When it comes to entertainment, people usually think about getting the best TV and perhaps even a pretty good set of speakers. But, most of them rarely think about getting a hub for all of their devices. That is where an AV Receiver comes in.
An AV Receiver acts as the main hub for all of your audio and visual equipment. Think about game consoles, TVs, soundbars, speakers, and so on.
If you are looking for the best, you are in luck. Today, I am going to go over some of the best AV receivers in 2020.
What to Consider?
An Audio/Video receiver (or AV receiver) is your hub for all of your audio and video equipment. Think about your SmartTV, your game console, soundbar, and so much more.
The reason why you need to buy one is that if you are thinking of putting up your own home cinema, you are going to need an AV receiver.
But, since not a lot of people are familiar with this, what are the usual things that you need to consider before buying one? Here are some important pointers:
When you are looking for an AV receiver, you will find how many channels it supports. The ‘channels’ here actually just means how many speakers it can fully support. So, a 5.1 channel receiver can support up to 5 speakers and a subwoofer. Think about how many you intend to plug into the device.
AV receivers are actually pretty robust in that it can support multiple inputs. What devices do you want to connect to it? You can think about connecting your smartphone or you can think about plugging in your old (but trusty) spin vinyl if you want.
Most of the receivers nowadays can support new-age technologies so if you intend on using those, then find one that will suit your needs.
If you are thinking about buying a SmartTV, make sure that you go for a 4K display. 4K switching is just a feature that tells you how many 4K-capable devices an AV receiver can support. Ideally, go for one that can support at least three different devices.
Most of the content nowadays is going for the best visual fidelity, so it only stands to reason that you should also be getting a receiver that supports HDR. Preferably, go for one that supports HDR10 just as a means of future-proofing your media hub.
Aside from amazing visuals, you also want a receiver that can provide you with the best audio quality as well. Dolby Atmos is just a technology that handles surround sound really well, thus giving you a more immersive cinema experience.
If there are a lot of people that are going to use your audio/video equipment at home, you’d want a receiver that can support multi-room setups. This just means that if one intends to play some movies in one room, another person can use it to play their favorite tunes in the other.
This is a feature that tries to eliminate as much unwanted noise in a room as possible. This is needed if you intend to establish your own home cinema.
Best AV Receivers
This AV receiver is what I would consider to be the best overall considering that it is not too pricey and its feature set is pretty much what people need.
It supports 7.1 channels which means that you can plug in your home theater speakers without running into any problems.
This receiver has all of the necessary inputs. In fact, it has got you covered in that you can also plug in your DJ turntables as well (if you are into that stuff).
Dolby Atmos and DTS:X are also available to provide you with more impeccable surround sound overhead if you want a more robust cinematic experience.
Its room correction is actually pretty good. In fact, when pitted against its pricier counterparts, the AVR-S750H can outperform some of them by providing you with a cleaner sound and better bass tones.
I also love the fact that you can seamlessly switch between your devices. For instance, I’ve hooked up my Playstation console in and I can switch it to my Blu-Ray player without a hitch.
It can support up to 6 devices plugged into its HDMI ports and it can also support streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify, and many more.
2.Yamaha RX-A1080 AVENTAGE
Another impressive AV receiver for your home cinema is the Yamaha RX-A1080 AVENTAGE. The company has also incorporated its own wireless platform in the form of the MusicCast.
MusicCast is just a feature that provides you with the ability to wirelessly connect to the receiver to enjoy music and videos to your heart’s content.
It supports Dolby Atmos which is pretty much a requirement for an AV receiver that is perfect for a home theater setup.
The company touts this to be a class above all others simply because of its SurroundAI. This is a proprietary technology that basically adjusts all of the music channels so that it can adhere to the scene that is displayed on your TV.
For instance, if you are watching an adventure flick and some elements on-screen would produce vibrations, the AV receiver can signal that to your speakers to simulate the real deal.
It is a 7.2-channel receiver which means that you can add an additional speaker for a more immersive experience.
The device can also support WiFi, Bluetooth, MusicCast, and Airplay so you can choose your wireless platforms as you see fit.
It goes without saying but this receiver is one of the best-looking out there.
Best for larger rooms, the Marantz SR6014 comes with a lot of nifty features that you will surely love.
First is that its bevy of HDMI inputs allow you to connect a lot of your A/V equipment without a problem. But, what I really love is that the device can quickly discern which is which and will immediately give your devices their proper labels. This is a feature that not a lot of receivers can do and it really is something worth considering, despite the higher asking price.
