Onkyo has been very active in launching new models every year. 2018 is no exception. They just launched two new mid-priced AV receivers: the Onkyo TX-NR686 (MSRP $649) and the TX-NR585 ($549). Both 7.2-channel models support DTS:X and Dolby Atmos, 4K video with HDR10 and Dolby Vision pass-through, AccuEQ Room Acoustic Calibration, hi-res audio playback, AirPlay, DTS Play-Fi, and more. The THX Select-certified TX-NR686 is rated at a respectable 100 watts per channel enough to power most speakers. The TX-NR585 is rated at 80 watts per channel, so a choice of smaller and more efficient speakers will be a better match for this.
Onkyo’s reputation in audio playback are not compromised even at this price range thanks to the high-current, non-phase-shift amplification circuitry with discrete output stages in both receivers. The combination of high current and power will be adequate to provide a satisfying audio performance. As with most modern receivers the NR686 and NR585 supports many digital audio sources like Hi-Res Audio in 5.6-MHz DSD or 192-kHz/24-bit in FLAC, WAV, AIFF, and ALAC over network or USB input. They also benefit from VLSC (Vector Linear Shaping Circuitry) on Front L/R channels. This patented circuit removes high-frequency noise resulting in clear articulation for both movie dialog and music.
No modern receivers can do without streaming services. So Onkyo has included support for Amazon Music, TIDAL, TuneIn, Deezer, Pandora and Spotify. Integration of these services are seamless with easy control from the supplied remote controls or Onkyo Controller or Onkyo Music Control App. All network streaming and control functions, including AirPlay, operate over dual-band 5-GHz/2.4-GHz Wi-Fi for stability in areas with household network congestion. Music streaming capabilities are available through built-in Bluetooth wireless connection.
They are very user friendly. With Graphical User Interface (GUI) over HDMI these receivers are very easy to setup and navigate.
Pioneer’s lineup of AV receivers, namely the Pioneer VSX-932, Pioneer VSX-832 and Pioneer VSX-532, offer new features such as HDCP 2.2 compatibility and true 3-dimensional sound with Dolby Atmos® that optimize your audio experience.
The Pioneer VSX-932 is an excellent main AVR or premium secondary unit for elsewhere in the home that delivers a quality sound experience for its price. It supports Dolby Vision, HDR10, and BT.2020 and features a DTS:X next-generation audio codec as well as Pioneer’s Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration System, or MCACC.
The Pioneer VSX-832 is a home theater receiver that supports DTS:X and Dolby Atmos and it beckons a further look with its lower than expected price and advanced calibration system. This 5.2-channel AV receiver not only features DTS-HD Master Audio decoding and Dolby TrueHD, it provides additional audio processing. It also supports FlareConnect, the wireless multiroom audio distribution system announced in late 2017 by Onkyo and Pioneer.
The Pioneer VSX-532 has got to be one of the most affordable new AV receivers on the market! Priced at the mid $200s, this 5.1 channel unit comes with Ultra HD pass-through, built-in Bluetooth and includes Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, on top of Pioneer’s Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration System (MCACC) and Ultra HD (4K/60p/4.4.4) pass-through with HDCP 2.2 support. Despite its no-frills appearrance, its features certainly reinforce its value in today’s market.
Known to deliver a truly high-class sound studio experience, Yamaha’s AVENTAGE range of receivers are highly sought after, even by audiophiles. Early this year, Yamaha upgraded its entire RX 70 series of AVENTAGE AV receivers. Here, we have a look at just three of them, the RX-A1070, RX-A2070 and RX-A3070.
The new RX 70 series features Dolby Atmos® and DTS:X™ for surround sound realism, supports HDR (High Dynamic Range) and will be compatible with Dolby Vision™ and Hybrid Log-Gamma for incredible contrast, smooth tone and rich, bright colors with a firmware update. Other common features include a free MusicCast app, Wi-Fi®, Bluetooth® and AirPlay® wireless connectivity, phono input for vinyl playback, advanced HDMI zone switching and Zone 2 control options.
The Yamaha RX-A1070, the only 7.2-channel network AV receiver of the three, features high-performance digital-to-analog conversion with the ESS SABRE Premier Audio DAC ES9006A and lets you add audio in up to 9 additional rooms with MusicCast.
The Yamaha RX-A2070 is a 140W 9.2-channel network AV receiver that features 11 speaker terminals with Intelligent Amp Assign for Zone 2 and dual SABRE Premier DACs.
The top of the range Yamaha RX-A3070 is a 9.2-channel with CINEMA DSP HD3, XLR terminals for low signal transmission and minimized sound distortion provided by its high-performance SABRE32 Ultra DAC and ESS ES9026PRO SABRE DAC.
Yamaha’s AVENTAGE line of high-performance AV receivers is known to reproduce the most subtle details of high-definition sound that most audiophiles would approve of. Early 2017 saw Yamaha upgrade its RX 70 series AVENTAGE receivers. The new RX 70 series is set to support HDR (High Dynamic Range) on the get go. And if you are looking for Dolby Vision™ and Hybrid Log-Gamma compatibility for incredible contrast, smooth tone and rich, bright colors, you can expect to have it soon with Yamaha’s firmware updates scheduled for released in the fall.
Here, we have a quick look at just three of them, namely the Yamaha RX-A670, Yamaha RX-A770 and Yamaha RX-A870.
All three receivers are 7.2-channel AV receivers with Dolby Atmos®, DTS:X™ and the latest in HDMI® technologies, allowing users to enjoy their favourite movies in stunning 4K Ultra HD and high dynamic range (HDR). Built-in Wi-Fi®, Bluetooth® and AirPlay® also provide flexible wireless connectivity.
The Yamaha RX-A670 is the most basic model of the RX 70 series and presents an economical way to experience the multiple rewards of premium sound and visual performance.
The mid-range Yamaha RX-A770 is already the hot favourite amongst the RX 70 series. It sports an additional photo input for vinyl playback, Zone 2 Extra Bass and Zone 2 Volume Equalizer for added versatility.
The top of the range Yamaha RX-A870 features not only additional HDMI ports and Zone 2 control options, most importantly, it comes with YPAO™ – R.S.C. (Reflected Sound Control) with 3D sound field effectiveness optimisation and 64-bit precision EQ calculation for the most natural room acoustics possible.
It’s been a while since Marantz launched the SR7010 and SR7011 model. Thus it is high time Marantz refreshed it’s lineup with the SR6012 (MSRP$1499) and SR5012 (MSRP$999). It good to know that Marantz has upped the ante with several new features like multiroom music playback via HEOS integration and also full 4K Ultra HD compatibility.
Both are full-featured networked AV receivers but the Marantz SR6012 is the more sophisticated unit with nine built-in amps plus 11.2-channel processing.
