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post #1 of 135 Old 10-24-2016, 03:05 PM - Thread Starter
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10 Things to Consider When Shopping for an AV Receiver

With the holiday shopping season right around the corner, upgrade fever is sure to hit many AV enthusiasts. One of the key components in any serious system is an AV receiver, and this year's fall harvest looks to be a good one for anyone seeking better sound quality.

Here are 10 things to consider when you begin the search for the right AVR to suit your needs.

1. Inputs and Outputs

- As of 2016, most mainstream AVRs sport HDMI 2.0 inputs with HDCP 2.2 copy protection. This allows them to pass 4K/UHD and 3D content from the source device through the AVR to the display.

- To pass HDR10 content from Ultra HD Blu-ray and online providers with a compatible Roku or Chromecast streamer, you need an AVR that supports HDMI 2.0a with HDCP 2.2.

- Try to determine if the HDMI ports operate at 10.2 or 18 Gbps; they should operate at 18 Gbps if possible.

- An HDMI input on the front panel is a plus if you plan to connect and disconnect a source on a regular basis—for example, a gaming console or camcorder.

- Some AVRs offer more than one HDMI output. With two HDMI outputs, you can feed a projector for nighttime viewing and a flat-panel TV in the same room for daytime viewing. Alternatively, you can send the second HDMI output to a TV in another room, though this will probably require a fiber-optic or coax HDMI cable for such a long run.

- Some AVRs feature a Zone 2 HDMI output instead of dual HDMI outputs, which would not work with a TV plus projector configuration.

- Some AVRs offer an asynchronous USB DAC, which lets you send digital-audio bitstreams from high-res audio source devices. This is important for audiophiles.

- If you have source devices that rely on optical or coaxial digital connections, make sure the AVR you choose has enough of these inputs to suit your needs.

2. Power Rating

- Power ratings for AVRs typically come with many caveats; for example, power ratings typically refer to only one or two channels being powered.

- The more channels you need to power at once, the lower the output of each channel. But it's extremely rare for a movie or music to demand equal power from all channels simultaneously, so this is less of an issue than it might seem.

- There's not a lot of difference between 100 watts and 120 watts, or 80 watts and 110 watts. All else being equal, small increases in power ratings do not represent much of an upgrade.

- Most AVR power ratings are specified with a speaker impedance of 8 ohms, which is very common among consumer speakers. If your speakers have a lower nominal impedance, they will draw more power from the amplifiers; be sure the AVRs you are considering can safely drive speakers with less than 8-ohm impedance.

- Many AVRs advertise power ratings into speaker impedances of 6 or even 4 ohms with very high THD (total harmonic distortion) figures; with THD, the lower, the better.

- The sensitivity of your speakers will have a greater impact on how loud your system can play than the power rating of an AVR.

- The power rating of an AVR does not need to match the power-handling spec of your speakers, but they should be in roughly the same ballpark. Under most conditions, the AVR is supplying no more than one or two watts to the speakers.

- For a hybrid high-performance solution, consider an AVR with preamp outs connected to a dedicated amplifier for the three front channels, which typically consume the most power. With some nine-channel AVRs, adding a 2-channel amp lets you take advantage of 11-channel processing.

3. Immersive Audio

- Support for immersive audio—that is, sound from speakers placed around and above the listening position—has become nearly ubiquitous in modern AVRs.

- You can get Dolby Atmos and DTS:X capability in very affordable AVRs.

- Auro 3D is a $199 paid add-on for only the upper-tier AVRs from Denon and Marantz. However, there isn't much content encoded in Auro 3D yet.

- Seriously consider a 9-channel AVR that gives you 5.1.4 channels (five main channels, one subwoofer channel, four overhead or height channels) if you want the full immersive effect. 5.1.2 is good, but 5.1.4 (and 7.1.4) systems can convey movement and ambience better.

4. Number of Amplifier Channels

- As a general rule, more amplifier channels will cost you more money. Therefore, it is important to decide how many speakers you need to power ahead of time.

- 5-channel AVRs are the most basic and typically the most affordable.

- 7-channel AVRs can handle Dolby Atmos and DTS:X in a 5.1.2 speaker configuration as well as traditional 7.1 speaker systems. Some 2014 and 2015 Denon and Marantz models can expand to nine channels using an external amp.

