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Best Component Receivers 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]Last Updated August 1, 2019
Best Component Receivers of 2018
I want to find something that’s designed well (both for aesthetic purposes and efficiency). Here, I will review 3 of the best component receivers of 2018, and we will also discuss the things to consider when looking to purchase one. I hope you will make an informed decision after going through each of them.
If you’re reading this, it is very likely that you’re scouting for the best component receivers. I am going to specify each good-to-buy feature as much as possible for your references.
Test Results and Ratings
Why did this component receivers win the first place?
The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack. I was completely satisfied with the price. Its counterparts in this price range are way worse. I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product. I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing!
Why did this component receivers come in second place?
I recommend you to consider buying this model, it definitely worth its money. The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed. Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery. This is a pretty decent product that perfectly fitted the interior of our office.
Why did this component receivers take third place?
I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time. The material is incredibly nice to the touch. It has a great color, which will suit any wallpapers.
Component Receivers Buyer’s Guide
One of these
On the AV Rant Podcast, I’m often asked about gear to purchase. Home theater gear is generally a non-trivial purchase for people. Most folks have to save up for a period of time in order to buy the equipment they desire. Understandably, people want to make the best decision of what to do with that money, and that causes stress. We’re going to try to help curtail that problem by answering the question: How to Buy an A/V
As is the case with all products that are continually upgraded, each model-year brings a new round of features that we’ve never seen before. This year it was the Dolby Atmos surround processing and HDMI 2.0. Next year it will likely be full HDMI 2.0 and
HDCP 2.support and DTS UHD or Auro-3D (even though Denon and Marantz have already adopted the latter). Whatever it is, don’t jump on the “gotta have it” bandwagon without serious thought.
It cannot be overstated how important it is to choose a good a set of speakers. This does not necessarily mean the largest, highest power rating, or largest number of components either. It also does not necessarily mean the most expensive ones are the best choice. There are many good inexpensive modern speakers. The corner cutting in recent years of turntables and amplifiers was not applied to speakers in quite the same way. In fact, mass production and low cost overseas labor has benefitted the consumer in recent years.
Vintage Speaker Potential Issues
Many mid century speakers had level controls. Turns out, not such a great idea. The controls are almost always a source of problems on these speakers. A problem that can definitely be corrected. Some speakers use electronic components internally that degrade over time. These to can be replaced. The typical result is often a significant performance improvement.
Bring On that Sweet Immersive Audio
This has definitely been the year for in-your-face audio. Sorry, did that go over your head? Well so does the sound of immersive audio: literally – over your head! Immersive audio systems deliver sound not just all around you, but above you as well, and they’re becoming more pervasive and more affordable.
In 2014, we got a little taste of Dolby Atmos as it rolled out to select receivers and preamp/processors. And though the movie selection on Blu-ray was slim, there were a few titles released in 201In 2015, we’ve seen more Dolby Atmos-enabled products than ever before. Even better, we’ve gotten a lot of really good Dolby Atmos-encoded content: films like “Gravity,” “American Sniper” and “Mad Max: Fury Road” all came out with Dolby Atmos soundtracks on Blu-ray Disc.
This year, we’ve also seen the official launch of another major player in immersive audio: DTS:X. Like Dolby Atmos, DTS:X uses object-oriented encoding to create a truly three-dimensional soundfield. That way, you can really experience those sky-high explosions, planes flying overhead, rainstorms, buildings collapsing and more.
To indulge in Dolby Atmos or DTS:X, you will need a receiver that supports at least one of these formats, as well as new speakers and encoded content. Currently, there are several Dolby Atmos Blu-rays available, with “Ex Machina” being the lone DTS:X-capable Blu-ray. (“American Ultra” was also recently announced.)
You have to cut DTS a little slack; they’re still new. First announced back in April, DTS:X support doesn’t come out of the box — yet. However, there are several receiver models that will be eligible for that DTS:X upgrade, reportedly by the end of 201A third immersive audio format, AURO-3D, is also available on select higher end gear.
Before you buy a receiver, think about how many speakers you want to have. At bare minimum, you’re going to need five surround speakers, a subwoofer, and two height channels. This is what’s known as a 5.1.configuration. However, bigger rooms can accommodate additional speakers, so you may want to think into adding four height speakers to make a 5.1.or even a 7.1.setup. Whatever you decide, make sure your new receiver can support your configuration. Want to know who is selling what? Let’s take a deep dive on what Dolby Atmos and DTS:X-capable receivers are out now.
The MRX 1120 has Anthem Room Correction (ARC) technology and 4K pass-through. Photo: Anthem.
Anthem currently has two Atmos-enabled receivers, the MRX 720 and the MRX 1120. Both models come with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support out of the box.
It should be noted that both models feature DTS Play-Fi, which means you can make either receiver part of a larger whole-house wireless music system. Besides being able to stream a variety of music files and services, both models are compatible with any and all DTS Play-Fi speakers and other components — even if they aren’t made by Anthem.
