I am curious what this audience's response is/was to the Cnet article on AVReceivers being outdated: http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-33199_7-57576681-221/how-to-save-the-av-receiver/
I have a Denon 3311ci which, until last week, I never thought about, but which really seems to represent an Apex of evolution from 1970s receivers more than a peer of the rest of my digital devices. When I look at the quality of design and integration of the new TiVo Roamio (which is completely awesome) versus the Denon, it makes me sad.
The amp needs to join its digital brethren in the new world. We are past the time when we can make excuses for amps and receivers because they "handle power" as opposed to shifting bits. Tesla handles power, too. The old world is fading.
Here is my take on the author's comments:
1. Design - I really do believe that the era of the black or silver box has to end. It is the AV version of the standard windows PC enclosure. I think it is time to split the worlds into high-end/rackmount and home/designed. If I buy server hardware for my business, it is 1U 2U etc, and it has standard mounting hardware and NO CONTROLS. I put it on the rack, attach the cables, and control through the network. If I buy a laptop for my desk, it is light and aesthetically thoughtful. Is my laptop a piece of crap for not being rack-mounted? Nope. It is exceptional engineering. Can someone make a high-quality AV Receiver that looks great. Yes.
2. Remote/Controls -The remote should only have controls that you use virtually every time you watch. If you need to configure, connect via smartphone or web browser. My Denon remote will let me control NORAD, launch a drone strike, and calculate the GDP of emerging countries. Volume, source, power. Frankly, let my Samsung TV control power and volume. Actually, the Denon came with 2 remotes (seriously?) and has controls for a VCR, including a record button??
And for goodness sake, 100% IP controllable. IR is decades old.
3. Sound modes - Don't care, never use them. I watch movies.
4. Size - I get it, the amps and heat sinks are heavy and bulky. But the amps are way too big, and most notably too deep. The obsession with rackmount size means I had to create a custom cabinet. Should not be necessary. I have a Tripath 2-ch amp for the kids TV in a loft, and while my Denon is on the fritz, it is serving as an integrated amp for my home theatre. (Makes you wonder about size and creeping features)
5. Radio - Never, ever use the radio. Make it an upgrade from the basic packaging.
6. Streaming - Denon, Onkyo and Marantz need to get out of the streaming business. They are not experts in software or interfaces. I can solve that problem with TiVo or AppleTV or Roku for a trivial amount of money with a better experience.
7. Connections - Steve Jobs was the first to say screw it to legacy connections when he went all USB on the Mac. Time to go all HDMI (or just digital audio)
I know that some of you will read this and presume that I should just buy some crap system marketed as home theatre in a box, presuming that I cannot possibly understand why things need to be exactly as they are. But I don't find my iphone or MacBook Air to be crap, and they are designed for people who care about design. I don't buy a blade server for my desktop, and my company doesn't buy Airs for our rack.
And I recognize that TiVo deals solely with bits, so it can afford to be small and light (BTW, it should also be 1/2 of its size).
So here is my spec list for the "new" AV Receiver (I get that the answer may be that my best AV Receiver may be an AV integrated amp)
1. 7.1 with adequate power (I know this may negate #4, above)
2. Only volume, power, and source controls on the unit
3. No more than 10" deep
4. No component, S-video, or Composite.
5. IP control (open) and automatic firmware updates
6. Web-server with top-quality user interface design for configuration
7. iPhone app for remote
In reality, if Tripath announced a 7.1 integrated amp with 1 optical input, IP control, and a simple remote, I would buy it today.