- 9-channel AVRs can handle 5.1.4 Atmos and DTS:X, which offers a superior immersive experience to systems with only two elevation channels.

- Some 9-channel AVRs also offer 11-channel processing, but you'll need an external 2-channel amp to take advantage of that.

- This year there are several 11-channel AVRs to choose from; these models can handle 7.1.4 Atmos/DTS:X or amplify multiple zones.

5. Room Correction


- Room correction—compensating for acoustical irregularities in a given room—is one of the most important features to consider when deciding between different brands of AVRs.

- Some companies, such as Yamaha, Pioneer, and Onkyo, use their own proprietary systems, while others, like Denon and Marantz, license sophisticated third-party solutions such as Audyssey and Dirac Live.

- There is a lot of variation in terms of capability between different room-correction systems.

- Audyssey MultEQ XT32 and Dirac Live both have a reputation for being very effective.

- Some speaker and room combinations benefit from room correction more than others.

6. Networking

- Whether you need it or not, a 2016-model AVR is likely to have some sort of network connectivity.

- An Ethernet port is useful if you plan to locate the AVR far from a wireless router or use IP control in conjunction with a home-automation system. Also, a wired Ethernet connection assures the best possible performance for audio streamed from other devices on the network.

- Many AVRs use Wi-Fi to offer compatibility with Apple AirPlay, DTS Play-Fi, and other wireless AV systems.

- Another useful networking feature is playback from a DLNA server connected to your home network.

7. Wireless and Multi-Room Audio Features

- For many years, some AVRs have offered the ability to send audio and video to two or more separate rooms or "zones" in a home using dedicated hard-wired connections such as interconnect and speaker cables as well as analog video and even HDMI.

- These days, many AVRs come with some sort of networked-audio capabilities. Some brands only offer their own proprietary system such as Denon HEOS or Yamaha MusicCast, which work only with other compatible products from the same manufacturer. Other brands, like Pioneer and Onkyo, have adopted third-party platforms such as Google Cast and DTS Play-Fi.

- If you like to mix and match brands, the DTS Play-Fi ecosystem includes products from the most manufacturers.

- If you use Bluetooth, look for aptX technology, which ensures high-quality audio transmission.

- Some AVRs offer the option of streaming audio from cloud-based services.

8. Analog Inputs and 2-Channel Audio

- Unless you have a legacy video source, such as a LaserDisc player or VCR, analog video inputs, such as component or composite video, are completely unnecessary.

- If you have a collection of analog-audio sources, make sure there are enough analog-audio inputs to accommodate them on the AVRs you are considering.

- If you plan on listening to vinyl records, look for an AVR that offers a phono input, not all of them do. This does not apply if your turntable has a built-in pre-amp, or you are using a third party phono pre-amp.

9. Remote and App-Based Control

- Since AVRs are complex devices, they often come with remote controls that are stuffed with buttons.

- Many AVRs have included an RS-232 serial port for connection to home-automation systems from companies like Crestron, but this is being supplanted by IP control over your home's network.

- Control apps for phones and tablets are available from many AVR makers, but their functionality varies widely. If like to control things with a mobile device, you might want to consider how capable the app is.

- Look for an IR input if you plan to use a standard remote and house the AVR in a cabinet or closet.

10. Budget and Recommendations

- The key to shopping for an AVR is to set your budget first, determine how many speakers you plan to power, factor in what sources you intend to connect, and consider the kind of content you intend to consume—some folks are music-first and others use AVRs primarily for home cinema.

- In 2016, even affordable entry-level AVRs like Yamaha's RX-V481 ($400) and Pioneer's VSX-830-K ($400) offer full UHD/4K HDMI passthrough, room correction, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and multi-room audio. The Denon AVR-S720W ($480) even adds 5.1.2 Atmos and DTS:X to the mix for under five bills. Sony's STR-DN860 ($300) is a 7-channel model that sports a modern graphic user interface and streams from Spotify Connect, Deezer, Pandora, and TuneIn.

- Above the $500 price point, you'll find a lot of features crammed into 7-channel AVRs from various mainstream manufacturers. Denon's AVR-S920W ($580) offers Dolby Atmos 5.1.2, eight HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs, Audyssey MultEQ, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and much more.