The next model in this high end range is the Marantz SR5012 which comes with a more modest 7.2-channel processing and lesser power output of 110 watts per channel.
To keep up with the latest audio advancements, support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X is included. The SR6012 has 11.2-channel processing to handle 7.1.4-speaker configurations while the SR5012 is compatible with 5.1.2 configurations.
On the video side of things Dolby Vision HDR is also included with more media on the way.
Connectivity is the by-word for tech products. You can use a wired or Wi-Fi connection to access music through their home network. This includes Internet radio and streaming services such as Spotify Connect, Tidal and Pandora. It can also stream music from a computer or NAS drive at up to 192-kHz/24-bit and DSD 5.6 MHz. This is the works guys. High end audio in a box. Can’t ask for more.
The Marantz SR6012 handles 5.1.4 and 7.1.2 speaker configurations without the need for an external amp. Like other top-tier Marantz AVRs, users who opt to use all 11.2 channels can choose between assigning the main left and right speakers, or a pair of the heights to the external amplifier. This AVR provides preamp-out connections for all channels.
The SR6012’s futureproof advanced video section is fully compatible with the latest HDMI and HDCP 2.2 specifications on all 8 HDMI inputs. With 4K Ultra HD 60Hz video, 4:4:4 Pure Color sub-sampling, High Dynamic Range (HDR), 21:9 video, 3D, and BT.2020 and Dolby Vision pass-through on every input, the SR6012 is absolutely future-proof.
It’s been expected for some time but now the demise of 3D is official following the announcement that Sony and LG will be ending support for the format that Samsung and Visio had already abandoned. We are not surprised that it turned out this way as 3D had been a “cumbersome” format needing extra glasses to enjoy its benefits.
With that out of the way, TV manufacturers and content providers are working hard to churn out hardware and content for the new 4K UHD HDR format and the promise of an enhanced viewing experience resulting from the combination of ultra-high resolution, rich colors, and greater contrast. And it has a new official label too – Ultra HD Premium, a joint standard by UHD Alliance, a consortium of TV manufacturers, broadcasters and film producers.
With Ultra HD HDR you get image quality that is many levels sharper and deeper in color beyond what was available just a few years ago. Today’s HD Blu-rays, when playing on a Ultra HD Premium certified TV, offers superior image fidelity to what is available in cinemas.
Fortunately some AV receivers launched last year are already UHD Premium compatible so there is no need to upgrade.
To keep audiophiles ears humming with expectation Onkyo’s 2016 line of advanced RZ Series AV receivers comes with upgraded and customized capacitors and Onkyo’s premium amp circuitry so as to deliver high-current power needed for the most demanding of action movies and full orchestral works.
The top two models – Onkyo TX-RZ810 (MSRP $1399) and Onkyo TX-RZ710 (MSRP $1099) are both THX Select2 Plus-certified for theater grade performance and are ready to decode Dolby Atmos and DTS:X surround formats. Onkyo has introduced separate analog amplification and digital processing blocks as well as solid copper bus bars that limit interference and patented Vector Linear Shaping Circuitry (VLSC) on all channels for noiseless digital to analog conversion for the TX-RZ810. There are 8 HDMI inputs and two outputs making it possible for two 4K/60 Hz video sources to be viewed in separate rooms.
Both the AV receivers can serve the entire home with FireConnect powered by Blackfire wireless technology which mirrors analog and digital audio on a compatible wireless speaker.
At the lower end of this range is the Onkyo TX-RZ610 (MSRP $899). It features a 7.2-channel network A/V receiver that delivers 100 W/ch into 8 ohms. However it does not have THX certification and some multi-zone connectivity. To maintain a similar audio standard Onkyo has included high-quality components like a massive power transformer, custom-spec capacitors, and discrete non-phase-shift amp circuitry. This high-current design enables full-audio reproduction down to 10 Hz while improving control of speaker drivers for full range sound.
The 3-year warranty of these models also proved to be a fantastic selling point especially since people aren’t expected to upgrade their home theater receivers every year.
Onkyo, a company renowned for keeping its line of AV receivers at the cutting edge has again stepped forward ahead of the curve for featuring 4K video support in it’s line of mid range receivers. Along with other modern formats of audio surrounds and video there is a strong focus on multiroom audio too. The receivers comes with FireConnect, powered by Blackfire, allowing any audio source connected to the receiver to be sent to another source as long as it’s also FireConnect compatible.
Onkyo’s proprietary AccuEQ suite that automatically calibrate the receivers to your room dimensions, has also grown with the addition of AccuReflex. This measures sound bounced off the ceiling to make it easier in setting up Dolby Atmos in your home theater.
Coming at the top of this range is the Onkyo TX-NR757 (MSRP $700) featuring a 7.2-channel 180 watts networked receiver and THX Select2 Plus sound. High-resolution audio is achieved through a new AKM 384 kHz/32-bit DAC. The receiver offers AirPlay, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connectivity in addition to streaming support from Spotify and Pandora. FireConnect, Google Cast support, and streaming via Tidal will come in a future firmware update.
Below the TX-NR757 are the Onkyo TX-NR656 (MSRP $600) & Onkyo TX-NR555 (MSRP $500). You get less output power at 170W and 140W respectively but they both come with the same connectivity options and almost similar features. Similarly both of these units will receive FireConnect and connectivity options.
Consistency, innovation and performance are terms we can associate with Yamaha’s receivers. They have been consistent with product quality and keeps making better receivers over the years. They also keep innovating with better features while keeping prices affordable. And we have not been shortchanged with natural sound and video performance.
So we are glad to know that their 2015 lineup of AV receivers in the AVENTAGE range keep up with these ideals. Yamaha has 5 models in the 2015 lineup with prices ranging from $649.95 to $1999.95 for the flagship Yamaha RX-A3040.
Here’s a short summary of their features and specs:
1. Yamaha RX-A740 ($649.95): a 7.2 Channel receiver delivering 90W per channel featuring Apple AirPlay, built-in Wi-Fi and 4K Ultra HD Pass-through.
2. Yamaha RX-A840 ($849.95): also a 7.2-channel unit with higher power rated at 110W per channel. Features the latest HDMI version with 4K Ultra HD 50/60p support, AirPlay, built-in Spotify, Pandora and Rhapsody. YPAO Volume, 17 DSP programs and 3D support. It has 8 HDMI inputs and dual HDMI outputs (simultaneous output) to connect to a projector and flatscreen. It also features high resolution 192/24-bit Burr-Brown DACs.
3. Yamaha RX-A1040 ($1099.95): same features as the RX-A840 but with higher power rating of 120W per channel, higher quality DAC, more connectivity options including additional analog inputs, an additional 12v trigger and analog video outputs for the second zone.
