Is the era of the AV receiver coming to an end?

An industry colleague and I spent some time together the other day, and in kibbitzing about the state of the industry as we see it, he wondered aloud whether we’re now in the beginning of the end of the era of the AV receiver. Blu-ray players are now equipped with full decoding capabilities for both legacy lossy and full lossless Dolby and DTS audio. In addition to playing back Blu-ray Discs, these players are now full media hubs with hosts of streaming apps for both audio and video. Other set-top box media hub devices are entering the market as I write this, and some even integrate cable and satellite broadcast content into a unified interface that manages all of this content. It doesn’t seem a stretch to think these devices could evolve to include the base level audio decoding found in BD players, or that more with integrated BD drives will emerge. And full range wireless audio is something that’s been around the corner for some time, clearly a question of when not if. So, my colleague wondered, if you add powered loudspeaker systems with wireless capability into this equation is that a look at the future? The dazzling capabilities of the AV receiver are both its strength and weakness. AVRs are intimidating. How much of all that capability do people really bother to use? How many people could get by with a lot less capability in favor of usability? I don’t know the answers to these questions but found them provocative enough to bring to you, and get your opinion. Are these the end days of the AVR as we know it?

kaltahogei's picture

I have been researching this subject for a few days now for a report I am writing. Your post has been very helpful in this regard. Thanks for another great post.
how to choose protein bars

dlaloum's picture

An AVR or prepro remains an essential hub, even for someone who primarily uses their media centre PC as a source.
BUT - current AVR's have a number of issues - in terms of sound quality, their Jitter performance is usually abysmal, and if one wishes to use the Room EQ - a key functionality - then one is almost always limited internally to 48kHz.... so higher resolution material is downsampled internally to 48kHz.... so much for high res. Audio!
Most people that I know of have not used the radio functionality of their receiver in years... the tuner seems to be redundant. Where one wants to listen to Radio it is more commonly received via internet streaming.
If the receiver's capabilities can extend to running Video files directly off the network, in addition to audio files, and if a wide enough range of formats is supported, then it may even replace many of today's media center / HTPC's.
Primarily I would like to see the next generation improve their audio quality (especially DAC's & Jitter) - and the Room EQ both improving it, and extending it to 96kHz (or higher!).
Also would love to see Logic7 make a comeback - I sorely miss my old Lexicon prepro... although the need for new formats and capabilities forced a move to Onkyo, Harman get your act together!