Feeds

Buyer's Guide: AV Receivers

Speakers' corner

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Group Test The first thing to decide is whether you want an AV receiver or if you’ll be happy with just an AV amp. Each will include a multichannel amp (5.1 minimum) and preamp for processing sound and video, but a receiver will include a radio tuner and a connection for a quality aerial. It may also, but not necessarily, include access to Internet radio. All the models included in this round-up are receivers, but don't expect to find DAB among the spec, as it's all AM/FM only.

Yamaha RX-V767

Wired for sound... and video

Any modern AV amp or receiver will, of course, include HDMI inputs and outputs but it’s worth checking what features are included, since they’re not all the same. The latest HDMI spec, formerly known as 1.4, includes ARC (audio return channel) which allows a similarly equipped TV to send audio info back into the amp and there's standby pass-through, which allows you to access your plugged-in sources without the need to fire up the amp.

One of the recent trends in home cinema is for adaptable speaker placement. Sound processing facilities such as Dolby ProLogic IIz and Audyssey DSX give you the option of replacing or augmenting your surround channels with additional ‘height’ or ‘width’ channels, with some preferring these effects to the more traditional rear speakers in a 7.1 set-up.

Most receivers these days will come with an automatic calibration system to help you with setting up the optimum sound from each of your speakers, often incorporating the dynamics of your room. Not to be confused with Audyssey DSX – the processing which offers additional height and width channels in some receivers – is Audyssey’s Dynamic EQ.

One of several calibration tools available, the Audyssey system uses a microphone plumbed into the AV receiver. The mic is then placed in your listening position(s) while the speakers throw out a series of tones. These signals, picked up by the mic, are then processed to produce the optimum sound balance. You can use these settings as a basis before your start your own selective tweaking or ignore it altogether and just do it all manually.

If you’re likely to be watching standard def DVD or TV (certainly, most of us for a few years to come), 1080p upscaling in your receiver can be well worth having. An HDMI lead from your Sky or other set top box, or direct from your TV will give you the option to upscale to the highest def your screen can handle.

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Next page: In the dock

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.