4. Yamaha RX-A2040 ($1599.95): 9.2 channels with 140W per channel, 23 DSP programs, a high resolution music enhancer and dual ESS Technology ES9006 Sabre audio DACs. It features zone 2 and zone 3 powered speakers with HDMI for the second zone and audio pre-outs for audio in the 3rd zone.
5. Yamaha RX-A3040 ($1999.95): an audio powerhouse with 11.2 channels with 150W per channel of power. Super-high quality 192 kHz/32-bit SABRE32 DACs, optimized power amplifier layout with ultra-low jitter circuitry housed inside a double bottom chassis with a fifth foot. Advanced HDMI Zone Switching and Dolby Atmos Surround Processing also added.
All in all a complete range for the entry level and the most discerning audiophile.
Dolby calls its new Atmos technology “The most significant development in cinema audio since surround sound”. Onkyo is the first to embrace Dolby Atmos, ditching Audyssey in the process.
The new Onkyo TX-NR1030 and TX-NR3030 receivers and the flagship Onkyo PR-SC5530 network AV controller, will all come with Dolby Atmos surround sound. Firmware updates are now available also for TX-NR636, TX-NR737 and TX-NR838 receivers.
Pioneer has also confirmed it will be releasing a firmware update for its Elite range of receivers to allow them to support Dolby Atmos.
To enjoy Atmos to its full potential users will need to add a pair or more of ceiling speakers to an existing surround sound system. Unlike Dolby Pro Logic IIz, they are designed to appear discretely in the mix and not be simply “matrixed” from the front channels. The addition of height speakers adds a new dimension to the sound making it sound more full.
The first Blu-ray disc Transformers: Age of Extinction has just been released on Amazon UK. Dolby says that you do not need a dedicated blu-ray player to enjoy Atmos content as long as your player fully conforms to the current Blu-ray specification. Movies Gravity, Godzilla, and Edge of Tomorrow were also filmed with Atmos encoding. But don’t expect many blu-ray titles with Atmos anytime time soon. It is early days yet and the distributors do not want to get stucked with older stocks.
If you do not want to spend more on your home theater system, Dolby’s “hardware partners” will also make side speakers that will emulate the experience of sound coming from above your head.
Denon and Marantz have announced new receivers which will be Dolby Atmos compatible. Look out for reviews of these coming up soon.
Complementing the new entry level receivers launched recently, Onkyo launches two new mid-range receivers – the TX-NR737 and TX-NR838 priced at $949 and $1299 respectively. They have just been shipped and you should be able to get them from stores now.
Both these receivers come with Bluetooth and built-in WiFi, plus the latest HDMI standard and HDCP 2.2 spec to support 4K UltraHD content; and are THX Select2 Plus-certified to comply with cinema standards for larger rooms.
Onkyo is proud of their audio standards and takes great pains to make them sound as good as they look. Smooth current delivery is their aim for their higher end receivers and not surprisingly the TX-NR737 and NR838 are endowed with Onkyo’s proprietary Wide Range Amplifier Technology (WRAT). At the core are a custom high-output transformer, extra-large customised capacitors and low-impedance copper bus-plates. They also feature dual Digital Signal Processing (DSP) engines and 24/192 Burr-Brown DACs.
Room calibration is by way of AccuEQ software which by design bypasses the front left and right channels leaving their sound as they are. The surround speakers are then calibrated for a balanced surround sound. With turntables making a massive comeback in the midst of burgeoning vinyl record sales, Onkyo has a Pure Direct Analogue Path (PDAP) feature that routes the audio path from the turntable directly through the receiver without being affected by the digital circuitry.
Connectivity wise, both models have 7 HDMI inputs; 6 on the rear and one MHL certified input on the front and supports 4K Ultra HD video at 60fps. The usual DLNA and Wi-Fi are built-in. DSD files and gapless 192kHz/24-bit FLAC and WAV are also supported. Bluetooth 2.1 is also built-in to both receivers to provide wireless streaming option.
These are good upgrades to last years’ models and with better audio fidelity and Ultra HD support these 2 new receivers should create quite a buzz with Onkyo users.
If having the latest and most advanced home theater receivers are up your alley, Onkyo might just have the fix you need.
Onkyo has just launched the latest range of network ready receivers that features 4K streaming and Ultra HD upscaling via HDMI. 2 models are announced so far, the TX-NR535 is a 5.2-channel receiver while the TX-NR636 ups the ante with and 7.2-channel output. Both receivers feature HDMI specified for 4K/60 Hz video, universal support for gapless hi-res network audio, built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. In addition the TX-NR636 adds HDCP 2.2 compatibility to support the latest DRM copy-protection standard.
It is good to note that Onkyo has continued its tradition of not neglecting the audio aspect of their receivers making them fully enjoyable in a music only system as well as a full blown home theater setup. Both receivers feature gapless playback of almost any high-resolution file format including 5.6 MHz DSD, Dolby TrueHD, 192 kHz/24-bit FLAC and WAV, and ALAC to 96 kHz and 24-bit depth. If you have a big library of music on your smartphone or tablet it can be streamed via remote app and Wi-Fi to the home theater. The TX-NR535 and TX-NR636 come loaded with Spotify, Pandora, Rhapsody, SiriusXM Internet Radio, AUPEO! and TuneIn.
Curiously what is missing is the ubiquitous Audyssey calibration. Instead the receivers utilize Onkyo’s proprietary AccuEQ calibration system.
The new mid priced 7.1 channel Onkyo HT-R2295 outputs a respectable 130W per channel of power to all its 7 channels making it ideal for those who have large speakers. Priced at only $499, it is one of the highest powered speakers at this price range. It is also designed to be smart device friendly as it has a front-panel USB for lossless and compressed audio from your iPod, iPhone, or a flash drive.
With a full 7.1 setup, the soundstage is wide and well balanced between dialog and ambient surround that is well suited for movie buffs and serious music lovers. Room optimization is achieved by the ubiquitous Audyssey 2EQ acoustic correction. The are only 4 HDMI inputs so you have to be prepared to limit your source devices to just four.
If you want even more convenience in accessing music from your smartphone you can also get the optional UBT-1 adapter to enable Bluetooth wireless audio streaming. This is the latest version with a aptX® codec that delivers near CD-quality sound.
The Onkyo HT-R2295 is simple to use and packs a solid punch of amplifier power that will amply fill a medium sized room for an involving surround-sound experience.
Marantz has released a new receiver – the Marantz M-CR610 Wireless Network CD Receiver – perfect for those who want a good source for audio and yet cannot fit a full-fledged AV receiver into a space. This receiver come with a CD player and is also an AV receiver and networking streaming media player all in one.