- Between $1000 and $1500 MSRP, you start to see features like the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction found on the Marantz SR6011 ($1400). Yamaha's RX-A1060 ($1100) similarly offers seven channels of power and is packed with premium features like two separate HDMI zones and Yamaha's MusicCast wireless-audio system.

If you budget $1500 or more, you can expect to find AVRs with top-tier room correction, nine or more channels of amplification, multiple zones, more power, and overall better specs. Denon's AVR-X6300H ($2200) offers 11 amps, giving it the ability to drive a full Atmos/DTS:X 7.1.4 speaker system without any additional amplification. Pioneer's SC-LX901 ($3000) is another 11-amp option that claims its class-D amps can output twice as much peak power (all channels driven) as many competing AVRs. You'll also find an 11-channel option from Anthem in its MRX1120 model ($3500), which uses the highly effective Anthem Room Correction (ARC) system. Not to be outdone, Onkyo also has an 11-amp model, the TX-RZ3100 ($3200).

I'm sure that AVS Forum members have many opinions about all of this, so I invite you to share them in the comments. What are your most important considerations when shopping for an AVR? What models do you recommend at different price points?

Please do not click on the Quick Reply button at the bottom of this article, which will quote the entire article in your comment without you knowing it. Wading through the entire article in the comments is quite annoying! If you want to quote a portion of the article, click on the Quote button and delete everything that does not pertain to your comment. Otherwise, use the Quick Reply comment editor at the bottom of each page, which does not quote the original post. Thanks!

Mark Henninger
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Last edited by imagic; 11-24-2016 at 04:09 AM.
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post #2 of 135 Old 10-24-2016, 04:57 PM
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Nice high-level summary Mark. What I think would be a nice addition would be a table of information by brand/model of whether they support HDMI 2.0a; whether they support 18 Gbps; and how many channels of immersive audio they can process and perhaps how many they can directly drive. I seem to remember a thread (just found it:https://www.avsforum.com/forum/90-rec...crs-atmos.html) where someone started to summarize this information so maybe we just need a link to that discussion thread from this article so it's easy to find in the future .. also so that if people find updated information, they can add it to that thread. Actually, that thread doesn't summarize it in a table/grid form yet .. and is likely to become a long thread so someone needs to summarize. Also .. ditch the price info from any table.
Some of these things (like does it support 18 Gbps) take a lot of digging so it would be a major productivity savings to the community if those who've already gone to the effort could share what they've learned. Of course, there will be disclaimers about 'no guarantees/best efforts/etc'.
Oh .. and this thread you just created should be posted/linked to in the Forums/AV Receivers sticky section
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post #3 of 135 Old 10-24-2016, 05:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by IanR View Post
Nice high-level summary Mark. What I think would be a nice addition would be a table of information by brand/model of whether they support HDMI 2.0a; whether they support 18 Gbps; and how many channels of immersive audio they can process and perhaps how many they can directly drive. I seem to remember a thread (just found it:https://www.avsforum.com/forum/90-rec...crs-atmos.html) where someone started to summarize this information so maybe we just need a link to that discussion thread from this article so it's easy to find in the future .. also so that if people find updated information, they can add it to that thread. Actually, that thread doesn't summarize it in a table/grid form yet .. and is likely to become a long thread so someone needs to summarize. Also .. ditch the price info from any table.
Some of these things (like does it support 18 Gbps) take a lot of digging so it would be a major productivity savings to the community if those who've already gone to the effort could share what they've learned. Of course, there will be disclaimers about 'no guarantees/best efforts/etc'.
Oh .. and this thread you just created should be posted/linked to in the Forums/AV Receivers sticky section
Great ideas, I'll see what I can do.

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post #4 of 135 Old 10-24-2016, 07:04 PM
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Excellent Beginners Guide. I am going to file this for future references.
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post #5 of 135 Old 10-24-2016, 07:55 PM
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Great ideas, I'll see what I can do.
Here's a sample of what I was thinking of. I can send you the spreadsheet if you want.
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post #6 of 135 Old 10-24-2016, 07:57 PM
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The Denon 6300h's Video Scaler has a bug that keeps it from working correctly at 4K. It adds undefeatable edge enhancement and bob de-interlaces 1080i sources.

