Best Listening Mode for Onkyo Receiver- An In-depth Guide

If you’ve recently bought a new Onkyo AV receiver, you may have come across its different listening modes while flicking through the operation manual. Regardless of which Onkyo receiver you have, each model is equipped with several audio and video processing modes to suit different users’ needs.

A listening mode on an AV receiver is a preset sound configuration that adjusts the audio settings to match a particular type of content or listening environment. Unless you have prior experience or have taken time to understand these sound processing modes, it can get challenging to choose the best listening mode for your Onkyo receiver.

In this article, we’ll enlighten you on the various Onkyo receiver listening modes available as well as the differences between them. Let’s begin!

Best Listening Mode for Onkyo Receivers

The best listening mode for an Onkyo receiver depends on the type of audio content you are listening to and your personal preferences. Ultimately, the best listening mode is one that provides the sound quality and audio experience you prefer.

That said, it may be helpful to try out different listening modes and experiment with the various sound options to find what works best for you. Some popular listening modes include;

Best Listening Mode for Onkyo Receiver

AllCh Stereo

AllCh Stereo is a listening mode available on several Onkyo receivers, and it helps fill the listening room with powerful stereo sound. Ideally, this listening setting combines the stereo signal from all connected speakers and plays it back through all speakers to create a more immersive and enveloping soundstage.

When it comes to specific applications, AllCh Stereo is best suited for music playback and can help distribute sound evenly throughout the room. This mode can be particularly useful when playing music that is recorded in stereo and designed to be played back through multiple speakers.

Direct Mode

Onkyo Direct Mode works by bypassing any sound processing to provide a pure, unprocessed audio signal. In other words, this mode does not facilitate any equalization, surround sound processing, or tone control. Instead, the signal from the input source is sent “direct” to the speakers as it is, and with minimal signal degradation.

The Direct mode is useful for obtaining the highest level of sound quality and accuracy when playing sources, such as CDs, SACDs, and high-resolution audio files. By bypassing the sound processing, the Direct Mode allows the listener to hear the source material as close as possible to its original state without any added coloration or enhancement.

Dolby Atmos

Dolby Atmos is a surround sound technology that provides a more immersive audio experience by adding height channels to the traditional 5.1 or 7.1 channels. The Dolby Atmos mode on an Onkyo receiver is designed to enhance the sound of content that has been mixed in Dolby Atmos, such as movies, games, and music.

When you switch to Dolby Atmos mode, the receiver will use its internal processing to decode the Dolby Atmos signal and distribute the audio to the appropriate speakers. The added height channels allow for a more spacious and realistic soundscape, as sounds can be placed and moved around the room with greater precision.

Dolby D (Dolby Digital)

Dolby Digital (also known as Dolby D) is a surround sound technology that encodes audio signals into a 5.1 channel format (left, center, right, left surround, right surround, and LFE/subwoofer). The Dolby Digital mode on an Onkyo receiver is designed to enhance the sound content that has been mixed in Dolby Digital, such as movies, games, and television programs.

Dolby D+ (Dolby Digital Plus)

Dolby Digital Plus (also known as Dolby D+) is an enhanced version of the Dolby Digital surround sound technology. This audio setting provides a higher bitrate and improved audio quality compared to standard Dolby Digital. And like its Dolby Digital counterpart, the Dolby Digital Plus mode is meant to enhance the signal content that has been encoded in Dolby Digital Plus.

Dolby Surround

This is one of the best settings for Onkyo surround sound. Dolby Surround is a legacy surround sound technology that uses matrix encoding to create a surround sound experience from a 2-channel stereo source. This mode is compatible with Dolby Atmos as well as traditional speaker systems that support in-ceiling speakers and other Dolby-enabled products. It’s important to note that while Dolby Surround provides an excellent surround sound experience, it is not as advanced as Dolby Digital or Dolby Digital Plus.

Dolby TrueHD

Dolby TrueHD is a high-definition audio codec that provides lossless audio compression and is often used for high-quality Blu-Ray discs and other high-definition media. So, if your audio source is mixed or recorded in Dolby TrueHD, this is the setting to choose.

Other listening modes include;

DSD – This mode supports DSD signals via an HDMI input.

DTS – This mode is designed to play sources mixed in DTS. To use DTS, make sure that the audio source (e.g. Blu-ray player, cable box, etc.) is connected to the Onkyo receiver and configured to output DTS audio.

DTS 96/24 – DTS 96/24 is a high-resolution audio format that provides 96 kHz/24-bit audio for improved sound quality. Depending on your settings, you can convert this listening mode to DTS.

DTS Express –The Express mode is used for audio sources recorded in DTS express. If your Onkyo receiver has DTS Express listening mode, you can use it to enhance your audio experience and enjoy high-quality surround sound.

DTS- HD HR- Supports DTS-HD High Resolution Audio.

DTS- HD MSTR – This mode supports audio sources mixed using DTS-HD Master Audio.

DTS Neo: 6 – This Onkyo mode allows a standard stereo soundtrack (2 ch) to be up-mixed to create a multi-channel (5.1 ch) surround sound playback. This listening mode is available in two variations;

  • Neo:6 Cinema- Supports 2 channel movie sources
  • Neo:6 Music –Supports 2 channel music sources

DTS Neural: X – DTS Neural: X is designed to enhance the audio experience of legacy content, including mono and stereo input, 5.1 or 7.1 ch. It is designed to enhance the audio experience of content that is not originally mixed for Dolby Atmos.

DTS: X – This is an object-based sound technology that is designed for use with DTS audio sources.