There is plenty to like about this new Marantz. It streams music from the Internet, streams DLNA content from your networked PCs, plays CDs, features AirPlay support and even comes with a front USB port.
This machine might be small but it is by no means reference quality. For a dorm or office, this Marantz M-CR610 Wireless Network CD Receiver will give you the sound of a real stereo system with its small footprint.
Yamaha recently announced that it will support Spotify Connect, a home audio experience giving you control of your music across your mobile devices with millions of songs built in. Music streaming services has changed the way consumers access music. The integration of Spotify Connect within Yamaha products will provide customers with access to the vast music archive that Spotify has to offer.
Yamaha network AV receiver users that have a Spotify Premium account can now looking forward to enjoying instant access to millions of songs on their home entertainment system. Spotify Connect will be available on all 2013 released Yamaha Network AV receivers via a firmware update.
To use Spotify Connect, customers are required to download the Spotify app for a smartphone, tablet or laptop and have an active Spotify Premium account. If you own a compatible Yamaha network AV receiver and would like to try a Spotify Premium account, there is a free 30-day trial available. For more details, visit spotify.com/yamaha.
Spotify Connect compatible models:
AVENTAGE Preamplifier: CX-A5000
AVENTAGE series AV receivers: RX-A3030, RX-A2030, RX-A1030, RX-A830, RX-A730
RX-V series AV receivers: RX-V775WA, RX-V675, RX-V575, RX-V475
RX-S series slim AV receivers: RX-S600
HTR series AV receivers: HTR-4066
TSR series AV receivers: TSR-6750WA
It’s been 4 years since Arcam last released an AV receiver and its new flagship AV receiver, the Arcam FMJ AVR750 AV Receiver is said to not only be the finest home cinema AV receiver Arcam has ever made, but also the best sounding stereo amplifier too.
This newcomer boasts clean lines and a dark-grey bodywork that reflect the familiar FMJ aesthetics. Its neatly laid-out rear panel holds seven HDMI inputs and two outputs that are ARC compatible, component inputs, four legacy phono AV inputs and a Zone 2 analogue output. Digital audio options include two optical and four coaxial. For even more external power, you will also find a 7.1 bank of pre-amp outputs.
This 7-channel design AV receiver uses multi-voltage Class G amplification and can be configured as a full 7.1 system, or as 5.1 with two channels serving a second zone.
The Arcam AVR750 sounds delicious to the ears already and it is easily the most accomplished Arcam AV receiver to date. Check back for the full Arcam FMJ AVR750 AV receiver review.
Look out for Anthem‘s all new MRX 710 and 510 AV receivers! Anthem announced just yesterday, the release of two receivers – the Anthem MRX 710 and 510.
These receivers sit at the top of Anthem’s range of receivers and these models look sleeker and are more advanced and hardworking than their predecessors.
Both these receivers offer 7 channels of audio output with 120 watts per channel for the MRX 710, and 100 watts per channel for the MRX 510. They also comes with an advanced version of Anthem’s proprietary room correction DSP system, the ARC 1M. Other upgrades include 7 HDMI inputs, one with Auto Return Channel (ARC), 2 HDMI outs, 4K video upscaling and pass through, drivers for IP control of select systems, iOS and Android controller apps, a host of available configurations, bi-amping of the L/R channels, and more.
3D (or high definition 3D TV) launched with great fanfare at the 2010 CES in Las Vegas. It seems that now, just 3 years on, 3D is no longer the buzzword. Less films are now offered in 3D and theaters are not keen on putting out more screenings as viewership is dwindling due in part to higher ticket prices for 3D screenings.
Quite a number of movie fans still prefer films in 2D and some are simply not keen on donning cumbersome 3D glasses for hours. These factors coupled with the fact that 3D content is not as readily available makes any upgrading to 3D less of an urgency.
With the advent of higher resolution Ultra HDTVs this year, 3D may even go the way of the dinosaur. Manufacturers have a new battle to fight so the talk about 3D being the new revolution of TV is simply not going to happen any time soon or if ever.
HDMI specifications haven’t changed for some time, which is a good thing. Every time a change in technology or some new technical specification come about there is usually a flurry of activity by manufacturers to gain market share by touting the latest and the bestest.
So after ten confusing HDMI specification updates, the last of which was ver 1.4, it is good news indeed to learn that HDMI 2.0 does not require any cable change. The current high speed HDMI cables (or Cat 2) will be able to carry all the increased signal and bandwidth upgrades of HDMI 2.0. Cable manufacturers are now required to label HDMI cables according to cable type, i.e. Standard, High Speed, or High Speed with Ethernet.
According to the recent press release by the HDMI forum, ver 2.0 is backwards compatible with earlier versions of the HDMI specification. It significantly increases bandwidth up to 18Gbps and adds major enhancements for higher video and audio resolution bandwidth.
Here is a summary of the HDMI 2.0 specs and features:
- Increased bandwidth up to 18Gbps
- Resolutions up to 4K@50/60 (2160p), which is 4 times the clarity of 1080p/60 video resolution
- Up to 32 audio channels for a multi-dimensional immersive audio experience
- Up to 1536kHz audio sample frequency for the highest audio fidelity
- Simultaneous delivery of dual video streams to multiple users on the same screen
- Simultaneous delivery of multi-stream audio to multiple users (Up to 4)
- Support for the wide angle theatrical 21:9 video aspect ratio
- Dynamic synchronization of video and audio streams
- CEC extensions provide more expanded command and control of consumer electronics devices through a single control point
It is good timing that HDMI 2.0 will arrive just in time as 4K Ultra HD TV hits the stores.
The delivery of digital music is slowly transforming from disc based to being file based. Many consumers are digitizing their CD collection and storing them as digital files and playing them back through a music streamer like the Squeezebox Touch. The range of music that are available for purchase as a download online are increasing by the day with online sources like HDtracks, iTunes and most recently SuperHiRez by Acoustic Sounds.
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) announced last week that it will join manufacturers, retailers, music labels and artists in offering expanded support for and promotion of high-resolution audio (HRA). CEA is exploring various initiatives and plans to leverage opportunities to promote HRA at the 2014 International CES. With these latest developments, we will see a gradual demise of CD and standard resolution audio. Streaming music will be a whole new industry and soon overtake physical CDs in popularity.
Most receivers purchased in the last 2 years already support media streaming. Not only are compressed music files supported such as MP3, WMA, and AAC but also high resolution files such as FLAC, WAV, AIFF, Apple Lossless and even DSD, Sony’s leading format which have become an underground sensation in the computer audio community.
Depending on the receiver model, all you need is a PC running Windows with Windows Media Player installed or DLNA-compatible media servers. For quick access you can store music files on a USB thumb drive and play back from there. You can be sure as digital music streaming becomes more popular, manufacturers will see the opportunity to incorporate more such functions into the modern AV 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:
- 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.