The MRX 720 is an 11.2-channel pre-amp with seven amplifier channels that can crank 140 watts per channel. This model also has eight HDMI 2.0a inputs with HDCP 2.2, 4K pass-through, and High Dynamic Range (HDR) support. Other features include 32-bit/76kHz differential-output DACs, ARC (Anthem Room Correction), quad-core digital signal processing, two sub-out jacks, RS-23control options, and more. The MRX 1120 has all of the same features as the MRX 720, but bumps the amplifier section up to a full 1channels.
The Concert AVR-has Dolby Atmos, seven HDMI 2.0a inputs, and two HDMI outputs. Photo: AudioControl.
AudioControl still has the Concert AVR-and Concert AVR-9, which feature 4K support via seven HDMI 2.0a inputs and two HDMI outputs. Each one also has HDCP 2.support, four coax SPDIF and two Toslink digital audio inputs, six stereo analog inputs, a USB port, and an Ethernet jack. The AVR-boasts x 200 watts per channel, with the AVR-offering 100 watts per channel. Both also include Dirac Live room correction and integration with Crestron, Control 4, Savant, and RTI systems.
According to AudioControl, both models support 7.1.Atmos configurations (for configurations above eight total channels, additional power amplification is required), and can be upgraded to DTS:X once the firmware is available.
The AVR-X6200W can do Dolby Atmos up to 7.1.or 9.1.(with an additional 2-channel amplifier). Photo: Denon.
First announced in June 2016, the 7.2-channel AVR-X3300W boasts 10watts per channel and 4K/60Hz full-rate pass-through, as well as 4:4:color resolution, HDR, and BT.2020 support. It also has Dolby Atmos capabilities (up to 5.1.2) out of the box, with a free DTS:X upgrade available now. Other features include a 4K upscaler, Dolby Surround and DTS Neural: X upmixers (via update), eight HDMI 2.0a/HDCP 2.inputs, two HDMI outputs, and ISFccc calibration. It even has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi built in, high-resolution audio support, and options for multiroom use.
In late summer 2016, Denon debuted the AVR-X4300H and AVR-X6300H as its first HEOS receivers. This means that both models can be integrated into a wireless setup, streaming music to HEOS speakers throughout the house. The AVR-X4300H is a 9.2-channel AVR, with 12watts (ohms, 0.05%THD, 20Hz~20kHz) per channel. It features Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, with Auro-3D available via an optional, paid upgrade. Out of the box, the 4300 can deliver a 7.1.or 5.1.immersive sound experience or you can add an external two-channel amp to get a 7.1.setup. Other features include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay, and eight HDMI 2.0a inputs with HDCP 2.2, and three HDMI outputs.
The AVR-X6300H bumps that up to 1channels of amplification, rated for up to 140 watts each. So you can do a full-out 7.1.channel immersive surround sound system right out of the box. It also has a discrete monolithic amplifier design with custom-made DHCT (Denon High Current Transistors), gold-plated input/output terminals, transparent speaker terminals, and the Audyssey MultEQ XT3automatic room acoustic measurement and correction system.
Both of these 7.2-channel receivers also have support for 4K Ultra HD content with Dolby Vision and HDRHigh Dynamic Range (HDR) passthrough, HDCP 2.2, BT.2020, Wide Color Gamut, and 4:4:Pure Color sub-sampling. HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) HDR support will be added to each component via a future firmware update.
The AVR-S930H boasts 18watts per channel, seven HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs around the back, as well as another HDMI input on the front. The AVR-S730H promises 16wpc, with six HDMI inputs and one output on the back and one HDMI input on the front. Either receiver supports up to a 5.1.channel configuration (two height channels). Or if you decide not to go immersive just yet, you can do a traditional 5.or 7.channel set-up instead.
Other features on both include Bluetooth, dual-band Wi-Fi, and AirPlay, as well as support for High Resolution Audio in the form of DSD (2.8/5.6MHz), FLAC, ALAC, and WAV files.
Also in May 2017, Denon announced the AVR-X2400H and the AVR-X1400H. Both of these 7.2-channel AVRs promise Dolby Atmos (up to 5.1.2) and DTS:X decoding, as well as HEOS technology. The AVR-X2400H boasts 9watts per channel (ohms, 20 Hz~20 kHz, 0.08% THD), 4K/60 Hz full-rate pass-through, Dolby Vision, HDR, HLG (via a firmware update), and BT.2020. It’s important to note this model also offers 4K scaling. Other features include eight HDMI inputs with HDCP 2.support, two HDMI outputs, AirPlay, Bluetooth, and high-res audio support, as well as IP control, an IR remote in/out, and a RS232C port. The AVR-X1400H has a lot of the same features, but drops the power to 80 watts per channel and the number of HDMI inputs/outputs to six and one. It also doesn’t offer the smart-home integration or the 4K upscaling.
The DRX-Rworks in a Dolby Atmos and/or DTS:X home-theater layout of 7.2.channels. Photo: Integra.
Integra currently has five receivers that support both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The DRX-2, DRX-3, and DRX-can deliver that sound to 5.1.configurations. The DRX-boasts 80 watts per channel, with the DRX-bumping that number up to 100 and the DRX-delivering 1All three support 4K with HDR, HDCP 2.2, and playback of high-resolution audio. The DRX-has six HDMI inputs and one output, with the other two packing eight HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs.
