Must Have Features For Your Next A/V Receiver

Most receivers nowadays come with quite a complete set of features such as Full HD, 3D support, all the DTS sound formats, Ethernet port, built-in Wi-Fi, room correction software, multi zone playback and many more.

But as new display technology, smart devices and new media sources becoming more ubiquitous it would certainly help if you have a receiver that can conveniently communicate and access these devices and new media sources.

If you are planning to upgrade your aging receiver, here are some key features to look out for to future proof your purchase:

  1. 4K Pass-through & Up-Scaling – As all videophiles will agree, having the highest resolution picture will greatly enhance the viewing experience and Ultra HD is the next step forward. Ultra HD 4K displays are coming down in price and you may own one in future, so having a receiver with 4K support will not cause restrictions your upgrade path.
  2. Bluetooth – If you have Android and non- iOS devices, having Bluetooth support a good option. It allows you to easily and wirelessly connect any smart to the receiver for playing stored or streamed music. It may not sound as good as AirPlay but with the new Bluetooth apt-X codec high quality stereo audio transfer is now possible.
  3. AirPlay – If you are plugged in to the Apple environment and want to play music from your iOS devices over the home theater sound system then AirPlay is  a must have.
  4. MHL (mobile high-definition link) allows an HDMI-quality connection between a receiver and a compatible smart phone.  The standard supports video of 1080p/60 and audio in 7.1 format. It is useful for connecting your smartphone and tablets to watch streamed video. It is also used to connect the Roku Stick , the thumb drive-sized device that serves as a full-fledged Roku media player.
  5. High Resolution DAC – If you have a lot of music in high-res, or do intend to digitize your music collection in higher sampling rates, higher end receivers come with audiophile-quality DACs and supports most audio formats like WAV, AIFF and FLAC. Look for DACs capable of playing 24/96kHz at the minimum. 24/192Khz music are already widely available from many download sources.
  6. Ethernet Switch – A wired network environment is always more stable than Wi-Fi. And it is better for audio quality too. Nowadays many sources are dependent on a broadband network but the router usually do not have enough ports to support all the playback and display devices. Having an Ethernet switch in the receiver will alleviate this problem so that your other Internet-dependent components (Blu-ray player, Media Streamer, Roku, game console, Apple TV, etc) can be on the network. The latest Sony ES line like the STR-DA5800ES has a 4-Port Audio grade Ethernet Switch.
  7. App Control  is useful as a second remote. Most major brands already have a free Remote App.

Pioneer Releases All New Pioneer SC-1223-K

The future of TVs and home theater systems looks rather exciting, with the onslaught of 4K Ultra HD displays and the expected price drop in the coming years. Consumers are already looking at good home theater receivers to have themselves a high-class audio visual experience in the comforts of their own home. While there are plenty of AV receivers to choose from in the market, the Pioneer SC-1223-K is a great pick for an AV receiver with the latest features.

The SC-1223-K is a 7.2 Channel Network Ready Receiver that features Pioneer’s proprietary Class D3 Amplification, offering support for the newest high-resolution audio formats such as Dolby Pro Logic IIz, TrueHD and DTS Master Audio. It also features Advanced Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration technology, making the task of calibrating your speakers a most enjoyable experience. Also, with Full 4K Ultra HD support, this receiver is ready to accept any home theater components that can send 4K content to those large 4K displays. Folks looking for an AV receiver with upscaling support will also be pleased.

Read the full Pioneer SC-1223-K review now to find out more!

Get Room Acoustics Right For Better Sound

Many may not realize it. But your room is the biggest audio component in a home theater setup. It will make the most difference to the sound. Do it right, and you will get natural balanced sound that you will enjoy indefinitely. On the other hand if the room is not suitable for audio playback, no matter how much you spend on a home theater or sound system it will not sound good.

Room Acoustics

Granted, there are some things in the room that you can’t change or have no control of, for eg the room’s dimensions. But if you are looking for a new home or building one, you might want to pay attention to how room dimensions affect acoustics, especially if your AV room is small. All rooms have peaks and nulls at low frequencies below 100Hz. This has a profound effect on the way low frequencies for movies and bass in your music will sound. If your listening seat is where low frequencies peak you will get severe bass boom which can be downright uncomfortable and definitely fatiguing if you are listening to music or watching movies for an extended period. Generally avoid a square-sized room if you want good bass.