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!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The audio-visual industry has been abuzz with news recently as manufacturers announce their new releases. Pioneer has also done the same with the introduction of two brand new AV receivers, the Pioneer Elite SC-71 and SC-72. Both these receivers offer 7.2-channel surround sound, Class D amplification, 4K Ultra HD upscaling and HD audio playback.
Both receivers support multiple audio file formats for playback and high-res AIFF and Apple lossless files. They are also DLNA 1.5 certified, own built-in Ethernet ports and AirPlay support. The only downside is that there isn’t any built-in Wi-Fi.
These receivers will be launching in June so look out for the full reviews!
Just when you thought that AV receivers could not get any better, Marantz surprises us with its space-saving ultra-slim NR1604 and NR1504 AV receivers.
Designed to pack the same audio quality as its bulkier counterparts, these AV receivers have been found to be really easy and simple to use. They include features such as AirPlay, Spotify and DLNA for audio streaming and certainly do not shortchange you on the connectivity options. With 7 HDMI inputs on the Marantz NR1604 and 6 HDMI inputs on the Marantz NR1504, all with 4K support, you can be ready to be wowed with them!
Keep a look out for the full reviews!
Onkyo already has a wide range of AV receivers under its belt and it continues to strive to do better all the time. This time, Onkyo seems to have pulled out the stops on features in its latest duo of AV receivers – the Onkyo TX-NR929 and Onkyo TX-NR828.
Not only do they feature built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, they are also THX-certified and 4K-compatible. These receivers can upscale to 4K with its Marvell Qdeo video processing technology.
The high-end Onkyo TX-NR929 is a 9.2-channel network AV receiver that comes with Audyssey’s MultEQ XT32 room acoustic equalisation, 9 HDMI inputs and 2 HDMI outputs. Its cheaper counterpart, the Onkyo TX-NR828, features Audyssey MultEQ, 8 HDMI inputs and 2 HDMI outputs, amongst many other features.
New technologies such as 4K Ultra HD in HDTVs, projectors and Blu-ray players put new demands and high video bandwidth on cables. But how do you know if your home theater equipment is outputting the highest signal resolution? Well the latest Monster latest line of ISF Certified ‘Smart’ HDMI cables have glowing signal indicators that show you if the cable is sending a standard definition, HD, or 4K video signal. This innovative feature eliminates guesswork when connecting your 4K capable components together.
But these cables do not come cheap. The top model costs more than most blu-ray players! They are priced from $60 to $350 in varying lengths between 5 to 75 feet with three transfer speeds: ISF 2000 (21 Gbps), ISF 1250 (17.8 Gbps); and the ISF 750 (14.3 Gbps). They are supposed to give you the best signal quality and solve one of the most pressing issues in video signal transfer over a poorly hatched HDMI standard. So Monster came out with their proprietary solution in the form of a V-Grip connector that increases the retention force of the HDMI cable for a more reliable connection. Bear in mind that HDMI cables do not like being bent as signal timing is critical. If you have a long cable run, twists and turns can degrade performance.
So the big question is do you need to spend this much for cables? Well it depends on your system setup and budget. If you have a 150 inch screen in a dedicated home theater room with high-end equipment you may want to give this a serious consideration as Monster has a lifetime guaranteed for whatever technology that comes along in future as well as cable failure. It’s the only guarantee of its kind in the industry we’ve heard off. This in itself is worth the price of entry.
Harman Kardon has launched two brand new AV receivers and they are the Harman Kardon AVR 2700 and AVR 3700. Powered by the Harman Kardon high-current, ultra-wide bandwidth amplifier and boasting 8 HDMI inputs with 3D compatibility and Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, these AV receivers look attractive, to say the least.
The AVR 2700 is a 7.1-channel av receiver that delivers 100 watts per channel. It also features built-in DLNA-certified 1.5 Ethernet connectivity and Apple AirPlay, and most of all, 4K video pass-through and upscaling.
On the other hand, the AVR 3700 is a 7.2-channel network AV receiver that chucks out 125 watts per channel. On top of the features found in the AVR 2700, this AV receiver also offers multi-zone functionality and allows for the use of external power amplifiers with its full preamp outputs.
Sony has always had AV receivers in its range of products, though they were never the market leaders in this arena. While most other manufacturers have features almost as a standard in their AV Receivers, Sony has finally launched brand new AV receivers that come with features such as Wi-Fi, AirPlay and Bluetooth.
Its 2013 range of AV receivers come with a great number of HDMI inputs with the base model, the Sony STR-DN840 boasting 6 HDMI inputs and its high-end Sony STR-DN1040 boasting 8 HDMI inputs, an advanced GUI and dual HDMI outputs.
It’s time we looked out for these receivers!
Is it time to ditch your AV receiver remote in favor of using your smartphones? This is becoming a reality as Onkyo, Denon, Sony and many others offer Apple and Android apps that allow you to use your tablet or smartphone as a remote control. The reality, although not apparent to many, is that smartphone apps are generally better at things like navigating digital music sources and controlling multi-zone playback. The only time you really need your receiver’s remote is during the initial setup phase, or all you ever do is watching a movie from start to finish and adjust volume levels.
If, on the other hand, you wanted to listen to Spotify or Pandora, remote apps offer more intuitive and much quicker navigation. Using the hard-button remote is laborious in comparison when you need to scroll through lists of artists, albums, genres, etc. With the app you can simply tap the content you want to listen to. For example the Denon remote app has 8 short-cut buttons that are fully customizable to allow you to choose the look and function to suit your taste and needs. How it works is that once the app is installed on your smartphone, it sends remote control signals via WiFi in your home network.
Owners of 2009, 2010, 2011, or later Onkyo network home theater receivers can use the Onkyo Remote Control App to access a variety of functions, including volume, radio tuning, input selection, and other functions.
The latest Sony ES Remote App is compatible with their latest receivers such as STR-DA5800ES, STR-DA2800ES, STR-DA1800ES, STR-DA5700ES and STR-DA3700ES. It can even control your lights with the purchase of compatible switches or dimmers!
And best of all these apps are free for owners of their receivers. Most of the apps are available for download on Google Play.
Despite declining AV receiver sales over the past few years, Yamaha is not letting up with new receiver development and has launched a series of budget models with ever improving features.
Over its 125 years history Yamaha has done a great job producing high quality AV receivers that offer performance and reliability at affordable price levels.
For 2013, Yamaha’s new RX-V series has five new models that offer support for 4K (or Ultra HD as it is sometimes referred to) and compatibility with Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) devices such as the latest Samsung Galaxy S3 & S4, the new Streaming Stick from Roku and many more devices on the way. They also support Apple’s Airplay and play music and video files from your local PC.
