1. Welcome to TechPowerUp Forums, Guest! Please check out our forum guidelines for info related to our community.

What to look for in a digital reciever

Discussion in 'Audio, Video & Home Theater' started by Hotobu, Aug 2, 2011.

  1. Hotobu

    Hotobu New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Messages:
    278 (0.25/day)
    Thanks Received:
    34
    So I'm thinking about getting this speaker system, so of course I need a receiver to pair it with. I've never owned a receiver before so I'm not sure what to look for

    Primary uses:

    Computer sound - Undecided on whether to get a soundcard. The motherboard I'm getting uses the Realtek 892 chip. I'm sure a soundcard would be a good idea, but I think I'd like to at least hear what it sounds like before hand.

    Xbox 360 - One of my concerns is whether or not I should use the HDMI input from the 360 to the receiver and then the television, or if I should bypass the receiver with the HDMI and just use the optical the reason being I don't want to introduce lag into the system. Is this a concern?

    Beyond making sure it outputs enough power to the speakers that will be connected to it what things should I be looking for in a receiver?
  2. lilhasselhoffer

    lilhasselhoffer

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2011
    Messages:
    1,549 (1.29/day)
    Thanks Received:
    920
    Location:
    East Coast, USA
    1) Number of channels. Often a receiver can have 4 full speaker connections (or more), but half the amount of channels. What you wind up with is a system that has parallel resistors (speaker coils have resistance), which halves the amount of ohms the system functionally sees. This means you will have to have a much more powerful speaker system driving it.

    2) HDMI generally doesn't have much latency issues on pass through. I've had a computer connected through my receiver for about a year now. Generally, anything that is expensive enough to have HDMI is expensive enough to have good HDMI pass-through.

    3) Sound cards are an interesting luxury, that generally justify themselves only as the speaker systems get more expensive. If you want to go spdif then your best option is a card. If you want to go analog (RCA), then your best bet is a card. If you want to use hdmi for sound (usually a personal preferrence given fewer wires), then a sound card is useless. Ask yourself if you're going to spend the money on a good receiver (excellent place for the digital to analog conversion, HDMI push), or a mediocre receiver and sound card.
    In short: card if you want to connect via RCA, and no card if you'll use HDMI sound.

    4) Beefier the better. This doesn't mean power ratings, it means actual weight. Receivers have huge amounts of wattage passing through them. They are inherently inefficient (AC to DC, then fast switching and signal processing), so they produce copious amounts of heat. Given their purpose, they usually don't have fans to avoid the noise. So heftier means better and larger heatsinks, which means better heat dissipation, which means a longer life and better running (in general). This is one device where buying by the pound (or kilogram) is a good idea.
    Hotobu says thanks.
  3. mrw1986

    mrw1986

    Joined:
    May 4, 2007
    Messages:
    2,111 (0.80/day)
    Thanks Received:
    338
    Location:
    Wallingford, CT
    Hey there,

    There's a few things to look for with a setup like that. I did a TON of research before purchasing my receiver and I ultimately went with a Denon AVR-788 (this was a few years ago when it was brand new).

    First, you generally are going to want a receiver with a built-in HDMI Repeater and NOT a HDMI Switch/Passthrough. The repeater makes it so the receiver can handle the audio and convert it as well as upscale any video that may pass through the receiver. I found this invaluable when I purchased my receiver. Here's a quote from an audioholics.com post:

    Second, most newer mid-high range receivers will automatically adjust the audio delay to compensate for any audio/video sync issues or "lag". I had to manually adjust mine when I first set it up but haven't had to touch it since (3 years now) which took about 5 minutes. Using the HDMI from the 360 will not cause any noticeable lag.

    Last, I wouldn't worry too much about the receiver being powerful enough, just don't skimp out and get a cheap $150 receiver. Spend a bit on it, you won't regret it. I spent almost $450 on mine a few years back and it was considered an upper-mid receiver at the time.
    Hotobu says thanks.
  4. mrw1986

    mrw1986

    Joined:
    May 4, 2007
    Messages:
    2,111 (0.80/day)
    Thanks Received:
    338
    Location:
    Wallingford, CT
    I actually don't care for passthrough, it's a lower-end feature found on low-end receivers. Mid-high end receivers use HDMI Repeating. My receiver has it and I have a U-verse box, PS3, and 360 hooked up to it and there is zero lag.
  5. AsRock

    AsRock TPU addict

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2007
    Messages:
    10,685 (4.15/day)
    Thanks Received:
    1,618
    Location:
    US
    It's kinda tricky to say what speakers are best for you as everyone hears differently. IF you can go to a HIFI shop and test some stuff out as they will give you a much better idea what your after.

    However if you cannot and price is a issue you might want to look at the Polk Audio speakers\ subs what newegg have. How ever if not try to find some speakers that are front ported as this fills the room with bass more efficiently than rear ported..

    As for a A/V go for brands like ONKYO\Kenwood\Yamaha\SONY\DENON. ONKYO will probably be the one to give you the best options for your buck.

