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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- App Control is useful as a second remote. Most major brands already have a free Remote App.