AV Receivers need a makeover - AVS Forum

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IfixitBIG's Avatar IfixitBIG
08:51 PM Liked: 22
post #1 of 124
03-31-2013 | Posts: 275
Joined: Jun 2002
What's black, rectangular and has not changed much in 10 years? Answer: Just about every AV receiver made. When it comes to receivers, on the outside, they are all just about the same, but with soundbars creeping into media rooms, it might be time for our big, black control boxes to change. Writer Matthew Moskovciak has come up with eight pretty good points that AV receiver manufacturers should consider.
Quote:
Most technology gets better over time, but AV receivers seem frozen in amber, with giant chassis, thick inscrutable manuals, and onscreen interfaces that could only generously be called "standard-definition."

Some of the ideas aren't that revolutionary. Make them smaller and prettier, make the on-screen interface look better, and do a better job with wireless.

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 90

But, there are some ideas that could change the game for AV receivers. Improve the remote, and cut out some of those useless features... like concert hall modes.
Quote:
There's still a place for high-end receivers with the "kitchen sink" approach, but it's frustrating that mainstream receivers include so much cruft that buyers don't need.

And finally, include speaker cables?! I'm not really sure how that would work. Head over to CNET for the full story, and then let us know what you think of these ideas, and what would you add or subtract.

http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-33199_7-57576681-221/how-to-save-the-av-receiver/?ttag=fbwp
boblinds's Avatar boblinds
09:27 PM Liked: 32
post #2 of 124
03-31-2013 | Posts: 990
Joined: Aug 2000
Another sterling example why the editorial content of c|net has become completely superfluous: Poor writing with little real-world experience (beyond whatever poorly mentored nonsense they've been cranking out at c|net); the most fragile understanding of the technology and market to which they claim authority; no skills for original, critical thinking; and an inexhaustible supply of pontificating pap. When I was an EIC at Ziff-Davis, none of these brats would have even gotten through the interview process.

So many of the features this snot-nose nominates for removal are essentially "free" with the other required tech in a receiver. Plus, the cold, hard fact is that most buyers wouldn't look twice at the retro styling of that Peachtree Audio receiver. (I'm not saying those buyers are right, but they are the majority.)

Is he completely wrong? No, but he's completely late to the party. Virtually all that he mentions has been in discussion for two decades or more. If Master Moskovciak had any sense of context or greater than a goldfish-span of historical background, he'd know that.
fritzi93's Avatar fritzi93
03:00 AM Liked: 39
post #3 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 422
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A few things strike me as silly, but I'll not rebut point by point, but as things occur to me. In no particular order :

1) Speaker wires? Be serious.

2) Unnecessary Features? I'd call them "standard" features, inclusion of which costs little (like am/fm tuner and surround). Nothing is stopping you from running a simple stereo setup.

3) He wants smaller and prettier receivers? Well, the standard width comes from component rack standardization, historically. Personally, I think a black receiver of standard width is least obtrusive, especially if your other components are the same width, for example BD standalone. As to making receivers smaller (lower), that's asking for trouble. You need a heat sink and ventilation. Not to mention room for connections on the back.

4) Crude on-screen interface? Petty. How often are you going to need to access that after setup?

5) Over-complicated remotes? Well maybe, but still petty.

6) Wireless? Meh.

7) Inscrutable user manuals? Okay. Get someone who can write clearly and cogently in (whatever language) to write the manual.
kenglish's Avatar kenglish
05:53 AM Liked: 31
post #4 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 5,406
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I think the author has already found his ideal, modern-day receiver.
It's his iPhone.
bizwiz41's Avatar bizwiz41
07:05 AM Liked: 17
post #5 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 360
Joined: May 2010
I think this is a great statement, but the reality is that AV receivers struggle to "serve all Masters (well)". The AVR of today is challenged to produce "IMax" quality surround sound, in every available sound format. It is also asked to provide standard AM/FM radio, as well as HD radio. Then we get into TV, CDs, iPhone,iPod, even phono inputs. Further, who knows how the end user will connect?

I know that I ask mine to handle everything from watching a VCR (yes a VCR!) to iPhone connection, HDTV, latest Blu Ray formats. I even demand that it do all of these things well.

The "perception" of the consumer is still out there that "heavy = good". We have all seen someone "rate" an AVR based on how heavy it was. As mentioned, there is also a "comfort" in its standard size. I know that as my cable STB got smaller, I found myself saying "where do I put this thing?"

