What is the Best Receiver for 95% of the general public? I set out to figure this out over at The Wirecutter and came to a conclusion that I didn’t expect. Receivers keep adding all sorts of bells and whistles, and awesome features that attract the hard-core and reviewers, but might not appeal to most users.
Do your parents or siblings need a USB DAC input? Probably not. DSD support? No. DTS Neo:X with eleventy-billion channels to let you pin-point every single explosion? Likely not. What they do need are enough HDMI inputs, 5.1 channels of sound, and an interface that makes it possible to set up. Some people might want more, like 7.1 channels of sound or AirPlay and Bluetooth, and I picked out a model for them as well.
I also learned one universal truth: Don’t use the auto-calibration microphone that comes with these. None of them produced the correct settings for my 5.1 system with it, and all had to be manually adjusted. Either buy a real SPL meter from Radio Shack or someone else, or buy one of the well reviewed apps for your iOS or Android phone. You’ll get better results that way. You’ll even get better results if you just use the spec sheet for your speakers.
If you are after a receiver, or need to recommend one to family and friends, you can read the full piece over at The Wirecutter and see how I came to my conclusion. Now to just box up the huge number of units I had to test for this piece so I can see my AV room floor again!