Handsomely designed, 4 of the new models (RX-V775WA, RX-V675 and RX-V575, and RX-V475) are network-enabled while the entry level the RX-V375 is non networked receiver. Yamaha also continue its fine tradition of good audio performance by including Burr-Brown 24/192 DACs.
Priced between $299.95 and $849.95, Yamaha has sensibly designed these receivers to cater to every budget.
With 4K technology being all the hype these days, electronics manufacturers all over the world are ready to push the 4K technology horizons and Denon is just one of them.
The newly released Denon AVR-X4000 promises pass through 4K signals or 4K upscaling for your home theater system. Packed with 7.2 channel surround sound and support for all the latest audio codecs, this av receiver certainly looks to increase its value to you. On top of its amazing features, its connectivity options will wow you too. With 7 HDMI inputs, 3 HDMI outputs, including one for a second rooms, ARC, 2 optical and 2 coaxial digital inputs, this AV receiver is looking like it will be future-proof for a long time to come.
The AVR-X4000 is another great option for an AV receiver as pre-processor, and a new benchmark price-wise for Denon. Stay tuned for a full Denon AVR-X4000 review!
Soundbars are becoming more and more popular nowadays and may one day be the component of choice for setting up a home theater due to its ease of integration.
Another new development comes in the form of wireless soundbars that will really make this segment take off. The new Sonos Playbar is a case in point. It could signal a transformation for the mass market who are not very particular about sound quality but more inclined towards ease of implementation. And a big factor is its asthetics – it looks great and neat under your flat screen TV, a big plus for the ‘wife approval rating’.
The Sonos Playbar is the latest entry in Sonos’s line of streaming audio products. It is very simple to set up. All you need to do is to connect an optical TosLink cable to your TV and plug the Playbar to your power socket. Streaming music from a computer, NAS or server on your network is just as easy with an Ethernet cable or wirelessly using the optional Sonos bridge which costs an additional $50. The 35 inch-wide soundbar can lie flat at the base of any TV larger than 40 inches. Soundwise the Sonos is not a slouch either. The surprisingly wide soundstage flooded the room with music and the bass response is adequate for most parts. It can play pretty loud without distortion. At $699 it represents excellent value for money for what it can do.
Denon has released their new, budget IN-Command receivers and we are awed by them! While they are nowhere near as expensive as regular receivers, these are targeted at the consumer who wants to do more than just power their speakers and route video to their brand new display. The consumer who cares about sound and features and is willing to pay a bit more for the right solution.
Denon released the AVR-X1000, AVR-X2000 and the AVR-X3000. These are all priced below $1000 with the AVR-X3000 at just a dollar less than a $1000. These new IN-Command receivers are both feature packed and flexible and will do a great job of powering your home theater at a great price!
Nowadays HDMI cables come in many shapes, forms, construction and of course, prices. They can cost somewhere between $5 to $500, and maybe even more. With such a vast difference in price, whether or not to buy an expensive HDMI cable is probably one of the most debated subjects on the internet. Some believe it is a waste of money as it’s a digital cable, so either it works or it doesn’t.
Is there is any discernible difference in video quality that can be perceived by the human eye? The simple answer is yes, but not much.
Is it worth spending 10 times or more for a HDMI cable? Well it depends on your budget and how much value you place on build quality, visual construction and how well the connectors mate with the receptacles on your receiver. More expensive cables have been engineered to eliminate timing jitter or reduce binary errors.
To a large extent, the size of your screen and the resolution of your system will determine whether it is worth spending more for HDMI cables. If you have a 200 inch screen and a optimum setup in a room with total lighting control you may be able to realize the benefits of slightly sharper picture, better contrast, skin tones and less noise. Audio performance also improved with better depth and voice quality. But in a lesser system, these effects may not be so discernible.
Yamaha has come up with the goods again with 5 moderately priced receivers that come with features that we usually see in more expensive equipment. And it’s good to note that as with Yamaha’s tradition, sound quality has not been sacrificed for budget reasons.
What’s new in the 2013 lineup is MHL, or Mobile High-Definition Link. It is an HD video and digital audio interface for connecting mobile phones and portable devices to the receiver. The MHL standard supports up to 1080p/60 high-definition (HD) video and 7.1 surround.
Except for the entry level RX-V 375, the four networked receivers includes one MHL-compatible HDMI input. The RX-V775WA and RX-V675 have their MHL port on the front which is convenient for connecting a compatible smartphone. The RX-V575 and RX-V475 have their MHL port on the back, which is better for connecting a Roku Streaming Stick out of sight. Another new feature is “high-speed HDMI switching”. This is indeed a welcome improvement given how slow AV receivers switch inputs sometimes.
Other than that, features wise are quite similar to last year’s models. You can check out their full features list on Yamaha’s site, but here is a quick feature guide and pricing:
- RX-V375 ($299.95): 5.1 channels, four HDMI inputs
- RX-V475 ($449.95): 5.1 channels, five HDMI inputs, MHL, Ethernet, AirPlay
- RX-V575 ($549.95): 7.2 channels, five HDMI inputs, MHL, Ethernet, AirPlay
- RX-V675 ($649.95): 7.2 channels, six HDMI inputs, GUI, powered second zone
- RX-V775WA ($849.95): 7.2 channels, Dual HDMI outputs, 7.1 pre-outs, included Wi-Fi dongle
We will be doing a full review of each of the receivers in due course.
Smartphones are now a way of life. Everyone has one and cannot live without it. Even when watching movies at home, the phone is by our side. The ubiquitous use of smartphones has spewed a proliferation of apps have really changed the way we control home theater content.
It can even make watching movies at home more fun. Just do a quick search for an app that is applicable to your AV receiver or HDTV. Nowadays, almost every manufacturer has an app. But it’s not limited to just hardware. DirecTV, TiVo, DISH, Verizon, Slingbox, Netflix, and a many other service and software providers also have apps. With the well thought out features they do provide a lot of fun and functionality.
Most apps are free, otherwise they will not cost an arm and a leg. But finding them that can sometimes be quite challenging as they have names you are not familiar with like the free Dijit app by NextGuide which combines listings from any live TV service with movies and TV shows that can be found and played on Hulu Plus, Netflix, and iTunes, with rich searching capability, alerts, and one-click watching. Another free app called Plex puts everything, including TV, videos, music, photos, and much more, into the palm of your hand.
Another useful app is “Audiocalc & Videocalc” (available for iOS) that helps you optimize your home theater’s audio and video outputs. Whether you’re trying to check the power of your amp, or figure out where to place your projector, this app have you covered. Costing only $3, it’s definitely cheaper than hiring an installer.
