What a good chef is to a delicious meal, is what an AV receiver is to a home theater. It helps to bring out the best from your home theater speakers. It directs every sound where it should go either to the screen or the speaker.
Over the past few years, home theaters have evolved a great deal. They started as simple setups, but nowadays they are all-inclusive, and they help you to enjoy your favorite music and movies with better sound quality.
Compact mini audio receivers are all about versatility. But in the market today, there are several brands, models and capabilities, but all of them cannot be good. In this write-up, we have selected not only quality AV receivers but also feature-rich and those that do not compromise on performance and functionality.
But first things first, what is an audio receiver? In a layman’s language, an audio receiver can be explained as a consumer electronic device that helps to receive, process and then distribute audio signals. The device can receive messages from different sources such as satellite, radio, and TV. Once it has received the sign and processed it, it will distribute it to either a TV, video projector or a monitor.
Things to Look For in an AV Receiver!
As already mentioned above, there are numerous brands of AV receivers in the market today. However, not all of them will suit your home theater needs. For this reason, you need to know some of the salient features to look for from the different options available.
1. Receiver Calibrations
Depending on your audiophile skills, it might be a piece of cake to set up the AV receiver, or it can prove an uphill task if you are an amateur. Setting up an AV receiver is n small task because there are a lot of calibrations to be made.
Because the manufacturers are aware of this, there are some AV receiver brands that come with automatic calibrations to the speaker. The automatic speaker calibration automatically analyzes and adjusts the playing volume to the speakers that are connected. Such brands achieve this by producing test sounds that are monitored with the help of a microphone.
There are different modes of signal input and output. Most of the AV receivers are designed to accept almost any kind of input and output signal device. However, you might find a vintage device that will not be able to connect to the receiver. For this reason, it is paramount to know the kind of devices that can connect to the receiver. Also, you should take note of the number of electronics that you intend to connect to the receiver.
3. AC Receiver Power
For you to get the best sound quality and maximum volume capacity, power is an essential element. The receiver that you settle for should have enough power to meet your speaker system needs. One of the reasons for opting to use an AV receiver is damaged and distorted speakers.
Some of the factors that you should consider when deciding on the power of the receiver include the sensitivity rating of the speaker, the power of the speaker and the size of your room. Buy a receiver that has enough power to meet all these factors.
4. Dynamic Peaks
If you are a lover of dynamic peaks either in music or movies, then it is critical to buy a receiver that has this feature. When this feature is activated in the receiver, it helps to handle short terms music demands which make the sound to feel wholesome and exciting. Take note that it is only receivers with high power that can effectively handle such music bursts and make the sound feel better.
5. Sound Quality
The quality of the sound that you want will be determined by what you are going to play via the receiver. If you are a movie lover, for instance, you might want a receiver with heavy bass. But most importantly, you need to know how to balance the sound well so that the sound will not be drowned.
If you are a classical music enthusiast, if you will not calibrate the sound well, it will drown the mid-range rhythm, and this will affect your sound quality. For this reason, if you do not know how to calibrate the sound, settle for a receiver with automatic calibration ability.
If possible, buy a receiver that has Dolby Atmos. This ability will produce a 3D sound that will seem to hover all around you. Besides that, there are also those receivers with DTS:X sound format, which makes the home theater come alive when playing music.
6. Multiple Room Ability
There are some receivers that are designed to do many things at a go. For instance, it can help run your home theater while at the same time producing surround sound in another room and streaming music in a different room. Most importantly, a receiver that has multiple abilities can play two different things in different places.
7. Video Pass-through
Most of the receivers in the market come with a video pass-through because they are mostly used on home cinema systems. Therefore, you should go for a receiver with HD or ultra HD ability. But if you are a rich color lover, then you should go for a receiver with HDR ability.
Equally important, consider the number of HD ports that the receiver has.
Most of the electronics today are HD enabled so look for a receiver with many HD ports. This is important because if the number of ports is less, you will have to change the ports every time you want to use a different electronic. A good receiver should have a minimum of four HD ports.
8. Many Channels
One speaker is equivalent to one channel. It is paramount, therefore, to go for a receiver that will cover all your speakers. If possible, get a receiver that will cater even to the new speakers that you intend to buy in the future. It is advisable to get a receiver that can connect with at least five channels.
Different AC receivers are compatible with various devices. There are some that are meant to connect only with products from the same brand. It is advisable to go for a receiver that is compatible with a wide range of devices. The more the number of devices that a receiver can synch with the better as opposed to a receiver that synchs with fewer devices.
The Best Mini AC Receivers:
1. Yamaha CRX-332BL Mini Stereo Receiver
This mini receiver was designed to offer you the best unforced and smooth sound output. It is enhanced by separate digital and analog low noise circuits which ensure that the audio produced is of high-quality.
This mini receiver comes with a dock which is dedicated for use with Apple devices only. Apart from that, it has a digital connection feature where you can connect all other devices. In addition to that, it supports both CD-RW, CD-R, and CD-disks. On top of that, it has an FM and AM radio.
On the upper part of the receiver, it has a USB port, sub-woofer terminal, and an AUX-in. All these features are mounted so as to enhance your audio quality and ease of use with any device that you would like to connect with it.
In terms of the make, it has an appealing look, and on the front part, it has knobs for control playing. It also comes with a remote controller which you can use to control the music play from a distance.