Also worth noting is that the DRX-is THX certified and all three models will be eligible for future firmware to add Google Cast and MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) support.
In late 2016, the company started selling the DRX-7, a THX Select2Plus-certified AVR can deliver 5.2.sound or 7.2.4-channel sound with an add-on stereo amplifier. Promising 140 watts per channel, this model also features Vector Linear Shaping Circuitry (VLSC), options for multiple zones of music, and HDBaseT support. Other features include hi-res audio playback, eight HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs with HDCP 2.2, Chromecast, and more.
At the same time, the company introduced the DRX-RThis is also a THX Select2Plus-certified receiver, but with the ability to do 7.2.channels. Aside from hi-res support, this model also has THX Loudness Plus technology, HDBaseT, eight HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs with HDCP 2.compatibility, and multizone playback options. Designed specifically for custom installation, this model has RS23and IP control with support for 2-way communication with third party home automation systems.
The SR701is a 9.2-channel AVR with support for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro 3D (via paid upgrade). Photo: Marantz.
2) Features – Today’s turntables offer a wide-variety of features in addition to simply playing the record. Knowing how you’ll be using your turntable and which features are most important will help you narrow down your search.
USB vs. Non-USB: One of the newest features to gain popularity among turntable manufacturers is the addition of a built-in USB port. The USB port allows you to transfer music from your records to your computer where you can then convert it to mpformat. For people looking to digitize large vinyl collections, specifically old or rare albums not available on mp3, having a USB port may be a priority. A word of caution, however. USB turntables tend to have a poor reputation among audiophiles who assert, often rightly so, that the costs of adding the USB port are often made up for by using lower quality components on the rest of the table. Do your research and listen to as many models as possible to ensure you’re not getting a high-tech dud.
Manual vs. Automatic: As mentioned previously, most higher-end tables utilize a manual cueing system, meaning you (the listener) must physically lift the arm and lower it onto the record and lift it back off as it reaches the end of the side. While this is slightly intimidating for beginners who worry about scratching the vinyl, it really is nothing cosmic and becomes second nature after a few attempts. However, if you’re the type of person that just wants to hit a button and let the turntable do the rest, then an automatic turntable may be for you.
Surround Sound Formats
You may notice that surround sound systems are referred to in numbers, such as 7.surround sound. This lets you know how many speaker components the system has. A 7.setup boasts eight channels: seven discrete main audio channels, divvied up among seven speakers, and one channel fed to the subwoofer for the low notes.
A 5.surround sound system includes the left and right speakers to sit in the front near the screen, one center channel for vocals, the left and right speakers for either side of your seating area and the subwoofer. The speakers flanking you while you enjoy your audio attack are known as the surround speakers.
A 7.surround sound system has the same basic setup as the 5.1, but also includes a right and left back speaker positioned behind the viewer.
The 9.setup adds another pair speakers to the 7.mix. While the speakers in a smaller setup (in front of, to the side of, and behind you) allow sound effects to freely travel left and right, forward and backward, it takes two more speakers, each mounted a few feet above a corresponding left or right front speaker, to give the noise some opportunity for altitude. Height gives music and audio effects another axis, creating a more immersive experience.
Any of these systems can also incorporate multiple subwoofers, upping the number on the right side of the decimal point. Got a pair of subwoofers? Put them on opposite walls so you receive bass from two directions. Four subwoofers should take up one point each on a diamond surrounding the listener, creating a web of thumping and rattling that will catch anything in the middle and ensure it gets a good shaking. What good do all of these subwoofers do? They even out the bass response and make your movies and music thump a little harder and crisper. One of the first recommendations you will hear from home theater buffs is to add at least one subwoofer if you are rocking a 5.1, 7.1, 9.1, etc setup. It makes a massive difference.
Like a doctoral student collecting new skills, prestige and a series of letters to add to the end of a signature, your sound system can continue to advance into the future. Dolby Atmos, a leap forward in audio technology that breaks from the traditional channel-based system to free the various audio objects in a soundtrack and allow them to move about and come at you in three dimensions—including from above your head—can prompt you to turn your 5.system (one center channel, four speakers, and two subwoofers) into a 5.2.by adding four speakers to ceiling mounts or four speakers that direct sound up to bounce back down toward the viewing area. No longer tethered to a pre-assigned output, these sounds can move to come from the direction that best serves your movie-enjoying experience.
Too much? Your ears (and friends) may disagree, but that’s OK. Keep it simple with a 9.system, creating an encircling perimeter of speakers anchored by two subwoofers.
Must-Have Surround Sound Features
There are several essential components necessary for anyone looking to showcase what a home theater system can do. The cinema-experience-level technology available to everyone these days should get you excited about letting your speakers off the leash to really run wild.
THX-certified standards ensure that the sound being created on the movie-makers’ end is getting its due with the audience on the other end. A production company can pull out all the stops in crafting a scene where a shot ricochets off of a dozen metal objects scattered around the room before hitting the target, but if the system meant to broadcast that intricate series of sound effects is incapable of properly handling the load, nobody’s going to be ducking to avoid taking a bullet to the skull. Be sure to invest in THX-certified speakers—such as the THX UltraSeries from Klipsch, which earned the highest possible certification rating. Boom.