ES Discrete (DTS-ES Discrete)- ES Discrete is a surround sound listening mode that uses 6.1 or 7.1 channels to allow you to decode and playback this type of audio content.

ES Matrix (DTS-ES Matrix)- This mode utilizes a matrix-encoded back channel for playback in a 6.1 ch or 7.1 ch system.

Full Mono – This Onkyo mode works by blending all channels into a single mono signal. As such, Full Mono listening mode allows you to enjoy the same playback of sound regardless of your listening position. This mode can be used to enhance dialog clarity in movies or address compatibility issues with older audio equipment.

Game-Action – Helps to enhance sound localization for video games.

Game-Rock – This audio setting is designed to emphasize sound pressure for video games, which helps to elevate live feeling.

Game-RPG – This mode gives video games a dramatic feeling, especially for role-playing games.

Game-Sports – This mode is recommended for audio sources with reverberation. It helps to enhance audio for games, specifically sports games while making the sound effects and commentary more immersive.

Mono – Mono listening mode on an Onkyo receiver is a setting that combines the sound of the left and right channels into a single, mono channel. This mode can be used if you want to play sound through one speaker, or if you are experiencing issues with one of your stereo speakers.

Multich (Multichannel) – This mode is best for listening to sources recorded or mixed in a PCM multichannel.

Orchestra – The Orchestra mode is designed to bring out the best in classical and operatic music. It achieves this by adjusting the equalization, surround sound, and other audio parameters to provide a more immersive and lifelike listening experience.

Pure Audio – This mode is available on European, Australian, and Asian models. The mode disables all video and processing-related functions on the receiver, allowing for a pure and unadulterated audio experience.

Stereo – When using this mode, the sound is heard from the left and right channels as well as the subwoofer.

Studio-Mix – This mode is designed to provide a balanced and neutral sound that is optimized for music production and studio use. When Studio-Mix mode is selected, the audio signal is processed to produce a flat frequency response and minimal coloration, making it ideal for critical listening.

T-D (Theater-Dimensional) –This is a surround sound technology that provides a 3D audio experience by simulating the effect of sound from various directions, even when using three or less speakers. It enhances the surround sound effect of movies and music, thereby making the audio more immersive and giving the listener the impression of being surrounded by sound.

TV Logic – The TV Logic, just as the name suggests, is optimized for TV playback. It enhances the sound quality of TV audio, plus it helps adjust audio parameters such as equalization, surround sound, and dialogue enhancement to optimize the sound for TV audio content.

Unplugged – This mode is designed to recreate the experience of a live acoustic performance, such as a concert or live recording. The aim is to give the listener the impression of being in the same room as the performer.

How to Select Listening Mode on an Onkyo Receiver

Selecting a listening mode on an Onkyo AV receiver is generally not a complicated process. It usually involves accessing the menu on the receiver and using the front panel buttons or remote control to navigate and select the desired mode. To select a listening mode on an Onkyo receiver, follow these steps;

  • Press the Input button on the front panel or remote control to access the Input Selection menu.
  • Use the up and down arrow buttons to select Listening Mode.
  • Press the Enter button to access the Listening Mode options.
  • Use the up and down arrow buttons to select the desired listening mode.
  • Press the Enter button to apply the selected listening mode.

Note: The exact steps and process can vary slightly depending on the specific make and model of your Onkyo receiver, but most models have straightforward menus and user-friendly interfaces. If you are having trouble selecting a listening mode, consult your AV receiver’s user manual for more specific instructions.

How to Fix Onkyo Listening Mode Not Working

The listening mode on an Onkyo receiver is important because it adjusts the sound processing of your unit to match the type of audio content you are playing. Choosing the best listening mode can enhance the audio experience by optimizing the sound quality and making it more immersive.

However, the listening mode can experience issues from time to time. If your Onkyo receiver’s listening mode is not working, there could be several reasons;

  • Incorrect speaker configuration- Make sure your speaker configuration is set correctly for the listening mode you are trying to use. If your speakers are not configured correctly, it might interfere with the listening mode and degrade the sound quality.
  • Source compatibility- Ensure the source you are trying to play is compatible with the listening mode you have selected. Some sources may not support the available listening modes.
  • Cables and connections- Check that all wires and connections are secure and in good condition. Loose or damaged cables can cause listening mode issues.
  • Receiver firmware- Ensure that your Onkyo receiver’s firmware is up-to-date. Outdated firmware can cause compatibility issues with your audio sources or some listening modes.

If the above steps do not solve the issue, try resetting your Onkyo receiver to its factory settings. Consult the user manual for instructions on how to perform a factory reset. If you have done all this and the listening mode is still not available, consider seeking help from a professional technician or Onkyo support.

The Bottom Line

The best listening mode for an Onkyo receiver will depend on personal preferences and the type of audio content being played. For example, if you are playing a movie with multi-channel audio, you may want to select a surround sound mode that will use all of your speakers to create a more immersive experience. On the other hand, if you are playing music with two channels of audio, you may want to select a stereo mode that will produce a more natural and balanced sound.

By selecting the right listening mode, you can be sure that the audio you are listening to is being processed in the most appropriate way for that type of content. That said, understanding the listening mode options and how to select them on your Onkyo receiver is important for achieving the best possible sound from your system.

Avatar for Jamie K. Martin

Jamie K. Martin holds a degree in Audio engineering from Husson University, Bangor. Martin spends most of his time testing and trying the technology he writes about to ensure that he provides first-hand information to our customers from all walks of life.

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