Q: I am finally moving into the world of 4K/UHD and Dolby Vision high dynamic range, and the choice of AVR seems more complicated than other elements. I am getting a TCL 55P607 TV and an Oppo UDP-203 UHD Blu-ray universal disc player. My current source devices include an Xbox One S, Chromecast, and Roku 3. My speakers include a pair of Pioneer SP-FS51-LR floorstanding speakers, a Pioneer SP-CS21 center speaker, and an Outlaw M8 subwoofer. I do not see any additional speakers in the future, nor do I need more than one zone.
My primary applications are radio, movies, and streaming from the Plex app on the Roku.
I currently have an Onkyo HT-RC360 AVR, which has served me well, but I’m not locked into Onkyo for my next purchase. Are there obvious choices for an AVR like there are for the TV and player?
– Eric Lay (fritowrdo)
A: You’re right, the choice of AV receiver is a bit more difficult than the TV and player. Why? Because many manufacturers don’t make it clear that their models pass Dolby Vision from a source device to the display out of the box, after a firmware update, or not at all. To help dispel the confusion, I posted a list of all Dolby Vision-compatible products here.
As you can see in the AVR section of that article, most models are awaiting a firmware update to add Dolby Vision passthrough. I recommend getting a model that provides this capability out of the box. There are a number of Onkyo models that do, along with models from Denon, Integra, Marantz, and Pioneer. Those companies also have models that are awaiting a firmware update, along with models from Anthem, Sony, and Yamaha.
All of these companies make fine AVRs. The main question is, what’s your budget? Once you define that, you can zero in on the models you can afford and that pass Dolby Vision. Here are the least-expensive models from each manufacturer that pass DV out of the box. These are list prices as best as I can determine:
Denon AVR-S730H: $349 (after discount on manufacturer website)
Integra DRX-2.1: $800
Marantz NR1508: $549
Onkyo TX-NR575: $399 (after discount on manufacturer website)
Pioneer VSX-832: $379
Of course, prices go up from there. Virtually all the DV-compatible models provide at least 7.2 channels, which is more than you need, at least for now. Also, most—if not all—of them have at least two zones, which you also don’t need. But you do need DV passthrough, so you’re going to have to pay for a few features you don’t need in order to get the one feature you do need.
Or perhaps not. The Onkyo TX-8270 and Integra DTM-7 are the only 2.1-channel receivers I know of that provide DV passthrough out of the box. The list price of the Onkyo is $499 (after discount on Onkyo’s website), while the Integra is $650. These models have only four HDMI inputs, but you don’t have more source devices than that. Also, you wouldn’t be able to use your center-channel speaker with them, though they do provide two subwoofer outputs.
The biggest problem with the TX-8270 and DTM-7 is that they would not allow you to easily expand your system. You say you don’t see any more speakers in your future, but you never know! Once you start upgrading your system to 4K/UHD and Dolby Vision, you might well want to experience true surround sound or even immersive sound, which these models can’t do. Plus, you might get more source devices, so it would be good to have more than four HDMI inputs. To be truly future-proof, I recommend getting one of the multichannel AVRs.
Speaking of source devices, I would consider replacing your Chromecast with a Chromecast Ultra, which supports 4K/UHD and Dolby Vision, and it’s only around $70. The TCL 55P607 has 4K/UHD Roku with Dolby Vision built in, so there’s no need to replace your Roku 3. In fact, you could dump it altogether, since the Roku in the TV can be loaded with the Plex app.
If you’ve got an AV question, please send it to AskTheEditors@01900888.com.