AV RECEIVER BUYING TIPS

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Rob Sabin  |  Mar 27, 2013  |  5 comments
Putting together a home theater can seem like a daunting task. So many pieces to think through and connect up! But if you care enough to do your homework and educate yourself, you’ll find it’s not as complicated as it looks. Here’s what goes into your typical viewing room.

Mike Wood  |  Apr 09, 2002  |  First Published: Apr 10, 2002  |  0 comments
Determining amplifier-power requirements for your home theater system.

Power output is often the biggest selling point for receivers and standalone amplifiers. Bells and whistles aside, you can often spend a lot less money for an amplifier or receiver that has a lot less power. While there are several factors that influence an amplifier's sound quality, we're not going to go into many of them in this article. We're going to focus on power. Ideally, an amplifier should be rated with low distortion, measured over the entire audible frequency range and with all channels driven. You should always listen to an amplifier before you purchase it. Whether you should test the 60-watt model or the 150-watt version depends on many factors, including your listening environment, the speakers you'll be using with it, and your listening habits.

Rob Sabin  |  Jul 10, 2012  |  7 comments
Of all the components in your home theater system, none gets more playtime than your audio/video receiver. But buying an AVR can be daunting for home theater newbies or even seasoned enthusiasts diving back into the upgrade pool. AVR technology and features have been constantly moving targets these last few years. Here are some basics to help you make your selection, circa 2012.

A/V What?
An A/V receiver combines three audio components in one box. Primarily, it performs the traditional roles of a preamplifier and power amplifier. The sound for any home theater begins as a relatively low-level audio signal coming off a source component such as a cable box or disc player. These days, it’s more likely to be a digital audio signal than an analog signal. That signal gets converted between digital and analog as needed, manipulated to affect your volume adjustment, and might perhaps have some bass and treble contouring (or more sophisticated equalization) applied before it’s sent to the power amplifier, whose only job is to pump it up to the power level necessary to drive your speakers to sufficient volume.

Rob Sabin  |  Jun 05, 2013  |  1 comments
If there’s been any real change in the home theater audio landscape recently, it’s been the emergence of the anti-AVR. From soundbars to powered tabletop systems to wireless streaming speakers that can double as your TV’s audio system, the trend is toward all-in-one solutions that are simple to shop for, easy to install, and a cinch to operate. Granted, even the most basic receiver is none of those things. But the Swiss Army knife of the A/V world still remains the best value in the land, packing more power, features, flexibility, and (when mated with good speakers) performance than any integrated approach.
Rob Sabin  |  Oct 28, 2016  |  4 comments
It’s easy in this brave new world of Ultra-Uber-HDR-4K HDTV to forget that the sound is still half—yes, half—of the home theater experience. Even if you’re actually smart enough to know that, and you wander into your local big-box electronics store in an effort to improve upon the tiny rear-facing drivers that pass for flat-panel TV speakers, you’re probably in for a knee-deep wade through soundbars and Bluetooth speakers before you stumble onto the audio/video receivers. You remember receivers: Those boxy things? Bunch of buttons and knobs and lights on the front? At one time, people used to called them stereos? “Oh yeah...those,” says the young skeptic festooned with the store logo on his shirt. “I think we still carry a couple of them in that back room over there.”
Rob Sabin  |  Sep 09, 2015  |  1 comments
Oh boy, the times, they are a changin’. With the explosion of integrated soundbar offerings—including some pretentious premium models—it would be easy to dismiss the audio/video receiver, once the great ruler of the home theater world, as an aging relic. Enthusiasts know better...
Steve Guttenberg  |  Aug 25, 2011  |  15 comments
Selecting audio components is one of the more daunting tasks that any serious home theater enthusiast faces. On the surface, it seems evident that if you just go out and buy the best components you can afford, they’ll sound great with both movies and music. And that’s generally true: A better system will more accurately reproduce the waveforms you feed it, irrespective of whether they come from a movie or music. But it’s often not that simple. While assembling a home theater system that’s equally spectacular with movies and music may be a laudable goal, unless you have unlimited funds, you’ll probably have compromises to make. At that point, you might want to steer the system’s performance strengths one way or the other with the right mix of speakers and electronics. But how do you go about matching these up?
Mark Fleischmann  |  Mar 17, 2011  |  0 comments
The A/V receiver is your home theater’s central nervous system. All cables and connections to and from your other components are likely to run through your AVR. It will manage and switch the A/V signals from all of your sources, and it will power at least five of your loudspeakers. Making the right choice in an AVR can feel like a science exam, but once you make the perfect match, the rewards are huge. The right AVR will be a pleasure to use and will make your speakers and other components perform their best. Helping you make the best choice is where Home Theater’s AVR Buyer’s Guide comes in.
Shane Buettner  |  May 29, 2007  |  0 comments
Essential Audio Features
Basic Surround Decoding
Today's AVRs feature a ton of surround decoding features from Dolby and DTS, from basic 5.1-channel surround decoding to several ways of decoding stereo into 5.1-channel surround, or beyond.
Rob Sabin  |  Nov 13, 2012  |  0 comments
Looking for that perfect receiver? Before you hit the stores, here’s everything you need to know in a quick-read format. See our Top Receiver Picks.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jul 18, 2011  |  3 comments
Are You Ready for the Heavy Artillery?

A friend who went to college in the late 1960s told me that everyone in his dorm fell into one of two absolutely opposing groups: those who blasted the Who’s Tommy and those who were mesmerized by the Beatles’ White Album. Or for the sticklers among you, the album nicknamed the White Album but officially known as The Beatles. I could entertain you with a few more sentences’ worth of metaphor, but you get the idea. You say tomato, I say tomahto.

Wes Phillips  |  Apr 24, 2005  |  First Published: Apr 25, 2005  |  0 comments
Ask the average guy in the street what makes a home theater a home theater and you're likely to hear one of two answers: "A honkin' big screen" or "Five (or six or seven) speakers." It would be hard to argue with either answer, because a great picture and sound coming from all around you are essential elements of the home theater experience.
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