Onkyo Music review | What Hi-Fi?

When you call to mind Onkyo you envisage AV receivers and hi-fi elements, however hi-res music download products and services?

That could be means down on the listing. However since 2005, e-onkyo music has been one among Japan’s outstanding on-line download stores. A decade on, the provider has been expanded to america, UK and Germany and rebranded as OnkyoMusic.

If you’ve visited the company’s website online recently you will have noticed a small OnkyoMusic badge at the homepage.

Catalogue

Like Technics Tracks, the hi-res obtain retailer is the result of a partnership with the 7digital music platform, from which it sources its content material to provide customers get entry to to ‘masses of 1000's’ of hi-res tracks and ‘thousands and thousands’ of CD-quality files, despite the fact that the fitting figures aren’t clear.

While e-onkyo boasts DSD layout improve too, OnkyoMusic provides all its hi-res downloads as 24-bit FLACs, from 44.1kHz to 192kHz.

That collaboration makes its catalogue one of the crucial intensive round, and its front-end an unsurprisingly familiar one – for anyone already versed in Technics Tracks, anyway.

While the site seems to be different (splashes of purple put a little bit colour into the website’s largely gray and white interface), there’s numerous overlap on the subject of seek functions and structure formats.

Prices are analogous too with maximum new releases falling between £12 and £18; The Coral’s Distance Inbetween (24-bit/44.1kHz) is £14.49, LNZNDRF’s eponymous 24-bit/96kHz album is £11.12, and you'll get Coldplay’s A Head Full of Dreams in full 24-bit/192kHz for £22.99.

MORE: Technics Tracks review

Ease of use

Those who like their web sites to be uncluttered and simple to use must get on with OnkyoMusic.

The homepage is lovely sparse, showcasing one of the most newest releases – the vast majority of which can be hi-res – and 7digital’s just-landed MQA recordsdata (hi-res information packaged into smaller report sizes). At the time of writing there are 8 MQA albums to be had, priced at £16, in comparison to the Sixteen on Technics Tracks.

There’s a sidebar for new releases and advisable albums, and the strange editorial such as an interview with James Bay. You can browse via style, from choice to electronic to R&B, and inside of every are popular releases, newest releases and top artists.

There are some irregularities – Roger Waters sitting beneath Ludwig van Beethoven in classical, as an example – but they don’t appear too common. Click at the artist and also you’ll find all their album releases, best tracks and identical artists, which is a large asset.

MORE: MQA hands-on review

The seek bar has a hi-res filter out, so the usage of it with a seek for Elton John brings up the 24bit/96kHz Wonderful Crazy Night album and hides the CD-quality Rocket Man and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

That’s wonderful while you only need hi-res effects from an artist with a large discography, on the other hand, there’s no option to clear out wider search effects by means of resolution, or even kind them, which we expect is a disgrace.

While some searches bring up ‘no matching’ tracks, you’ll see that digging into the albums or an artist’s page will uncover them; in Sir Elton’s case, 60 of them.

The lesson here is that for those who don’t be successful first time, take a look at, take a look at again – nine times out of ten we found that the catalogue had what we were after.

MORE: What is hi-res audio? Everything you need to know

A little bit susceptible to freezing, it forces us to refresh the web page infrequently, and in our week with it we were topic to widespread ‘error’ messages. It’s just a little picky too; search for an artist – on this case, Nils Frahm – and as a substitute of being taken at once to the artist page you need to cross via a web page of search results.

Leave out the silent ‘h’ or misspell the title and its unforgiving nature doesn’t proper your wrongs for you.

Technics Tracks generates equivalent frustrations, however we prefer its cleaner, extra reliable interface and bigger focus on recommendations.

If you know precisely what you need, OnkyoMusic is okay, however a loss of discovery purposes and filters don’t make it nice for window buying groceries – and that performs into Qobuz’s palms.

MORE: Qobuz Sublime review

Features

The app, to be had for Apple and Android devices, is an even more stripped-down model, putting you on the mercy simplest of a seek bar and new unlock, classical and metal tabs.

After checkout you get the option to obtain each track separately, but it’s faster to enter ‘Your Music’ and download third-party Chrono Download Manager or Multi-File Downloader extensions (as suggested through Onkyo in its ‘help’ phase) for downloading a couple of tracks and albums in one move.

We bought ten or so albums and maximum may well be downloaded some 5 or ten occasions.

We’ve no complaints in the sound department, the presentation of Mike Oldfield’s Pran’s Departure (from The Killing Fields soundtrack) in 24bit/96kHz daring and authoritative, refined and informative.

In fact, the sonic similarity with Technics Tracks is uncanny – no longer precisely surprising bearing in mind they’re coming from the similar back-end.

Xylophones are twinkly in texture, dynamic precision makes the most of its rapturous orchestral climax, and bowed strings have a sense of tangibility and gravitas – the extent of which is only exacerbated via a comparison with a CD-quality version.

Spaciousness isn’t a trade off for concord in David Bowie’s Lazarus (24bit/96kHz), so galvanic drums, feral saxophone solos and his sentimentally strained vocal work en masse in a presentation that shows no shortage of energy or assault.

MORE: How to play hi-res music on your iPhone

Verdict

Onkyo has laid solid foundations for a really perfect hi-res download provider – an exhaustive catalogue of quality-sounding tracks – however nowadays its front-end fails to take advantage of it.

See all our Onkyo reviews

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