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Thursday
Dec082016

Podcast #769: Receiver Buying Guide 2016

 

It is that time of year where we get to spend your money again! This week we concentrate on receivers. Our goal with these guides is not necessarily about getting the latest product. It's 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. Just like last year’s Buying Guide, we’re going to skip the budget categories jump right to our top picks. We each pick three receivers and one ‘money is no object’ / ‘dare to dream’ receiver for you to consider.

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Receiver Buying Guide 2016

It is that time of year where we get to spend your money again! This week we concentrate on receivers. Our goal with these guides is not necessarily about getting the latest product. It's 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. Just like last year’s Buying Guide, we’re going to skip the budget categories jump right to our top picks. We each pick three receivers and one ‘money is no object’ / ‘dare to dream’ receiver for you to consider.

Braden’s Picks

I tried to ignore Ara’s picks when selecting mine, as to not be biased one way or the other. But his newfound love for Marantz did have an impact on my list.

Sony STRDH770 7.2 Channel Home Theater 4K AV Receiver $199

I wanted to pick the Sony STRDH770 as my value option, but for some reason it is limited availability online so I’m not sure what that means. You can get it from Sony for $199. It has 7.2 channel x 145W of sound power, 4 HDMI Inputs / 1 Output with HDCP2.2 compatibility, supports 4K 60p 4:4:4 / HDR, front surround sound technology, Bluetooth and NFC for easy wireless streaming, USB connection for music playback, quick speaker set up with automatic calibration, DSD decoding thru HDMI, pretty much everything. All for under $200. If you want a model that is a bit more available online, you can step up to the STR-DN1070 for $449. It adds a few more watts per channel, a couple more HDMI ins/outs and second zone capabilities.

Denon AVR-X3300W 7.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD A/V Receiver $799

No list of mine would be complete without a Denon.  They have so many great options for receivers, just looking at them made me feel like a kid in a candy store. This model, the X3300 feels like the perfect intersection of affordable and ultra capable. Let’s rattle it off: 7.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Receiver with built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, HDCP2.2, HDR, Audyssey MultEQ XT32, 8/2 HDMI In/Out, the list goes on. If you can swing $800 for a receiver, this is the one you get. If you can go higher, check out the Denon candy store.

Marantz SR-6011 AV Audio & Video Component Receiver $1399

I’ve never owned a Marantz, but the way Ara raves about his (and how I’ve heard it perform), I may have to try one out. You know, for the show. If I was going to dip my toe in that water, I’d opt for the SR-6011. It’s a bit on the pricey side, but wow does it pack a wallup. 9.2 channel receiver with 110W per channel with 11.2 channel processing capabilities. 3D and 4K Ultra HD/60Hz full rate pass-through with HDR, BT.2020, 4:4:4 Pure Color support; 8 HDMI inputs (incl. 1 front) and 2 outputs (Main/Zone 2) with full HCDP 2.2 support. 4K/60Hz Up-scaling. Built-in Bluetooth(R) and Wi-Fi. Streaming Content; Airplay, vTuner Internet Radio, Pandora, SiriusXM, Spotify Connect, DLNA. Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, Audyssey MultEQ XT32, Sub EQ HT, LFC (Low Frequency Containment) with Dynamic Volume and Dynamic EQ. Marantz HDAM (Hyper Dynamic Amplifier Module) technology. The works.

Ara’s Picks

Like my TVs, this year’s list will only consist of receivers that support 4K, HDR, and the Wide Color Gamut. My list may cost more than you want to spend right now but it will set you up for years of enjoyment!

Onkyo TX-NR646 7.2-Channel Network A/V Receiver $389

This is my budget receiver on this years list. But don’t let the price fool you, it's a full featured receiver that someone starting out would love to have. The NR646 puts out 170 w/channel supporting Dobly Atmos and DTS:X. The Onkyo has 8 HDMI 2.0 inputs with the first three supporting HDCP 2.2. The only real drawback, and you knew there had to be for the price, is the room correction firmware. Onkyo uses something called AccuEQ which is less demanding than Audyssey and thus not as good. Music streaming and high-res audio round out the receivers features.

Pioneer SC-LX501 Elite 7.2 Channel D3 Network AV Receiver $999

I have owned three Pioneers over the years and they all have been great receivers. This receiver is ready to serve you now and well into the future. There is support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X and it has enough power (120W) to fill large rooms with sound. Other features include support for Google Cast, Airplay, Pandora, Spotify, and Hi Res Audio round out this very capable receiver.

Yamaha RX-A1050 7.2-Channel MusicCast AV Receiver with Built-In Wi-Fi and Bluetooth $899

This is the next model up from the one that I use in my family room. It has everything you want in a receiver and more. Plenty of power (110W), Auto Calibration, Multidimensional sound, and wireless connectivity. I went with this model over the A850 because in addition to Dolby Atmos you also get  DTS:X and and Advanced HDMI switching! You can watch different sources in different zones. Yamaha says that this receiver employs “audiophile grade design that incorporates a rigid chassis and symmetrical amp layout with the latest ESS SABRE DACs”. Translation - It will make those who really care about sound quite happy!

Ultimate Present

Marantz SR7011 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Receiver with built-in HEOS wireless technology featuring Bluetooth and Wi-Fi $2199

When I was looking for a receiver to add ATMOS to my media room Rob H. from the AV Rant Podcast really urged me to take a look at the SR6010 which I ended up buying and really liking.  So based on that experience I am going to recommend the SR7011. It supports everything you need in next generation audio and video including a capable video processor and dual zone HDMI outputs. It has three HDMI outputs but only works with two sources. One of the outputs is a mirror of one of the sources. There are 9 amps outputting 125W and one of the best EQ systems available: Audyssey MultEQ XT32 automatic room acoustic measurement, which takes measurements in 8 locations. There is even an EQ for multiple subwoofer setups! We may differ on whether this is the ultimate receiver available, but if you got one, I don’t think you would argue that it wasn’t your ultimate present.

Sony STRZA5000ES 9.2-channel AV Receiver $2798

According to Sony, the 5000ES should be the new center of your theater system. It  has up to 11.1-channel immersive sound (9.2ch discrete onboard amplifiers) from both Dolby® Atmos and DTS:X 2. Of course you get full-quality 4K/60p video pass-through, with HDR and HDCP 2.2 support, and a wealth of connection options for multi-room and network distribution. It even includes an 8 port ethernet switch in the back.  With premium ES build quality, and a focus on sound purity, we have no doubt it will live up to its flagship status. Sure, the two star review at Amazon is concerning. But if you read the review, it isn’t about the quality of the unit, it is about the features that were removed between revisions of the ES flagship model. If you need those features, this probably isn’t the unit for you. If you don’t, this thing will rock your theater.

 

 

 

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