AV receivers are manufactured primarily for home theatres; they not only power the home theatre system but they are the actual brains working behind the whole system.
So, it is important the home theatre package you choose should have a good quality of the receiver. Due to advancements in technology new receivers are available with great features and it is the point which makes first-time buyers confused in choosing the right one.
Before getting the right home theatre you have to pick the right receiver and in this article, we will guide you to choose the best one for you.
Table of Content
- Types of Receivers
1.1 AV Receiver – What is that?
1.2 What is a stereo receiver?
- When to use AV receivers?
- Key things to consider before buying AV Receivers
- How to choose an AV receiver
4.1 Pay attention to inputs and outputs
4.2 Prepare your AV receiver for your TV
- Select the number of Channels
- The correct amount of power
- Try to go wireless
- Should have enough room
- The most common questions
Types of Receivers:
There are mainly two types of receivers AV Receivers and Stereo Receivers. Many of you will think that these two are nearly the same thing whereas they may look alike but they are two different animals.
Let’s find out how?
AV Receiver - What is that?
AV receiver stands for audio/video or home theatre receiver. It is like the brain of a human body, human brain powers, and commands the whole body organs and systems.
Similarly, the receiver powers and operates the whole system and maintains the quality of home theatre.
The actual function of an AV receiver is to receive, interpret, and then process the television audio signal for example via cable or dish box. At a minimum, AV receivers contain more than five amplifiers to operate five or more than five speakers.
The reason for so many amplifiers is that a typical home theatre system has five speakers which are mandatory to create surround sound and the AV receiver should supply each speaker its own separate audio signal.
And these days Dolby Atmos-enabled home theatre generally comes with more than five speakers, including many that are not Dolby Atmos-enabled.
What is a stereo receiver?
On the other hand stereo receivers primarily used for listening audio and generally come with two amplifiers one for each channel. You can consider channels as speakers, one channel is for one audio source and in stereo two channels for two audio sources.
Both amplifiers of a stereo receiver will power two stereo speakers. Whereas you can also connect a stereo receiver to television but you will not get surround sound experience because of low channel quantity.
When to use AV receivers?
AV receivers were designed and built mainly for TVs to bring typical theatre-like experience to your home. Ultimately it is on you to which you give more priority.
If your priority is video and audio with 4K video switching and Dolby Atmos then AV receivers best suit your need and if music is a higher priority for you than movies with surround sound then 2-channel stereo receiver is your option.
But remember AV receivers perform more than stereo receivers as you can always use your AV receiver for TV and music.
When to use AV receivers?
Key things to consider before buying AV Receivers:-
Identify the job you need your receiver to do – One of the most important things to consider. To which platform you want to connect your receiver is it to a stereo speaker or TV? If you want a receiver for music then it will be a Stereo receiver and it’s for surround sound in a home theater system, you want an AV Receiver. And if it is for music and home theatre then AV Receiver will do the work.
Enough channels – Your AV Receiver should have enough channels for now additionally for those you get in the future. Because receivers one channel is equal to one speaker and if you want a surround sound experience then you need at least 5 channels.
Better connectivity option – Consider every single connectivity source you want to connect. For example, if you want to play music wirelessly, you gonna need Bluetooth, Airplay plus Wi-Fi onboard so that you can play the music you want to play from your smartphone and tablet. Hence the more connectivity option your new receiver affords the more new Device or gadget you can hookup that you get in the future.
4K video switching – If you don’t have a 4k UHD TV but still 4k video switching is a must. 4k video switching means connecting multiple 4k cable devices to one display through an AV receiver. You have to make sure that you can connect any video sources, like Apple TV or DVD player.
Prefer Dolby Atmos equipped receiver – Sound formats play an important role in home theatre surround sound experience. Dolby Atmos presents 3D like sound which seems to cover you all around. There is also another surround sound format known as DTS:X particularly designed to make home theatre audio more immersive than Dolby Atmos. So, be sure that both formats are equipped with the receiver. Whereas most new AV receivers can play these formats.
Make receiver future proof – To make your receiver future proof make sure the receiver you choose is powerful enough to handle all 3 HDR formats (HDR10, DV, and HLG).