In short, I think the AVR manufacturers follow the old business adage: "when you don't know what to do, do nothing". I think the "change" has to be an evolutionary one, not a revolutionary one. Lastly, we all know that when you change or "improve", you always lose something. I'm not sure the buying market is ready to give up anything at this point in the AVR's life cycle.
imagic's Avatar imagic
07:37 AM Liked: 2247
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04-01-2013 | Posts: 5,623
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenglish View Post

I think the author has already found his ideal, modern-day receiver.
It's his iPhone.

The iPhone 5S is supposed to have a built-in 7-channel amplifier plus dual subwoofer outputs; there's going to be a speaker-cable accessory for it, called the AFD connector (Analog From Digital). That's why they re-designed the plug!
quad4.0's Avatar quad4.0
07:57 AM Liked: 40
post #7 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 271
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This has been my gripe for for many a year! In the 70's with analog tuners and "new" flourescent lights and neat VU meters and tuning meters, with a cool lit analog tuning dial and buttons that you could actually see the purpose of it, today they look like car batteries. I cannot see the printing on the front panel, without a bight light. And they are ugly. No wonder many hide equipment in a rack in a closet. Even the Black face if changed to a gold tone will be an inprovment.
And who! listens to FM radio anymore? not me.
JD NC's Avatar JD NC
08:04 AM Liked: 40
post #8 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 269
Joined: Jul 2012
Agree that this is a pointless article. The legitimate gripes are all mostly addressed by the HTIB category, which the author ignores. Smaller form factor, prettier case (depending on your taste), wires included, and most have an integrated disc player and a decent remote.

I did consider the Marantz low profile AVR they mention in the article because I liked the look, but the bottom line was that it cost more and had fewer features than a not much larger Yamaha. Sure, I probably only use 25% of the features, but can handle everything I throw at it and it's pretty much future proof until they come out with 8K HDMI. Much rather have one big black box than a half dozen little ones.
cshawnmcdonald's Avatar cshawnmcdonald
08:37 AM Liked: 41
post #9 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 438
Joined: Jan 2012


Okay, now that AVS has turned Ol' Matt M. into a German porn queen, can we take a deep breath and admit that he might have a few good points as well?

1. Yes, the typical box is much too big for what it does and the boards it houses.

2. Yes, in 2013 THIS is insane. Give me two more HDMI inputs, keep the SVHS inputs from 1994 (if I need those, I'm sure I can find a receiver from 1994 selling on ebay for $10), and knock $75 off the retail price, please-and-thank-you.



3. Yes, nobody uses JAZZ HALL or STADIUM and it slows down setup and re-setup for every HDMI input you use. Not a lot, but really... These aren't features anymore, they are carcinomas.

4. On-screen programming of the typical A/V receiver sucks. Who can argue with this?

5. Yes, I laughed at the speaker wire thing too, but we aren't the audience he's talking to.

Okey dokey. Flame on, AVSers!
Kimeran's Avatar Kimeran
08:45 AM Liked: 114
post #10 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 1,203
Joined: Sep 2009
Of course including speaker wire would work! Everyone knows that we all have our speakers set up almost identical to one another......

I can see the usefulness for a "designer" label in the audio scene. However, I think these would have to be a lower priced receiver that is more for the HTIB crowd where looks are more important than anything.....AV Receivers seem to be more of a "looks follows function" type of device to me, there are just too many things to consider for them.

I never use the hall modes in my receiver as they are pointless to me.

I would like to see the onscreen interface improved on my own unit, which is 4 years old and is a RX-V863 so the onscreen menu is horrible. That said, the new onscreen menu on my father-in-laws Onkyo is really nice...

I use a harmony one...so the remote doesnt matter...but with all the apps these days for tablets I dont think the remote is much to worry about.
Selden Ball's Avatar Selden Ball
08:55 AM Liked: 384
post #11 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 6,796
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And don't forget that "any color so long as it's black" applies only in the U.S. Other color styles (like silver, brushed aluminum and champagne) are available in other countries.