I would very much like @imagic to look into this as it effects both the 2016 Denon and Marantz units and nobody at Denon support seems to care.

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needed 5.2.4, went with yamaha rx-a2060. Happy with purchase
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post #8 of 135 Old 10-25-2016, 02:29 AM
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I went with multiple AVR's for the extra speaker pleasure.

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I assume if you only HDMI 2.0 vs 2.0a that you cant view HDR content?
Or that a non issue that was upgrade with firmware updates on most newer AVR's?

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FWIW the Nintendo Wii's standard connector is analog I believe. Would be important if you have kids and you plan to run through an AVR.

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Does the Onkyo TX-RZ3100 have an asynchronous USB DAC?


I'm having a hard time finding whether it does or not.
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FWIW the Nintendo Wii's standard connector is analog I believe. Would be important if you have kids and you plan to run through an AVR.
Get the wii hdmi adapter and don't look back. That 1 edge case shouldn't keep you from a quality AVR.
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Get the wii hdmi adapter and don't look back. That 1 edge case shouldn't keep you from a quality AVR.
Yeah I agree but I personally couldn't be bothered to buy yet another adapter, especially for a kids console, unless I had no other options.

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- At around $1000 MSRP, you start to see features like the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction found on the Marantz SR5011 ($900).
I wish the SR5011 had XT32. I'd buy it in a heartbeat. As it is the Denon X3300 is the better buy here for 100 bucks more but actually having XT32.

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post #15 of 135 Old 10-31-2016, 11:49 AM
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Excellent post. As always, Mark.

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I realize that this is a niche request - but it's a constant thorn in my side:

120Hz 1080p passthrough

Many AVRs claim compliance with different HDMI specs, but don't actually support all attributes of it, they are just compliant with specific portions of the specs. Most AVRs will simply not recognize the 120Hz signal, others will accept it, but then frame-skip it down to 60Hz for output to the TV. If anyone has had success with this, please let me know what make/model you have.

With any luck, the advent of HFR video will eventually remove this barrier...
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post #17 of 135 Old 11-24-2016, 01:23 AM
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Note the edits in red ...


Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post
1. Inputs and Outputs

- Some AVRs offer more than one HDMI output. With two HDMI outputs, you can feed a projector for nighttime viewing and a flat-panel TV in the same room for daytime viewing. Alternatively, you can send the second HDMI output to a TV in another room, though this will probably require a fiber-optic or coax HDMI cable for such a long run. This is only true if both outputs are "main zone" outputs, as some AVR feature a Zone 2 HDMI output instead which would not work with a TV + PJ configuration.

- If you have source devices that rely on optical or coaxial digital connections, make sure the AVR you choose has enough of these inputs to suit your needs. There are 3rd party optical switches that can be used to provide more optical inputs.

3. Immersive Audio

- Auro 3D is a $199 paid add-on for only the upper-tier AVRs from Denon and Marantz. However, there isn't much content encoded in Auro 3D yet.


4. Number of Amplifier Channels


- 7-channel AVRs can handle Dolby Atmos and DTS:X in a 5.1.2 speaker configuration as well as traditional 7.1 speaker systems. Some 2014 and 2015 Denon and Marantz 7CH models can expand to 9CH using a 2CH external amp.

8. Analog Inputs and 2-Channel Audio

- If you have a collection of analog-audio sources, make sure there are enough analog-audio inputs to accommodate them on the AVRs you are considering. Or simply purchase an analog switch.

- If you plan on listening to vinyl records, look for an AVR that offers a phono input (unless your turntable has a built-in pre-amp or you are using a 3rd party phono pre-amp); not all of them do.

10. Budget and Recommendations

- Between $1000 - $1500 MSRP, you start to see features like the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction found on the Marantz SR6011 ($1399). Yamaha's A1060 ($1199) similarly offers seven channels of power and is packed with premium features like two separate HDMI zones and Yamaha's MusicCast wireless-audio system.


.

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post #18 of 135 Old 11-24-2016, 04:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Note the edits in red ...

.
Good stuff, thx. Edits incorporated.

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What about Dolby Vision support? I know that no 2016 receivers have it, and that you can always route video to your display and audio to your receiver, IF your sources have dual HDMI outputs to accommodate this.

