|A/V Receivers 2010 Holiday Gift Guide|
|Home Theater Feature Articles Audio Related Articles|
|Written by Dick Ward|
|Monday, 22 November 2010|
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The holidays are a great time to get your friends and family gifts that they really want. The giving season also grants you the opportunity to provide your loved ones with something they need – even if they didn't know they needed it. Whether you're upgrading your own home theater or helping out someone on your list, we've got the receivers for you.
Just because you're spending less than $500 doesn't mean you can't get a solid receiver from a great brand. For those getting their first receiver or those that want a secondary setup, an entry level A/V receiver is more than enough.
Harman isn't especially well known for entry level gear, but the AVR1600 is a solid receiver with a retail price of just $499. It's designed to not only provide high-quality sound, but to simplify some of the more complex parts of home theater setup.
Harman's AVR1600 is a 7.1 channel receiver that decodes the latest Blu-ray audio formats and even enhances the sound of your MP3s. It packs EzSet/EQ which automatically adjusts the receiver to match the acoustics of your room. The 1600 is also boasts that Harman/Kardon minimalist design, giving it the same look as the company's high-end receivers.
Yamaha neoHD YMC-500
The neoHD is a decidedly different receiver and not just because of the very unusual aesthetics. It's a line created by Yamaha for folks that aren't entirely comfortable with receivers. They feature automated setup, an incredibly simple interface for control and a remote with less buttons than the average TV remote.
The 5.1 channel YMC-500 is the less expensive of these two beginner's receivers and just got a price drop to $299 making it that much more attractive. It's still fairly feature packed, including decoding of DTS Digital Surround and Dolby TrueHD as well as the Compressed Music Enhancer to breathe life back into your MP3s.
If you're looking for something to power your main viewing room, the NR1501 probably isn't for you. It packs 50 watts of power per channel which is a bit weak for massive floor standing speakers. In a bedroom though, or an office, it works incredibly well.
Part of the appeal of the 1501 is that it stands just four inches high, making it the slimmest receiver currently offered by Marantz. It's got plenty of inputs, including five HDMI and two component. The 1501 also boasts an auto-calibration feature, something that's become much more common in receivers in recent years.
For plenty of features at a low price, the SR608 from Onkyo is a great way to go. It's at the top of Onkyo's SR line, but offers many of the features found in higher end NR receivers. Unlike the rest of the SR line, for example, the 608 sports Faroudja DCDi Cinema upscaling and THX Select2Plus certification.
The SR608 includes Audyssey Dynamic EQ which makes sure you still get great sound at low volumes and Dynamic Volume which eliminates huge jumps in sound levels. It's also a 7.2 channel receiver, which means you can add a second subwoofer into the mix, which can make a huge difference in your listening experience.