As home system owners’ most common question, yours is how and when to upgrade your sound. Usually, it is about replacing the AV receiver because it is the foundation of any system. I believe replacing such a device just to have the latest model is not always the optimal solution. And the selection and purchase of new equipment cause many people to panic and be confused because the variety of functions, quality, and cost varies in a very wide range.
In this article, I’ll look at the essential reasons that should really make you consider a new purchase, and the answer to the question “When should I upgrade my AV receiver?” will no longer send shivers down your spine. And at the end, we’ll look at safe, informed disposal options; we’re decent citizens, right? Let’s go.
Key factors for receiver upgrades
Whether you plan to buy a new or used AV receiver, you must be clear about what exactly you want to upgrade for. Being honest with yourself will be the key factor that will save you time and money, and you’ll get what you really need.
The need for a multichannel receiver
If we are talking about a stereo receiver and you want to replace it with another 2-channel unit, it is not a problem. If you are considering building a home theater, the time to upgrade AVR has come. And that means you’ll have to upgrade to a multichannel AV receiver, which requires some research on the topic.
Starting with 5 speakers (front left, center, and right channels, with the addition of side left and right channels to create surround sound), as you add speakers can create a 5.1, 7.1, 5.2.4, 9.2.4, and so on in various configurations, where the second digit denotes the number of subwoofers. The last digit denotes the number of height speakers you need for the latest immersive surround sound technology.
Your job is to determine, depending on the budget, room size, your needs and preferences, and the longevity of your system, which channelization is best for you.
Enhancing sound quality: power, amplification, and multi-zone capabilities
Ask yourself how much you care about volume, sound clarity, and whether you will broadcast it to at least two zones in your home. And to make it easier for you to decide, here’s how I would explain all three factors.
For small rooms, 50-80W is enough to power; the average most common value is 80-100W (for rooms around 300 square feet), and so on. Proper power selection will make any, even the simplest system, sound smooth and coherent. But it’s important to ensure your speakers are compatible with the receiver’s performance.
Amplification capabilities are important if you want to use many additional components in your system. Upgrading your receiver with more power or additional amplifier channels ensures that your speakers get the power they need to perform without overloading. Using a subwoofer, additional amplifiers require pre-outputs.
If you want to expand your audio path to multiple zones or create separate audio systems in different rooms, a receiver with multi-zone support will be valuable.
Cutting the cords: wireless and embedded streaming features
With the growing popularity of wireless audio streaming and smart home integration, a modern AVR with built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or other wireless technology provides the convenience of seamless audio playback from your smartphone, tablet, or computer. This upgrade will increase the versatility of the receiver and make it easier to access your favorite music on streaming services such as Spotify, Netflix, Tidal, Amazon Prime, and TuneIn, and use Apple AirPlay, Chromecast, and voice assistants.
Note that when support for such services is built-in, the AV receiver is usually more expensive, so, in my opinion, you can do quite well with broadcasting via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. However, data transfer in this way is less reliable.
Advanced surround sound and video technology: immersive audio and video
By upgrading your receiver with advanced surround sound technologies such as Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, or Auro-3D, you can take sound quality to new heights. It’s as if you are immersed in the middle of the soundstage and become a participant in the events taking place on the screen. Moreover, such formats are available even in the budget and medium price categories.
In addition, modern AVRs have advanced video processing capabilities such as 4K/120Hz and 8K/60Hz resolution support, high dynamic range HDR (HDR10+, Dolby Vision), up to 8K scaling, and 3D pass-through. This provides stunning picture quality in addition to an enhanced audio system that will make you a popular welcoming host for your friends or a cool parent for your kids.
As your entertainment system evolves, you may find that your current receiver’s connection ports are running out of space. Upgrading your receiver will increase the number of HDMI inputs, USB ports, analog inputs, and other connectivity options to provide uncompromising connectivity for all your devices.
And yet the main emphasis should be HDMI because it supports video and audio formats. However, what kind depends on the version. If you are satisfied with the support of old video formats with 1080p resolution and Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD sound, version 1.3 is enough for you. But to support 4K and 8K video formats, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, 3D pass-through, and Dolby Atmos and DTS:X surround sound formats, look for an AV receiver with HDMI 2.1 (some budget models have at least one such connector).
Responsible disposal and reuse of old receivers
I would like to tell you about one more thing because I respect both old things that have served me a long life and the environment. So responsible disposal and recycling of old electronic devices is very important, also for the environment. Instead of just sending your old receiver to the attic or throwing it away, consider the following options to help you find a new use for it and keep it out of the landfill:
Reselling your old receiver – extending its life cycle
If your old receiver is still in good working condition, consider giving it a second life by selling it to someone who can take advantage of its capabilities. AV enthusiasts, thrifty buyers, or people looking for a starter system may find value in an old AV receiver. Online marketplaces such as eBay, Craigslist, or specialized audio equipment marketplaces are great places to find interested buyers.
Charity – spreading joy through music and entertainment
Another option for using an old receiver is to donate it to a charity or community center. Many schools, youth clubs, or community centers don’t have the funds to purchase new AV equipment, and your old receiver could be a valuable addition to their equipment.
By donating your receiver to a charitable organization, you will not only reduce electronic waste, but you will also bring joy and entertainment to those who would otherwise not have access to quality audio equipment.
Proper disposal – protecting the environment
If your old receiver is beyond repair or has reached the end of its useful life, it is important to dispose of it properly without regrets but with gratitude. If not disposed of properly, discarded electronic devices can be hazardous to the environment due to hazardous materials such as lead, mercury, and cadmium in them.
Many electronics retailers and recycling centers offer e-waste recycling services specifically designed to dispose of old electronic devices, including AV receivers. These centers are equipped to extract valuable components and materials for reuse while ensuring that hazardous substances are properly contained and disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.
In conclusion, I would again emphasize that you should change your AV receiver when necessary. And if you are sure that you vitally need at least one of the above aspects, feel free to start researching the issue. Most inexpensive devices have modern features; consider them. Choose a device with exactly what you will need in the coming years. And don’t forget that by taking steps to recycle your appliances consciously, you will positively impact society and the planet.