Sound Comes First! Last entry, we discussed the features you get when choosing a features-heavy brand of A/V receiver. Today we check out what to do if you wish to forgo some of those features in favor of superior sound quality. In our opinion, premium audio brands like Anthem, and NAD are the direction to look. They tend to be lighter on the gadget features like specialty sound modes, or easily added options like Apple AirPlay, but heavy up on improved sound quality and lifelike powerful musical dynamics.
Your AV specialist at Liptons can help you decide if this category of performance receiver is right for you. We often recommend the Anthem or NAD brands to match up to premium speakers that often require more true power to really perform. They provide the listener with greater dynamic volume capability, and the the elusive improved imaging between speakers that is so hard to achieve. Larger style speakers can produce a more life-like sound when effectively driven by a higher performance A/V receiver.
What makes these receivers able to power the bigger, more demanding speakers? Start with a very large capacity power supply. The electricity coming from the wall outlet goes to the receiver’s power supply first. There it is processed, and stored as a ready pool of energy, to be used when needed for sound. If the power supply doesn’t have enough capacity and throughput, the power needed will not be available to the systems amplifiers. Sound quality suffers. These type of higher performance receivers can supply more current to their amplifiers which can feast on the electricity and give great power to your speakers. You can often get a physical sense of these larger power supplies by simply feeling the weight of the product. They are generally much heavier than their lower performance counterparts.
Using your computer to improve the sound! Receivers like Anthem’s MRX models have advanced room equalization/calibration called ARC (Anthem Room Calibration). This is a sophisticated room calibration setup. Rather than relying on a digital processing chip built into the receiver to do the equalization “math” to correct your room, the Anthem receiver connects up to your laptop and lets your computer’s processor do the heavy lifting. This is a good thing, since your computer has dramatically more computing horsepower and can do a lot more “math” to do a better job at correcting your room’s acoustic issues. All of the data is then displayed on your computer screen with a “before”, “target” and “calibrated” graphs. You can really see, and more importantly, hear a difference.
NAD brand receivers are also very unique in that many of their models are physically upgradable. Their Modular Design Construction (MDC) allows owners to upgrade computer like cards in the receiver when required. This is a great way to prevent the product from becoming obsolete in a short period of time. For example: if you owned a model that was not 3D capable, but you just purchased a new 3D 80″ LED or theater projector, you don’t have to worry about buying a whole new recevier. You can simply upgrade the card needed and be up to date. Simple, but smart!
The key thing to remember is that you will not be giving up anything that is critically important, functionality wise with these types of receviers. They are 3D capable, have multiple HDMI inputs, on screen menus, and good warranties.
Whether you have already decided that you are looking for over the top performance in term of sound quality, or you are taking the advice of one of our expert sales people, it’s good to understand the benefits of a “sound quality first” AV receiver.
Check out our upcoming blog entry: Life beyond Audio/Video Receivers