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9 reasons to replace your home theater receiver

For better sound, ease of use, and 4K TV compatibility

Deia began her Crutchfield career in 2010, as a sales advisor in the Spanish/International department. Crutchfield's hands-on sales training quickly converted her interest in photography into a full-fledged hobby. After five years in sales advising customers on choosing the best A/V and camera gear for their needs, she is happy to share her knowledge and enthusiasm for top-notch gear as an A/V writer.

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Feeling like your old receiver might be ready for recycling? Even if your old one still works, it’s probably missing lots of exciting new features. Here are nine good reason to upgrade to a new receiver:

1. You don’t have enough of the right connections

Have you run out of HDMI inputs on your old receiver? You could plug that new game console into an extra input on your TV (or buy an HDMI switcher). But now you’ve got two different source switchers in your system – a classic user’s nightmare. The last thing you want on your next date night is a tech support call from the babysitter.

back panel

The latest home theater receivers have plenty of HDMI connections for all your gear.

2. 4K TV Compatibility

Most new receivers have HDCP 2.2 support on at least one HDMI input and one output. This is necessary to pass copy-protected 4K video content to your new Ultra HD TV.

Shop for a receiver with HDCP 2.2

4K TV

To pass a 4K Ultra HD TV signal, your receiver needs to be HDCP 2.2 compliant.

3. You want bigger, better sound

Here are just a few ways a new receiver can give you better sound:

  • More power makes your speakers sound their fullest.
  • Better digital-to-analog conversion makes your digital music sparkle with detail and clarity.
  • Automatic speaker calibration dials in the sound based on your room’s acoustics
  • Different listening modes, driven by the latest signal processing technology, let you find the best sound for a variety of entertainment sources.
  • Bi-amping gives you more dynamic, higher-quality sound from your main speakers (your speakers must be bi-amp compatible).

Keep in mind that the receiver is only half the equation for good sound. If you’re unhappy with the sound of your system, it might be time for new speakers, too.  

Mic

Setup microphone for the Audyssey room calibration system. Calibration systems like these are included with many home theater receivers. They help you maximize your speakers' sound by taking into account placement and room acoustics, among other factors.


4. You want music and video in different rooms

Do you wish you could expand your system into a second or third room? If your receiver doesn’t have discrete Zone 2 or Zone 3 outputs, you’re out of luck.

Spare connections on a receiver with seven or more channels let you send music, and even video, to a second or third room. All your sources stay connected to the receiver in your living room.

Keep your old receiver handy, and you can use it for better sound in your second video zone.

Learn more about multi-room video.

house

The right home theater receiver lets you enjoy music and video in different rooms throughout your home.

5. Amazing surround sound from new formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X

Are you a die-hard surround sound fanatic? Then you’ll definitely want to check out the most immersive surround sound formats yet. Decoding for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X now comes standard with most receivers that have seven channels or more. Even regular surround sound formats become more engaging with virtual Atmos and DTS:X effects.

To learn more about these exciting new formats, see our article on DTS:X vs. Dolby Atmos.

Atmos

Dolby Atmos and DTS:X make you feel like sound is coming from all around you, just like it would in real life.

6. You want to give high-res music a try

Many of the latest receivers have built-in decoding for high-resolution music files. Once you’ve had a taste of what these audio formats have to offer, you probably won’t want to go back to listening to compressed music. There are thousands of high-res titles available for download.  With the right receiver and speaker combo, the audio quality is on par with or even better than what you get from a CD.

To learn more, check out our high-resolution audio guide.

High res system

High-resolution audio formats let you enjoy your music the way it was meant to be heard.

7. Easy wireless music streaming

Most new home theater receivers come with Bluetooth®. So it’s easy to play anything you can listen to on your phone or tablet through your home speakers. And friends and family can also share their music with you.

Shop for a receiver with Bluetooth

phone bluetooth

Bluetooth capability lets you stream music to your receiver instantly from your phone or tablet.

8. Networking capabilities

Most new receivers have Wi-Fi and/or wired Ethernet home networking capability for quick access to online streaming services like Spotify and Pandora. You can also stream music from your personal collection on your computer. As an added bonus, Internet radio lets you discover radio stations all around the world.

Apple AirPlay is a great way to get instant access to your music if you use an iOS device or have an iTunes library on your computer.

Shop for an Internet-ready receiver

networking

Many home theater receivers have dual Wi-Fi antennas to ensure a stronger signal.

9. Your phone or tablet makes an awesome remote control

Many receiver manufacturers offer advanced control apps. Using your phone or tablet integrates all your streaming sources with the receiver’s functions, so you can control them all with one smooth interface.

Shop for a receiver with app control

app screens

Advanced home theater receiver control apps for your phone or tablet give you a streamlined entertainment experience.

  • Brian from Portland, OR

    Posted on 1/20/2017

    It is hard to pull the trigger on buying a new receiver as they seem to be obsolete the week after they are set up. Didn't have that problem a few decades ago. Also it is a challenge to buy over the internet when trying to match components, especially speakers and amplifiers. Guess I am old fashioned and will have to progress with the times.

  • Matt from Philadelphia

    Posted on 1/27/2017

    Bi-amping? With the same amp? That's bad info that should be removed. All receivers put out more power when only driving two speakers. The transformer only has so much power, and it delivers it's max with 2 speakers. Bi-amping does NOTHING! Most features listed have been available for years. If you haven't upgraded in 10 years, most of the list applies. In the last 3-4, Atmos and DTS-X you may not have, or even need due to the need for more speakers in weird locations.

  • Jerry

    Posted on 3/21/2017

    Reason #10 25yo amp just died.

  • Vincy from Johns Creek, GA

    Posted on 4/26/2017

    11th is, you never had home theater stystem before :)

  • Cat from Covington

    Posted on 5/23/2017

    New ones are too complicated. Guess we will just keep rolling along with good working Denon receiver.

  • Myron miller from dade city

    Posted on 7/9/2017

    The statement about biamping doing nothing couldn't be more wrong. For certain types of speakers it allows way more dynamic room for quick explosion/higher volume type of sounds. it does work and make a difference. But many speakers don't need it or cannot handle it but there are some that not only can but work well with it. My current speakers at higher volumes will actually cause without bi-amping, the receiver to cutoff or turn off from overload from drawing way too much wattage. I know because it has happened to me. Bi-amping helps the receiver from getting into this situation. And many of the new receivers drive not just two speakers but up to 7 speakers with equal amount of wattage. In fact, most drive 5 channels equally well or badly, especially the better receivers (by this I don't mean the bottom end ones but even middle of the road ones, such as Denon, Yamaha, Onkyo, etc.

  • Emilio Mosqueda from Norwalk

    Posted on 7/27/2017

    Why would I want digital to analog!

  • Robert from Grove City

    Posted on 8/10/2017

    "Why would I want digital to analog!" Because your ears are analog.

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