The TX-SR393 is currently Onkyo’s cheapest/entry-level offering, and is in fact the only 5.X receiver they sell – all their other units are 7.2+.
The interface is a bit dated looking but perfectly nice. Input selectors across the bottom; three EQ adjusters for treble, bass, and vocals, the latter of which is useful for tv/movie dialog; three EQ pre-sets in addition; and finally, the “music optimizer” button. Onkyo doesn’t seem to have much information on what that does, but from what we can find it tries to restore lost information mainly from compressed audio files. Will it make a perceptible difference though? Thing is, compressed audio is generally well preserved across the range of sound that most people can actually hear, and the only thing a program can do to “repair” losses is to guess what was missing in the first place. While not a useless feature, we’d wager most people wouldn’t actually hear a difference.
The back panel is nicely laid out and all the inputs most people will ever need are there. There’s also onboard Bluetooth for wireless control. While the main left/right speaker terminals are binding posts, the surround terminals are spring clips, which are annoying to deal with and more prone to losing connection.
Each channel can output 80 W across the standard range with a total harmonic distortion rating of 0.08%, which is about at good as it gets at this price tier, where most competitors only manage around 50 W per channel.
One thing the TX-SR393 offers that most budget receivers don’t is support for 4 ohm speakers, though most non-professional speakers are 6-8 ohm rated. It’s still wise to exercise caution when hooking up 4 ohm speakers and make sure they get enough power.
Overall Take, As Compared to the Competition
The MSRP of the TX-SR393 runs a little more expensive than other notable budget receivers, but, we have seen this go for under $300 which is a great deal. It has some of the best power output specs in its price tier and supports 4 ohm speakers. If you don’t mind paying a little extra to support more demanding speakers the TX-SR393 is a solid choice. That said, most home theater speakers don’t need that kind of power, and in that case there are competitors that have all the features the TX-SR393 has while being more than 20% less expensive. The older model TX-SR373 is out of production we think, but it’s not much older than the 393 and is basically the same minus the music optimizer button. You might still be able to find a great deal on one those.