Personally I prefer black because my equipment is in the front where a light color would be distracting while trying to watch a movie.
DarkVenture's Avatar DarkVenture
08:59 AM Liked: 13
post #12 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 85
Joined: Apr 2010
Looks are entirely subjective. I really like the classic black box look. An AV receiver is equipment, sorry it doesn't look like it was made by Fisher Price, but I don't want my sound coming out of something that looks like it runs on AAs. In addition, the metal box has a number of design advantages over wood (or plastic). Metal can be easily manufactured with perforations for passive cooling, and is a heat conductor and dissipator itself. A wooden box has no ability to dissipate heat and would require a fan which would suck in dust and eventually fail or become very noisy when the bearings give out. Metal also provides EMI shielding to prevent interference from nearby transmitters such as phones.
Trepidati0n's Avatar Trepidati0n
09:05 AM Liked: 91
post #13 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 1,090
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To me, electronics are most magical when they do something for me but they don't get in my way. For a smart phone...needs to be comfortable and readable. For an AV receiver it just needs to have the inputs I want and not screw up once I have it the way I want it. I don't know of many people who make the AV receiver the cornerstone of their display and put flowers around it. Most people I know want to hide all their house electronics and just be able to hear the audio and see the video. Hell, if in walls could be made as good as towers for the $ spent...towers I'm pretty sure would die faster than you could blink.
repete66211's Avatar repete66211
09:13 AM Liked: 206
post #14 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 1,567
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I agree with the gist of the article. AVRs should be no larger than necessary. As far as "prettier" goes, they're black for a reason--what appeals to one person may turn off another. There are some who think equipment should be heard but not seen. Simplify the surround mode list--Dolby or DTS, not both--and get rid of the concert room, arena, jazz club crap. I'd go so far as to say dump 7.1 (9.1, etc) at long last and concentrate on good, clean power in 5 channels. I agree AVRs should either go WiFi or get rid of streaming applications.
Sibuna's Avatar Sibuna
09:30 AM Liked: 274
post #15 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 1,963
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He does have some decent points. AVRs have far to many legacy connections on them. The lower end modles are moving away from that but the highend is still full of them. Many unused sound settings (arena, concert hall in xxx), interfaces are generally crap as well. Black is fine as its the least distracting color IMO. Most will do wireless with an adapter now, but the sad state of streaming with them is what really needs to be fixed
imagic's Avatar imagic
09:34 AM Liked: 2247
post #16 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 5,623
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Apple should design and build a receiver instead of (or as well as) a TV.
Flavius's Avatar Flavius
09:59 AM Liked: 46
post #17 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 823
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But they did change back when Panasonic created those EXCELLENT super slim digital receivers about a decade ago. Sadly, the market quickly reverted to these gargantuan boxes. Bring back the super slim digital receiver, I say!
cshawnmcdonald's Avatar cshawnmcdonald
10:00 AM Liked: 41
post #18 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 438
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Apple should design and build a receiver instead of (or as well as) a TV.

Agreed. They won't, but I'd love to see what they would bring to the party.
cshawnmcdonald's Avatar cshawnmcdonald
10:02 AM Liked: 41
post #19 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 438
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flavius View Post

But they did change back when Panasonic created those EXCELLENT super slim digital receivers about a decade ago. Sadly, the market quickly reverted to these gargantuan boxes. Bring back the super slim digital receiver, I say!


tezster's Avatar tezster
10:10 AM Liked: 47
post #20 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 556
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I consider receivers as utilitarian devices - they aren't going to be on display on a dedicated shelf as the focal point of a room. I can understand fashionable, modern design aesthetics being applied to TV bezels/stands, speakers, even subwoofers, but not receivers.
imagic's Avatar imagic
10:38 AM Liked: 2247
post #21 of 124
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tezster View Post

I consider receivers as utilitarian devices - they aren't going to be on display on a dedicated shelf as the focal point of a room. I can understand fashionable, modern design aesthetics being applied to TV bezels/stands, speakers, even subwoofers, but not receivers.

Let's take a trip back to 1980!

http://www.beoworld.org/prod_details.asp?pid=329




kingdavid21's Avatar kingdavid21
10:41 AM Liked: 10
post #22 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 28
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Are av recievers beautiful? Not really
Do they need to be? Not at all

I read this article last week and was not pleased. My first issue is "saving the reciever" from what alternative? A POS sounbar?
We want our receivers to perform, I would rather have producers worried about the quality of the parts inside rather than wasting money on the faceplate and shrinking the overall size. I own a denon 2113 Ci and its perfectly fine with me. I think recievers are not changing physically because manufactures know what home theatre enthusiast are looking for.
Better inputs/ outputs, cleaner sound, and more power. I personally don't walk around with my reciever, or watch it instead of my tv, so it's weight and appearance are just fine. If I had any complaint it would be to add pre outs to recievers under 1K. Sucks to have to pay over 1k for a reciever that will only be used as a pre amp.

And free speaker wires!?!? Really??? What is this a computer setup?