Consider a setup that can best deliver the free-range, real-world-emulating, three-dimensional sound experience of the gotta-have-it-if-you-care-about-movies Dolby Atmos experience mentioned above, including a speaker that bounces everything off of the ceiling, raining down noises and music to soak you with sound effects. We tapped out at a nine-speaker system in our initial explanation of this audio gift to humanity, but the technology can work with up to 34—repeat: 34!—so we’re sorry/not sorry to say that you don’t stand a chance against that level of audio power (but why would you want it any other way?). The Klipsch Reference Premeire Dolby Atmos enabled RP-280FA speaker has a built-in elevation channel that does nothing but blast away at the plaster over your head. Actually, it does do one other thing: win awards.
Klipsch emphasizes Wide Dispersion Surround Technology for all of its surround sound speakers, which ensures the best sound, no matter the home theater system setup. Can’t get fit the speakers exactly where you want them? Don’t worry. You’re still going to feel like you’re in the middle of the action.
Wireless vs. Wired Surround Sound
Wireless surround sound is ideal for people who prize both performance and simplicity. You can place the speakers anywhere without worrying about connecting them to the amplifier or hiding the evidence of those connections.
The fact that wireless systems can hold their own against their wired counterparts is evidence of how far technology has come since sound first electronically made its way from a source to a speaker.
If you’re considering a wireless setup, know that time is of the essence. That means the more modern your speakers, the better. Older wireless systems operated on technology that could interfere with or be disrupted by other wireless signals in the home. They also tended to be more expensive and not as reliable.
Today, wireless technology has advanced to the point that it can deliver the goods. Just know that you will need a special control center. If that sounds intimidating, don’t worry: It’s smart enough to start pumping out the sound you want within minutes of leaving the box.
Vintage or New
Vintage and used gear can be a great option for buyers on a budget, as most high-quality home-audio equipment was built like a tank and designed to last for decades, says Geoffrey Bennett, sales manager at Decibel Audio in Chicago. “In lower price brackets, vintage will usually give you better quality,” Bennett says. But buyers should consider the cost and viability of getting their vintage gear serviced and cleaned. “A receiver that’s been sitting in someone’s garage for 30 years is going to need some sprucing up,” he adds. Other considerations include the availability of parts and the cost and effort of having the gear serviced in the future.
In lower price brackets, vintage will usually give you better quality, but buyers should consider the cost and viability of getting their vintage gear serviced and cleaned.”
New gear will offer fewer choices, especially if you’re shopping at local big box stores, which tend to feature surround-sound home theater systems that aren’t optimal for two-channel audio playback. It does, however, offer some distinct advantages, Marra says.
New equipment likely will come with a warranty and user support, Marra says. It also is likely to be more compact and offer more contemporary features, such as remote control and more inputs for computers, iPhones and other digital devices.
The beauty of home stereo equipment is that you can mix and match vintage and new components. So if Grandpa gives you a sweet vintage turntable, you can connect it to a modern amplifier. Both vintage and new equipment are cool in their own right, Marra says.
Who should get this
If you have an older receiver without HDMI support, now is a good time to upgrade. All the new models we tested support HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2, which means they’ll work with Ultra HD 4K displays and sources. If you already have an HDMI receiver but want to buy a 4K TV and want to be able to switch between 4K sources now (or soon), upgrading makes sense.
Wireless audio streaming has become much easier on newer receivers, as well. Our top pick offers AirPlay, Bluetooth, Pandora, and Spotify Connect support, along with the ability to directly connect to Internet radio stations and local DLNA servers. If you’re still hooking your tablet or smartphone directly to your receiver instead of streaming, upgrading will make listening to that audio much easier.
New models also usually support Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, but as those audio technologies require more speakers, this isn’t a major reason to upgrade (for most people, anyway).
If you already own an HDMI receiver and don’t plan to use 4K sources or don’t need to stream wirelessly, you can hold off for now. In most cases new receiver models won’t sound any better than what you have; they’ll just offer more features and futureproofing.
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A nice upgrade for audiophiles
If you’ve already invested a good amount of money in your existing audio system, the Audioengine BBluetooth Music Receiver is a nice step up, providing sound quality befitting a higher-end system. Its built-in digital-to-analog converter (DAC)—the circuitry that turns Bluetooth audio’s digital bits into musical sound—is much better than what you’ll find in the less-expensive models we tested, and likely even better than the DAC built into your phone or tablet. The result is audio quality that’s roughly comparable to what you’d get by connecting your smartphone or tablet directly to your speakers with a cable, if not better. The Bsports a small external antenna that helps it achieve phenomenal range for a Bluetooth device. It’s also well-built, and, like our top picks, it has digital-audio output for use with an external DAC.
A wireless upgrade for older speaker docks
Speaker docks are yesterday’s gadgets, but the BT30 gives them new life, adding Bluetooth capabilities via Apple’s 30-pin dock connector.