    Defiantly get a A/V with a HDMI connections on it as you be able to plug your computer ( depending on what v card you have now ) right in to it as well as your xbox 360.

    Do the speakers have to be wall mountable ?, Or do you have the space for speaker stands ?.
    Hotobu says thanks.
  6. lilhasselhoffer

    lilhasselhoffer

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2011
    Messages:
    1,549 (1.29/day)
    Thanks Received:
    920
    Location:
    East Coast, USA
    A repeater is necessary if you have a long run. As you said, it induces lag into the system, no matter how slight it is. Pass through is much cheaper (given), but it functionally adds no lag to the system.

    I agree that a repeater is a nice feature if you're going over any sort of length. If you're 2-3' between the receiver, pc/xbox, and television then the extra lag and price aren't necessary.

    It is a matter of personal preferrence though. If you're willing to shell out the extra money then it offers the possibility for future expansion.
  7. Hotobu

    Hotobu New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Messages:
    278 (0.25/day)
    Thanks Received:
    34
    Thanks for the replies so far. To respond to a few things:
    So are you saying that even though a receiver may say 5.1 it really isn't because it's duplicating some channels?


    Well the onboard sound I'm going with has an optical out, I'm hoping this'll be good enough for now.

    Do you know how many ms of lag we're talking about here? I'm concerned because if there's lag from the receiver and the TV that may become uncomfortably noticeable.
    Right now I'm looking at stands. I'm not sure if I'll be able to do wall mounts.

    Right now I'm looking at this ONKYO TX-NR509 5.1-Channel Network A/V Receiver Any comments on it?
  8. Grings

    Grings New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2006
    Messages:
    2,302 (0.82/day)
    Thanks Received:
    184
    Location:
    Blighty
    The Realtek 892 you mentioned can output dts connect (for surround) and 192khz PCM (for audio), personally, i wouldnt even bother with a soundcard, unless you were looking for lossless audio from blu ray (and if using a new graphics card with hdmi, then this will pass these formats via hdmi)

    For the xbox either will do, at least for gaming as they only use Dolby Digital. I personally use hdmi as i have an older 360 and dont have the relevant cable with an optical output (the newer model has an optical socket on the xbox itself)

    As for the receiver, just buy the best you can afford, theres some great bargains to be had on 2010 models at the moment as most of the big players like onkyo, yamaha,pioneer, denon etc all have their new 2011 models out now

    edit: just took a quick look at newegg, these are some good deals i think (im british, so for all i know better deals may be found elsewhere)
    ONKYO HT-RC370 7.2-Channel THX Certified Network A...
    YAMAHA RX-A800 7.2-Channel AVENTAGE Series A/V Rec...
    In general, you cant go much wrong with onkyo or yamaha
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011
  9. lilhasselhoffer

    lilhasselhoffer

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2011
    Messages:
    1,549 (1.29/day)
    Thanks Received:
    920
    Location:
    East Coast, USA
    My misunderstanding. What I meant to say is that in stores you might find a receiver with several speaker outputs on the back, but it only advertises a number of channels less than the amount of speaker outputs. A prime examples is this unit:http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Sherwood+-+200W+2.0-Ch.+Stereo+Receiver/2838382.p?id=1218355305029&skuId=2838382&st=receiver&cp=2&lp=15

    This unit has four speaker outputs, but two channels. If the system advertises a 5.1, 7.1, or othewise you should only hook up that many speakers for the smallest draw on the system. As soon as you get to 5.1 you start getting into the "high" end of things, where there is almost always a unique channel for each connectable speaker.
  10. Hotobu

    Hotobu New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Messages:
    278 (0.25/day)
    Thanks Received:
    34
    Thanks, but I'm looking to go 5.1 for now. I just want a quality entry level surround setup. From what I've seen the speakers I linked in the first post are really good, but they're just an old model that's on clearance right now. I guess there's something to be said for getting a 7.1 receiver and then just upgrading the speakers, but by the time I'm ready for that I'd probably want to upgrade the whole system.
  11. AsRock

    AsRock TPU addict

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2007
    Messages:
    10,685 (4.15/day)
    Thanks Received:
    1,618
    Location:
    US
    Sub there is a smaller one which is around $100 cheaper all so has a 5 years limited warranty.
    Polk Audio PSW Series PSW505 12" Powered Subwoofer...

    Front
    Polk Audio Monitor40 Series II Two-Way Bookshelf L...

    Center
    Polk Audio CS2 Series II Center Channel Speaker (B...

    Rear
    Polk Audio Monitor30 Series II Two-Way Bookshelf L...

    $549.99

    Just found these be fairly good for front speakers and front ported too. Although small speakers do mean smaller bass but more accurate vocals but imo i like BIGGER speakers just finding them at reasonable prices is the hard part..
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000E2XEB/?tag=tec06d-20
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011
  12. Hotobu

    Hotobu New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Messages:
    278 (0.25/day)
    Thanks Received:
    34
    What about the speakers I linked in the OP? In the spec sheet it says "4 x front/surround speakers" does that mean "front ported" or something else?
  13. BumbleBee

    BumbleBee

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2009
    Messages:
    4,822 (2.47/day)
    Thanks Received:
    1,279
    Location:
    Cybertron aka Canada
    no it means 4 speakers are exactly the same.