I would assume that 2017 will see the first DV capable receivers...

EDIT: further research on my part seems to indicate - from many, older threads - that DV can be passed through receivers with HDMI 1.4. Has that been confirmed?

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What about Dolby Vision support? I know that no 2016 receivers have it, and that you can always route video to your display and audio to your receiver, IF your sources have dual HDMI outputs to accommodate this.

I would assume that 2017 will see the first DV capable receivers...

EDIT: further research on my part seems to indicate - from many, older threads - that DV can be passed through receivers with HDMI 1.4. Has that been confirmed?
The 2015 and 2016 AVRs "should" pass Dolby Vision if all video processing is disabled.

More current information indicates a firmware update is required to pass Dolby Vision which will be released to only the 2016 models.

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post #21 of 135 Old 11-24-2016, 03:30 PM
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I'm planning to get a decent AVR, can someone please recommend me a few?
What I am looking for is:
+ Dolby TrueHD/Atmos, DTS-MA HD/DTX-S
+ latest HDMI (2.0a?)
+ 4K passthru
+ capable of running 5.1.4 for future either with built-in or add-on amplifier.

I'm only have 2.1 speaker set now but probably moving to 5.1 in a few months. I eventually love to try 5.1.4 Atmos/DTS:X, I would love to have an AVR that has those features now so I don't have to buy another AVR in a year or two.
Should I go directly to 9-channel AVR and be done with that (cost more) or 7-channel AVR for now and buy external amp. for additional two channels later? Which way is better?
I've seen the Yamaha at Costco, the TSR-7810, on sale for $450. Is it a good option?

Thanks for all input.

I have an old Onkyo RX-SR703 AVR which doesn't have any HDMI port, I think I can survive with audio (while video can be connected directly to TV from sources) but I'm a fan of lossless audio.

Last edited by tinhvo; 11-24-2016 at 03:33 PM.
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post #22 of 135 Old 11-25-2016, 03:24 AM
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Originally Posted by tinhvo View Post
I'm planning to get a decent AVR, can someone please recommend me a few?
What I am looking for is:
+ Dolby TrueHD/Atmos, DTS-MA HD/DTX-S
+ latest HDMI (2.0a?)
+ 4K passthru
+ capable of running 5.1.4 for future either with built-in or add-on amplifier.

I'm only have 2.1 speaker set now but probably moving to 5.1 in a few months. I eventually love to try 5.1.4 Atmos/DTS:X, I would love to have an AVR that has those features now so I don't have to buy another AVR in a year or two.
Should I go directly to 9-channel AVR and be done with that (cost more) or 7-channel AVR for now and buy external amp. for additional two channels later? Which way is better?
I've seen the Yamaha at Costco, the TSR-7810, on sale for $450. Is it a good option?

Thanks for all input.

I have an old Onkyo RX-SR703 AVR which doesn't have any HDMI port, I think I can survive with audio (while video can be connected directly to TV from sources) but I'm a fan of lossless audio.

All 9CH 2015 or 2016 models should meet your requirements; however, there are only two 7CH models that can expand to 9CH using an external 2CH amp and both are 2015 models: Denon X4200W and Marantz SR6010.
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post #23 of 135 Old 11-25-2016, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by jdsmoothie View Post
All 9CH 2015 or 2016 models should meet your requirements; however, there are only two 7CH models that can expand to 9CH using an external 2CH amp and both are 2015 models: Denon X4200W and Marantz SR6010.
Just for my own knowledge, can you please explain a bit why those 2 are capable while others aren't?
I thought the Yammy has pre-outs so we can add more channels by driving them out into external amp. Maybe it can but not for Atmos?

TIA.
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post #24 of 135 Old 11-25-2016, 01:59 PM
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Just for my own knowledge, can you please explain a bit why those 2 are capable while others aren't?
I thought the Yammy has pre-outs so we can add more channels by driving them out into external amp. Maybe it can but not for Atmos?