If you have an old iPhone or iPod speaker dock—one that uses Apple’s 30-pin dock connector—just sitting in a closet, the Samson 30-Pin Bluetooth Receiver BT30 makes it easy to add Bluetooth functionality: You just attach the BT30 to that dock connector, which provides the BT30 with power. The BT30 offers easy pairing and connections, along with range that slightly exceeds that of the Monoprice and StarTech receivers. Its audio quality isn’t as good as that of our other picks, but the difference won’t be noticeable through most speaker docks, and its sound is easily the best of the 30-pin models we tested, with better detail and stronger, tighter bass than the competition. (If you’re looking for a portable Bluetooth receiver—say, for using your favorite wired headphones with a smartphone that lacks a headphone jack—we have a separate guide to Bluetooth headphone adapters. For dedicated in-car use, we recommend our top pick for car Bluetooth kits.)
A pick for older speaker docks
Among the receivers designed to add Bluetooth to a 30-pin speaker dock, the Samson 30-Pin Bluetooth Receiver BT30 had the best range and audio quality, as well as the most reliable pairing and connection. Photo: R. Matthew Ward
What to look forward to
The Bose NFC-Enabled Wireless Bluetooth Music Receiver looks like a strong competitor, but we couldn’t get our hands on a test unit in time for this guide, and the model has disappeared from the company’s website. If it ends up still being in production, we’ll test it for an update to this guide.
The Layen i-Dock Bluetooth Receiver is a 30-pin dock-connector receiver that includes aptX support. We hope to test it to see if it improves on the Samson BT30’s audio performance.
In general, we’re hoping to see future models combine the high-quality audio of our top picks with robust support for handling multiple devices. We’d love to see the Moto Stream’s support for five devices combined with the audio quality of our top picks. Similarly, we’d love to see more products offer the Audioengine B1’s incredible range, but at lower prices. Apple claims to set new standards for Bluetooth audio-device integration and multi-device support with its AirPods and Wchip; we hope to see this level of convenience and reliability in future devices.
In the longer term, newer technologies such as WiFi Direct, 802.11ad, and Miracast may offer higher-bandwidth, more versatile streaming options—but it will be a long time before any of them can offer the ubiquity, compatibility, and price of Bluetooth solutions.
The Satechi Bluetooth Music Receiver and Nyrius Songo HiFi were originally going to be co-top picks, but they were discontinued while we were preparing this guide for production. They’re essentially identical to our top pick, so if you find one of them for a lower price than the StarTech and Monoprice models, it’s worth considering. Similarly, the discontinued Nyrius Songo Tap appears to be nearly identical to the Nyrius Songo HiFi, but with NFC pairing, so it’s worth considering if you find it at a low price.
The Motorola Moto Stream bested every other receiver at maintaining simultaneous, active connections—up to five sources. Pairing and connecting devices worked seamlessly, and the Stream’s range covered my entire apartment. The device’s pretty, multicolored LEDs are also a nice addition, clearly communicating device-connection and playback status. Unfortunately, we found the Stream’s audio quality to be the worst of the non-dock models we tested, sounding flat and lifeless. (The Stream supports only the SBC codec for audio transmission, which may explain its mediocre sound quality.) It’s a shame the Stream’s audio performance wasn’t better, because the device offers otherwise excellent performance.
The Grace Digital 3Play supports three simultaneously connected devices, and while its sound quality beats that of the Moto Stream, our top picks sound significantly better. The 3Play includes an optical audio output and—interestingly—a battery for portable use (but no volume control for use with headphones). However, getting the 3Play to pair and connect to source devices was sometimes hit or miss, and its range was also the worst of the devices in this category, with dropouts occurring at the edge of my living room, about 20 feet from the receiver.
The Avantree Roxa packs all of its electronics into a unit that plugs directly into a wall outlet to reduce clutter and save space. It’s also relatively inexpensive, and it sports a 1A USB-power port for charging your phone or tablet (though much more slowly than a good USB wall charger). The Roxa supports two simultaneous device connections, but putting the unit in pairing mode requires unplugging the Roxa’s audio cable—a pain in any case, but especially so if the unit is concealed behind furniture, which is likely given the Roxa’s wall-plug design. Further, once we paired the Roxa with two sources, we had trouble getting the second source to connect reliably. The Roxa’s audio quality was comparable to that of the Grace Digital 3Play (meaning below that of our top home picks), though its indoor range was among the best of the models we tested, with no dropouts anywhere in my apartment; its outdoor range was also above average.
The Brightech BrightPlay Home appears to be identical to the Roxa, so we didn’t test it.
The Kinivo BTR200 looked like a compelling alternative to our top picks, due to its inclusion of aptX support and an optical output. We received a sample for testing, but a company representative informed us shortly afterward that it had been discontinued.
At the high end, we also tested the Arcam miniBlink. This model offers good audio quality, but the Audioengine Bsounds better, and the Arcam lacks the B1’s digital output and extraordinary range. (The miniBlink’s range, indoors and out, is comparable to that of our top home pick.)
For 30-pin dock models, the RadTech WaveJamr, Nyrius Songo Link, and CableJive dockBoss air all performed relatively similarly to one another, but none were ultimately as reliable in connecting and pairing to source devices as the Samson BT30, nor did they match the Samson’s range and sound quality.
The Mil-Spec controversy
My old brand X rifle functions well and *might* give me a lifetime of use. Take of its brothers and pit them against Bravo Company rifles and I would bet cash money a few brand X rifles would go down while all the Bravo Co rifles would still be functioning. This is the difference.