    [​IMG]

    when you connect them to the receiver they will be on different channels F/L, F/R, R/L, R/R.
  14. mrw1986

    mrw1986

    Joined:
    May 4, 2007
    Messages:
    2,111 (0.80/day)
    Thanks Received:
    338
    Location:
    Wallingford, CT
    The repeaters only function isn't for a long run, you're thinking more about wireless networking. Here's a little more info on repeaters because it seems you're confused:

    A passthrough does NOT pass audio, ONLY video.
    A repeater will decode audio AND video.

    Several sources:
    http://forums.audioholics.com/forums/showthread.php?t=42451
    http://forum.blu-ray.com/receivers/107200-hdmi-switcher-vs-hdmi-repeater.html
    http://forum.blu-ray.com/receivers/...ween-repeater-pass-through-hdmi-receiver.html

    And for the record, a switch will pass audio, however the receiver will not decode it (typically desirable 99% of the time).

    The lag that is introduced is next to nothing, not even noticeable to human eyes/ears.
  15. mrw1986

    mrw1986

    Joined:
    May 4, 2007
    Messages:
    2,111 (0.80/day)
    Thanks Received:
    338
    Location:
    Wallingford, CT
    From personal experience and the hundreds upon hundreds of reviews and posts about it, the lag is not noticeable at all. The circuitry in receivers is so good now that it eliminates all lag.
  16. mrw1986

    mrw1986

    Joined:
    May 4, 2007
    Messages:
    2,111 (0.80/day)
    Thanks Received:
    338
    Location:
    Wallingford, CT
    I'd also like to recommend some speakers:

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00009L1UX/?tag=tec06d-20 (you will need to purchase a sub seperately)

    The Martin Logan's are really great, but these Klipsch give them a run for their money. I worked in the home theater segment for a pretty long time performing installations and I can tell you the Klipsch are excellent. Martin Logans are amazing as well, either route you go, you won't be disappointed.

    I've heard everything from crappy store brand stuff to things like Vienna Acoustics. Sadly, I've never had the pleasure of listening to any of the $10,000+ stuff such as Kharma, etc.
  17. Hotobu

    Hotobu New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Messages:
    278 (0.25/day)
    Thanks Received:
    34
    Well the reason I'm really eyeing the Martin Logans is that they're on sale right now for $280 which is kinda fucking ridiculous.

    Another question: if my receiver is 80W per, and the center is 100 W with the satellites at 80W does that mean that the center will sound underpowered when it gets up to high volumes?
  18. twilyth Guest

    But those don't look like the electrostatic type of speakers that they're known for. In fact I don't think you could buy even one of the electrostatic models for that price. Hopefully they're providing similar quality and not just selling their name to some subcontractor, but I would want to know that before buying them without having a chance to listen to them. Just my opinion. :toast:
  19. m4gicfour

    m4gicfour

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    838 (0.37/day)
    Thanks Received:
    304
    Can be; if you're not buying a matched set. Most quality receivers have the ability to attenuate (lower) the volume of speakers on a per channel basis. So, you'd turn all your other channels down to match and then adjust the volume of the whole system with the Master volume.
  20. BumbleBee

    BumbleBee

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2009
    Messages:
    4,822 (2.47/day)
    Thanks Received:
    1,279
    Location:
    Cybertron aka Canada
    no

    what kind of room are you putting these speakers in?
  21. Hotobu

    Hotobu New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Messages:
    278 (0.25/day)
    Thanks Received:
    34
    I estimate it's about 20 x 10 ft. Also I've been rocking these http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000C20XD/?tag=tec06d-20 for the past... oh 5 years or so and am still quasi-satisfied with them, so I'd imagine the speaker set I'm looking at has to outperform it by a pretty significant amount.
  22. BumbleBee

    BumbleBee

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2009
    Messages:
    4,822 (2.47/day)
    Thanks Received:
    1,279
    Location:
    Cybertron aka Canada
  23. Hotobu

    Hotobu New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Messages:
    278 (0.25/day)
    Thanks Received:
    34
    I really do appreciate everyone's help. After doing some looking around and then putting in calls to Onkyo and Yamaha I think I'm going to go with the YAMAHA RX-A800 7.2-Channel AVENTAGE Series A/V Rec... (currently $400) I haven't bought this yet so I'm certainly still open to other suggestions. The reason why I settled on this one is because I'm going to be moving soon, and depending on my new place/future needs it'd be nice to have a 7.2 receiver as that'd allow me to throw a couple extra speakers and a sub on if I decide to do so. I'm between it and the Onkyo NR 609 right now.

    Also (good god sometimes I feel like such a Newegg whore, but I swear everytime I really need something and am doing comparison shopping BAM they drop the price) I went with these speakers MartinLogan MLT-2 5.1CH Premium Home Theater Speak... They're a slight upgrade to the model I was going to buy above and they're only $50 more ($330) I've already bought these though.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2011

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guest)

Share This Page