For more apps, try iTunes app store and look under the ‘Entertainment’ category. The only problem is that it is such a broad category which makes finding the app that you want rather difficult.
Have fun exploring and playing with your new found apps!
Christmas is certainly over but it still feels festive in the audio-visual industry as electronics giants all over the world are releasing their new models for the year in stores. Pioneer’s 2013 lineup is pretty impressive too, even amongst its fiercest competitors.
This year, Pioneer has brought great features such as 4K Ultra-HD support, an ECO Mode to reduce power consumption, and (on the top dog, Pioneer VSX-1123) a Zone 2 HDMI output to their lineup and we are excited!
Pioneer’s entry level 5.1-channel AV receiver is is the Pioneer VSX-523, boasting 80 watts per channel. With 4 HDMI inputs and a single HDMI output, plus a single subwoofer pre-out, it might not seem like much. But throw in Pioneer’s proprietary auto-calibration routine, MCACC, ECO Mode and 4K Ultra-HD pass through and you will be gaping at this machine. For a bit more, the Pioneer VSX-823 offers a host of networking features including Apple Airplay, DLNA 1.5, Pandora, vTuner Internet Radio, and HTC Connect, which allows you to seamlessly stream music from your HTC smartphone.
Onkyo recently released their new range of network AV receivers for 2013 and their specifications have wowed us thus far. Here’s a sneak peek at some of them.
The THX Select2 Plus-certified Onkyo TX-NR727 Network AV Receiver is, by far, the most powerful model released. This 7.2-channel AV receiver is equipped with Three-Stage Inverted Darlington Circuitry and is designed to fill larger rooms with surround sound. Paired with eight HDMI inputs that include MHL support for 1080p video and two HDMI outputs, this AV receiver is certainly every audio enthusiast’s dream machine.
The mid-range Onkyo TX-NR626 is built to play multi-channel movie soundtracks and two-channel music. Boasting 4K Ultra HD video passthrough and upscaling, plus built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology, consumers will be drooling at the value offered by the TX-NR626.
At the entry level, we have the 5.2-channel Onkyo TX-NR525 Network AV Receiver that offers up Six HDMI inputs, Audyssey MultEQ, InstaPrevue technology, and Hybrid Standby (which maintains HDMI and network connectivity) amidst a useful amount of power, network connectivity and streaming service implementation.
Stay tuned for the full reviews!
Denon’s brand new line of receivers for 2013 has a huge theme about it – “simplicity”. The household brand is looking at new levels of user friendliness as it announced three brand new mainstream models with the higher-end models including ease-of-use-minded features like a guided setup assistant and new “push-in” type speaker jacks.
The three new Denon E-Series models are the AVR-E200, AVR-E300 and AVR-E400 and they are designed to offer a high level of specifications for the money and ease of set-up and use. Touted as an ‘Easy, Exciting Entertainment Experience’, the E-Series will boast features such as colour-coded speaker terminals and an on-screen Denon Setup Assistant on the mid-range to high end models, to walk users through the installation and calibration process.
Stay tuned for their full reviews here!
Onkyo is best known for manufacturing high quality home theater receivers and while there are plenty of other options available by worthy competitors, Onkyo has been rapidly expanding over the years to cater to its wide range of customers with affordable models that come with attractive features.
The Onkyo HT-RC430 AV receiver is one of the most unique home theater receivers available in the market today and it caters to a fairly large demographic – gamers. Packed with 4 gaming modes and a range of audio enhancing features, this AV receiver is certainly one for gamers to look at for an enhanced home gaming experience.
Folks who would love to have a whole chunk of HDMI ports, can certainly consider the Onkyo HT-RC460. This AV receiver may have the looks and the jacks and ports of an entry level receiver but check out the 8 HDMI inputs and 2 HDMI outputs that it boasts, and you might change your mind about it. You will find that it is fantastic home theater receiver with plenty of ports, a simple user interface and useful networking features. Read the Onkyo HT-RC460 review to find out more.
Pioneer has always had a reputation for having some of the best AV receivers around. Some of its 2012 models are certainly worth looking at. One of them is the Pioneer VSX-522-K. While it is not network ready, folks who do not require this network connectivity will be attracted to its low price, especially with its pack of state of the art features such as Phase Control and Front Stage Surround Advance. Do check out the VSX-522-K review.
Folks looking for a network ready AV receiver and have a limited budget, can consider the Pioneer VSX-822-K. With 6 HDMI ports and some of the most up-to-date features that home theater enthusiasts would enjoy, this AV receiver makes for a great budget and energy efficient choice. Read the full VSX-822-K review now.
At the recent CES, Onkyo announced the release of the world’s first full 11.4-channel implementation of DTS Neo:X and the first use of Cisco Linksys’ SimpleTap technology in an audio/video component in the Onkyo TX-NR1010 Network AV Receiver.
Some features included in this all new receiver include THX Ultra2 Plus certification to recreate the cinematic experience with dynamic Reference Level sound to larger home theaters up to 85 cubic meters in size and a viewing distance of approximately 3.5 meters. It is also the first consumer electronics partner to incorporate Cisco Linksys’ SimpleTap technology and boasts a new Differential DAC Mode and Digital Crossover Processing Network to optimize performance when bi-wiring and bi-amping the front channels.
Pioneer is one of the oldest AV receiver manufacturers in the market and they are known for manufacturing a wide range of manufacturers to suit the needs and budget of their customers. The Pioneer VSX-1022-K is one of the latest AV Receivers positioned as the cheapest Pioneer-branded home theater receiver with 7.1 channels support that is rich in wireless features. Together with the Auto Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration system, users will not be disappointed with the sound experience it provides. Read more about the Pioneer VSX-1022-K here.
Folks these days look to have a fully functional home theater system at home and the main goal for speaker setups is to achieve full 360 sound quality. While most of us would not be able to tell the difference between a 5.1 and 7.1-channel speaker system, audiophiles will say different.
This year, electronics manufacturer, Onkyo, has a wide range of receivers to cater to the growing needs of consumers. Folks who are looking to buy a receiver for long term investment can consider the pricier yet is the most affordable 9.2-channel AV receiver, the Onkyo TX-NR3010 with its high-end options.
Armed with THX Ultra2 certification and a powerful Dual Core Video Engine, this AV receiver promises amazing visuals that look great on 1080p and even 4k displays. It is certainly one Onkyo AV receiver to check out.
Marantz has always been a favorite amongst audioholics and this year, Marantz has released their flagship home theater receiver, the Marantz SR7007. For folks with deep pockets, this 7.2-channel AV receiver aims to please with its sophisticated design and rich audio and video features.
Packed with state of the art features and proprietary technologies, this home theater receiver is a worthy model to consider despite its 7.2-channel setup with up to 3 sources and limited network capabilities.