It is also a 9.2 receiver which means that you can plug as many speakers as you would need. It supports DTS:X and Dolby Atmos for a more immersive surround sound experience.
Among all of the receivers on this list, this one definitely takes the cake when it comes to audio quality. From subtle classical music to the sounds that are produced while watching action movies, it can certainly support them with aplomb.
The only thing that you have to remember here is that the SR6014 is not meant to be used for small rooms. To get the full experience, your home theater should be at least 400 square feet large so that you can take advantage of the nuances of the audio you’re going to listen to.
But, if you have such a large room, then I will highly recommend this unit without a doubt.
Denon has always been at the forefront of AV receivers since the company was established and this next one is a real winner.
The Denon AVR-X3600H checks all of the right boxes at a price that is still affordable if you are looking into creating your own cinema at home.
Aside from its bevy of ports, it supports 4K HDR, has 9 channels for all of your speakers, and it also supports both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X as well.
In terms of audio quality, you will truly love the AVR-X3600H. Whether the audio calls for higher tones or even better bass response, this receiver has you covered.
Furthermore, you can also take advantage of your home network to connect it to popular streaming platforms so you can wirelessly connect to the receiver.
Lastly, the product itself looks and feels premium thanks to the choice of materials used in the construction of the device.
5.Sony STR-DH590 5.2
Not a lot of people are invested in getting an AV receiver. In fact, I am certain that before you’ve read this article that you do not know that you need one in the first place. But, that is forgiven since it is actually quite common for people to not know of this anyway.
So, if you want a budget solution- one that still is a pretty good one despite its inexpensive price, then turn your attention to the Sony STR-DH590.
It is a 5.2-channel receiver which means that you can easily hook up a competitive 5.1 surround sound speaker system and enjoy the benefits that this unit provides.
In addition to its plethora of ports, it also has support for 4K HDR, as well as Dolby Vision to ensure that you are going to enjoy whatever content you wish to see.
Aside from using the company’s Hi-Res audio technology, you can choose to use its Bluetooth as a means of connecting your mobile devices wirelessly.
The only thing that is holding this otherwise great AV receiver back is that it cannot connect to your WiFi, which means that if you intend to use Spotify, for example, you would have to connect your device first before it can process the audio.
But hey, if you want a true budget solution, this one is worthy of your setup.
Audiophiles will certainly be familiar with the brand. Pioneer is actually a pioneer (pun intended) in the audio industry, so you can tell that the next receiver is a pretty good one for the price.
The Pioneer VSX-534, despite it being a budget offering, is also a pretty good AV receiver for people that do not want to spend a ton of money in getting one.
Among all of the budget receivers out there, the VSX-534 has a pretty good auto-correction feature that instantly adjusts the audio to suit the environment. That is pretty interesting considering that this is a budget receiver.
It also looks really nice so you can place it anywhere you like and it will instantly adapt to the environment.
However, there is one thing that you need to know and that its audio quality is okay but nothing really worthwhile. For instance, its bass response is a bit weak compared to the Sony product above. Still, it is not bad at all though that is something worth mentioning.
AV Receivers need not be expensive to be worthwhile and this next recommendation is definitely a prime example of that.
The Sony STR-DN1080 can provide high-quality sound at a price that is relatively affordable.
Aside from its 6 HDMI ports and Dolby Atmos support, where this receiver shines is in its audio performance. Seriously, I love how it can take whatever audio input there is and make it better.
This is also a great investment considering that it has 4K switching and it can support 4K HDR format as well.
Of course, it can connect to your WiFi network so that you can enjoy streaming services such as Youtube, Spotify, Tidal, AirPlay, and more.
Although this product is near-perfect, it would have been nice if its remote control has backlighting. But, other than that, the Sony STR-DN1080 is a worthwhile investment for sure.
If you have a pretty large room- one that you would turn into a great home cinema, then the last item on this list will surely suffice.
The Denon AVR-X500H is one that you should consider for large rooms. That is because it is one of the only receivers on the market that can support 13.2 channels. Yes, you’ve read that correctly. A total of 13 different speakers can be connected to this receiver and it can handle them without a hitch.
Aside from the usual features such as Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, 4K HDR, and a bevy of HDMI ports, it can also support Bluetooth and WiFI connections, so you get all of the bases covered with this one.
Seriously, if you intend on getting a great AV receiver for a large room, then you should definitely put this in your shortlist.
