Stereo and Audio/Video Receivers are loaded with performance and convenience features. Some are nice to have and others are must-have features. These are the most important features to look for when considering a new receiver.
1. Bass Management
Most home theater receivers incorporate bass management
options that allow the user to select which speakers will handle bass, the main left and right speakers, the subwoofer
, or in some cases, both. The 'both' option is important if you have large main speakers and a subwoofer because you may to hear bass from the main speakers and the subwoofer. Not all receivers give you the 'both' option, so it's an important feature to consider when purchasing a new receiver.
2. Multiroom Audio Outputs
Many stereo and home theater receivers offer multiroom audio outputs so you can enjoy music in the main listening room and simultaneously in other rooms or zones in your home. Many receivers are also multi-source, which means you can listen to different sources in each room, such as CD in the main room and FM radio in another. Some multiroom outputs are speaker level, so all you need is additional speakers, and others are low-level outputs (un-amplified signals), which requires an additional amplifier as well as speakers in the second room. Some receivers also have multiroom video outputs to accompany the audio. More about multiroom
3. On Screen DisplayToday's stereo and home theater receivers have so many features that a visual display is useful for viewing and controlling the current operating status of the system on a television screen. If you are seated far from the front panel of the receiver, an on-screen display becomes even more important. On-screen displays show volume level, selected source, listening modes and other useful system information and usually appear on the screen for a few seconds when a function is selected, then disappear.
4. Intuitive, User-Friendly Remote ControlsSince receivers have so many features, a user-friendly remote control is an important consideration. It is impossible to include all features on a receiver's remote control, so most manufacturers have devised menus for selecting system functions. Depending on the model, some functions are easy to find, others require digging through the menus. For example, if you frequently listen to AM or FM radio, you probably want your favorite preset stations easily accessible on the remote control and not buried in a menu. Or, you may frequently switch between stereo sound and movie sound. Think about how you will use the receiver and look for a remote control that's easy to use.
5. Six-Channel Analog Inputs
Six-channel analog inputs are for connecting DVD players that can play multichannel DVD-Audio
discs and some of the new high-definition audio formats found on Blu-ray and HD-DVD players. You must have a DVD player that has six-channel analog outputs that connect to the six-channel analog inputs on the receiver to enjoy these multichannel movie and music programs. A receiver with six-channel analog inputs also means you will be able to connect future multichannel sources as they are developed.