back to article AV Receivers

Soundbars, 2.1 systems, whatever – if you want proper surround sound for your home cinema set-up, you’ve still got to invest in a multichannel amp or receiver with connections for at least 5.1 channels. And with the advance of technology, it doesn’t have to cost the earth to construct a system that will handle all the latest …


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  1. Nick L
    Thumb Up

    Nice roundup, mercifully BS free

    As someone who has recently had the joy of reading the big magazines in hifi and home cinema in an effort to help me choose some new speakers, I have to say that El Reg should do more of this. You've got no axe to grind, no agenda to push, and have written up a good test without resorting to BS or a condescending approach: I found that every other piece of hi fi media did...

    A mention of the custom install features would be nice in the future - I have an arcam AVR280 that includes a serial port for remote command and display duties, triggers for zone 1, 2 and different video sources, remote extenders etc and am making use of some of this because the amp is buried away in a void under the floor keeping cool and out of the lounge. Perhaps that's just too geeky, but it might resonate with your audience too?

    Keep it up! More power to your organ and all that!

  2. Roger B

    HDMI numbers

    Just a bit of an early morning rant, but....HDMI is no longer going to be 1.4, .2, .3, .4 etc? is this because Sony (I know others were involved somehwere, but to me its still a Sony format) rushed out the initial release to beat HD-DVD and current users are basically beta testers for the finished product which will get released when exactly?

    I've not bought a blu-ray player yet, but if I'd purchased 12 months ago and now find out it is not 1.4 compatible, I'd be more than a bit pissed off. Yes I know most have a network port for updates, but do they all and how easy is it for the average home user to update?

    1. Annihilator

      Average home user

      How many "average home users" do you think will require HDMI 1.4? Or do you think the ones that do, will know how to flash the firmware?

      Calm down dear, it's a steep curve for enthusiasts, but they're well adapted to climbing it...

  3. Complicated Disaster
    Thumb Down

    Network Video

    It's all well and good receivers having network connectivity but I've yet to find one that will stream video. What's the point of an AV receiver if it only streams audio!!??

    1. max allan

      It stops being a receiver then...

      If you AV receiver starts streaming video and audio then it kind of stops being just a receiver and starts being a networked media player. It will probably require firmware updates to keep up with all the new codecs etc and generally be a huge PITA for the manufacturers. Who can charge you another few hundred quid for a different box instead.

  4. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    High-speed cable

    Hasn't anyone learned from the mess that is USB?

    So the cables can only be called "high speed cable". Presumably, when they increase the link speed again, the new cables will be called "Full-speed cable", and then the next time "Ultra-speed cable" and then no-one on earth will remember if a "high-speed cable" will work with HDMI 2.5 because they cannot remember the order of the speed grades, or what HDMI x.y needs what.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    How about..

    Doing a sub 200 quid surround sound amp and speakers for those of us on less than 4 trillion quid a year and with important things to spend the best part of a grand on.

    Amp and speakers please.

    1. DPWDC

      last years model

      Go to your local BetteroffAudios shop and get last years models for 1/3 of those prices.

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: How about..

      Easy one. Go get the Cambridge Audio 540 from Richer Sounds. That punches so far above its weight it's scary.

      I have a set of KEF 2005.2 "egg" speakers hooked to mine, that's probably a way above where you want to go though. It says something about those CA receivers that the difference when I hooked those up as a replacement for my KEF Cresta front 'n centre / Gale rears 'n sub combo was very, very noticable and I strongly suspect that an even more serious set are required to get the best out of it. I see Mr Richer is knocking out the Tannoy SFX set for a shade under 200, they're probably a good buy to start with.

  6. Danny 14


    I'm still using a positively ancient 10 year old kenwood NV701 5.1 coupled to my linux XBMC via digital coax and PS3 via optical the setup is magic. Havnt found a need to upgrade yet.

  7. Annihilator


    Did you test with specialist SATA cables though? Tuned ears wish to know...

  8. MJI Silver badge

    Audio inputs (phono sockets)

    I noticed a list of video inputs, but what about audio inputs?

    Like many I use my HC system for everything, games, TV , films, music.

    How many audio ins are there?

    Does it support turntable in without a preamp?

    Is there a 5.1 in for high resolution music?