- Comes with both AM and FM radio frequencies
- Appealing design
- Supports CD playing
- Reasonably priced
- Sound quality is outstanding
- The remote controller is not very intuitive
- The connectivity terminals are few
2. Pioneer Surround Sound AV Receiver
This receiver comes with a video through-pass option which makes it an exceptional choice for home cinema system. Besides that, it has the ability to handle 4k images. Most importantly, it has HDR video ability; hence you can use it with your home cinema system.
It is also automatic calibration enabled so once you connect it, it will automatically connect with your speakers. This feature ensures that you get a well-balanced sound in your home.
It can connect via Bluetooth, but you can also connect it to older devices via a cable. “It has a USB port on the front side for cable connection”. Another outstanding feature of this receiver is its ability to decompress MP3 and other files so that you can get the best tune representation.
However, one of the biggest drawbacks of this receiver is that the video pass-through ability is not very clear. So you might not get the best picture quality when using it. In addition to that, when you want to switch between different video setups, you have to do it manually.
- It comes with a USB port
- Has the ability to decompress MP3 and other files for better tune representation
- Comes with a video pass-through ability
- Has automatic calibration ability to give you a well-balanced sound quality
- Connects via Bluetooth
- The video pass-through ability is not very sharp hence needs to be improved
- Whenever you want to change video formats, you have to do it manually
3. Marantz NR1506 Slim Line
This is probably the most compact mini audio receiver in the market today. However, it is way expensive as compared to other brands in the market, but its vibrant features are worth every extra penny you spend on it.
It is both an audio and video receiver, and it has other abilities that enable it to give you the best sound. It has the ability to produce sound from multiple sources.
Besides that, it is compatible with HD televisions which can support 4k ultra HD mages. Also, you can connect it to a 3D video pass-through for your home cinema system.
It is also able to connect to other devices such as iPod touch, iPad and iPhone through the Airplay. This slimline is also capable of streaming music from other devices such as Spotify and Pandora, among others.
Most importantly, this receiver comes with a remote app that you can use to control it remotely. It also has a multi-zone ability which allows you to play music in different rooms at the same time.
To say but the least, this slimline receiver is ideal for connecting all your home theater arrangements.
- It is both an audio and video receiver
- Compatible with HD and Ultra HD video content
- Comes with a remote app for controlling the receiver remotely
- Has multi-zone connection ability
- It is expensive
- Is not ideal for small rooms
4. Onkyo TX-NR696
This is an excellent choice of a receiver which comes with many features as well. It has multi-zone ability so you can use it to play music in different rooms at the same time. In addition to that, it comes with two subwoofers which will ensure that you will get excellent sound quality.
Most importantly, it is Dolby Atmos-enabled so that you will enjoy surround sound in a 3D manner. It is also DTS:X enabled so the audio quality you will get from this receiver is out of this world. However, if you are a movie enthusiast, the bass quality is not that good, so you might not experience those punchy sounds while watching your movie.
On the front part, it has knobs for different controls. It also has a USB port and an AUX-in where you can connect various devices.
- Both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X enabled
- Appropriately priced
- Has multi-zone playing ability
- Comes with two subwoofers to enhance the sound
- It is power efficient
- The sound quality is not the best
Also, read –
- Best Lightweight Electric Guitars - Best waterproof headphones for swimming - Best Tailgate Speakers – Buying Guide - Best Motorcycle Handlebars Speakers and Amps - Best DJ headphones under $100
5. Sony STR-DH590 Receiver
This receiver is a video pass-through enabled, and it can support videos up to 4K quality. The video images are transmitted via the pixel for pixel on the receiver without losing any pixel.
In addition to that, it comes with a DCAC (DIGITAL CINEMA AUTOMATIC CALIBRATION) which automatically calibrates the sound once you install the receiver. This will help to calibrate the sound to suit your room’s requirements.
Moreover, this receiver can create a surround sound system once you install it if you have more than one speaker. You can connect this receiver via Bluetooth. Also, once you connect the receiver with your phone via Bluetooth, you can use your phone as a remote controller to control the music playing on the receiver.
On the front side, it has a screen interface that you can use to control it. It comes with four different languages from which you can select the one you are comfortable with. The audio quality of the receiver is outstanding, and it performs highly, which is worth every penny you spend on it.
- Can connect via the Bluetooth
- You can use it as your home cinema system because it supports 4K videos
- Once connected to the smartphone, the phone can act as the remote controller
- Automatically calibrates the sound system via the DCAC system
- User-friendly interface
- Comes with four languages to select from, i.e. Italian, Germany, French, and English
- Lacks an inbuilt wi-fi
The best compact mini audio receiver should be one that has the pass-through video ability in HD format. Also, it should have a multiple channel option so that you can connect to many devices in your home. Most importantly, it should be able to enhance your sound system.
The AV receivers that we have featured in this post are known for their high-quality sound. Also, most of them are video supporting. However, if you are working on a budget, you might be hard-pressed to choose from the ones that we have listed in this write-up. But in terms of performance, they all are unbeatable.
Most importantly, the receiver that you will settle for is a matter of personal preference. Since now you know the best products on the market, it is time you go for your favorite receiver. Enjoy your shopping and have fun.
Leave your comments below in case you are using any of the above-listed AVR, or if you are using the one which you really like.