Recce: A carbine with a 1inch barrel utilizing a stainless steel barrel for match grade accuracy. A great choice for a do it all style rifle. Top this type of gun off with a 1-4x variable and you have a jack of all trades. Accuracy in a small package.
M16A2: You are likely to find one of these clones in the gun shop rack. An Afixed carry handle upper receiver with a 20 inch barrel and a fixed butt-stock. Overall a good rifle but many view the lack of a railed upper receiver as outdated. The carry handle does limit your optics choices, but is a very shootable as is rifle.
Mclone: You are likely to find one of these referenced online. This build will typically need a 14.inch barrel with a long flash hider permanently installed on the barrel. This ensures that the total barrel length is 1inches. If you choose to buy one of these rifles you must pick a flash hider that you like since it is not going to be user replaceable. A very small and handy AR1package.
CAR: Typically these will be found as carbine length gas systems with a 1inch barrel and a Acarry handle. Gun-shops might have a few of these configurations on the rack. Optic options are poor. These rifles can also be found with an 1inch barrel and a very long pinned flash hider. I would avoid that configuration due to velocity loss and poor upgrade potential.
1inch Mid-Length: Very common. Not a clone of any service rifle per se, but a compact and very shootable rifle that is a great compromise system.
Mix and Match
There are too many options to discuss in the AR1world. You will encounter many groups of shooters who enjoy building clones of older AR1variants all the way to the latest military configurations. Many of these clones are great shooters, but I would recommend that you build a rifle to your needs and specifications. Choose a rifle that suits your needs. Maybe you need a tiny package with extreme accuracy to fit in the trunk. It is perfectly OK to build a rifle with a 14.inch stainless steel barrel, a pinned flash hider, a collapsing stock, and a 6x optic. Not a clone of anything, but if it suits your needs then make the purchase.
Low end home karaoke systems are what most buyers will be after since they pack all standard features. However, many low end units usually lack a remote control to fine tune adjustments and these are best for beginners and light use in small or compact rooms. They often pack in a band equalizer, echo feature, some amount of reverberation, pitch and tone modulation but don’t expect the full range of features.
Mid-range home karaoke systems often come as component units with portable features like a screen and a set of speakers inbuilt into them. They also pack a few extra features and can be adjusted using a remote. They are great when used in tandem with high quality home theater systems and will suffice for serious karaoke lovers. Such devices often are built to last so warranty should not be an issue.
High end home karaoke machines have the whole array of special features such as built-in hard drives, disc changers, advanced file systems and recording profiles. They are great for large rooms and can also be used in commercial settings although they are sold for professional karaoke singers or those really serious with their karaoke practice for competitions, who want something as good as the professional units used in bars and pubs.
A Step Up
The Sony’s selection of integrated streaming services is limited when compared to Onkyo, with only Pandora, vTunes, Slacker and Sony’s Music Unlimited services available. But the inclusion of Bluetooth, AirPlay and DLNA support makes it easier to get other streaming services from a device with a better interface without needing to use your TV. In my own testing, the audio quality of the Sony is very good for the price. The automatic speaker setup routine detected my speakers incorrectly, but you can set it up manually or override what it selects. It does not have component video inputs, but that is the only feature it lacks.
There are no US reviews beyond my own experience with it yet, but there is one from Germany at AreaDVD.de. Running it through Google Translate, they found “The Sony STR-DN840 shines acoustically virtually without restriction. Dynamic, cultured, powerful, rich in details – here the AV receiver does not need to fear the comparison with the strongest competition.” CNET has also not formally reviewed it yet, but in reviews of other products they have stated the Sony to be their favorite and to offer the best overall value.
HDMI and 3D pass-through
HDMI pass-through means that the audio and video streams passing through the A/V receiver are not processed. The receiver will only pass those streams to the display or TV. As the receiver cannot process the audio, HDMI pass through does not allow transfer of HD audio. For that, you have to depend on Optical audio, which only supports DTS (Digital Theatre Systems) and DD (Dolby Digital).
In case of 3D pass-through, the 3D signals require higher bandwidth compared to the ordinary 1080p signal. The latest version of HDMI 1.is 3D ready. A/V receivers with 3D pass-through accept the 3D signals and pass it to the TV via HDMI out. However, it doesn’t mean that the A/C receiver converts 2D to 3D. For that, you’ll need to connect a Blu-ray player directly to your TV.
Surround Sound Processing
For first time home theatre buyers, the wide range of surround sound options can be quite overwhelming. Almost all of the latest A/V receivers can handle Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks from the HDTV broadcasts, Netflix, DVDs, Blu-ray discs, etc. That’s not all, Dolby DTS-HD and Dolby True HD are also supported by the latest home theatre receivers, thus allowing you to enjoy pure and immersive surround sound experience right at home. To add more punch to your music listening experience, some home theatre receivers also come with a host of equalizer presets. Component and Composite video Almost all A/V amplifiers are equipped with component and composite video connectivity ports. Having these input ports ensures backward compatibility, thus allowing you to connect your outdated audio / video devices such as VCR, CD / DVD players.