TIA.
Because they are the only two major brand models that are designed to expand from 7CH --> 9CH. All other 7CH major brand models (to include Yamaha), can simply use the main zone pre-outs to provide additional power to the 7 main zone speakers ... there is no further expansion capability beyond the 7CH.
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post #25 of 135 Old 11-25-2016, 02:09 PM
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I can see that Denon X4200W & Marantz SR6010 do have 9 channel processing capability. I' sure that is the reason but honestly not fully understand
Anyway, it's expensive to experience .4 from .2, eh.
Just a note, the Denon X4300H does have 9.2 channel processing, so we don't have to add an external 2-ch amp when moving to 5.1.4. It's same price as the X4200W.
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post #26 of 135 Old 12-04-2016, 01:14 PM
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Features and Specs are good, but the two most important for me are:

1) Build Quality - how long it works before it's junk, and
2) Sound Quality - I realize an A-V receiver is hard pressed to go up against Audiophile Equipment, but some assessment is in order.

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post #27 of 135 Old 12-04-2016, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by jdsmoothie View Post
Because they are the only two major brand models that are designed to expand from 7CH --> 9CH. All other 7CH major brand models (to include Yamaha), can simply use the main zone pre-outs to provide additional power to the 7 main zone speakers ... there is no further expansion capability beyond the 7CH.
My reading of the TSR-7810 manual is that it has two pre outs for sub woofers and some pre outs for additional power to some speaker that have internal amplifiers. Also, the AVR allows for both rear surround speakers and front presence speakers to be attached. "The surround back speaker and presence speakers do not produce sounds simultaneously. The unit automatically changes the speakers to be used, depending on the input signal and CINEMA DSP" However, it appears correct that it cannot be expanded to a 9 channel amplifier.

Anál nathrach, orth’ bháis’s bethad, do chél dénmha
Display: LG OLED 65e6p, Player: OPPO UDP-203, AVR:Yamaha TSR 7810, Streaming: Comcast 60Mbps RG6 to Cat6a, Speakers: Mains Vandersteen IIC, Center, Surrounds, Rears Klipsch
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^^that's a pretty cool feature, especially for an AVR that can be had under $500 at Costco. But yes it is only a 7 channel receiver despite the 9 speaker channel terminals.

Afro GT
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post #29 of 135 Old 12-07-2016, 03:05 PM
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With the holiday shopping season right around the corner, upgrade fever is sure to hit many AV enthusiasts. One of the key components in any serious system is an AV receiver, and this year's fall harvest looks to be a good one for anyone seeking better sound quality.

Here are 10 things to consider when you begin the search for the right AVR to suit your needs.

1. Inputs and Outputs

- As of 2016, most mainstream AVRs sport HDMI 2.0 inputs with HDCP 2.2 copy protection. This allows them to pass 4K/UHD and 3D content from the source device through the AVR to the display.

- To pass HDR10 content from Ultra HD Blu-ray and online providers with a compatible Roku or Chromecast streamer, you need an AVR that supports HDMI 2.0a with HDCP 2.2.

- Try to determine if the HDMI ports operate at 10.2 or 18 Gbps; they should operate at 18 Gbps if possible.

- An HDMI input on the front panel is a plus if you plan to connect and disconnect a source on a regular basis—for example, a gaming console or camcorder.

- Some AVRs offer more than one HDMI output. With two HDMI outputs, you can feed a projector for nighttime viewing and a flat-panel TV in the same room for daytime viewing. Alternatively, you can send the second HDMI output to a TV in another room, though this will probably require a fiber-optic or coax HDMI cable for such a long run.

- Some AVRs feature a Zone 2 HDMI output instead of dual HDMI outputs, which would not work with a TV plus projector configuration.

- Some AVRs offer an asynchronous USB DAC, which lets you send digital-audio bitstreams from high-res audio source devices. This is important for audiophiles.

- If you have source devices that rely on optical or coaxial digital connections, make sure the AVR you choose has enough of these inputs to suit your needs.

2. Power Rating

- Power ratings for AVRs typically come with many caveats; for example, power ratings typically refer to only one or two channels being powered.

- The more channels you need to power at once, the lower the output of each channel. But it's extremely rare for a movie or music to demand equal power from all channels simultaneously, so this is less of an issue than it might seem.

- There's not a lot of difference between 100 watts and 120 watts, or 80 watts and 110 watts. All else being equal, small increases in power ratings do not represent much of an upgrade.

