AV receivers can make or break home entertainment systems, either supporting crisp visuals and high-fidelity audio, or miring the entire setup in muddy visuals and lo-fi music. If you want your home entertainment experience to be more than just "good enough," you need to properly configure your AV receiver to get the best performance possible.
If you're looking for some quick and easy ways to improve the sound and video quality at home, consider these four tips for enhancing AV receiver performance:
1. Turn off Eco mode
At full strength, AV receivers can consume a lot of power, putting a strain on users' energy bills. To ease those frustrations, many manufacturers release their AV receivers with an economy power mode already enabled. "Eco mode" can drastically reduce the amount of energy an AV receiver consumes when it sits in standby mode, helping users keep their bills low. The downside to any Eco mode is the noticeable dip in audio quality, as it can limit volume levels and dampen performance in the name of energy conservation.
Moreover, network connectivity is typically turned off during Eco mode, preventing you from taking advantage of any internet-based control devices.
2. Keep DRC in check
Another common preset configuration to watch out for, Dynamic Range Compression (DRC) can be incredibly useful when employed in the right circumstances. For instance, it can prevent movie dialogue from getting buried underneath a wall of sound during an especially action-packed sequence. If you like to watch movies late at night, DRC can bring both loud and soft sounds to the forefront without waking the neighbors.
However, leaving DRC enabled all the time could hurt the audio experience when listening to albums or soundtracks that use dynamic changes in sound for dramatic effect. All of the tension created from the push and pull of soft and loud dynamics would be completely lost, resulting in an audio performance that falls flat.
3. Go beyond stereo
Manufacturers want to provide their customers with the best audio or cinematic experience right out of the box with a minimum of fuss. As such, even some of the most sophisticated AV receivers often get set up with stereo sound enabled. Using standard stereo when advanced decoding algorithms like DTS:X and Auro-3D are available is like taking a Maserati out for a drive on a backcountry road and leaving it in first gear the whole time. Don’t be intimidated to play around with your settings based on what you’re watching or listening to. It’s a sonic miss otherwise.
4. Calibrate your system
The more complex your home theater system is, the more important it is that each component works together to create a harmonious audio experience. Various factors could impact the quality of your sound, from the size and type of speakers used to the location of your equipment.
Properly calibrating your home theater system will ensure that each speaker and subwoofer is precisely set up to provide optimal audio quality. In theory, you could do this manually. However, it would be a time-consuming process, and any misstep will impact your audio performance. Luckily, many AV receivers come equipped with auto calibration features to remove all of the guesswork.
If there's a recurring theme here, it's that preset AV receiver configurations can be a detriment to your home theater system if used all the time. By pairing the right settings to the right situations, you can get the best performance out of your Denon equipment.