The humble receiver is a crucial and often overlooked part of your home entertainment setup. It's responsible for organising and funnelling all of the audio and video from your Blu-ray player, game consoles, HTPC, and other devices to your TV and your speakers. The best receivers offer streaming audio and video and multiple ports, but that doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune. Here's a look at the top five, based on your nominations.
Photo by William Hook
Shopping around definitely makes sense with audio receivers. You'll find competition is keen online, but if ordering from overseas, remember that you'll have to spring extra for power adaptors and may have to go through extra steps for warranty repairs.
Onkyo TX-NR Series (TX-NR414, TX-NR616)
Onkyo's NR series of receivers has been widely praised. Many readers argued that you can't go wrong with the NR line, since they almost universally offer excellent sound quality (all THX certified), internet-enabled features such Pandora streaming and Airplay, and lots of inputs — more than many other manufacturers cram into their devices. Additionally, while Onkyo has been known to have issues with its HDMI controllers, those seem to have been resolved in recent models.
Marantz NR Series (NR1403, NR1603)
Marantz also has an strong following amongst audiophiles. Enthusiasts have fun tweaking, restoring, and retooling older 2230 models to suit modern entertainment centres, while first-time buyers can give models like such as NR1603 a spin to get great features in a slim, space-saving and attractively designed unit. The NR1603 packs Airplay and 7.2 channel audio into a small package. If you're on a budget, the heaper NR1403 still has a lot to offer in an even smaller size. If you're ready to step up a level (and spend a fair bit more money), check out the SR line, which sports internet-enabled features and Airplay, along with support for 4K video for those interested in future-proofing.
Yamaha RX-V Series (RX-V473, RX-V673)
The Yamaha RX-V Series of receivers are both budget-friendly and feature-packed. The RX-V673 was the most popular choice amongst Lifehacker readers, who liked its 7.2 channel surround sound, streaming music features (Airplay, Pandora, Rhapsody,) reliability and customer support. The includison of an an Android app to control Yamaha receivers with your phone is also a nice touch.
Denon AVR Series (AVR-1713)
Denon makes some incredible receivers, and many of you noted that you found yourself defecting to Denon after having bad experiences with other models. The Denon AVR-1713 was a particularly popular choice, delivering a wealth of streaming and internet-enabled features, including the ability to act as a media server that you can connect other devices to via Airplay (including the ability to play Airplay music in a separate zone at the same time, something rather unique to Denon's receivers.
Some of you noted that to really get the best, you should be buying separate components, not an all-in-one receiver to manage all of your audio and video components. Those of you who specified a brand or model identified Emotiva's amplifiers preamps, and accessories that, when combined, can create a fierce (and fiercely expensive) home theatre experience. If you're designing a home theatre from the ground up and money is no object, buying components is a great way to go.
Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favourite, even if it wasn't included in the list? Tell us, and tell us why, in the comments.