These are two manufacturers based in Japan that build high-quality home stereo gear. Yamaha has the benefit of being a well-established brand across many different areas and can boast a fantastic standard with all of their products. Onkyo has some fantastic HiFi gear but is arguably less well known than Yamaha due to their saturation of several markets.
We have drawn some comparisons between gear from both of these manufacturers to assist in defining what great features they share and what they have to stand out from each other.
Onkyo vs Yamaha – AV Receivers
Onkyo TX-NR535 VS Yamaha RX-V485 (5.1 Channel)
These are the introductory offerings from either manufacturer in terms of AV receivers and are a good way to dip your toes into the experience that each brand offers in terms of sonic performance. These receivers lack some of the features of their more expensive models but are still quality units and are substantial enough for home theatre use.
These AV receivers share similar dimensions and are traditionally sized. If you are replacing an older receiver these units are likely to fit the gap the old one left. The Onkyo has more retro styling with bar buttons for input selection and control and a single knob for volume control.
The Yamaha uses more modern looking circular buttons and a single knob for volume control. Both receivers have USB inputs on the front. The Yamaha also has an AUX input for the front while the Onkyo has an extra RCA input on its faceplate.
This pair of receivers have DSD playback through USB and HDMI making them a good choice for streaming high res music. The Yamaha unit is capable of streaming at a higher resolution than the Onkyo with a sampling rate of 192kHz and 96kHz respectively. They both have networking compatibility through WiFi, Bluetooth, and ethernet.
The RX-V45 has built-in support for Airplay while the Onkyo requires an add on. This is something to keep in mind if you plan on streaming through Apple devices. Neither of these has a phono input for a turntable.
The Yamaha receiver has a more prominent power stage of 85w when compared to the Onkyo’s 65w therefore the Yamaha is able to drive speakers harder.
The Yamaha provides a clear yet muscular presentation that is tonally equitable. The fortitude in this receiver’s sound can be compromised slightly when listening to tunes with jumpy dynamics.
The Onkyo, by comparison, has a more withdrawn presentation and has less warm characteristics. This amp is easy to pair and set up with a range of speakers to cater to your listening preferences.
Onkyo TX-NR585 VS Yamaha RX-V685 (7.2 channel)
These offerings have a bunch of new features thrown into them and more capable power stages to drive the extra speakers. With extra features to compare than the 5.1 receivers which brand will come out on top?
There is as solid as ever build quality from both brands on these devices. The Onkyo no longer has a front USB port like the smaller TX-NR535 and now only has an AUX input as its front-facing port. This receiver has added distinctive controls for the tone and listening mode to enhance the user’s ability to fiddle with their listening experience.
The build of the Yamaha RX-V685 is extremely similar to the RX-V485 with a face-length glassy covering of the screen.
One feature these both share is the inclusion of Dolby Atmos’ support to enhance surround sound. Both amplifiers are also compatible with Airplay out of the box and have access to all the standard networking methods.
The Onkyo has better support for streaming with all the major streaming platforms being installed or compatible instantaneously. The Onkyo has significantly more of each type of connection and is an obvious choice for those that have many devices they want to connect.
An inclusion that might make the Yamaha stand out to you in video upscaling through their analog and HDMI inputs. This should appeal to those of us with DVD collections to get the best picture we can from those films.
Both of these receivers really shine as home theatre amplifiers and less so as music amps but you can still get an awesome and immersive listening experience from either no matter what you are listening to.
The Onkyo delivers sparkling treble and rumbling bass with enough finesse to keep listeners engaged while the Yamaha has driven and forward presentation across the frequencies but can get a little lost in complex pieces.
Onkyo TX-NR3010 vs Yamaha Aventage RX-A880 (9.2 channel)
The biggest, most powerful, most feature-rich, and best-looking of the AV receivers from these manufactures that we are going to compare. This means they are also the most expensive and that is worth keeping in mind when comparing to their smaller counterparts. With a bigger price tag comes a greater variety of features so these receivers will also have more to consider before deciding on which is best for you.
These receivers have something of that premium sheen about them that may have been missing from their little brother versions. They still maintain the look that defines them as part of the same line and if you like the smaller versions you will likely still enjoy the appearance of these larger units.
The Onkyo now includes an extra HDMI port on the front for quick switching of inputs. They are both solid units that look great and would make a great addition to your living room or home theatre.
Both brands offer support for all the major streaming platforms for these receivers eliminating an advantage the Onkyo had over Yamaha in our previous comparison.
The Onkyo does have some new features that are not available in the Yamaha. One such feature is built-in Chromecast which is great for any Android user. It also still has the input advantage with more of each type of input.
The Yamaha has a few things to boast about too. It has DHT Neo:6 compatibility and has video upscaling capabilities.
Dolby Atmos and compatibility with many different DTS formats make both of these receivers great for home theatre use but the Onkyo also has THX Select certification to enhance this experience further. The dialogue lift that comes with the Yamaha may appeal to you if you have trouble finding that right volume for films where you can hear the dialogue but not blow the house down during action sequences.
For music both of these receivers only improve upon their smaller counterparts with more powerful DACs for digital listening and phono inputs for your turntable. You can expect great balance in the presentation and tonality from either receiver. The Onkyo could be seen as a little more warm compared to the Yamahas’ more neutral tone.
Onkyo vs Yamaha – Mini stereo system
Onkyo CS-265 VS Yamaha MCR-B020BL
A mini stereo system is a great option for those of us with limited space or people that may want a simple solution for their music listening needs. Both of these offerings are under <$250 and although they may not be as fancy as some of the receivers from either brand, they are still loaded with features and sound great.
These mini stereo systems both offer rounded edges to appeal to a buyer that is looking for a modern demeanor. However, in terms of exterior build quality, these stereos are not created equal. Unfortunately for the Yamaha stereo, its volume control knob feels a little cheap and is accompanied by housing that looks a little too plasticky.
A volume control knob is a feature that is missing from the Onkyo altogether though and the volume is instead controlled by buttons so if you prefer to use a knob for volume control the Yamaha is your best option despite the cheap-ish feel.
The speakers and the central control unit are all short in the Yamaha while the Onkyo has tall speakers to accompany the short central unit. So, you should be aware that if your shelf space is minimal you may have to place your Onkyo speakers sideways so they fit.
The Onkyo CS-265 is more wirelessly capable with NFC connectivity which is a strange but welcome addition to a mini stereo system. It also has Bluetooth speaker connectivity whereas Yamaha requires a wired connection between the central unit and its speakers with the MCR-B020BL.
The Yamaha does have wireless connectivity to its preamplifier though through Bluetooth despite its lack of wireless speakers and NFC.
Both units have USB inputs, are able to play CDs, and have AUX inputs so have plenty of connectivity options.
Being paired with bookshelf sized speakers means you cannot expect these to tear your roof off with thunderous bass but both stereos offer decent bass response perhaps more so for the Yamaha as you can feel it in your chest a little more with the volume pumped up.
The soundstage of the Onkyo is relatively wide for the small speakers and has mids and highs prominent enough to keep the listener engaged with the music.
The Yamaha has a narrower soundstage but a more exciting listening palette with great synchronicity and response.