So you have settled down to watch the latest big-screen movie on your massive HD/plasma/3-D TV… You grabbed the bag of hot cinnamon caramel popcorn, a cold one to drink, gathered the family and watched the movie. Somehow, the picture and sound quality just wasn't quite as good as you thought it would be and you realised, that, despite owning an expensive TV, the sound and visual effects just didn't quite cut it. This is where an audio visual receiver (AV receiver) makes the home cinemas experience a fully immersive and richly satisfying occasion.
An audio receiver functions as the hub of a home theatre system by handling a variety of tasks, such as decoding the signals for surround sound, tuning to radio stations, powering up speakers and switching between audio and video components.
Here are the 5 most important things to look for when choosing the best audio receiver.
1) A High Tech Audio Visual Receiver Or Not…
You may think a cutting edge, high-tech audio receiver is the best thing possible, but stop right there. You need to be able to figure out how to use it! The display panel must be easily navigable so you can enjoy concert hall quality sound and movie quality pictures, rather than the audio receiver gathering dust because you can't figure out how to turn it on.
A good quality receiver will usually include a graphical interface through which the user can set up and operate the receiver. All the information will be clearly displayed so you can figure out how to navigate and use the unit.
2) Calibration: Is The AV Receiver easy To Calibrate?
If you are a novice, setting up a home entertainment system so that all the components are correctly connected can be tricky, let alone working out whether the components are all functioning correctly.
Most of the best audio receivers make this part a bit easier by offering automatic speaker calibration, allowing the receiver to analyse and automatically adjust the sound of the connected speaker system.
The receiver sends test tones to the speakers and sub woofer, monitoring the sound using a microphone so it can determine speaker size, measures the distance from each speaker to the listener and check whether the components are properly connected.
This technology works for the traditional 2 channel home entertainment system as well as for the surround sound home cinema theatre.
An important note here is, the powerful sound bursts in a high action movie and other special effects can drain the receivers power if it is not a high current power audio visual receiver. A high powered unit will produce the high quality movie sounds better than a similar receiver that doesn't have high current power, even if it has the same wattage.
3) Is There Airplay Compatibility Available?
These days the best audio receivers will have AirPlay compatibility which is the latest technology allowing users to wirelessly stream music from an iOS device ( Apple) as well as digital apps such as Pandora. This allows you to stream directly to the receiver.
Make sure the version of iPhone, iPad or iPod you own has integrated wireless streaming capabilities before you get a receiver with AirPlay technology.
4) Power: Make It High Wattage
Power isn't just another word for volume, power is measured in watts. More importantly, it determines an audio receivers ability to reproduce dynamic and detailed sound. A high wattage unit will provide better sound quality over those with less power, even at the lower and medium volumes of the movie.
It's vital the receiver is powerful enough to accommodate both the speakers that are connected to it and the room where the receiver is located. Depending on the speaker sensitivity, the power needed to match the specific speakers will depend on the number of decibels it puts out per watt of power.
You'll find that speakers with lower sensitivity will require more power. Make sure you take into account the size of the room. If the room is a large one in which an entertainment system is set up, more power is required.
Another point is take into account on how much power will be needed, is whether you are looking at a home theatre or stereo receiver.
The stereo receiver is a simpler and less expensive unit for music lovers who aren't necessarily looking for a cinema surround sound experience. A home theatre audiovisual receiver is designed to create a fully immersive, surround sound experience for users to enjoy.
5) Last But Not Least: AV receiver Inputs and Outputs
This is a simple one. The more inputs and outputs the device can accommodate the better. These inputs and outputs are where you connect to the receiver with your TV, gaming system, iPod or speakers. You need to have enough inputs and outputs to handle all your equipment easily, plus a few extra for just in case.
And whilst a good number of inputs and outputs are important, you must make sure they are the right kind. The audio receiver should offer digital connections, providing better video and audio quality than the more dated analogue inputs and outputs. To get the most enjoyment out of your HD equipment it should be connected to a receiver using an HDMI (Hi Definition Multimedia Interface) connection.