   No IMAX Enhanced
    •   No Auro 3D with Auro-Matic Upmixer
    •   No HDR10
    •   No HDR10+
    •   No Dolby Vision
    •   No eARC
    •   No 8K Passthrough
    •   Does not Work with Amazon Alexa
    •   0 8K Input
    •   No Digital Radio
    •   No Tidal
    •   Bluetooth 2․1 + EDR

    And here are some specifications which fall into average criteria and are neither in PROs nor in CONs category:


    •   7.2 Channels
    •   7.1 Channel Processing
    •   3 HDMI Outputs

    Onkyo 2014 Lineup

    In 2014 Onkyo released 7 new receivers. Here is the lineup:

    Onkyo 2014 Lineup
    ModelChannelsPowerMax. Ch. Proc.Pre OutsRoom Corr.Immersive AudioZones Price
    TX-NR3030 Image cannot be found 11.2135 W11.111.4 AccuEQDolby Atmos3
    TX-NR1030 Image cannot be found 9.2135 W11.111.4 AccuEQDolby Atmos3
    TX-NR838 Image cannot be found 7.2130 W7.17.2 AccuEQDolby Atmos3
    TX-NR737 Image cannot be found 7.2110 W7.1 AccuEQDolby Atmos3
    TX-NR636 Image cannot be found 7.295 W7.1 AccuEQDolby Atmos2
    TX-NR535 Image cannot be found 5.265 W5.1 AccuEQ2
    TX-SR333 Image cannot be found 5.165 W5.12

    You can view their side-by-side comparison here: Onkyo TX-NR3030 vs TX-NR1030 vs TX-NR838 vs TX-NR737 vs TX-NR636 vs TX-NR535.


    Here we are comparing Onkyo TX-NR838 to its predecessor TX-NR828 and displaying the major changes.

    UPGRADES Onkyo TX-NR838 vs Onkyo TX-NR828
    Dolby Atmos vs
    Dolby Surround Upmixer vs
    Gapless Playback vs
    Pure Direct Analog Path Mode vs
    Video Signal Passthrough up to 4K/60p (YCbCr 4:2:0) vs up to 4K/30p
    More HDMI Outputs 2 (1 Main, 1 Sub/Zone2) vs 2 (simultaneous)
    Zone 2 Outs HDMI, RCA Pre/Line Out vs RCA Line Out
    Zone 3 Outs RCA Pre/Line Out vs RCA Line Out
    Smart Grid-Ready vs
    Higher DSD Sampling Rate via HDMI 2.8 MHz, 5.6 MHz vs 2.8 MHz
    DOWNGRADES Onkyo TX-NR838 vs Onkyo TX-NR828
    Dolby Pro Logic vs PLIIz
    High Resolution Music Playback via USB up to 96 kHz vs up to 192 kHz
    High Resolution Audio Formats via USB FLAC, WAV, WMA Lossless, Apple Lossless, DSD, AAC vs FLAC, WAV, WMA Lossless, Apple Lossless, DSD, AAC, LPCM
    Audyssey Dynamic EQ vs
    Audyssey Dynamic Volume vs
    Audyssey DSX vs
    isf Certified Calibration Control vs
    Less HDMI Inputs 7 (1 front) vs 8 (1 front)
    Less Composite Video Inputs 4 (1 front) vs 5 (1 front)
    Less Component Video Inputs 1 vs 2
    Less Powered Zones 2 vs 2 and 3
    Bi-directional Remote Setup via GUI vs
    Activity Based Remote vs

    For more detailed comparison between the models please visit Onkyo TX-NR838 vs TX-NR828.


    In 2015 Onkyo TX-NR838 was replaced by Onkyo TX-RZ800. Let us now have a look at some important differences between Onkyo TX-NR838 and its successor.

