A/V Receiver is a complex device with a lot of features. But most of them come from other devices – amplifiers, sound cards, video players, etc. The receiver only combines them under one roof, so it’s easy to figure it all out.
Number of channels
This is the first thing to pay attention to. If you already have a set of 5.1 speakers at home. You will need an A/V Receiver for the appropriate number of channels. If there are plans to add two speakers from above to this scheme to get 5.1.2 with the ability to work with the Dolby Atmos format. Then you need 7 channels already, and you need to look towards receivers that support the 7.2 scheme and so on.
It is better to take power with some margin. Otherwise, at high volume, the amplifier will not have enough gunpowder in the powder flasks, and the signal will clip – wheezing, hissing, rustling, and distorting in various ways. For example, for two speakers of 80 watts, it is worth taking a receiver with amplifiers with a power of about 100 watts per channel. In addition to power, you need to look at the impedance of the amplifier.
An important point will determine which multi-channel sound formats the receiver can play (all these DTS: X, Dolby Atmos, etc.).
Inputs and outputs
The number of different equipment that the receiver can combine depends on them. For example, several HDMI inputs will allow you to connect a game console, video player, satellite TV, and media server to it. Display the picture from them on the TV without unnecessary gestures. Coaxial and optical outputs will help you connect an external PC audio card or some of the devices via S / PDIF, reducing the number of wires.
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi play an important role in modern media technology. Wireless speakers can be placed anywhere without the hassle of wires, and from your smartphone or tablet. You can control your home media library and start movies with one finger while lying on the couch.
Here you need to look at the maximum sampling rate and bitrate. It is worth noting that the current standards for multi-channel audio: are DTS (in the HD Master Audio version) and Dolby Atmos – up to 24 bit / 192 kHz.
Additional functions of an A/V Receiver
The latest receivers are often packed with state-of-the-art features. For example, Audyssey technology allows you to automatically adjust the sound of the speakers to the characteristics of the room in which they are located. Surround sound calibration will adjust it depending on the location of the speakers themselves relative to the listener. Owners of 4K TVs and projectors will need the ability to scale video. Automatic upscaling of some 360p, which came out of the YouTube of the 2000s, to 4K.
Some receivers are able to send a separate signal to stereo speakers installed in another room by reducing the pair of channels, for example, from 7.1 to 5.1. But it becomes possible to watch a movie in one room while someone listens to music in another.
There are also corporate developments. For example, Yamaha MusicCast technology connects all devices that support it via Wi-Fi, which allows you to control the entire system from your smartphone. You can play any track from anywhere: even from streaming services, even from the internal memory of your smartphone.
Some receivers support AirPlay technology and can interface with Apple technology on the fly.
It’s worth looking at the file formats that the receiver can play. Most of them can also play both old-school radios in the FM and AM bands, and modern Internet radio.
Finally, the harmonic distortion factor indicates how much distortion the receiver will introduce into the final signal. The distortion introduced by the receiver becomes noticeable starting from 0.1% distortion. So any model with a lower figure is fine for home use (but, of course, the lower the better). The lower the power of the receiver’s amplifiers. The more likely it is that it will overstrain to swing large powerful speakers, and distortion will appear at a high volume level.