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How to Pick the Right AV Receiver for You: A Checklist

How to Pick the Right AV Receiver for You: A Checklist

True audiophiles understand that to create a rich audio environment and capture a cinematic experience in the comfort of your own home, you need a high-quality AV receiver.

However, picking the ideal AV receiver can be challenging since there are so many subtle nuances to consider. Eliminate any guesswork and get the best AV receiver possible for your home theater by following this checklist:

Audio echnology

  • HDMI inputs - Your AV receiver needs to support every media player in your home theater, and HDMI provides the best video and audio quality possible. Be sure that your AV receiver has enough HDMI inputs to support every device you plan to use.
  • Optical inputs - Optical digital audio cables may not be able to carry video signals like HDMI. However, according to CNET, their support for more sophisticated 7.1 channel setups make them just as relevant today as they were when first introduced over 30 years ago.
  • 3.5mm auxiliary port - Just about every audio device is compatible with the 3.5mm auxiliary format. As Lifewire explained, this means you can build out your home theater with a wide range of media players — even those that predate the HDMI era.
  • Phono inputs - If you want to include an older turntable model in your home theater setup, then phono inputs are must-have features.

Video Technology

  • 4K Ultra HD - 4K is the new standard for top-of-the-line video playback, providing more clarity and crisper visuals than standard 1080p HD resolution. Even if you don’t have a 4K-enabled TV today, you want to plan for the future.
  • Component inputs - Nothing beats HDMI in terms of video quality, but component cables come as close as any other analog format.
  • Composite Inputs - Not to be confused with the far-superior component cable format, composite inputs are still important if you want to use older media players that were intended for use with CRT TVs.

Channels/Power

  • 7.1 channel support (or above) - The number of channels your AV receiver contains refers to the distinct audio sources it will support. Your basic home theater surround sound system will feature a 5.1 channel configuration — center, front left, front right, surround left, surround right and subwoofer. 7.1 channel systems split the rear and surround channels to provide a more lush and engrossing soundscape. You can even go up to 9.1 or 11.1, or 13.1 channel receivers to add height and further depth to your audio playback.
  • Economy mode - You don’t necessarily want your AV receiver running at peak performance levels all the time. ECO modes help you reduce power consumption when audio fidelity isn’t a huge concern —say, if you’re watching a rerun of “Seinfeld.”

Streaming

  • Bluetooth - Wireless support is an absolute must to play music from your smartphone or tablet using popular platforms like Pandora and Spotify. There are some aftermarket external devices that add Bluetooth support, but they can’t beat an AV receiver with built-in Bluetooth capabilities.
  • Wi-Fi - Wi-Fi connectivity gives you additional options for streaming music through your AV receiver.
  • Multi-room support - Wireless playback is great, but being able to stream music simultaneously from any room in the house is next-level stuff. HEOS-enabled AV receivers support true multiroom playback, allowing you to listen to your favorite music wherever you go.

Ease of Use

  • Setup assistant - To capture the best sound possible, your AV receiver should have calibration software and a built-in setup assistant to fine-tune settings to match your home theater seating arrangement, according to TechRadar.
  • Diagnostic tools - Diagnostic tools can save you a lot of potential headaches by identifying network connection problems and quickly addressing them.

All of these features are readily available in Denon's top-of-the-line AV receivers, so there's no reason to put off getting the home theater of your dreams any longer.