    UPGRADES Onkyo TX-RZ800 vs Onkyo TX-NR838
    Higher Power Output 135 W (8 Ω, 20 Hz - 20 kHz, 2 channel driven) vs 130 W (8 Ω, 20 Hz - 20 kHz, 2 channel driven)
    VLSC (Vector Linear Shaping Circuitry) All Channels vs
    Independent Block Construction (Amp/Preprocessor) vs
    Higher DAC Specs 384 kHz/32 Bit vs 192 kHz/24 Bit
    DTS:X vs
    DTS Neural:X vs
    DTS Dialog Control vs
    More Advanced Auto Speaker Calibration System AccuEQ Advance vs AccuEQ
    HDR10 vs
    BT.2020 color space vs
    AirPlay AirPlay vs AirPlay via optional Onkyo RI Dock DS-A5 (sold separately)
    More HDMI Inputs 8 (1 front) vs 7 (1 front)
    More Optical Inputs 3 vs 2
    More RCA Line Inputs 8 vs 7 (1 front)
    More RCA Line Outputs 1 vs
    More Component Video Inputs 2 vs 1
    Deezer vs
    Higher Power Output (8 Ω, 20 Hz - 20 kHz, 2 channel driven, FTC) 135 W (0.08% THD) vs 130 W (0.08% THD)
    Higher Power Output (6 Ω, 1 kHz, 1 channel driven, IEC) 185 W (1% THD) vs 180 W (1% THD)
    Higher Rated Preout Level 1 V/470 Ω vs 200 mV/470 Ω
    Higher DSD Sampling Rate via USB 2.8 MHz vs 2.8 MHz
    DOWNGRADES Onkyo TX-RZ800 vs Onkyo TX-NR838
    Front Wide Channel Support vs
    DTS Neo vs Neo:6
    Dialog Normalization vs
    Video Signal Upscaling vs up to 4K/30p (Marvell Qdeo)
    Component Video Maximum Resolution 1080i vs 1080i
    MHL Input vs Front HDMI
    Less Coaxial Inputs/Outputs 2 vs 3
    Less Composite Video Inputs 3 vs 4 (1 front)
    Front A/V Inputs HDMI vs HDMI/MHL, USB, Composite Video, RCA Audio
    Zone 3 Outs RCA Line Out vs RCA Pre/Line Out
    Smaller Power Supply 7.8 A vs 8.1 A
    Lower Power Output (6 Ω, 1 kHz, 1 channel driven, JEITA) 215 W vs 215 W
    Lower Damping Factor 40 (Front, 1 kHz, 8 Ω) vs 60 (Front, 1 kHz, 8 Ω)

    For more detailed comparison between the models please visit Onkyo TX-NR838 vs TX-RZ800.

    Audio Section

    7 channel Amplifier

    Onkyo TX-NR838 features 7 channel power amplifier. It is rated at 130 W (8 Ω, 20 Hz - 20 kHz, 2 channel driven) and is able to drive 4 ohm speakers.

    • WRAT (Wide Range Amp Technology): Onkyo TX-NR838 features Onkyo’s Wide Range Amp Technology (WRAT) circuit layout that prevents phase shifting by pushing the roll-off point higher than the listening-level frequency. Amplifying sound without phase shift creates an uncommonly well-focused and realistic audio image. If phase shift occurs and signal timing is not accurate, then neither is the resulting audio image.

    THX Select™2 Plus certified

    Onkyo TX-NR838 is THX Select™2 Plus certified. This means that it is ideally suited for a room where the screen-to-seat viewing distance is approximately 3 to 4 meters, and the room size is approximately 56 cubic meters.