    1. Citizen Kaned

      in fairness

      almost all devices use hdmi for audio. i think the only thing going into my denon that doesnt is my PC (uses optical) and my decks (using phonos). hdmi switching is where its all at these days. oh and for some reason my V+ cant send 5.1 audio over hdmi - only 2.0! so its optical for that too... in fact a few of my devices use optical lol. most decent amps will have 3 or 4 optical ins.

      trueHD / master hd audio is simply amazing. to me a noticable improvement over dvd audio. of course you need good ears and decent speakers (i have B&W 684 home theatre system).

      1. MJI Silver badge

        How often do you replace kit?

        I still have a turntable, a DVD player using RGB Scart, a Minidisc recorder with no digital out.

        DVD (Pioneer 575) is connected with 5.1 and coaxial, 5.1 is needed for SACD and DVD Audio.

        I do not do any video switching though, all 3 TV HDMI are in use, all RGB kit goes through a decent switcher.

        I share the DVD in Coax for DVD Optical for PS3.

        With my current kit I would need HDMI switching, digital audio in for at least 6 items, analogue stereo in for 3 or 4 and out for 2 I think.

        I am still using a Sony STRDB930 which is over 11 years old and it is getting unreliable.

        1. Citizen Kaned

          quite often

          im already on my 3rd home cinema after updating again this year to denon amp, B&W 684 theatre and pioneer BDP

          my V+, BDP, Ps3 and pc all use hdmi out (pc needs optical out as i have a older 8800 gtx gfx card)

          my turntables (technics) go through a mixing desk so i dont need phono input (i think its available though). to get the most out of these AVRs you need HDMI for the trueHD/dolby master audio to work fully. you also cannot split HDMI signals due to DHCP

          no offence but these AVRs arent for people that still use very old kit. who would spend £700 on an AVR and still be using scart?

 this is the back of my amp - im sure there is enough there for you.

        2. Kevin Fairhurst

          Onkyo rocks!

          I picked up an Onkyo 607 a few months ago from BetteroffAudio mentioned above, for around £300. This was just as the '08 range was coming out, as the 607 is HDMI 1.3 and 1080i upscaling only. Fine with me!

          From a quick look at the Quick Setup PDF, it has 5 HDMI inputs at the rear so will more than accomodate the three you have going in to your TV currently. It has two sets of component input, and four full sets of composite input, as well as two audio-only composite in (Tape loop & CD). There are two coax digital inputs and two optical as well.

          You haven't said what you need the 6 digital audio in for but don't forget that HDMI includes audio. As such a PS3 or bluray player doesn't need HDMI as well as digital input; the HDMI does it all.

          Does the DVD player not do any audio at all over the coax output? It should be able to do all audio through the coax, and with a scart->composite cable you can have it pass thru the amp and be upscaled along the way out to the TV over HDMI.

          Otherwise, something along the lines of the Onkyo 607 will do the biz!

          The only thing it is missing is the 5.1 input, which is getting quite rare on amps these days. The idea is that the amp does all the grunt work and your DVD player is just a content provider.

          1. MJI Silver badge

            High resolution music is why

            DVD Audio and SACD are missing from Coax and Optical, only via 5.1. Not worth replacing the player as I can play virtually anything with the DV575 and the PS3.

            I don't have many of DVD-A and SACD but they sound great.

            I have a set of Castle speakers including a Keep and 2 Pembrokes.

            HDMI PVRs got 2 of them, one SD one HD, oldest RGB PVR will be replaced by a Humax Freeview HD next year.

            As to new kit an expensive TV, an expensive PVR and an emergency replacement games console eat it up (second YLOD)!

            Not too bothered about routing RGB direct to TV as to be honest the DVD player upscaled by DVD is no worse than upscaled by playing on PS3.

            Component input is used for my video camera!!!!

            I am only allowed to buy new things when the old ones are no longer suitable but I am allowed to buy decent stuff. I normally run TVs for at least 8 years, but it took that long for LCD to reach Wega tube quality.

  9. blackworx


    Good reviews, cheers, except for one thing. I doubt the lack of iPod/Phone connectivity would be considered "unfortunate" except by those who own an iPod/iPhone -- and these people are by no means in the majority. They're perhaps the majority group among people who own and wish to connect an mp3 player, but imho that means little.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      I don't have/want an I-thingy

      So other ports are more important to me.

  10. blackworx

    And another thing...

    In future I believe El Reg's readership both want and deserve hardcore business-end shots, not just your namby pamby softcore full frontals.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Back views are more important than front

      We need to see the sockets

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