Smart TV prices are falling, streaming stick devices such as Chromecast and Roku are gaining acceptance, and connected video game consoles and streaming content delivery services are downright mainstream. These days, it’s not unusual for people to have Internet-connected TVs in multiple rooms of their homes. If you’re looking to set up a multi-room, indoor/outdoor entertainment network at home, know what options are available on the market today.
A home theater receiver is central to a home entertainment experience that replicates the feeling of being in a theater. Receivers serve to select an audio or video input source, tune into content from that source, and amplify sound to enhance audio and support video.
Today’s receivers channel a variety of sources, including satellite, Internet, and HD radio, as well as online music services such as Pandora and wireless transmissions from smartphones. Your receiver can network with other components, including TV, speakers, audio streaming devices, cable or satellite boxes, Blu-ray players, video game consoles, Internet routers, and smartphones.
Receivers generally support at least 5.1 surround-sound experience, and often include a 7.1 channel option. They calibrate your signal to improve picture and sound quality. Most include special modes dedicated to music listening.
Your selection should support the other components of your entertainment system. For instance, if you have a big-screen TV, you should select a more powerful receiver compatible with larger speakers. It’s generally better to have extra speaker power available. Receivers with high-current power enable you to maximize soundtracks and music with high-peak dramatic bursts. Listing the components you need to support will help you make a better purchasing decision.
Popular receiver manufacturers reviewed by Audioholics include Pioneer, Sony, Denon, Yamaha, Harmon Kardon, Marantz, NAD, and Onkyo. Prices start around $250 and range up to $3,000. Advanced features include more powerful amplifiers, more surround-sound channel support, and built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Apple AirPlay.
Wireless speakers have grown in popularity with the rise of streaming music. Bluetooth enables you to stream to a single device at a time, whereas Apple’s AirPlay lets you simultaneously stream to multiple speakers and options such as Sonos enable you to set up multi-room audio systems. PCMag reviews these and other popular wireless options, some of which start as low as $50. For your TV, DISH’s wireless Joey receiver lets you broadcast satellite TV to any room in your house or even outside to your deck.
Whole Home Audio
Wireless tools such as the Joey can become part of a whole home audio system that lets you pump music and videos to multiple locations in your house and outside. You can send the same signal to each location or even broadcast multiple songs or videos at the same time. Today’s leading whole home audio solution is Sonos, whose product line starts around $200. Leading competitors include Bose’s SoundTouch, Samsung’s Shape Whole Home, and Denon’s HEOS, featured in Wirecutter.