Having Ethernet connectivity in the A/V receiver offers multiple benefits, such as easy update of the receiver’s firmware and online music streaming. With DLNA, you can also access to content on your home network and stream music from your smartphone, tablets, etc.
While a remote control is included in almost all home theatre packages, the control features are very important. Ideally, it should have the required buttons to control all the features available in an A/V receiver. Also, look for build quality, operating range and the type of batteries the remote works on.
How Radio Transmitters & Receivers Work
A radio transmitter is the controller you hold in your hand that sends your inputs to your quadcopter. On-board your multirotor a radio receiver is connected to the flight controller. This small circuit board with receives the inputs from your transmitter via small antennas. Those inputs allow your flight controller to make the appropriate speed adjustments to the motors, creating the desired output from the control input.
Radio signal is broadcast out from the transmitter along a specific frequency, most commonly the 2.4GHz band. Modern transmitters have intelligent technology which prevents conflicts when multiple radios are in use simultaneously. The transmitter is bound to a specific receiver which sits on-board the RC craft. The inputs from the radio are assigned a specific channel. Each channel is sent as an input value to the receiver which passes the information along to the brain of the aircraft.
Radio controllers have been used on RC model aircraft since the 1930’s, though these types of radio controllers weren’t popular until the 1970’s. See the Academy of Model Aeronautics for more on the history of radio controlled aircraft.
Gimbal Control Modes
When you hear someone talk about “what mode” his or her radio is, they are referring to how the control sticks (gimbals) are laid out and configured on the radio. There are modes out there labeled simply as “Mode 1” through “Mode 4”. Mode & are commonly used when flying quadcopters, Mode & are rarely seen.
There are two different types of gimbals used in RC radios. We define them as:
Centered Control Stick: When inputs are released, this control stick snaps to the center of both X and Y axis’. In our diagrams this is the stick set at the center of the X/Y layout.
Throttle Control Stick: When inputs are released, this control stick only snaps to the center of the X axis. It remains where set on the Y axis. In our diagrams this is the stick set at the center of the X axis, but at the bottom of the Y axis.
These control sticks are also called Gimbals. This is the name of the hardware for the control sticks found on RC radios. These are different than gimbals used with cameras.
This mode sees the throttle stick on the right and the centered stick on the left. This setup is less popular than Mode 2.
This mode sees the throttle stick on the left and the centered stick on the right. If you’re not sure which Mode to get – go for Mode as it is the most popular.
For FPV you will almost exclusively find radios using the 2.4ghz radio band. This modern band features a good balance of range and necessary antenna size. Lower frequencies such as 1.3ghz will allow you longer range controls. You won’t find many FPV copters using 1.3ghz frequencies.
Most modern radios include a feature called frequency hopping. These protocols look for the cleanest band when in use and remove any potential conflicts that might exist when multiple radios are operated in close proximity. Overall your radio frequency isn’t something you need to worry too much about if you are buying a new radio. If you are buying older gear or looking for long range control then it is something to consider.
Radio Signal & Latency
Above we talked about the frequencies of your radio. When it comes to the receiver you need to consider the protocol that the frequency is using. The protocol you use varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and has an influence on the signal you send. For FPV the biggest impact we see from different radio signals is the latency or time it takes for your inputs to be received. We are always looking for the lowest latency possible.
Using the FrSky protocols on a receiver like the X4R as an example we can compare PPM vs SBUS:
Some receivers can send back information to your radio using a feature called telemetry. By setting up telemetry you are able to read all kinds of information about your copter like battery information. You can transmit this information back to your radio live in order to always know the battery levels.
When you set up your craft you will bind the model on your radio to the receiver. This process connects your transmitter and receiver and only needs to be done once. Once bound your craft will only be controllable by your receiver and will not be interfered with by others flying near you.
With the DXe, Spektrum brought a much needed DSMX capable transmitter to the beginner market. The transmitter is a to channel setup that is configurable for modes 1-using switches on the gimbals. You’re not going to find high end luxuries like telemetry, but you’ll find a solid beginner platform that will let you grow in the FPV hobby without needing to invest due to a limited feature set.
The Evolution is an interesting beginner choice because it packs an interesting feature set in a compact package. Turnigy took a step in the direction of video game controllers with this radio and created something interesting. The controller features a small form factor with lots of features. It’s the only option in our entry-level list that offers telemetry and a USB port for use with computer simulators.
The DX6e is the next step up from the DXe. Still a channel radio, the 6e brings some more pro-level features to the table. You’ll find support for DSMin addition to DSMX. You’ll also find telemetry support and a 250 model memory that can be switched without connection to a phone or PC.
Team BlackSheep introduced the Tango as the first radio transmitter + video receiver / monitor all-in-one solution. The result is a relatively affordable and widely compatible solution. You’ll find a channel digital transmitter surrounding a video monitor and built-in 5dBi patch antenna. You can use the screen or connect your goggles to the transmitter to watch your flight. The transmitter uses JR modules to connect to a wide range of popular radio receivers.
Protocol: Changeable using JR modules: TBS Crossfire, FrSky XJT, Spektrum, Futaba, and Graupner options available.
