So you have decided that you want your AV Receiver to have a lot of bells and whistles, toys that can play with and adjust and get a lot more out of this digital age that we live in. But what features are there? What is available? And how do you use them?
Lets get the basics out of the way. Most respected AVR companies like Denon, or Pioneer Elite provide your standard connections such as HDMI for high def sources, many of which provide 3D passthrough, and upscaling of legacy (older) connections. They are generally also going to have a standard Room Equalization system such as Audyssey or MCACC (respectively). So with virtually any receiver model you choose you will be able to connect your HD cable box, Bluray player, or gaming system, turn them on and they will work.
But what else is available now? Well, network connectivity is a key one and a great place to start. Connecting your AVR to your home network/internet allows for a number of things. Free Internet radio stations from local to worldwide that don’t depend on standard Am/FM reception are one huge beneft. This feature is a personal favorite of mine.
Another great reason to network your AVR is to work in conjunction with your smart phone, tablet, or computer. Lets use the most common device, the iPhone as an example. Because both the iPhone and your AVR are networked, they can communicate wirelessly with eachother. Apple has a great feature called AirPlay. What this allows you to do with your AirPlay enabled receiver, is to send music that is physically stored on your iPhone, and play it right through your AVR, without any cable at all. You select the song, hit the AirPlay icon , select your AVR from the available list, and wait for the song to play. Great for sitting back, enjoying a drink and browsing through your music.
Hardwired networking is always the safest bet for fast functionality, but WiFi wireless is an option on some models with the purchase of a wireless dongle. This is sometimes the most ideal option as not everyone has a network connection where their AVR is located. Connection options are different from each manufacturer, be sure to review the specs for each model.
The other, really great feature you can do with you smart device is to control your AVR. Many larger brand receiver companies have free downloadable apps that are controller interfaces. So you can control your receiver from anywhere in the house using the controller app.
So beyond networking your AVR, there is still a lot more you can do. Many receivers come equiped with a USB input for connecting older digital devices like iPod classics, or even music loaded USB harddrives and memory sticks.
AVR Receivers are also loaded with sound modes and listening functionality. Many of these are tied to your room equalization setup like many of the additional Dolby features. Dolby Volume, for example, ensures that you can hear the original recorded material properly at all volume levels. It also helps defend against volume changes in program material and those ridiculously loud commercials.
Rounding things out are unique sound modes that transform your system from a living room speaker system to a cathedral, or a sports venue, or rock concert. This modify the original recording and add echo and reverberation to the sound to simulate different styles of listening.
So when you are on the hunt for an new AV Receiver, and you have chosen the “feature filled” route, make sure you review what is under the hood. Your qualified audio video retail specialist can help guide you to the best choice!