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Best Listening Mode for Onkyo Receivers

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No matter which Onkyo receiver model you have, you’ll have plenty of audio listening modes to choose from whenever you want quality entertainment. But what are these listening modes and which one should you choose to get the desired result? 

These listening modes are important if you are connecting your Onkyo receiver to a TV or maybe connecting the Onkyo to an Echo

Read on to learn more.

Best Listening Mode for Onkyo Receivers

There are plenty of listening modes for Onkyo receivers, and all of them have been designed with your varied needs in mind.

However, many audiophiles use the All Chanel Stereo on 2.0 and 5.1 Sources. Others say Dolby Digital or THX is the best with 5.2 Sources.

onkyo receiver thx cinema mode

If you’ve tried using them before, you likely understand what we are talking about here. The bottom line is that your entertainment needs should help you to determine the best listening mode.

In other words, before choosing one Onkyo receiver listening mode and not the other, you should get fully acquainted with all the leading Onkyo listening mode types.

Onkyo Listening Mode Types

Here are the types and differences of Onkyo listening modes in detail:


There are plenty of Onkyo listening modes that are suitable for TV and movie programs. They fall under the first category of listening modes.

Some of the most common selectable listening modes in this class are:

  • All Ch Stereo
  • Direct
  • Dolby D
  • Dolby D+
  • Dolby EX/Dolby D EX
  • Dolby TrueHD
  • DSD
  • DTS
  • DTS 96/24
  • DTS Express
  • ES Discrete
  • ES Matrix
  • Full Mono
  • PLIIz Height
  • T-D
  • TV Logic


Here are a few of the selectable listening modes for music that you can consider:

  • All Ch Stereo
  • Direct
  • Dolby D
  • Dolby D+
  • Dolby EX/Dolby D EX
  • Dolby TrueHD
  • DSD
  • DTS
  • DTS 96/24
  • DTS Express
  • Orchestra
  • PLII Music
  • PLIIx Music/PLII Music
  • PLIIz Height
  • Pure Audio
  • Stereo
  • Studio-Mix
  • Unplugged


Here are some of the selectable listening modes for games:

  • ES Matrix
  • Full Mono
  • Neo:6
  • Game-Action
  • Game-Rock
  • Game-RPG
  • Game-Sports


There are two main selectable listening modes under this category. They are:

  • All Ch Stereo
  • Stereo

It’s important to note that you can use All Channel Stereo whether you want to listen to your favorite music, watch movies or TV shows, play games, or listen to anything else.

Selecting Listening Mode on Onkyo Receivers

To select the listening mode you prefer on your Onkyo receiver, you should follow the steps below.

  1. On your supplied remote controller, press RCV: This will help you change the remote to RECEIVER mode, which is the mode for operating the unit. Remember, you can change it to operate another component.
  2. Press the MOVIE/TV, MUSIC, GAME, or STEREO button, depending on your preference: By doing this, you change the listening mode to the one you’ve chosen.  
  3. Listen to the sound and set your listening mode of choice.

Onkyo Best Listening Mode for Movies

We’ve seen many listening modes for movies and other types of content above. In this section, we pay closer attention to a few of them that you can use to watch your favorite movies.


The Direct mode can serve you best when you want the audio from your input source to be output as-is.

Dolby Atmos

Dolby Atmos could be the best if you want to enjoy a revolutionary sense of immersion and dimension in your home theater. It reproduces audio as objects or independent sounds that you can accurately position and move dynamically throughout the three-dimensional space during playback.

Dolby D

This model is the most suitable option for sources recorded in Dolby Digital. However, you can only select it if your Blu-ray Disc/DVD player is digitally connected to your unit or if bitstream is your audio player’s output setting.

Dolby D+

You should choose this listening mode if you want to play sources recorded in Dolby Digital Plus. The Blu-ray Disc/DVD player should be digitally connected to the unit or bitstream to be your player’s output setting for that to happen.

Dolby Surround

This is the best option if you want to intelligently up-mix stereo; 5.1 and 7.1 music for playback via your surround system. It’s compatible with most traditional speaker layouts and Dolby Atmos-enabled playback systems.

Dolby TrueHD

It’s most suitable for all your sources recorded in Dolby TrueHD. You can opt for it if the Blu-ray Disc/DVD player is digitally connected to the unit or bitstream is your player’s output setting.


This model is designed to play sources recorded in DSD. You can select it if your Blu-ray Disc/DVD player’s output setting is DSD.


This mode suits you if your sources are recorded in DTS and your Blu-ray Disc/DVD player is digitally connected to the unit, or bitstream is your player’s output setting.

DTS 96/24

This listening mode plays sources recorded in DTS 96/24. It can become DTS depending on the settings. You can select the listening mode if the Blu-ray Disc/DVD player is digitally connected to the unit or bitstream is your player’s output setting.

Which is Better DTS or Dolby Digital?

This is a fairly common question since there are conflicting reports about their efficiency. From our experience, both DTS and Dolby Digital can deliver a fantastic experience. So, you can test each of them and go for the one that gives you the best result.

It’s also important you note down that Dolby Digital compresses 5.1 digital audio to 640 kbits/s for Blu-ray discs. At the same time, it supports up to 448 kb its/s for DVDs, which is a slightly lower bit rate.

On the other hand, DTS is much less compressed, and it supports up to 1.5Mb/s, which is much higher bit-rates. It also supports up to 768 kbits/s for DVDs.

From these figures, you can expect a fine cinema experience from Dolby Digital and DTS. So, perhaps all you need to consider when choosing your soundtrack is the one that your source material supports.

Onkyo Listening Mode Not Available Fix

Sometimes you may get an Onkyo listening mode not available error or notification. This may happen when your system settings go out of wack (if a child presses random buttons for example).

A typical case is if you changed the Remote Mode/Input Selector from Game/TV to CBL/Sat but your box is connected to the TV. To fix this, you need to check the settings. Check the following settings:

  1. The Remote/Input Selector
  2. Cancel the DIRECT function if enabled
  3. Check all HDMI settings


1. How do you change the listening mode on the Onkyo receiver?

  • On the remote controller, press RCV.
  • Always press RCV first to shift it to RECEIVER mode, which is the mode to run the device.

2. What is PCM on the Onkyo receiver?

Different forms of digital audio recordings use Pulse-Code Modulation (PCM). The traditional method for converting analog audio to digital audio is PCM. PCM audio is a two-channel digital, stereo audio track recorded on DVD.

3. Should I turn on Dolby Atmos for music?

Yes, Dolby Atmos does make a difference when it comes to using it for music. You receive a wider soundstage, which makes your audio more dramatic and alive. Dolby Atmos is an advancement above previous technologies and a step forward from surround sound systems. Its ultimate goal is to place you in the middle of the action, whether watching movies or listening to music, providing you with the most immersive sound imaginable.

4. Is DTS HD better than DTS?

DTS is often found on a DVD Disc, whereas DTS HD is typically found on a Blu-ray Disc. In terms of quality, the DTS HD is undeniably superior to the former. Therefore, you can expect a higher quality. To fully decode the DTS-HD, a sonic decoder may be employed; a DTS Core track can be decoded using the libav decoder. The DTS file is somewhat smaller than DTS HD.

Summing Up

If you are looking for the best listening mode for Onkyo receivers, you have several options, as we’ve seen above. We’ve provided a list of a few that can serve your needs best. You can test some of them that interest you and then pick the one that sounds the most enjoyable as the best.