Google Nest Audio vs Amazon Echo- The Battle of the New ‘Smart’ Speakers
Smart home speakers are not as popular as mobile phones, but in my opinion, it actually should be.
You see, companies are slowly rolling out smart home devices so that your life will be so much easier given the convenience of having them.
That being said, I am going to be talking about the Google Nest Audio and Amazon Echo speakers because they are the ones that are at the forefront when it comes to smart home speakers. Which of these should you choose? Read on to find out!
For those of you who do not know, Google Nest Audio is actually the Google Home speakers that were released just about a year ago. It seems that Google wanted to use a new moniker to denote that this particular thing can ‘nest’ your other smart home devices.
The Amazon Echo, on the other hand, refers to the medium-sized Bluetooth speaker that the largest online retailer sells. The company is set to release a new version of this device soon, so it would be interesting to see how well it performs.
Even though the new version of the Amazon Echo hasn’t arrived at our doorstep yet for an official review, this is not to say that we can somehow speculate what it can offer, especially considering that the company has provided us with some really good information about it.
With all of those out of the way, let’s talk more about the design first. The Google Nest Audio takes on a more cylindrical approach in that the speaker itself has a higher height than the Amazon Echo.
For that reason, you are getting a 75mm woofer and a single 19mm tweeter. Google touts the Google Nest Audio as a better sound solution compared to its original Google Home Speaker because of the changes.
On the other hand, the Amazon Echo, in my opinion, has better sound quality. That is thanks to its two 20mm tweeters and a huge 76.2mm woofer. Its design is more spherical but I am pleased (and surprised) that Amazon was able to include two tweeters on its Bluetooth speaker implementation.
At the base of the Amazon Echo is a blue light ring that changes the way it emits light depending on the current usage.
Both of these Bluetooth speakers are offered in various colors so you have different options to choose from.
If you look at the design of both speakers, you could make a case that the Amazon Echo wins this round when it comes to pure sound quality. Its two tweeters compared to the single tweeter on the Google Nest Audio, provides it with a much better chance of delivering mid-high sound frequencies.
This is not to discount the fact that Google has some tricks up its sleeves because its AI technology is smart enough to adjust the sound quality on the fly when needed.
Both of the speakers have an adaptive sound feature wherein if it detects that the ambient noise is loud enough, it increases the volume of whatever content you are consuming at that moment to compensate. This is using both of the speakers’ microphones. The volume should normalize to the last known level after it detects that the ambient sound has quieted down.
Of course, this is only my opinion after looking at the spec sheet because I will have to get my hands on these things before I can give my honest opinion. But, my initial assessment would be that the Amazon Echo delivers better sound compared to the Google Nest Audio.
To be able to provide you with ‘smart’ features, both the Google Nest Audio and Amazon Echo are equipped with processors that can handle just that.
The Google Nest Audio comes with the company’s TeraOPS A53 processor which is a quad-core chip that boasts of better performance compared to the company’s previous Bluetooth speakers.
On the other hand, Amazon’s own speaker is equipped with the AZ1 Neural Edge processor that, according to the company, should be more responsive to voice commands compared to previous versions.
It is hard to say who wins this round. You see, Amazon has Zigbee hub integration which means that your connected smart home devices have better compatibility with the said speaker because of this.
However, we all know that Google’s AI technology is so advanced (and even more accurate) than Alexa, so it could potentially provide you with better features overall compared to Amazon’s Bluetooth speaker.
Of course, I cannot truly say which one wins this round until I get to review these wireless audio solutions. In that case, stay tuned for more.
The Google Nest Audio will be available on October 5, while the Amazon Echo will not be released until later this month (October 22). That being said, both of these speakers will retail for $99.99, so stay tuned for our official product reviews to help you know which one you should ultimately choose for yourself.
Best Tech Deals in October 2020
Technology is always going to be there to help improve our lives. We at Startechnews will provide you with some of the best tech deals every month and today, I am going to be talking about some of the products that have received good price cuts.
Although Black Friday happens in the same month, most of these deals will not be a part of that special day.
Anyway, here are some of the best tech deals in October:
Best Tech Deals in October
1.Apple iPhone XR
Price: $550 (was $599) @BestBuy
If you are fond of using any devices under the iOS ecosystem, then I highly recommend that you get your hands on this Apple iPhone XR deal.
Yes, I know that this device is dated at this point but its specs, as well as its overall performance, are still really good in this day and age.
