An AVR (Audio/Video Receiver) simplifies access to all of your home entertainment components with one 鈥渆 ntertainment router 鈥? It 鈥檚 essentially a network hub from your Blu-ray player, satellite or cable box, iPod, game console, and computer to your surround sound speakers and your LCD or Plasma HDTV. The best part is complete audio immersion. Films like Avatar and games like Call of Duty have incredible surround sound design. Without the right equipment to hear it, you 鈥檙 e left listening to mostly monotone dialogue and poor-quality bass on TV speakers. What to Look for in Surround Sound A 5.1 channel AVR is probably all you need for most surround sound. Dolby DTS decoding gets you discrete 5.1 channels and works incredibly well, but for lossless audio (an exact replication of the studio recording) go with Dolby TrueHD or DTS-Master Audio decoding on a five or seven speaker configuration. HDMI, Blu-ray, & 3D If you 鈥檝 e held off on getting that Blu-ray player, getting an AVR with a built-in Blu-ray player makes good economic sense. Select an AVR with at least 4 or more HDMI ports for component switching from one HD device to another, and look for one that does upconverting, which scales up non-HD video. For 3D, choose one with an HDMI 1.4a port. Otherwise, the HDMI 1.3 is perfect. New AVR Features Most AVRs come with auto-audio calibration for speaker configuration. Audiophiles can sink their teeth into the manual calibration option for precise acoustic tailoring. New AVRs come with iPod docks and bridges and some have Sirius & XM Radio tuners built-in. Expect to see lots of Internet & computer connected options like Ethernet, USB, and even wireless router connectivity for streaming Pandora and viewing party and vacation photos on your TV. You can pick up a good AVR for around $500. The AVR surround sound feature can last you 10 plus years, because audio technology changes very little over the years. Read the full article here.
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