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6 Things to Look for in a Home Theater Receiver

Finding the Best Engine to Support Your Private Theater

Although much of the attention goes to your display and speakers (and rightfully so), your AV receiver plays just as big a role in your home theater installation. If you don't have a clear, powerful signal to begin with, it’ll be impossible to enjoy any high-quality content. From the strength of your system to how you manage it to even how easy the system is to use, your receiver will impact every aspect of your theater. Keep reading to find out the key considerations you need to take into account when investing in one for your Houston, TX home.

SEE MORE: How to Take your Home Theater to the Next Level

Latest Video and Audio Specifications

The first step is making sure your receiver is compatible with the latest audio and video technology. For video, it must be 4K Ultra HD and HDR enabled, with the necessary HDCP 2.2 encryption to be compatible with the most popular televisions, projectors, and even streaming services. Most current models of high-end receivers from companies like Arcam and Anthem have the necessary processing for this and surround sound. But your AV receiver should also be able to decode all the latest three-dimensional sound specifications including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X to get truly immersive surround sound.

Match Your Speaker Layout

When designing your home theater system, know how many speakers you have or will want in the room. Common configurations are 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound, but high-end receivers like the Anthem MRX 1120 include up to 11 speaker channels and multiple subwoofer outputs. In order to get true Dolby Atmos or DTS:X theater sound, not only should the receiver be capable, but the speakers should be configured correctly to get truly immersive sound. This includes not only surround channels but also a way to handle overhead speaker channel information. Some receivers are upgradeable, not only with software, but with amplification too. There are 5.1 and 7.1 receivers that can have additional amplification added if you decide to add speakers to your system after purchasing your receiver. If upgradeability is important, let an expert help you choose a receiver that has the necessary options in place to make future additions. NAD is an example of a brand that makes products with card slots to add or swap input / output or processing options.

Upgrade Your Network Connection

With streaming becoming so popular in recent years, you also need a receiver with networking capabilities, either wired or wireless. Look for receivers that have up-to-date features and built-in services. For example, the Anthem MRX 1120 comes with DTS Play-Fi which includes Tidal, Spotify, and iHeartRadio. You can also connect your smart device to stream content directly from your phone--perfect if you have a Hulu or Netflix app.

Adjust the Receiver to Your Room

Video and audio quality will depend largely on location. During your installation, it's important to adapt to your room's specifications. For this reason, many high-end manufacturers include room correction technology to help you properly set up your system. These receivers include microphones that test out the tones coming out of your speakers. Through patented software, they then send out a report that you or an AV technician can analyze to make the necessary changes.

Allows for Integrated Control Options

To get the most out of your home theater installation, make sure your AV receiver offers extensive control options. You don’t want to get stuck with a different remote for your TV or projector, AV receiver, and speakers. Check out your receiver specifications to see if it allows for custom control capabilities. This way it can be integrated into your home audio video system so you can manage everything from a touchpad, smart remote or mobile app.

Find the Right Power for the Room

You want to make sure that your receiver is the right fit for the job when it comes to power output. The amplification needs to be appropriately matched to the speakers that are going to be used. Obviously a bedroom might have different speaker and power requirements over a dedicated theater. Often specs will show 100-150 wpc (watts per channel) although some ratings in the 80-90 wpc range may still be appropriate, depending on the brand and model. Because there are only loose definitions for how power ratings are written, relying on the brand, reputation, or suggestion of a professional is a sound decision. In some cases, you may find that a receiver isn’t even the right answer. For those ready to graduate to the next level, a high performance amp / preamp combination gives more flexibility, choices, and even performance over an all-in-one receiver.

When it comes to designing a private theater, it's important that you don't skimp on the essential components. The experts at iconic.systems can help you find a receiver that’s the right fit for your space and priorities. To learn more about a new system or an upgrade, feel free to contact us online. 

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