Read the full Marantz SR7007 review to find out more.
The latest AV receiver from Sony, the Sony STR-DN1030, is an update to the STR-DN1020 and it is the first AV receiver ever to feature built-in WiFi. This latest home cinema network AV receiver from Sony allows users to stream all their media content from their smartphones and tablet devices wirelessly or via AirPlay for Apple devices, providing access to over 15 million songs and Internet radio via the Sony Entertainment Network.
Armed with 7.2 channels of 120 watts each, five HDMI ports and other state of the art features such as HD Digital Cinema Sound Tech and Digital Cinema Auto Calibration technology, this AV receiver promises a true cinematic experience.
Yamaha has over the years, garnered for itself, a loyal following in the home theater industry. This year, Yamaha continues to uphold its reputation for good quality home theater devices with its range of AV receivers.
Yamaha’s all new 2012 AV receivers include great features such as AirPlay, 4K video pass-through with upscaling, app upgrades, multi-zone control and even an energy-saving ECO mode.
Its flagship model, the Yamaha RX-A3020, is a 9.2-channel AV receiver that stands out from the rest of its counterparts for its expandability to 11.2 channels.
Denon has a long-standing reputation in the home theater industry and it continues to uphold its pristine name with the products it produces.
Home theater enthusiasts can now look forward to the all new Denon AVR-1913 that promises cutting edge connectivity and seven 90-watt amplifiers for room-shaking 7.1-channel movie action amongst its usual features such as AirPlay technology for wireless music streaming from your favorite Apple device.
Read the full Denon AVR-1913 review for more details.
When multizone video first popped onto the home theater scene, everyone thought it was uber cool. Now, home theater gurus Denon and Marantz are bringing it to a whole new cool level by packing it into their newest receivers.
These new receivers will have an extra HDMI output that provides video in another zone and chances are, users will get multi-channel audio and upscaling, amongst many other features too.
Look out for this multizone video in Denon’s upcoming In-Command line of receivers and the new Marantz SR series.
The Pioneer VSX-23TXH is a replacement of the Pioneer VSX 94TXH and although it is not Pioneer’s top of the line product, its value and the price to performance ratio provide anyone who buys it with a good A/V receiver.
The VSX-23TXH features a greater number of HDMI inputs over its predecessor and also comes with Anchor Bay VRS video processing and supports high resolution audio formats. In addition, it has also earned itself a THX Select 2 Plus Certification.
While it does not feature any networking capabilities, it does provide the user with plenty of amplification and inputs, making it a great addition to any home theater.
Looking to upgrade your AV receiver? AV receivers today certainly have a whole chunk more of features that will sweep any user off their feet. So here is a look at some of the these amazing features that you will want to have in your next av receiver.
1) Network Capability – Most folks would want to be able to access video-based services such as Netflix, Amazon VOD and YouTube, and even Internet radio stations and streaming music services such as Pandora or Spotify throughout their av receivers. Hence, keep a look out for that Ethernet port.
2) Dual HDMI Outputs with ARC – This will prove to be extremely convenient for your home theater. ARC (Audio Return Channel) is also great for folks who wish to send audio from their TV back to the receiver over HDMI.
3) Beautiful Onscreen User Interface – A user interface that is not only a breeze to use but also easy on the eyes.
4) High Quality Volume Leveling – Consider having Dolby Volume or Audyssey Dynamic Volume so you will not always have to grab the remote control to deal with volume discrepancies.
Onkyo recently released three brand new models that are at the top of its av receiver lineup for 2012. Designed for integration into users’ digital lifestyles, these brand new models encompass some of the best features available in the market currently.
The flagship model that everyone has their eyes fixed on is the Onkyo TX-NR5010 Network AV Receiver. Targeted at the avid home theater enthusiast, this model aims to deliver the highest audio and video quality you will be able to get at this time.
Onkyo recently announced a pair of brand new features that its av receivers will boast this year – InstaPrevue and MHL connectivity.
With InstaPrevue, users will be able to enjoy a picture-in-picture preview of what is happening on any of your other inputs. For instance, while you are watching NetFlix, InstaPrevue will allow you to check on your favorite sports channel to see if your football game has started, without flipping back and forth.
InstaPrevue only works with HDMI and MHL inputs, which is the other brand new feature Onkyo has introduced. MHL connectivity is the HD connection method that is currently being used by mobile phones and tablets, allowing users to hook up their devices to the receiver with much ease.
AV receivers can cost from $150 to well above $2000. It depends on what features your ideal receiver encompasses. In fact, most folks pay between $200 and $600 for a decent AV receiver.
Entry level receivers generally cost between $150 to $300 and usually spot these characteristics :
- Basic 5.1-channel surround decoding (Dolby Digital and DTS)
- Power ratings : 50 – 100 watts with single frequency, limited bandwidth or full bandwidth power ratings
- Connectivity features such as several component video, S-video, and digital audio inputs
Mid-range receivers cost between $300-$600 and would boast more features than their entry level counterparts and spot these characteristics :
- Additional surround modes with 6.1 or 7.1-channel modes
- Onscreen setup throughout your TV for easy control
- More simulated sound fields (also known as DSP modes)
- More connectivity inputs, including front-panel digital inputs
High-end receivers, on the other hand, cost $600 and upwards and offer the most features along with a cleaner, more powerful and sophisticated sound. They usually also offer multi-room functionality, allowing users to power their living room, bedroom, and patio speakers all at once, and sometimes even listen to different audio sources simultaneously. Some of their characteristics include :
- A/B speaker switching or multi-room amplification
- Highly accurate power ratings and pure sound quality
- Superior bass management options
- Automatic room tuning and setup
There are a wide variety of AV receivers available in the stores today. However, bearing in mind that your ideal AV receiver will be the core of your home theater system and will be driving your loudspeakers and other functions. With all the features that AV receivers offer today, you can get pretty overwhelmed.
Your best bet would be to spend a significant amount of time doing some research online, to check out the available features in depth and consider which ones you want to have and which ones you don’t.
Do also check out some of the AV receiver reviews available on the Internet so you can get a better idea of what you will be purchasing.
An AV receiver or otherwise known as a home theater receiver, is really the heart of a home theater system. It provides most of the inputs and outputs that you connect everything to, including your television, providing users an easy and cost-effective way of centralizing their home theater system.
AV receivers are certainly for folks who enjoy movies, and not just music. Folks whose main interest is in music and obtaining the best from their collection of CDs and LPs, a stereo amplifier is what they should be looking for. Movie buffs wanting to enjoy their favorite flick in the comforts of their own home, would be looking at an AV receiver so they get to enjoy movie soundtracks in all their glory.