Spektrum DXBlack Edition
The DXfeatures all the features and luxuries you could ask for as an FPV pilot. You’ll find channels, 250 model storage, an included 2000mAh Li-Ion battery, SD card and charger. The price tag here is the highest of all the offerings available, but the quality is top of the line. That quality is why you’ll find top level pilots like Skitzo and JohnnyFPV flying the DX9.
The History of Wireless Audio Systems
Several individuals and companies have made competing claims that they invented the first wireless system. The earliest wireless mic schematics and do-it-yourself kits appeared in hobbyist magazine such as Popular Science and Popular Mechanics in the mid-1940s. From the late ‘40s through the early ‘50s various tinkerers created “wireless radio microphones” that transmitted signals using radio frequencies. These systems showed up sporadically in theatrical and sporting events.
The Shure Brothers laid claim to having the first wireless microphone system for performers. Called the Vagabond, it had a very limited range of about 1feet. In 1957, a German company called Lab W, later to become Sennheiser, created a wireless system that had a range of about 300 feet.
An American electrical engineer, Raymond A. Litke, developed a wireless microphone system in 195that was used in various applications such as the Olympic trials in 195and the 1960 Democratic and Republican conventions. He was granted the first wireless system patent in 196A version of the system was introduced later that year by Vega Electronics and was marketed as the Vega Mike.
Sony introduced its first wireless microphone system, the CR-4, in 1958, and by 1960 it was the system of choice for many theatre performances and nightclub acts. German manufacturer, Beyerdynamic, was also successful during this era with its wireless technology that was used in 196to capture the soundtrack for the filmed version of the musical My Fair Lady.
In the mid 1970s companding technology developed by Nady Systems resulted in wireless systems with a wider dynamic range. This led to their adoption by stadium acts such as Todd Rundgren and The Rolling Stones.
Today, almost every large venue uses wireless systems, dramatically changing the dynamics of performance. In 199a joint Emmy Award for “pioneering the development of the broadcast wireless microphone” went to Nady, CBS, Sennheiser, and Vega.
Wireless Microphone System Components
All wireless mic systems, regardless of their applications, are made up of two basic components: transmitters and receivers. Transmitters convert the audio signal captured by the mic into a radio signal. These are then sent to a receiver that converts them back to an audio signal that is then sent to the sound system.
First, we’ll look at the various types of mic transmitters.
Handheld Microphone Transmitters
These wireless mics incorporate the transmitter into their handle so both functions are contained in a single unit. As with wired handheld mics, there are numerous wireless dynamic and condenser mic models to choose from that will match just about any performer’s needs. Some manufacturers offer separate transmitters that can be plugged into the XLR connector of any dynamic mic, making microphone options even more plentiful when going wireless.
The Shure BLX24/SM5Handheld Wireless System with SM5Capsule includes a BLXreceiver which is a lightweight, durable ABS polymer chassis. It has a smaller footprint than previous receivers, and features an enhanced group and channel scan. Equipped with true diversity and a rugged build quality, this easy to use wireless receiver brings unprecedented quality into this price range.
VHF vs. UHF
Virtually all pro wireless systems operate on either the VHF (very high frequency) or UHF (ultra high frequency) bands. VHF wireless systems generally operate within the 17to 216MHz range (the range of TV channels 7-13), while UHF uses the 470 to 805MHz range (the range for TV channels 14-69).
Traditionally, UHF has been used by higher-end wireless systems, and has the reputation for having more transmitter range and being less prone to TV interference. These are real advantages but need some qualification.
UHF-based systems are allowed more transmitter power by regulation, but that doesn’t mean that any given system actually has more power than a given VHF system. UHF also has more range than VHF, not because of power, but because the signals move through the atmosphere more easily. UHF also has up to eight times more frequencies available.
As for less interference, that situation is changing. As parts of the UHF range are being assigned to public safety communications and digital TV broadcasting, the band is becoming more crowded. Also, the highest end of the UHF spectrum (above 900MHz) is a general-purpose range used for cordless telephones, garage door openers, and ham radio, so it’s not advisable for wireless use as interference problems are very likely. Actually, both bands are becoming more crowded. As discussed in the next section, digital signal processing technology is playing an important role in dealing with interference.
Key Wireless Receiver Functions and Features
The true worth of a wireless system is determined by its overall sound quality, dynamic range, freedom from dropouts and interference, and its operating range. Essentially, you want a wireless system to sound like a wired system. You also want a system that has easy-to-use controls and easy-to-read displays. There are a number of other common features that are true for all wireless mic, instrument, and in-ear monitoring systems that are not so immediately obvious.
Automatic Frequency Selection
With this feature, a frequency-agile system selects the frequency automatically. It’s a nice feature to have if you need a system with frequency agility as described in the previous paragraphs, because you’ll be resetting your system fairly often. Some high-end systems offer automatic setup of your entire wireless system.
As with any piece of electronic music gear, how well a wireless system keeps you informed of its status is an important consideration. Having a display that’s highly legible and well-lit is a big help during setup and performance. It should indicate signal strength, identify the channel being used, and have low-battery level warning indicators or battery-level meters. Battery-status displays are usually located on the transmitter, but some high-end systems have them on the receiver too.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your Component Receivers wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of Component Receivers