- Most AVR power ratings are specified with a speaker impedance of 8 ohms, which is very common among consumer speakers. If your speakers have a lower nominal impedance, they will draw more power from the amplifiers; be sure the AVRs you are considering can safely drive speakers with less than 8-ohm impedance.

- Many AVRs advertise power ratings into speaker impedances of 6 or even 4 ohms with very high THD (total harmonic distortion) figures; with THD, the lower, the better.

- The sensitivity of your speakers will have a greater impact on how loud your system can play than the power rating of an AVR.

- The power rating of an AVR does not need to match the power-handling spec of your speakers, but they should be in roughly the same ballpark. Under most conditions, the AVR is supplying no more than one or two watts to the speakers.

- For a hybrid high-performance solution, consider an AVR with preamp outs connected to a dedicated amplifier for the three front channels, which typically consume the most power. With some nine-channel AVRs, adding a 2-channel amp lets you take advantage of 11-channel processing.

3. Immersive Audio

- Support for immersive audio—that is, sound from speakers placed around and above the listening position—has become nearly ubiquitous in modern AVRs.

- You can get Dolby Atmos and DTS:X capability in very affordable AVRs.

- Auro 3D is a $199 paid add-on for only the upper-tier AVRs from Denon and Marantz. However, there isn't much content encoded in Auro 3D yet.

- Seriously consider a 9-channel AVR that gives you 5.1.4 channels (five main channels, one subwoofer channel, four overhead or height channels) if you want the full immersive effect. 5.1.2 is good, but 5.1.4 (and 7.1.4) systems can convey movement and ambience better.

4. Number of Amplifier Channels

- As a general rule, more amplifier channels will cost you more money. Therefore, it is important to decide how many speakers you need to power ahead of time.

- 5-channel AVRs are the most basic and typically the most affordable.

- 7-channel AVRs can handle Dolby Atmos and DTS:X in a 5.1.2 speaker configuration as well as traditional 7.1 speaker systems. Some 2014 and 2015 Denon and Marantz models can expand to nine channels using an external amp.

- 9-channel AVRs can handle 5.1.4 Atmos and DTS:X, which offers a superior immersive experience to systems with only two elevation channels.

- Some 9-channel AVRs also offer 11-channel processing, but you'll need an external 2-channel amp to take advantage of that.

- This year there are several 11-channel AVRs to choose from; these models can handle 7.1.4 Atmos/DTS:X or amplify multiple zones.

5. Room Correction


- Room correction—compensating for acoustical irregularities in a given room—is one of the most important features to consider when deciding between different brands of AVRs.

- Some companies, such as Yamaha, Pioneer, and Onkyo, use their own proprietary systems, while others, like Denon and Marantz, license sophisticated third-party solutions such as Audyssey and Dirac Live.

- There is a lot of variation in terms of capability between different room-correction systems.

- Audyssey MultEQ XT32 and Dirac Live both have a reputation for being very effective.

- Some speaker and room combinations benefit from room correction more than others.

6. Networking

- Whether you need it or not, a 2016-model AVR is likely to have some sort of network connectivity.

- An Ethernet port is useful if you plan to locate the AVR far from a wireless router or use IP control in conjunction with a home-automation system. Also, a wired Ethernet connection assures the best possible performance for audio streamed from other devices on the network.

- Many AVRs use Wi-Fi to offer compatibility with Apple AirPlay, DTS Play-Fi, and other wireless AV systems.

- Another useful networking feature is playback from a DLNA server connected to your home network.

7. Wireless and Multi-Room Audio Features

- For many years, some AVRs have offered the ability to send audio and video to two or more separate rooms or "zones" in a home using dedicated hard-wired connections such as interconnect and speaker cables as well as analog video and even HDMI.

- These days, many AVRs come with some sort of networked-audio capabilities. Some brands only offer their own proprietary system such as Denon HEOS or Yamaha MusicCast, which work only with other compatible products from the same manufacturer. Other brands, like Pioneer and Onkyo, have adopted third-party platforms such as Google Cast and DTS Play-Fi.

- If you like to mix and match brands, the DTS Play-Fi ecosystem includes products from the most manufacturers.

- If you use Bluetooth, look for aptX technology, which ensures high-quality audio transmission.