If you can’t have the luxury of changing room dimensions, the next best option is applying room acoustic treatments. Some of these are common sense and inexpensive. Like placing a thick rug between your screen and your listening seat. Thick curtains will help to contain bass boom and large canvas paintings on the walls will help to reduce high frequency fatigue.

If you have the budget for professional room acoustic treatment here are some recommendations:

1. ASC Tube Traps

2. Michael Green’s Room Tunes

3. RPG Diffusers

 

 

New Harman Kardon AVR 1×10 Series AV Receivers

Harman Kardon has been a stalwart in the audio industries since the early ’50 but their journey may not have been a gloriously smooth one. In recent years, with the revival of home entertainment, Harman has stepped up its efforts and have been building receivers that have simplicity, finesse and good value for money as their hallmark. Their new receiver range for 2013 speaks the same language and pushes all the right buttons with forward looking features.

The new models are the Harman Kardon AVR 1510, AVR 1610 and AVR 1710 priced from $299 to $549. But what can you expect at these entry level prices? Well more than what we’d expect. These receivers features 4K passthrough, 3D playback, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay, vTuner Internet radio, Roku Ready MHL support, wide range of connectivity options, and more.

Harman Kardon AVR 1710

Harman Kardon AVR 1710

On the audio front the new HARMAN NSP Natural Sound Processing aims at recreating a realistic acoustic event, as claimed by HK. Amplification is boosted by a new switch mode digitally based power supply which provides uninterrupted power to deliver ample current for demanding movie soundtracks as well as natural timbres for music videos.

You can control the functions and menus by using the free Harman Kardon remote app for iOS® and Android™ smartphones.

Being environmental friendly is one of Harmon’s design concepts. By utilizing the new HARMAN GreenEdge™ technology which uses digital power supply to improve efficiency, dramatic energy savings can be realized without compromising on performance.

  1. Harman Kardon AVR 1510 review
  2. Harman Kardon AVR 1610 review
  3. Harman Kardon AVR 1710 review

Marantz Launches New Range of High End AV Receivers

Marantz has just launched 3 new high end models in its SR line of A/V receivers replacing last year’s ‘007 series’. They include cutting edge features that will delight both audiophiles and home theater enthusiasts.

The three new receivers are already shipping. These are:

1. Marantz SR5008 (MSRP: $899) – a networked 7.2 channel receiver rated at 100 watts into 8 ohms for each of the 7 channels. It comes with Dolby Pro Logic IIz decoding, so you connect front height speakers for fuller surround and the latest Audyssey MultEQ XT for automatic room acoustic measurement and correction.

2. Marantz SR6008 (MSRP: $1199) is also a 7.2 channel unit with a higher power rating of 110 watts into 8 ohms for each of the 7 channels.

3. Marantz SR7008 (MSRP: $1999) – has 9.2 channel outputs. This is the flagship model and has a higher power output of 125 watts into 8 ohms for each of the 9 channels, enough to fill a large living room with earth shattering sound.  For room correction it has the top of the line Audyssey MultEQ XT32 to create the smoothest and most natural tonal balance.

arantz SR 6008 & SR7008

Marantz SR 6008 & SR7008

All of these top end receivers come with 4K Ultra HD Scaling and Pass-Through and Marantz’s proprietary HDAM (Hyper Dynamic Amplifier Module) technology. Other upgrades in the SR Series include improved speaker terminals and a very user-friendly setup with a wide range of configuration options. They also support AirPlay which lets you wirelessly stream music from your iPod touch, iPhone and iPad and it also lets you access your iTunes content on your PC or Mac via your home network.  As with all modern receivers you can control the functions using your favorite iOS or Android smartphone via the free Marantz Remote App.

One thing we like is that these receivers come with detachable power cords. This allows you to have the option to use a better after-market power cord instead of the stock cord. We have found that using better made power cords on higher end models do have a noticeable improvement in audio quality.

Visit Marantz USA for more info.

New Kid On The Block : Sherbourn SR-8100 AV Receiver

There is a new kid on the block in the audio visual industry – Sherbourn. Sherbourn, a Jade Design company and sibling to the Emotiva brand, recently released a series of home theater gear with the goal of bringing professional performance to consumers. The Sherbourn SR-8100 AV receiver might be a new kid in this highly competitive industry but it sure is no shoo over.