    • THX™ Certification: THX™ Certification offers optimal performance, superior quality and seamless integration. THX works with partners from the ground up, so that certified products deliver professional quality audio-visual experiences right out of the box. They only certify the very best products with uncompromised quality, performance and consistency. They ensure that THX certified devices play well with lower performing devices and components. THX listening modes make the receiver to have one speaker set up for movies, music and games. They are tested for power output, bass management, signal-to-noise ratio and feature THX Loudness Plus, Boundary Gain Compensation, Timbre Matching and RE-EQ.
    • Power Output: Power output is tested to ensure the receiver accurately plays source material at THX Reference Level in every input and mode and at every sampling rate for all possible playback combinations selected by the listener.
    • Frequency Response: THX has strict requirements for frequency response to ensure that you hear all the details in high-resolution tracks, ensures dialog in movies, and vocals in music are clear while maintaining deep, impactful bass output that doesn’t overpower the listening experience.
    • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: THX tests the signal-to-noise ratio to ensure the unit is designed to have low noise performance with very little to no audible hiss from the speakers.
    • Bass Management: THX requires an 80Hz crossover point in the setup menu to ensure proper bass management in every THX Certified AVR. This setting confirms that the subwoofer handles low frequencies, freeing up the loudspeakers to handle mids and highs.
    • THX Loudness Plus™: THX Loudness Plus™ is a volume control technology featured in THX Certified Dominus, THX Certified Ultra and THX Certified Select AV Receivers, and preamplifiers that automatically adjusts the front-to-back speaker level relationship as you turn the volume down. With THX Loudness Plus, home theater audiences can now experience the rich details of surround sound at any volume level.
    • Boundary Gain Compensation: Sitting near a wall may result in increased acoustic levels at the lower frequencies. BGC corrects the way low frequency sound is perceived when seated near a wall. This results in a more accurate bass response.
    • Timbre Matching: Your ears hear different tonal qualities in sounds coming from different directions. Timbre Matching restores the frequency balance between your front and surround speakers ensuring seamless and smooth panning between the front to back of the room.
    • RE-EQ: Many movie soundtracks are mixed in studios for playback in large cinema auditoriums with an array of speakers. When played on home systems, they may appear abrasive and edgy. Re-EQ establishes a more accurate tonal balance when enjoying movies in your home.
    Power Output130 W (8 Ω, 20 Hz - 20 kHz, 2 channel driven)
    Front Wide Channel Support
    WRAT (Wide Range Amplifier Technology)
    VLSC (Vector Linear Shaping Circuitry)
    Optimum Gain Volume Circuitry
    THX™ Certification Select™2 Plus
    Continuous 6 Ω Rated
    Certified 4 Ω Performance
    Discrete Output Stage Circuitry
    3-Stage Inverted Darlington Circuitry All Channels
    PUSH-PULL Design
    Independent Block Construction (Amp/Preprocessor)
    Bi-amp Capability
    BTL (Bridged Transless or Bridging)

    Speaker Configurations

    Onkyo TX-NR838's 7 channel amplifier can be assigned for different speaker configurations.

    • Dolby Atmos Configurations: The following speaker configurations are supported for Dolby Atmos:
    • 5.2.2 with internal amplifier.
    • Configurations without height channels: There are also other speaker configurations available which do not include height channels:
    • 5.2, 7.2 with internal amplifier.
    • Front Wide Channel support: Onkyo TX-NR838 supports front wide channels. With the presence of two front wide speakers you can enhance the front surround stage. The following speaker configurations are available for front wide channels - 7.2.
    • 2-ch Bi-Amp: Onkyo TX-NR838 allows you to bi-amp up to 2 main channels simultaneously. During bi-amplification two amplifiers are used for one speaker. One amplifier powers the midrange and tweeter section of the speaker and another amplifier powers the low frequency woofers. Each amplifier is less loaded and performs better. In order to use this feature speakers must have 2 pairs of connectors.
    Onkyo TX-NR838

    Dolby Atmos

    Onkyo TX-NR838 supports Dolby Atmos. It is a cinematic audio format in which sounds exist as individual entities, called audio objects. In Dolby Atmos, any sound can exist as an independent audio object, free of channel restrictions. They can be precisely placed and moved anywhere in your room, including overhead, to flow above and around you in three-dimensional space. Through the use of audio objects, overhead sound, and all the richness, clarity, and power of Dolby sound, Dolby Atmos turns your room into an amazing place for entertainment. The format supports up to 128 simultaneous independent audio objects in a mix for rich, realistic, and breathtaking sound. It recreates the director's original concept through descriptive metadata to provide customized playback for home theater and delivers sounds above you through overhead speakers, special upward-firing Dolby Atmos speakers, or a Dolby Atmos enabled sound bar.