A consumer could need anywhere from 75 to 600ft of speaker wire based on room size. We all have our go to brands and gauges. Ridiculous.
BoogerBomb's Avatar BoogerBomb
11:17 AM Liked: 12
post #23 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 151
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I'm all for getting rid of all the stupid legacy composite inputs and the l/r audio inputs that come with them. They take up an assload of space and are used by maybe 1/ 10 of 1% of people today. Do people really need 5 or 6 composite inputs and only 2 hdmi inputs? Why's hasn't this been reversed yet? They concert hall, hall in Munich, and other settings are a complete waste of storage space. Use that space for a far better on screen interface, Yamahas interface is poorly designed and has the graphics of a Commodore 64.
spincycle79's Avatar spincycle79
12:01 PM Liked: 10
post #24 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 69
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I'm certainly in the minority here, but I agree with much of what the author has to say. Having recently tried to convince friends and family to buy some of these big, black box AVR's, us on AVSForums are not your typical buyers. Average consumers care about the aesthetics and simplicity electronics they are buying. I live with an interior designer, and our decor efforts are always geared towards hiding the audio components and I agree with her. Why can't AVR's be smaller and more beautiful? Something I didn't have to hid behind closed doors? Consumers have demanded it for all the other products they use. The excuse of function over form is a weak reason. There are plenty of beautiful, functional objects in this world. Even my freakin' refrigerator is nicer to look at than my Onkyo.

1. Make them smaller - Yes!
2. Make them prettier - Double Yes!
3. Get rid of most features - How about this? Get rid of interfaces from the 70s and 80s. Make the less popular features modular. How about a card that I can install?
4. Embrace wireless - This is changing though with manufacturers offering bluetooth and WiFi on higher end devices.
5. Include a true high-definition interface - The SD text hurts my eyes. smile.gif
6. Make a usable remote - I'm not so fussed here. I'd like more support for a bluetooth remote instead of needing line-of-sight. My PS3 has had this for years.
7. Include speaker cables in the box - Sure, for the average Joe. And make them banana plugs. You'd be pissed off if you bought a cell phone and it didn't come with a charger.
8. Embrace stereo - I think there are plenty of stereo options out there. Author doesn't know the market well enough.


One of my friends put it nicely. "I just spent a pile of money on a beautiful TV, and now, I'm stuck with a big ugly box underneath it." He's right.
Krutsch's Avatar Krutsch
12:21 PM Liked: 36
post #25 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 403
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+99 Make them smaller and more elegant looking.

The folks at BestBuy / Magnolia told me that the Marantz Slimline series (NR160X/140X) outsells all other AVRs in Magnolia combined. And guess why? It's unobtrusive and that's what their audience cares about most.
Goalline's Avatar Goalline
12:39 PM Liked: 21
post #26 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 155
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Er. One word. BOSE!

Problem solved.
indio22's Avatar indio22
12:41 PM Liked: 37
post #27 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 397
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I think the “V” side of the A/V receiver could use improvement. For example, I can plug a memory stick into my A/V receiver, but it will only play audio files - no video files. It might be convenient to have the option of plugging a memory stick, portable hard drive or even network cable into the receiver, and then be able to play movies as well as audio. After all - it is supposed to be an audio/video receiver. Seems like receivers these days can handle a lot of audio files and streaming, but not as much on the video side of things without additional components.
RobertR's Avatar RobertR
12:48 PM Liked: 386
post #28 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 6,119
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Apple should design and build a receiver instead of (or as well as) a TV.
Bleh. It would be badly overpriced and use nonstandard connectors that the user would have to pay extra for.
DLPProjectorfan's Avatar DLPProjectorfan
12:52 PM Liked: 33
post #29 of 124
04-01-2013 | Posts: 791
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Is this retro of the 60s 70s ?
imagic's Avatar imagic
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post #30 of 124
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertR View Post

Bleh. It would be badly overpriced and use nonstandard connectors that the user would have to pay extra for.

As if "badly overpriced" was some exception in the world of high-end audio. I for one would love to see a receiver based on a real computer, with a gorgeous interface and no redundant, obsolete ports. Seems like that's what a number of people are asking for. Also don't forget, other companies make phones and tablets and Apple's products are not really more expensive. Apple TV costs about the same as a Roku. It's only their computers that come at a real premium and even there, the added value is self-evident.

Apple stuff is premium and expensive, but ultimately nothing compared to what some high-end audio equipment costs, in terms of relative markup vs. what you get for it. A pair of "Beats" headphones can cost as much as an iPad mini. Which product is "badly overpriced"?

Remember iPod HiFi? Now everyone sells a HiFi iPhone dock and most of them cost more!
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