Multi-room AV receivers – What we mean by multi-room AV receivers is that today a single receiver can perform 2,3,4 things at once. AV receivers are capable enough to play home theatre systems with surround sound in one room while streaming music in another room at a time. Even AV receivers are powerful enough to play two different shows in two different rooms on two different TVs.
How to choose an AV receiver:
AV receivers make home theatre surround sound possible and that’s the reason they always come in the first place. But with so many different AV receivers available on the market – different brands, models, and capabilities it is quite difficult to pick the best one for the job. Now we will touch all those things in detail that you should care about before buying an AV receiver.
Pay attention to inputs and outputs
It is quite a good thing to have too many inputs and outputs as to make your home theatre system future proof. You surely want to be a part of future stuff, additionally, you want to make sure you can connect to everything you have now.
So, we recommend choosing a receiver with a minimum of 4 HDMI ports for inputs to have the freedom to connect a cable box, a PlayStation, a blu-ray player, and one more free port for future expansion. The more input options you have the more new devices and new gadgets you can add in the future.
Prepare your AV receiver for your TV
To make AV receivers work well with TVs made in recent years and also with TVs that are going to come in the future you will want some key features that your receiver should have.
4K Switching – AV receiver’s capability of switching 4K signals is very much important because currently, 4K is the best possible and highest resolution available for video at home.
Whereas these high-resolution TVs are now easily affordable so AV receivers need to be capable of switching 4K signals.
So, when sound and pictures pass through your sound system from video sources you can enjoy live performance-sound without losing any detail in the video.
Another important feature is to look out for HDCP 2.2 support. HDCP 2.2 is the recent and updated copy-protection technology specially designed to stop copying video content or 4K content illegally.
It is important to have HDCP2.2 input in receivers because when you try to play a movie which is HDCP 2.2 copy-protected and if your AV receiver isn’t authorized to support HDCP 2.2 content, your screen will go dark.
But luckily the latest AV receiver has at least one HDCP2.2 input.
Built-in Wi-Fi – Physically plug in their TV to the respective home network is not possible all the time. It is the point where Wi-Fi comes into action in streaming movies and watching Youtube totally wirelessly through your network. And that’s why we like to see Wi-Fi built into audio systems so that you can stream music without having to physically connect your sound system to your router.
DTS:X and Dolby Atmos – To make your home theatre system more immersive DTS:X surround sound format is designed. Whereas Dolby Atmos also performs the same function and these two formats are fighting for market dominance.
Though there is no doubt new AV receivers can play both formats but still, it is good to check before buying a new one.
HDR formats – Everyone knows HDR stands for “High Dynamic Range” but if you are interested to know these formats in detail you can click here.
But in short, a TV with HDR presents a higher contrast, color, and more accurate picture. There are generally three formats HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG (hybrid log gamma).
Where HDR10 is the most widely used format currently but Dolby Vision is also gaining popularity and they are fighting to get a better position in the market. HLG is new with respect to HDR10 and DV.
The aim of HLG is to recreate that HDR standard for broadcast, it’s actually backward-compatible with SDR TVs. HLG creates an HDR process not dependent on metadata. So, make sure the new receiver you buy is capable enough to take care of all the three formats.
Select the number of Channels
You can consider channels of a receiver as speakers and for audio formats, only two channels required left and right but there are no limitations for a true home theatre surround sound system.
Long story short the more number of channels your receiver has, the more speakers you can add, and obviously the more speakers mean more immersive and quality surround sound you experience.
But at the minimum level, we recommend 5 channels whereas we very strongly recommend you to go for at least 7 channels. Because with 7 channels you will get digital cinemas deep, thrilling, tight, theatre sound at home.
Let’s breakdown channels:
2-channels: An old decent stereo speaker referred to as 2.0 means two speakers.
2.1-channels: The addition of a subwoofer for more impactful bass turns 2.0 to 2.1 means 2 front speakers and 1 subwoofer.
3.1-channels: 3 means “2” front speakers and “1” center channel speakers good for dialogue which seems to come from the center of the screen.