    • Dolby Surround Upmixer: If the content is not mixed in Dolby Atmos then the Dolby surround upmixer will expand the audio to all channels including ceiling speakers. The upmixer has replaced the Dolby Pro Logic II family with improved upmixing algorithms.
    Dolby Atmos
    Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization
    Dolby Atmos Music
    Dolby TrueHD
    Dolby Digital Plus
    Dolby Surround Upmixer
    Dolby Pro Logic
    Surround EX also known as Dolby Digital Surround EX
    DTS Neural:X
    DTS Virtual:X
    DTS Neo Neo:6
    DTS-HD Master Audio
    DTS-HD High Resolution Audio
    DTS 96/24
    DTS Express
    DTS-ES Discrete 6.1, Matrix 6.1
    IMAX Enhanced
    Auro 3D with Auro-Matic Upmixer

    Sound Processing

    • Advanced Music Optimizer: Compressed music enhancement in Onkyo TX-NR838 is done by Onkyo’s Advanced Music Optimizer. While MP3 or AAC files may sound fine through the headphones of your portable digital player, the limitations of these files can be exposed when played back through a quality home entertainment system. This is because a significant amount of high-frequency bit information is lost during the file-compression process. To counter this, Onkyo has designed the Advanced Music Optimizer to compensate for lost bit information and improve the quality of compressed audio signals. This results in a clearer and more expansive sound. Also included in this technology is a loudness correction feature that further improves the audio character of compressed files.

    Room Calibration

    Onkyo TX-NR838 comes with AccuEQ room correction system and includes the calibration microphone.

    • AccuEQ: First, AccuEQ detects the presence of speakers and evaluates the impedance of each. Next, it pinpoints their distance relative to the main listening position using the mic and sets suitable sound-pressure levels. Then it selects the optimal crossover frequency so that deeper bass rolls smoothly off to the subwoofer. Finally, AccuEQ performs frequency response equalization based on room-acoustic and speaker data collected via microphone. The sound-field is now tailored around the listening position, resulting in a more immersive and realistic in-film experience.

    Video Section


    Onkyo TX-NR838 features 7 HDMI inputs. It has 2 outputs: 1 Main and 1 Sub/Zone2.

    • 4K/60Hz Passthrough: All inputs pass up to 4K/60p (YCbCr 4:2:0) video signal.
    • 4K Upscaling: Onkyo TX-NR838 can upscale up to 4K/30p (Marvell Qdeo) from HDMI and analog sources.
    • Analog To HDMI Upconversion: The a/v receiver supports video upconversion, so you can connect your analog Component and Composite video sources and Onkyo TX-NR838 will output them via HDMI. This means that you will need only one HDMI cable to connect to your TV.
    • HDCP 2.2 Copy Protection: All inputs and outputs are HDCP 2.2 compliant which is a requirement for 4K/HDR copy-protected content transmission.
    • 3D Ready: Onkyo TX-NR838 is able to pass 3D video through HDMI.
    Onkyo TX-NR838
    Dynamic HDR
    BT.2020 color space
    Dolby Vision
    HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma)
    HDBaseT Compatible
    Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC)
    HDCP Version2.2
    QMS (Quick Media Switching)
    ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode)
    VRR (Variable Refresh Rate)
    QFT (Quick Frame transport)
    3-D Ready
    Video Signal Passthroughup to 4K/60p (YCbCr 4:2:0)
    Video Signal Upscaling up to 4K/30p (Marvell Qdeo)

    Multi-zone Playback

    Onkyo TX-NR838 offers multi-zone playback which allows you to play different input sources in 3 different rooms.

    Zone 2

    • Powered Zone 2: You can use the unit's 2 amplifier channels by connecting Zone 2 speakers directly to the speaker terminals. The remaining 5 channels will be left for main zone amplification.
    • HDMI Output: Onkyo TX-NR838 offers HDMI output for Zone 2. This means that it can send two different HDMI signals to two displays.
    • Audio Pre/Line Output: If you have a dedicated amplifier for Zone 2 you can connect it to the a/v receiver via pre/line outs and use "pre out" option to control volume from the a/v receiver or use "line out" option - send fixed signal and then control volume on the Zone 2 amplifier.

    Zone 3

    • Audio Pre/Line Output: If you have a dedicated amplifier for Zone 2 you can connect it to the a/v receiver via pre/line outs and use "pre out" option to control volume from the a/v receiver or use "line out" option - send fixed signal and then control volume on the Zone 3 amplifier.
    Number of Zones3
    Powered Zones 2
    Zone 2 OutsHDMI, RCA Pre/Line Out
    Zone 3 OutsRCA Pre/Line Out
    Whole House Mode
    RS-232C Interface
    +12V Trigger Output1 (Zone2)
    Remote (IR) Input/Output1 / 0

    Check out the receivers which are frequently compared to Onkyo TX-NR838.


