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Tech Showcase: The Latest AV Receivers 2021

A look at some of the newest features in these home theater essentials.

Like all other home theater components, AV receivers are in high demand. As the brains of the AV system, it is important to find a model that is future-ready, supporting all the current surround formats and the latest video technology. Many AVR manufacturers have taken to upgrading their existing models with new features to keep them up to date.

Here is a look at some of the more recent entries and updates in this product category.

Denon AV Receiver

Denon and Marantz Add HDMI 2.1 8K Upgrades to Flagship Models

Sound United has announced two new factory-upgraded versions of the Denon AVR-X8500H and Marantz AV8805 flagship AV components and an upgrade program for existing owners of the two flagship models. The two new units, dubbed the Denon AVR-X8500H “A” and Marantz AV8805 “A,” include 8K/60 Hz upscaling and pass-through, 4K/120 Hz pass-through, HDR10+, Dynamic HDR, and HDCP 2.3, as well as other HDMI 2.1 technologies. The factory-upgraded Denon and Marantz units will gradually replace all existing Denon AVR-X8500H and Marantz AV8805 units. The Denon AVR-X8500HA will retail for US $4299, and the Marantz AV8805A at $4799.

In addition to this, and in accordance with Denon and Marantz’s history of customer support, current owners of the Denon AVR-X8500H and Marantz AV8805 will have the opportunity to upgrade the HDMI/Digital board within their units to obtain the same features as the “A” components. The upgrade requires a hardware modification at a Denon and Marantz certified Service Center. This can be arranged on request by contacting Denon or Marantz directly via the Denon Site, and Marantz Site for US$599 or CA$749.

Yamaha Aventage AV Receiver

Yamaha AVENTAGE AV Receivers

The RX-A8A, RX-A6A and RX-A4A, offering 11-, 9-, and 7-channels, respectively, join the all-new Yamaha AVENTAGE lineup. The three new AVENTAGE models will offer a number of HDMI 2.1 inputs supporting 8K60/4K120, with seven inputs on each.

Each new model provides stability against vibrations via the signature AVENTAGE “fifth foot.” This Anti-Resonance Technology wedge has been further analyzed and developed for even more efficient dispersion of chassis vibration in the three new models, placing the fifth foot near the front center of each unit’s base to bring the sound image closer to the listener.

The new AVENTAGE AV receivers have both the processing power and flexibility to re-create clear audio and visual experiences for movies and gaming. This includes 8K/60, 4K/120, 4K/60, HDMI 2.1, and HDR10+ to usher in a new era of dynamic displays.

These new AVENTAGE models include support for the latest HDMI technology, with seven inputs and three outputs in each model supporting 8K60/4K120. This HDMI 2.1 compatibility provides faster, smoother, and uninterrupted entertainment and gameplay with auto low latency mode (ALLM), variable refresh rates (VRR), quick frame transport (QFT), and quick media switching (QMS).

Snap One Mini

Snap One Episode Mini 5.1 AVR

Snap One’s Episode Mini 5.1 AVR is its first small form factor Episode AVR specifically designed for rooms where space is limited. Small enough to fit behind a TV in a Strong Versabox, the Mini 5.1 AVR offers integrators an unobtrusive surround sound solution that delivers plenty of power for bedrooms, dens, basements, and other smaller rooms, including existing TV spaces.

Ideally suited for upgrading existing TV rooms, the Mini AVR 5.1 is a fully featured audio/video receiver that connects with virtually any speakers, including Episode soundbars and Signature by Episode speakers, to offer a fully immersive surround sound experience. Featuring support for 3D, 4K, and D color content, the AVR includes three HDMI 2.0 inputs and an HDMI ARC in/out, a 3.5mm analog/optical input combo jack, a built-in Bluetooth receiver for wireless music streaming, and a subwoofer LFE out port. It also includes support for HDR content, with 4K30/10-bit and 4K60/8-bit playback.

JBL AV Receiver


JBL Synthesis’ latest AVR and AV preamplifier models already include high-resolution HDMI 2.0 4K UHD switching capability. Now, JBL Synthesis has announced that the current SDR-35 and SDP-55 models in the range will be upgradable to HDMI 2.1 in Q4 of 2021. Additionally, ARCAM’s latest AVR models also include HDMI 2.0 4K UHD switching capability, and now all the current models in the range — AVR10, AVR20, AVR30, and AV40 — will be upgradable to HDMI 2.1 in Q4 of 2021.

For each of these products, a new HDMI 2.1 video board that can be retrofitted into all current models was developed. The installation of the new video board can be done by any authorized JBL Synthesis or ARCAM service center. After conversion, these AVRs will feature HDMI 2.1 capability on all inputs and outputs.

StormAudio AV Receiver

StormAudio Releases New Firmware

Immersive Audio Technologies has announced that StormAudio’s new Firmware 4.1 is available for download from the company’s website — For all ISP MK2 owners, this software will automatically unlock DTS:X Pro decoding up to 24 discrete channels, including multiple side surround speakers. This new update also brings to the whole ISP family a completely rewritten and optimized Expert Bass Management that enables the creation of different bass routes in a room. Owners of ISP Digital AES/EBU (MK1 and MK2) will also now be able to choose and assign the type of output for each individual channel.

DTS:X Pro is now available on StormAudio ISP MK2, decoding up to 24 discrete channels, with the ability to go up to 32 channels on the same hardware in the future. For DTS:X Pro, the DTS Neural:X upmixer and remapping engine has been re-designed to take full advantage of the higher channel count, identifying the channels encoded in the bitstream and comparing it to the user-selected speaker layout to intelligently upmix to address all available speakers. This upmixed content is then mixed with the rendered objects for immersive playback.