newbie budget av receiver

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    I’m new, and looking for an av receiver to fit with my sharp aquos tv, and the htpc I just put together. I’m reading the forums so I may find my answers very soon, but just in case (and if you don’t mind) I wanted to ask for suggestions for a somewhat budget minded av receiver with a smart feature set and fairly good flexibility when for different inputs. I just built a htpc with windows 8 with windows media server, and I have a couple of silicon dust tv tuners on my network for ota signals (hdtv). I also have an old dish network satelite with rca connectors (not hdtv, I know).

    A concern is hdmi switching — I’d like to use a single hdmi cable from my htpc to the av receiver, and another hdmi cable from the av receiver to the tv. For the time being I’m using an old yamaha receiver but I have to add extra cables for sound from the pc in addition to the hdmi cable for audio. What feature or phrasing do I look for in the specs to get the hdmi cable work with audio and video with the same cable?  I’d liek to streamline the setup and use as few cables as I can.  It’ll be a rats nest regardless, but the fewer cables necessary, the better.

    I also have an old dish network box with rca connections. Assuming I get a system that uses one hdmi cable for both audio and video from my pc, can I get an av receiver that will switch between different inputs (e.g. switch input from the pc’s hdmi cable and the dish network rca cables)? All the while I’d like the av receiver to pump the sounds out through the av receivers speakers and push video through the hdmi cable fron the av receiver to the tv.

    Also, on newer av receivers it seems like they’ve completely outgrown record players. On new systems, can I hook up my record player to any rca audio input?  I don’t use this often, but I’d like to play vinyl occasionaly (but it’d not a deal breaker if I can’t).

    I’m looking for an av reciever that “just works”.  A proverbial cost effective workhorse system.

    Sorry for all the questions, but I’m a little overwhelmed now

    Aaron Ledger

    In general, you should figure out all of the connectivity and features that you need and then buy the level of receiver that fits your scenario. For a few hundred dollars, you can get decent offerings from Denon, Onkyo, etc. One thing you will have a hard time finding at the “budget” level is a receiver with phono input for you turntable. You can overcome this by purchasing a phono preamp.


    I’ll second Aaron’s advice on breaking down an exact list of the connections you need, and definitely encourage you to consider some of the streaming capabilities you might want in a receiver. With more mid-range receivers supporting services such as Pandora and Vtuner, as well as local streaming over DLNA and AirPlay, it would be a good idea to take stock of your streaming music needs as well. Onkyo has been particularly aggressive in adding streaming functionality and Pioneer has bet the farm on Apple for those invested in iOS devices. Also take a look at the remote control apps available for your mobile device platform of choice if you are interested in accessing those streaming capabilities without turning on your TV or getting up close and personal with the receiver’s LCD screen. You can download the app for most manufacturers and try it out in a demo mode to at least get a feel for the functionality that it exposes.

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