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Podcast #612: AV Receiver Buying Guide 2013

It is that time of year where we get to spend your money again! We kick off our holiday buying guides with receivers. Our goal with these guides is not necessarily about getting the latest product. Its about getting a good product at a great price so you may see some of last year’s gear on the list. All these receivers are readily available online or at a big box store.

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AV Receiver Buying Guide 2013

It is that time of year where we get to spend your money again! We kick off our holiday buying guides with receivers. Our goal with these guides is not necessarily about getting the latest product. Its about getting a good product at a great price so you may see some of last year’s gear on the list. All these receivers are readily available online or at a big box store.


Less than $500

Sony STR-DH740 7.2 Channel 4K AV Receiver $275

In this price range you just want a basic receiver that can give you a surround sound experience and leave you some cash for speakers. That’s what this receiver is. It doesn’t do 4K but it will pass the signal through to the TV so it won’t prevent you from enjoying 4K, you know when we actually get 4k content. It comes with 4 HDMI inputs and can process all the advanced audio codecs. In all its a great starter receiver for less than $300!!


Onkyo TX - NR609 7.2 Channel Network THX Certified A/V Receiver $400

Wow! Both of our budget receivers are 7.2. Onkyo really packs a ton of features in a unit and prices them for just about everyone. You get six HDMI inputs, iOS connectivity, Network streaming with a great mobile app, and if that’s not enough the receiver is THX certified! But what might really seal the deal is the Audyssey calibration and audio leveling technology.


$500 - $1000

Denon AVR-X3000 7.2-Channel 4K Ultra HD Networking Receiver with AirPlay $900

Hard to believe this is what we would call mid-tier but its true. Some may say that a $900 receiver is not mid-tier, but in the larger scope of products out there, X3000 is right in the middle based on price. How about based on features? Well in that regard we would agree that it leans more towards the higher end units. It has 7 HDMI inputs, you know in case you have three Blu-ray players ;-) It also has two HDMI outputs for multiple zone viewing. The X3000 comes with Audyssey’s Gold package so you can get your sound exactly the way you want it. The unit is Airplay and Windows 8 compatible and comes with Denon Remote app for mobile devices. Honestly there are many more features that we can’t list here. This is a very capable receiver and will last you for years.


Yamaha RX-A2020 9.2-Channel Network AVENTAGE AV Receiver $1000

This receiver is at the limit for the range but is a bargain at the price. The A2020 is all about audio quality. Sure it has the same bells and whistles of other receivers in its class but this unit differentiates itself by using the highest quality parts get the most out of the sound. Yamaha also spent time in the design layout like laying out the left and right channels so that the crosstalk is minimized. Yes it supports Airplay, Network Audio, and comes with a mobile app for setup and control. Yamaha includes the YPAO auto calibration system with Reflected Sound Control for easy setup and optimization. Like the Denon, there are so many features we can’t list them all here. The A2020 is also a receiver that will do the job for years to come!


Pioneer VSX-1122-K 630W 7-Channel A/V Receiver $600

Our last mid-tier receiver is also the best bargain. At $600 its will probably be in the entry level range by summer. The VSX-1122 is certainly not a entry level receiver in terms of capability. It too is a 7 channel receiver that supports Airplay, iPad and iPods. For those with Windows it is certified to works with Windows 7 and DLNA 1.5. With an Internet connection you can stream Pandora and radio stations from around the world. Pioneer has their own auto calibration feature which will have you enjoying surround sound in no time. The iControlAV app gives you ultimate control of the settings on this receiver. So much easier than doing everything from the front panel. The 1122 will be the hub around which your home theater experience will center.


Greater than $1000

Marantz SR7008 9.2-Channel 1080P and 4K Ultra HD Pass Through $2000

Our first unit is quite a bit more than the $1000 entry point for this tier. The reason for that is the mid tier really has about all the features you would want even for a greater than $1000 receiver. The SR7008 definitely has features. Its a 9.2 channel receiver that can be controlled with a mobile device. It supports Airplay and will upconvert video to 4K. There is Internet connected features like Pandora. It has seven HDMI inputs and three outputs! So why then would you want to spend a thousand dollars more than the mid-tier receivers? Its the sound. Don’t buy this receiver if you don’t have an equal amount in investment in speakers. To get the most out of it you will want speakers that can reproduce sound as precisely as the SR7008 can. With the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 your subwoofer will produce the bang for all the bucks you spend. This is a serious receiver for serious home theater lovers!


Sony STR-DA5800ES 9.2 Channel 4K AV Receiver with Automation $2100

This is another receiver for serious home theater lovers. Along with similar features sans Airplay, the 5800 sports: nine HDMI inputs, you know for those of you with four blu-ray players, three HDMI outputs (supports multi room HD video distribution), a four port Ethernet switch (thank you!!!), Control4 automation support, special parts selected for their audio quality, and so much more!! This is a super receiver with high quality sound and more bells and whistles than you would ever imagine!




Download Episode #612

Reader Comments (2)

Did nobody notice that it was episode 612 on the 6th of December - how spooky is that?

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Mc

Ara, I liked your brief rationale for why an AVR is a good idea. One other way an AVR blows away using a TV as a hub is that the TV's EDID (part of the HDMI handshake between devices) will usually tell upstream sources not to send 5.1 (whether DD or higher-bitrate formats) causing those sources to fall back to outputting PCM 2.0. Those sources then downmix their 5.1, but worse than that, they throw away the .1 LFE channel, and compress the imaging channels in the downmix process. So connecting HDMI from source to a TV will generally compromise the audio before it ever leaves the source, no matter what audiophile-quality system you hang off the TV. An AVR or HT system that can switch among multiple sources will typically preserve the audio better than connecting everything through the TV's inputs.

December 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBill

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