What I love about iPhones, in general, is that their Bionic chips outmatch the performance of any flagship Android device released in the same year, so you can rest assured that the XR can still be good for at least 2-3 years from now.
That being said, if you are okay with this, you can get head on over to Best Buy to get yours.
Lastly, if you have an old iPhone, you can also surrender that and get even more discounts as well!
2.Amazon Echo Dot
Price: $39.99 (was $49.99) @Amazon
The Amazon Echo Studio is always going to be the best in terms of Amazon’s line of Bluetooth speakers, but there are people who are okay with the convenience and the form factor of the company’s Echo Dot line.
The Amazon Echo Dot is currently sold for just $39.99 and although it is just a $10 discount, it is still pretty good nonetheless.
One of the reasons why I highly recommend that you get one for yourself is that you can actually use Alexa to help you do a lot of different things.
If you are following some sports teams, for example, you can ask Alexa to search for scores and any news about the teams that you are truly passionate about.
The device’s always-on microphone is there to take your voice commands and Alexa will do the rest for you.
Although it is relatively okay as an audio solution, there is more value when it comes to using its ‘smart’ features.
Price: $275 (was $299) @Amazon
The Nintendo Switch is considered to be one of the company’s best gaming consoles yet. The beauty about this particular game console is that you can either play it as-is (handheld) or you can wire it to your TV via HDMI to enjoy your games at a higher fidelity screen.
This deal is for the new version of the Nintendo Switch that aims to fix the joycon drift issue that has plagued the first version of the console and it has a bigger battery life so that you can play untethered for a longer period of time.
You can buy the discounted Nintendo Switch at Amazon.
4.Beats by Dr. Dre Solo Pro
Price: $199.95 (was $299.99) @BestBuy
The Beats by Dre Solo Pro is a really good pair of wireless headphones that have active noise canceling. Although you might not like its on-ear design, this pair of cans is still quite comfortable to use for hours.
You get a lot of different color options to choose from and its ergonomic design allows you to use these headphones without any issues.
The Beats by Dr. Dre Solo Pro currently retails at a discounted price of $199.95 down from $299.99. If you are a fan of the brand or just for good Bluetooth headphones, in general, this is a really good choice.
5.Apple Airpods Pro
Price: $219 (was $249) @Amazon
The Apple Airpods Pro needs no introduction. It is one of the best Bluetooth headphones that you can buy not only for your iPhone but also for your other mobile devices as well.
Part of the reason why so many people love this particular product is due to its active noise-canceling feature. Normally, you can only expect great performance if you are using over-ear headphones, but not the Airpods Pro.
Its active noise-cancellation is really good because it shows you a warning that you shouldn’t enable the feature when you are walking on a busy street. It is really that effective.
It has consistently been compared to other Bluetooth audio solutions on the market, but nothing compares to it unless, of course, if you are talking about high-end over-ear solutions.
If you are interested in getting your hands in an Apple Airpods Pro, you can head over to Amazon to purchase this thing for only $219.
Price: $229 (was $329)
If you want to get your hands on an Android TV that is really good and it doesn’t break the bank, then I suggest that you look at the TCL 43S425.
This is a 43-inch 4K TV that has the famous Roku operating system built-in. That means that you can enjoy a ton of different features, movies, and TV shows without ever having to download any application to do those things.
Although TCL is a relatively new brand in the US, you can rest assured that the build quality and the materials that are used in the making of these television sets are of high-quality.
7.Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
Price: $229 (was $279) @Amazon
We considered the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 as one of the best smartwatches for Android and even though it is a year and a half old at this point, it is still pretty good regardless.
You are looking at a smartwatch with great build quality and you can use this no matter what activities you are going to do.
Its battery life is okay, though not that great. The good thing is that you can top this device up quickly and easily using its included charger.
If you want a smartwatch that allows you to track your physical activity really well, get this product as soon as possible.
8.Bose QC 35 II Wireless
Price: $239 (was $349)
Consistently regarded as one of the best Bluetooth headphones for quite some time now, the Bose QC 35 II Wireless is great both in terms of comfort and sound quality.
Although its overall performance does not rival that of the company’s higher-end models, this is not to downplay whatever this thing is offering because it still provides you with some really amazing features- one of which is its award-winning active noise-canceling capability.
You should get the Bose 35 II Wireless right now because you can have the chance to get a limited edition Rose-Gold color if you order this month.