    Inputs and Outputs


    • Phono Input: There is an MM phono input with built-in phono stage for connecting the moving magnet cartridge output of the turntable directly to the a/v receiver.
    • Analog Pre-Outs: Onkyo TX-NR838 has 7.2 preamplifier outputs which allow you to connect the a/v receiver to the external power amplifier. You may want to use a high quality external amplifier for certain channels, usually for front L/R and center, and use the a/v receiver to power the rest.
    • Analog Line Inputs: There are 7 line inputs for analog audio connection.
    • Digital Inputs: 2 optical inputs and 3 coaxial inputs are available for digital audio connection.
    • Headphone Output: There is a 6.3 mm (1/4") headphone output jack on the front panel.


    • HDMI:
    • Inputs: 7 (1 front)   Outputs: 2 (1 Main, 1 Sub/Zone2)
      8K Inputs: 0
    • Composite Video: Connect you VCR, Laserdisc player and other old video equipment with composite video cables.
    • Inputs: 4   Outputs: 1
    • Component Video: Component video connection gives you the higher quality video compared to the composite video connection. So in case your old DVD player and other equipment do not have an HDMI output but have Component video output use this connection over the composite one. Onkyo TX-NR838 supports up to 1080i resolution on Component video connectors.
    • Inputs: 1   Outputs: 1

    Front A/V Inputs

    • HDMI/MHL, USB, Composite Video, RCA Audio
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    HDMI Inputs7 (1 front)
    HDMI Outputs2 (1 Main, 1 Sub/Zone2)
    8K Inputs
    USB Input1 (Front)
    USB DC Out Port
    Optical Inputs2
    Optical Outputs
    Coaxial Inputs3
    RCA Line Inputs7 (1 front)
    RCA Line Outputs
    XLR Line Inputs
    Phono Input
    Multi-Channel Input
    RCA Pre-Outs7.2
    XLR Pre-outs
    Composite Video Inputs4 (1 front)
    Composite Video Outputs1
    S-Video Inputs
    S-Video Outputs
    Component Video Inputs1
    Component Video Outputs1

    Onkyo TX-NR838 Evaluation

    We evaluate Onkyo TX-NR838 and give score of 85 out of 100. We also give separate scores for 6 different categories according to the available features and specifications some of which are listed below. These evaluations are relative and may change each time a new receiver is added to the database.




    We give Onkyo TX-NR838 a score of 93 for Amplifier features.

    •   7.2 Channels
    •   High Power Output - 130 W
    •   THX™ Certification
    •   Independent Power Supply

    Audio Features


    We give Onkyo TX-NR838 a score of 84 for Audio Features features.

    •   7.2 Channels
    •   Front Wide Channel Support
    •   7.1 Channel Processing
    •   Dolby Atmos
    •   No Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization
    •   No DTS:X
    •   No IMAX Enhanced
    •   No Auro 3D with Auro-Matic Upmixer
    •   DSD via HDMI

    Video Features


    We give Onkyo TX-NR838 a score of 71 for Video Features features.

    •   No HDR10
    •   No HDR10+
    •   No Dolby Vision
    •   No 8K Passthrough
    •   Analog To HDMI Upconversion



    We give Onkyo TX-NR838 a score of 87 for Connectivity features.

    •   No eARC
    •   New HDCP Version
    •   Wi-Fi
    •   Bluetooth
    •   Does not Work with Amazon Alexa
    •   7 HDMI Inputs
    •   3 HDMI Outputs
    •   0 8K Input
    •   USB Input
    •   Many RCA Line Inputs
    •   Phono Input
    •   RCA Pre-Outs
    •   Composite Video Inputs
    •   Component Video Inputs
    •   Ethernet
    •   Bluetooth 2․1 + EDR



    We give Onkyo TX-NR838 a score of 88 for Zones features.

    •   3 Zones



    We give Onkyo TX-NR838 a score of 90 for Radio features.

    •   Analog Tuner
    •   Pandora
    •   Spotify
    •   No Tidal

    For a full specification list please go to the specifications page:

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