The Onkyo TX-SR494, released circa 2019, is an interesting product that is unabashedly targeted at a perennially important yet seemingly often forgotten type of lay consumer in the world of audio/video: the pure value maximalist. That is, a person who simply wants something that gets the job done, without unnecessary features or aesthetics, at a bare minimum price.
This niche is particularly important in the receiver category specifically, because higher channel receivers, for whatever reason(s), tend to get expensive pretty quickly, and if you’re on a budget, it’s primarily important to put as much money as you can into the actual speakers and TV to get the best performance out of your system.
The TX-SR494 is definitely heavy, bulky, and looks like it’s stuck in the 1990’s, but the front interface panel has all the basic buttons and functions that most people will ever need. And also some nice extras: pre-set option buttons and treble/vocal/bass EQ buttons are not things you always see on a budget receiver.
The back/input panel is about as minimalist as a modern 7.2 channel a/v receiver can get, which for said lay consumer is often a refreshing contrast from other marketed HiFi equipment with back panels that look like a space shuttle command center.
One HDMI-out for the TV, 4 more HDMI-in for various devices, 3 RCAs, a single coaxial and optical, a single RCA pre-out if you need it, two binding posts for the main left/right speakers, and spring clips for the remaining surround speakers. A full set of 5-way binding posts for all speaker terminals is ideal, but, basic spring clips are technically just as fine connectors albeit a little more finnicky to set up.
You can always get inexpensive banana plug adapters as well:
The TX-SR494 will probably lack the total power and sufficient number and types of inputs for higher end systems with more specialized equipment, but, it has everything you need for a basic/starter system with any pair of popular bookshelf speakers and smaller satellite surround speakers.
If you do need more power, you have the option of hooking up a separate amplifier to the single pre-out RCA slots, and because this receiver is so inexpensive there’s a good chance that might still be significantly cheaper than opting for a different 7.2 receiver with more built-in power.
Onkyo is a longstanding respected brand that has been making receivers forever, and this impressively low priced (but admittedly not so impressively looking) is a great option for the newly initiated looking to get into the realm of 3D 7 channel Dolby Atmos sound without breaking the bank. It also has a two year warranty which is comparatively good coverage for this kind of product at it’s price-point.