Apple iPad 8th Generation Review- An Iterative Upgrade
When it comes to ease of use and convenience, people like getting Apple’s products because of its more streamlined approach to everything. Sure, there is a lot to tinker on Android but that is also precisely the reason why the user experience, at least for the layman, is not as great.
There is this saying that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well, although I would have liked to say that here, I just don’t think that that approach applies here.
You see, the design of the 8th generation iPad is identical to its predecessor. As in everything about its aesthetics are similar which means that if you want to imagine what the new iPad looks like, all you have to do is look at the 7th gen variant.
Like all things, it can be a good thing or a bad thing. It is a good thing because that familiar design should feel right at home, especially for people that already own an iPad. It is bad because, in this day and age, more and more mobile devices have slimmer bezels and the new iPad still has those atrociously huge ones.
Don’t get me wrong, there are practical uses to having large bezels as it allows you to hold the tablet better when using it in landscape mode, but if you are watching online content, you can’t help but be bothered by the huge sides.
There are two versions of the 8th generation iPad and that is one with WiFi only and the other one having LTE. Its dimensions are 9.8 x 6.8 x 0.29. The only difference between the WiFi and the LTE versions is that the latter is a bit heavier at 495 grams compared to the 490 grams of the former.
Thankfully, Apple didn’t remove the headphone jack but if you are going to utilize its built-in speakers, you are better off using a good Bluetooth speaker instead.
The 8th generation iPad has a 10.2-inch Retina Display with a resolution of 2160 x 1620 and 264 pixels per inch or PPI. It has a good peak brightness at 500 nits, though you can still experience some problems when you are outside and the sun is shining brightly.
You can utilize the Apple Pencil on this device and it is also quite accurate as well (just keep in mind that it is sold separately).
What I love about iPads, in general, is that their displays provide you with crisp and clear details. Whether you are working on your documents or perhaps watching your favorite movies and TV shows, they do not disappoint.
Specs and Performance
- CPU: A12 Bionic
- GPU: Apple GPU (4-core graphics)
- RAM: 3GB
- Storage: 32GB/128GB
- Display: 10.2-inch Retina IPS LCD Display, 2160 x 1620, 4:3 aspect ratio, 500 nits brightness, 264 PPI
- OS: iPadOS 14
- Cameras: 8-megapixel (back), 1.2-megapixel (front)
- Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 AC, Bluetooth 4.2
- Battery: 32.4 Wh
So, if the 8th generation iPad has an identical design to its predecessor, what has changed here? Well, I am glad you asked. The only notable difference here is that the new model comes with the A12 Bionic chip and that’s pretty much it.
While you could be unhappy with the change, the new CPU actually beats its predecessor by a lot. By using Geekbench 5, single-core scores are about 60% higher than the 7th gen iPad and about 100% better in multi-core tasks than the previous model.
Granted that the said benchmark is relatively old, you couldn’t argue that the new processor is indeed way better than its predecessor.
Even when you are just using the tablet the way it should be used, you can really tell the difference. This is more evident if you are going to play some games.
Now, do not worry about the 3GB of RAM because the iOS ecosystem is quite streamlined and efficient that you normally wouldn’t need more than that.
It should also go without saying that the included cameras are just there for show and they do not really do anything special, so I don’t think that covering them is warranted here.
Sure, the new 8th generation iPad doesn’t bring a lot to the table, but its new processor is leaps and bounds better than its predecessor. Does that justify buying the new one? Probably not, especially if you already own the 7th generation model.
However, if you own an older iPad and you want better performance across the board, then you could probably spend your money to get one.
My gripe here is that there are only two storage options to choose from. You can get the 32GB variant for only $329 but in this day and age, 32GB is not a lot of storage space.
If you want more storage, you will need to spend an additional $100 premium just to get the 128GB model. In fact, I would go on to say that you should be buying this particular model compared to the 32GB variant. I just don’t like that the company is gouging you another $100 ($429 in total) just to get one.
The 8th generation iPad is disappointing in a lot of ways and its only redeeming quality is its new processor. It would have been nice if there is a redesign or that the lightning cable is changed to USB-C, but there is just not a lot of things to talk about here.
Therefore, I should say that the 8th generation iPad is just an iterative upgrade. Whether you want to buy it or not is entirely up to you.
Google Nest Audio vs Amazon Echo- The Battle of the New ‘Smart’ Speakers
Best Tech Deals in October 2020
Best Laptop Deals in October 2020
Amazon Luna- Everything You Need to Know About Amazon’s Cloud Gaming Service
Apple iPad 8th Generation Review- An Iterative Upgrade
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