When buying a stereo receiver, be sure to consider the number of available HDMI inputs, think about built-in wireless connectivity features and don’t pay much attention to claims of superior sound quality. A stereo receiver is the heart of a home audio or theater setup, so it’s important to choose one wisely.
Since many modern audio and video devices use HDMI, a stereo receiver needs to have an adequate number of HDMI inputs, though the right amount can vary between users. More serious home audio enthusiasts may want six or more inputs, while casual users simply trying to listen to music or watch television may only need three. It’s typically a good idea to buy a receiver with an extra input or two, in case any new additions to a home audio setup require HDMI.
Wireless connectivity features such as AirPlay, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are all useful in a modern stereo receiver, allowing users to stream music directly from tablets, smartphones and other devices. Apple’s AirPlay service offers lossless audio quality but only functions with Apple devices, and requires a Wi-Fi connection. Bluetooth functions with most devices but offers lower audio quality.
While new receivers make grand claims about improvements in sound quality, many experts agree that these are mostly sales pitches. Speakers have a much greater effect on overall audio quality, so choose a receiver on the basis of features and functionality, rather than claims of enhanced audio fidelity.