Sherbourn SR-8100

Sherbourn SR-8100

The Sherbourn SR-8100 is a multi-channel receiver with the requisite power for driving 7 full sized speakers. It sports a balanced subwoofer connection, 7 channels of amplification with a switchable back/height/front biamp/zone 2 option, a 7.1 analog audio input, 4 HDMI inputs, 1 HDMI output, 2 trigger outs and a whole bunch more.

Considering it is sibling to Emotiva, this machine sure doesn’t disappoint with its great performance. While its appearance seems dwarfed and incompetent before most full-sized receivers like the Onkyo TX-SR706, this AV receiver is not one to be trifled with. Folks looking for a solid av receiver with a high performance processor can certainly consider the Sherbourn SR-8100.

HDMI 2.0 : Is It Here?

In recent weeks, talks have been rife about the impending launch of HDMI 2.0 and while new technology is usually received with open and welcome arms, especially when HDMI 2.0 would usher in a whole new era of video, it could also open Pandora’s box and create handshake issues as HDMI 1.0 did before.

HDMI 2.0 is said to not only go beyond 1080p like the current HDMI 1.4 spec does. It will also support Ultra HD at higher frame rates and support increased bit color, be it 10- or 12-bit color. While an increase from 8-bit to 10-bit color doesn’t seem like such a big deal, it actually means an increase of billions of colors that the untrained eye will be able to see and appreciate. Add that to the “four times the resolution of 1080p” that Ultra HD offers and the increased frame rate and you will see a significant step up in performance that would have people wanting to upgrade their HDTVs and equipment.

Yet another key upgrade that the grapevine seems to have paid attention to is the move from H.264 to H.265 which is said to allow for better image quality from a much more compressed file. This is big news for cable and satellite providers who are unwilling to sacrifice any single channel to make room for Ultra HD channels.

With all that said, there is really no need to fear HDMI 2.0. HDMI 2.0 is more for those who want to make the move to Ultra HD and it is still too early to say what HDMI 2.0 will bring to the table.

A Modern AV Receiver At Last?

AV receivers are known to be somewhat out of sync with modern technology and are always bulky and hard to use.

Sony has recently announced the Sony STR-DN1040, one of the most feature-packed AV receivers available for a most affordable price. Packed with built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay support, and eight HDMI inputs, what more can we ask for?

If you are a lil shocked by its price and still find it too expensive despite its undeniably nice package of features, have a look at the Sony STR-DN840 which also maintains the wireless connectivity but is a fraction cheaper.

New Denon AV Receivers Announced

Denon has announced 5 brand new AV receiver models for the year, ranging from the entry-level Denon AVR-X500 to the high-end Denon AVR-X4000.

Other than the entry level AVR-X500, all the new Denon receivers feature iOS and Android control apps that users can use to control every aspect of the amps and an on-screen setup assistant that will guide users through every step of configuration. They also feature support for a range of streaming services like Apple Airplay, Spotify, vTuner, Last.fm.

While the AVR-X500 lacks the network-enabled features found in its superior counterparts, it has the same convenient front HDMI input and three rear HDMI inputs.

The Denon AVR-X1000 is an affordable model that features and Ethernet port, a Texas Instruments PCM-1690 DAC and support for a wide range of network services including remote control from Android and iOS devices and a front USB port which allows you to play music files directly from a USB stick or MP3 player. It also has screw terminals rather than the X500’s basic spring terminal connectors for your surround sound speakers. Read the full Denon AVR-X1000 review.

Look Out For Yamaha’s RX-V ’75 Series AV Receivers

It is now AV receiver season and we are seeing all sorts of upgrades on all lines of AV receivers. The Yamaha AV receivers have received an update and you should keep an eye out for the Yamaha RX-V375 and Yamaha RX-V475.

For a really affordable $300, the Yamaha RX-V375 is a 100-watt driven receiver that boasts discrete amplification and high quality 192 kHz/24-bit Burr Brown DACs. There are two sets of 5-way binding posts for the main speakers and includes four HDMI inputs and one output, two component video inputs and one output, and three composite video inputs and one output.

The Yamaha RX-475, on the other hand, supports Deep Color (30/36 bit), x.v.Color, 24 Hz refresh rate and auto lip-sync compensation. It also includes HDMI Standby Through which allows you to pass the audio and video from your sources to your display when the receiver is powered off.

Read the full reviews here.