You also may find the subtlety of Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization underwhelming, no matter how much I like it. The good news is, most AVRs that support this new height virtualization technology also feature enough amps and speaker connections to hook up a genuine object-based speaker setup. Third Question: How many watts per channel do you need?
Figuring out how much power you need from an AV receiver is tough, partly because power ratings can be wholly misleading. You might find a great AVR that meets all of your other needs and see that it lists watts per channel on the side of the box, only to read the fine print and discover that said watts is only achievable if you connect a single speaker to it and play homebrewed recordings of Rainforest Pygmy chants at midnight on the summer solstice.
I'm exaggerating a little, but not by much. A more realistic example: you may find that an AV receiver that boasts watts per channel on the side of the box only really delivers 55 watts of clean power per channel once you connect two speakers to it and feed it a full-frequency signal--and even less than that by the time you connect seven or nine or however many speakers. The bottom line is this: how much power you need really depends on how big your room is and the specific characteristics of the speakers you're installing in it.
If you want to understand more about the relationship between speakers and amps, you can read my primer on the topic: How to Pick the Right Amp for Your Speakers or Vice Versa. Whatever answer you come up with, add at least one to the total, just to be safe. Who really needs an Xbox One X anyway, though? Ultimately, this consideration can keep otherwise great receivers out of the equation, even if you only need a simple speaker setup without a ton of power.
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The simple fact of the matter is that, as mentioned above, you can leave speaker outputs unused, and even drive small speakers with huge amps with no problem. You may be asking right now: "What's the difference?
Step up to an audiophile offering, though, and you'll likely find that you get better, more robust amps with more realistic power ratings, so you have a better idea of how the receiver will perform in your room. You may not get quite as many features as you will on the current crop of big-box-brand receivers, mind you, but it's up to you to decide how important those features are. What you'll also find is that stepping up to an audiophile brand likely gets you better room correction, which is really the number one differentiator between most receivers, at least in terms of how they sound.
If you want to understand the differences between the most common room correction systems, read my updated primer on the topic: Room Correction Revisited. Sixth Question: Stop asking me questions and just tell me what to buy! That's not a question, but I hear you. A lot of people will likely disagree with this advice pop a bowl of popcorn before dipping into the comments section, because this is going to lead to some Real Housewives -level drama , but most people who want a mass-market receiver should just buy the Denon or Marantz model that checks off all the right boxes in terms of HDMI inputs, speaker outputs, amplification ratings, and price in pretty much exactly that order of priority.
That's not to say that other mass-market manufacturers don't make receivers with a lot of compelling features. If you're already invested in Yamaha's MusicCast multiroom streaming ecosystem, okay. A Yamaha might make more sense for you. If Sony's five-year warranty sparks joy in your heart, sure thing--get a Sony. But remember: if you already knew those things, this guide isn't really for you. For most people, a Denon or Marantz offers the right mix of features, performance, reliability, and--most importantly--ease of setup. Their setup wizard holds your hand through the entire setup process in a really intuitive way.
What's more, while most AV receiver manufacturers rely on their own proprietary and often lacking room correction systems, Denon and Marantz use Audyssey, which I didn't really dig just a few years ago, but which has developed into a very respectable room correction and auto-speaker calibration system in recent years. Compare my original primer on room correction to the updated guide to see just how much Audyssey advanced recently.
In case you didn't know already, Denon and Marantz are sister companies. The main differences between them these days mostly boil down to their amplification and a resulting subtle difference in sound. Our day money-back guarantee. Why buy from an authorized dealer? How to return a product. Thank you for sharing your comments with us! Track your shipment.
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