5.1-channels: This is the point where you get into the home theatre system. With the 3.1 channel system add two more speakers to the back of your sitting position and at the corners of the room (if possible) for surround sound. You can also add one more subwoofer to change it from the “5.1” to the “5.2” system but it is not necessary if you don’t like it.
7.1-channels: For larger room “5” channel speakers are not enough because of more distance between your sitting position and back wall so it is good to add two more speakers that make it a 7.1 channel system.
9.1-channel or more: To create outstanding cutting-edge surround sound through your home theatre system “2” or more ceiling speakers you can add and this will make actual 3D sound, where every sound will float at every point in space.
So, the 9.1 system has three speakers in front, two on the side, two in the back of the room, two in the ceiling, and one subwoofer which you can place anywhere. For this type of setup, you need a receiver with 9 or more channels.
The correct amount of power
There are no such numbers that we like to force you when it comes to the matter of power. We only expressed what we think is good. According to us 100 Watts or more per channel for rooms and speakers is good.
Imagine a receiver “X” has 70 watts of power per channel and receiver “Y” has 100 watts of power per channel. In these two receivers, there is no audible difference. Why?
Because the human ear can only detect audible difference which is in the ratio of 2:1, that means you have to double the wattage before the human ear detects any difference.
Try to go wireless
Drilling holes in walls and floors running wires to speakers so that you can have music in another room and if you are very much fancy then you will run wires to a keypad on the wall so that you can control everything.
Actually, guys, these are old day techniques, today you can do all this without doing any kind of heavy-duty stuff. Today many new receivers come with their own wireless capability built-in like MusicCast by Yamaha and these are easy to control by easy-to-use apps on your phone, tablet, or computer.
So, don’t miss the points while shopping for a new one. But we also like to clarify that it is not mandatory to have a receiver with wireless capability built-in because it is quite possible to add wireless capability to almost any sound system.
One more bonus tip you can now stream FM radio stations from all over the country without any radio receptions because it’s “over the internet,” not “over the air.”
Should have enough room
Opposite to your imagination receivers is often bigger in size. An AV receiver with 5-11 amps inside needs to vanish heat, so we recommend leaving 6 inches above it for ventilation.
When a piece of electronics stays cool it lasts long. AV receivers are typically deeper than stereo receivers, so it is good to have 20 inches for depth.
Otherwise, it will be difficult for fan kits that perform air circulation to keep your receiver from overheating.
It is not the end of my friends one more final tip, today’s new AV receivers are quite bigger than the old ones.
So, using a delicate glass or plastic self for receiver installation is not a wise decision, you really really need some sturdy otherwise a typical monster movie mayhem and destruction might spill out at home.
The most common questions:
What about multi-zone receivers?
Think it is your time to watch a live TV show and at the same time in another room someone wants to watch a movie on DVD. And a multi-zone capable receiver can do this job by allowing you to connect multiple video sources and then it sends signals to two different televisions in two different rooms.
If you already own a receiver then what?
If you already have a receiver and it is more than five years old now it is time to upgrade. And the good thing is that by upgrading you will get the latest feature like Dolby Atmos. After upgrading the first thing you will feel is goosebumps!
Because when the first time you hear a movie played through Dolby Atmos we guarantee you will be stunned. We will not recommend you to replace an old stereo receiver because nothing has changed until now. But if you bought a recent 4K UHD TV then you should upgrade your old AV receiver to new.
Which brand is good?
There are many brands that you can look out for but from our end, we favor Sony, Yamaha, JBL, Samsung, LG, and Denon not available in India.
What about the warranty?
Generally, when you buy a receiver from an authorized dealer you get full manufacturer’s warranty additionally you get manufacturers support via phone and email.
What more do you need with an AV receiver?
Nothing much you need to buy with an AV receiver but we insist you buy a power conditioner to protect your equipment from sudden low or high voltage. It also protects from lightning, power outages, or brownouts.
Overall these are the only vital points that can lead you to a decent quality AV receiver if you keep them in mind before buying. Also, there are many other factors that affect but not much so you don’t need to think about that, only they will make your purchase more difficult.