Onkyo is one of the largest and well known producers of receivers. Their products tend to skew more to the hifi/expensive side, but, they do sometimes have competitively priced offerings. The TX-8220, released circa 2017, is one such product. It’s currently the least expensive entry level receiver in their lineup, and thanks to significant subsequent discounts is solidly competitive (this is why buying older equipment is often by far the best value).
The front interface panel is simple and decent looking – power button on the left, 6.35 mm headphone jack below (you can use standard 3.5mm plug headphones with a simple adapter like this one), nice volume nob on the right, input cycler below, and also of note a left/right and treble/bass EQ buttons which are a nice customization option that isn’t always available on budget audio gear.
The TX-8220 is Bluetooth compatible and also comes with a remote control, so operation of the unit should be pretty seamless.
The back input panel is straightforward and complete for an entry-level receiver. Four sets of 5 way binding posts – which are always nice to see on entry-level gear over basic spring clips – that accommodate up to four 8 ohm impedance speakers or one pair of any impedance speakers.
The dynamic power rating is 140 W which is appreciably more than what you get with most entry-level receivers, and is plenty for pretty much any available pair of speakers you might connect it to. We wouldn’t recommend wiring more than two ≤ 6 ohm speakers to the TX-8220 – it might be possible but you’d have to pay attention to the speakers’ power handling specs.
The rated power output is 45 WPC with a THD cap of .08%, which is the exact same as the popular entry level Pioneer SX-10AE (reviewed here). We’ve read/heard people say the TX-8220 has noticeably more audible distortion than other similarly priced models, but would take that with a grain of salt. It’s hard to say if an audiophile let alone a lay person would be able to perceive a difference in distortion or even hear any to begin with.
Noteworthy is the inclusion of a dedicated subwoofer pre-out input – this allows the optional addition of a powered subwoofer, which is isn’t always possible with entry-level receivers.
Though the TX-8220 is marketed as a “stereo” receiver it has multiple device inputs including an optical port for a tv. No HDMI inputs unfortunately. The digital display might also make it seem like there’s a built in cd/dvd players but that is not the case – you’ll have to hook up a separate player to the unit if you want to use physical media.
Overall Take, As Compared to the Competition
The TX-8220’s original MSRP of ~$350 is an awkward price point because you either pay for power and/or features that you might not need, namely an optical TV input and multiple RCA inputs, or it makes more sense to spend a little more to get a full fledged 5.1/5.2 A/V receiver that has HDMI inputs, which can pass various higher resolution audio formats utilized in more modern movies. If that feels more like what you’re looking for we recommend checking out the Sony STR-DH590 (reviewed here) to start.
That said, at the time of this writing/update we’ve seen the TX-8220 get discounted to below $250 from some vendors. This is particularly nice because our long-running favorite budget receiver, the Pioneer SX-10AE (reviewed here), doesn’t currently seem to be easily available. Nor does Sony’s popular STRDH190 (reviewed here), which is less expensive but doesn’t have a subwoofer input or 5-way binding posts.
If you’re looking for a unit that is as cheap as possible while still being able to support both 4.1 sound and a TV, and you don’t mind a somewhat dated model and optical TV input (which can frankly do most of what HDMI can do anyway), then the Onkyo TX-8220 seems like the pretty clear best choice at the time of this writing/update.
On the other hand, if you only care about audio inputs, we recommend holding out for a better deal on a dedicated 2.1 stereo receiver and instead spending that money on better speakers themselves.