- Some AVRs offer the option of streaming audio from cloud-based services.

8. Analog Inputs and 2-Channel Audio

- Unless you have a legacy video source, such as a LaserDisc player or VCR, analog video inputs, such as component or composite video, are completely unnecessary.

- If you have a collection of analog-audio sources, make sure there are enough analog-audio inputs to accommodate them on the AVRs you are considering.

- If you plan on listening to vinyl records, look for an AVR that offers a phono input, not all of them do. This does not apply if your turntable has a built-in pre-amp, or you are using a third party phono pre-amp.

9. Remote and App-Based Control

- Since AVRs are complex devices, they often come with remote controls that are stuffed with buttons.

- Many AVRs have included an RS-232 serial port for connection to home-automation systems from companies like Crestron, but this is being supplanted by IP control over your home's network.

- Control apps for phones and tablets are available from many AVR makers, but their functionality varies widely. If like to control things with a mobile device, you might want to consider how capable the app is.

- Look for an IR input if you plan to use a standard remote and house the AVR in a cabinet or closet.

10. Budget and Recommendations

- The key to shopping for an AVR is to set your budget first, determine how many speakers you plan to power, factor in what sources you intend to connect, and consider the kind of content you intend to consume—some folks are music-first and others use AVRs primarily for home cinema.

- In 2016, even affordable entry-level AVRs like Yamaha's RX-V481 ($400) and Pioneer's VSX-830-K ($400) offer full UHD/4K HDMI passthrough, room correction, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and multi-room audio. The Denon AVR-S720W ($480) even adds 5.1.2 Atmos and DTS:X to the mix for under five bills. Sony's STR-DN860 ($300) is a 7-channel model that sports a modern graphic user interface and streams from Spotify Connect, Deezer, Pandora, and TuneIn.

- Above the $500 price point, you'll find a lot of features crammed into 7-channel AVRs from various mainstream manufacturers. Denon's AVR-S920W ($580) offers Dolby Atmos 5.1.2, eight HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs, Audyssey MultEQ, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and much more.

- Between $1000 and $1500 MSRP, you start to see features like the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction found on the Marantz SR6011 ($1400). Yamaha's RX-A1060 ($1100) similarly offers seven channels of power and is packed with premium features like two separate HDMI zones and Yamaha's MusicCast wireless-audio system.

If you budget $1500 or more, you can expect to find AVRs with top-tier room correction, nine or more channels of amplification, multiple zones, more power, and overall better specs. Denon's AVR-X6300H ($2200) offers 11 amps, giving it the ability to drive a full Atmos/DTS:X 7.1.4 speaker system without any additional amplification. Pioneer's SC-LX901 ($3000) is another 11-amp option that claims its class-D amps can output twice as much peak power (all channels driven) as many competing AVRs. You'll also find an 11-channel option from Anthem in its MRX1120 model ($3500), which uses the highly effective Anthem Room Correction (ARC) system. Not to be outdone, Onkyo also has an 11-amp model, the TX-RZ3100 ($3200).

I'm sure that AVS Forum members have many opinions about all of this, so I invite you to share them in the comments. What are your most important considerations when shopping for an AVR? What models do you recommend at different price points?

Please do not click on the Quick Reply button at the bottom of this article, which will quote the entire article in your comment without you knowing it. Wading through the entire article in the comments is quite annoying! If you want to quote a portion of the article, click on the Quote button and delete everything that does not pertain to your comment. Otherwise, use the Quick Reply comment editor at the bottom of each page, which does not quote the original post. Thanks!




Another thing to consider is support for the product you are purchasing, especially based on your geographic location. For example I am going through hell at the moment trying to get a warranty repair done in Canada by a third party. Since some manufacturer's do not have a head office in Canada they sub contract their warranty repairs to third party electronic shops. Some of these shops might be qualified to fix a 40 year old tube amp but a brand new high end 2016 model is a completely different story. How they have been "qualified" to perform warranty repairs is beyond me. My receiver has been sitting at a shop for about 24 days now, "waiting for parts". If I lived in the U.S. this would not be happening. Something to consider in my opinion.
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post #30 of 135 Old 12-07-2016, 06:26 PM
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I remember when you sent units back to the manufacturer for repair.

Those were the days...
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