How to buy the best AV receiver
An AV receiver buying guide
From connecting your TV to a sound system to streaming your favorite music from you phone to your living room, an AV receiver can play a variety of useful roles in your entertainment system. To know how to buy the best AV receiver, you will want to consider a few points.
>> Where do you want to connect your AV receiver?
When deciding how to buy the best AV receiver, ask yourself what devices you want to connect it to. Using an AV receiver, you can connect to a home theater system. This will allow you to run all the components through the receiver with just one HDMI cable so you will not have to switch between inputs on your TV. The same goes for Blu-ray players and satellite or cable boxes. By using a receiver you can significantly enhance the picture quality of your TV. You can connect your AV receiver to speakers and stereos and give your sound system a serious boost. Remember, the larger the speakers the more power they will need. You can also use your AV receiver to connect to a video game console for great picture and sound and a top-notch gaming experience. Additionally, you can use your AV receiver to connect to a router. Top AV receivers will be Internet-ready. Also, some AV receivers can be connected with phones, tablets and other devices wirelessly. Outside of the home, automotive CD receivers can be useful in cars and power your car stereos. An AV receiver can empower your technology and make the whole process very simple. Consider what devices interest you and what you want to connect as you make your AV receivers comparison.
>> How many channels do you need?
When figuring out how to buy the best AV receiver, think about how many channels you want your receiver to have. Top AV receivers support channels ranging between 2 to 11.2. Typically, a surround system has 5.1 channels: 5 speakers (left, right, center, back-left and back-right) and 1 subwoofer. AV receivers with 5.1 channels can support this sound system in small and medium size rooms. If you have a larger room consider AV receivers with 7.1 channels. These AV receivers support 7 speakers and 1 subwoofer. With 7.1 channel AV receivers you not only can add two extra speakers to improve your surround sound, but you can also assign these channels to already existing, compatible speakers to bi-amp the sound. 9.2 channel AV receivers are even more powerful, and they are great for large home audio and theater rooms. You can use this receiver for two extra speakers up front and behind the seating and an additional subwoofer giving your room an excellent surround sound with bass. Another option is to create a multi-room sound system. With a 7.1 or 9.2 channel receiver you can set up a surround sound in one room and power the additional speakers in another room. That way you can play music in different rooms of the house at the same time. As you decide which AV receiver to buy, think about how many speakers you have, the size of your room and how much surround sound you need.
>> Consider the AV receiver's power
When determining how to buy the best AV receiver, consider how powerful of a receiver you want. The power of an AV receiver is measured in wattage, and this not only determines the volume of sound but also how detailed and dynamic that sound is. In general, top AV receivers will come in at anywhere between 80 to 150 watts per channel, although there are more powerful ones. When choosing the power of your receiver keep in mind both the size of the speakers/theater system it is going to connect to and the size of the room. Check your speaker sensitivity, or the volume in decibels it produces for every watt. The lower the sensitivity of the speaker the more powerful of an AV receiver you will need. Also, the bigger the room the more powerful the receiver should be. As you choose which AV receiver to buy, make sure it is powerful enough. In case it is not or if you simply want to boost the sound system even further consider adding an amplifier.
>> What are your AV receiver's connections?
When wondering how to buy the best AV receiver, consider its connections. The more inputs and outputs a receiver has, the more options you have to connect to your devices. Make sure that you have enough connections to go between the theater system and speakers and all of your equipment and have some left over if you choose to expand in the future. The HDMI connection is the standard for all theater systems. There are two main types to consider. HDMI 1.3 can handle 1080i resolutions and almost all audio streams. HDMI 1.4 is best for 3D and has an audio return channel. AV receivers will have between 4 to 7 HDMI connections. Non-HDMI connections like component inputs can be used for older TV models. RCA and S-video are great for devices such as VCRs and camcorders. AV receivers also have a USB input. As you determine which AV receiver to buy, remember not only to have enough inputs and outputs but to have the right ones too.
>> Consider key features
When thinking about how to buy the best AV receiver, look for AV receiver features such as Wi-Fi, Airplay and Bluetooth. AV receivers that are Airplay compatible allow you to connect any of your iOS devices wirelessly to the receiver so long as the receiver is connected to your home network. Bluetooth lets you connect any of your smartphones or tablets to the receiver (as long as these devices have Bluetooth) within a range of 30 feet. If most of your music is stored on your portable devices, these AV receiver features will allow you to wirelessly stream music right from your phone's music library or apps like Pandora. If your receiver does not have Airplay and Bluetooth already built-in, you can always add that option by purchasing an external device. AV receivers that are Wi-Fi compatible let you connect to your home network without the need for Ethernet cables. Having the Wi-Fi built in also makes Airplay easier to use. When making your AV receivers comparison keep these options in mind. They certainly enhance your experience and let you play music without the need for any cables.
>> Do you need an AV receiver with a display panel?
When deciding upon the best AV receiver to buy, consider a model with a touchscreen display panel. A touchscreen receiver with a display panel or a graphical interface will help you navigate and understand all of your AV receiver functions. Also, it will enable you to set up, operate and adjust options of the receiver. While playing music with Airplay, the digital panel will display the album cover and song information. A display panel is something to consider as you try to figure out how to buy an AV receiver. It can be the difference between being on top and being lost.