Do you wish you could have a more immersive, theater-like experience at home? Is your soundbar just not enough anymore? One of these audio / visual (A / V) receivers can take your sound to a higher level!
What to look out for in a Surround Sound receiver
A / V receivers have been improved for decades. The list of features feels endless with high-end models that can reach the territory of thousands of dollars. Although most of us cannot afford the ultra-premium units, those same features trickle down to more reasonably priced models. Here is a list of essential functions that allows a mainstream class receiver to produce great sound in most environments.
Surround channels : The simplest A / V receivers contain five channels with main audio (front left, center, front right, rear left and rear right) plus a single subwoofer for a 5.1
surround sound configuration. This works great for smaller theater rooms. For larger rooms, an additional two audio channels (surround left and surround right) complete a 7.1 surround sound configuration. The other two channels increase the sound reproduction location for an immersive experience. Some systems also have an extra subwoofer channel for a fuller, more balanced bass experience in the room for a 5.2 or 7.2 channel configuration. To this, some systems add support for two or four ceiling speakers or upward-facing speakers that reflect sound from the ceiling and add even more three-dimensional sound depth. This is represented by a 5.1.2, 5.2.2, 7.1.2 or 7.2.2 channel configuration.
Max Power / Channel Power : Each surround receiver has an amplifier to control the surround speakers. More surround channels require more total power to reach the desired volume levels. It is important to know how much power is supplied per channel, so that the speakers can be properly tuned to the receiver to produce good sound from the system. Power per channel is directly related to speaker Ohm. Higher ohm means more resistance, so the receiver can deliver less power. Lower ohm means less resistance, so the receiver can deliver more power. If we look at the power of the receiver, if the manufacturer presents wattage at lower ohms such as four or six, they might play the system a bit to make songs look better.
Surround sound coding support : At a minimum, all modern receivers are likely to support Dolby Digital and Digital Theater System (DTS) formats for 5.1 or 5.2 configurations. They can also support Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD for 7.1 or 7.2 configurations. Finally, if you want to add ceiling speakers in a 7.1.2, 7.2.2, 7.1.4 or 7.2.4, you are looking for support for Dolby Atmos or DTS: X format. There are several other similar formats that you can come across, but these are the most common with streaming, gaming and video sources.
Automatic calibration : it requires a lot of knowledge to correctly configure the multiple sound settings in a surround sound receiver for a specific room. Many receivers can listen to the sound in the room and automatically calibrate themselves!
Wireless audio : most receivers support Bluetooth audio, but several also support audio casting via Wi-Fi or even AirPlay / AirPlay 2. Some also support Chromecast Audio.
Streaming Audio : With the ever-growing popularity of Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora and others, some receivers support these streaming services directly without being dependent on additional source devices
Video support : when an A / V receiver is deployed, it becomes the hub for every audio and video device in the home theater. All HDMI video devices must be connected to the receiver, so you only have to select the input source of the receiver, which connects both audio and video. This built-in HDMI switch must support HDCP 2.2 / 2.3, HDR, Dolby Vision, as well as full 4K / 60p Ultra HD and digital 3D video. It must also support ARC and HEC via HDMI to make it easier to control the receiver with your TV's remote control.
The list can go on. But our collection of surround sound receivers does an excellent job for most of the above functions to provide the best experience for most people.