Surround Receivers

Big AV Receiver in a Small Room – Should You Buy One?

Shopping for an AV receiver can quickly become overwhelming. There are so many options out there. Plus, you have a small room (or plan for a small number of speakers). All the more expensive AV receiver options support many more speakers than you’ll ever use. Do you really need a “big” AV receiver for your small room? Let’s discuss!

The Power Isn’t About Room Size

We know that AV receiver manufacturers love to put WPC (watts per channel) front and center on their spec sheets. As the price of the receiver goes up, the WPC number invariably goes up as well. But, as we’ve said before, those wattage numbers are fairly meaningless. The difference in the number of watts doesn’t really equate to any more real-world volume.

Worrying About Unused Features

We’ve addressed before about economies of scale. AV receiver manufacturers want to capture as many customers as they can with their receiver offerings. This means they cram as many features as they can into every receiver they make at the different price points. No matter who you are, or how complicated your system is, you surely have some features on your AV receiver that you do not use. You can’t look at the capabilities of the AV receiver and look at all the unused features as a waste of money. You aren’t buying the receiver for the things it can do that you won’t use. You are buying it for what you need it to do. The fact that it can do more is immaterial.

Purchase Based on Features You Need

Our AV receiver checklist was designed to help you whittle down exactly the AV receiver you should buy. We do this by not worrying about what you won’t use, but by focusing on the features that are important to you. Your new “big” AV receiver may seem overkill for your small room because it can power more speakers than you’ll use, or have multiple zones, or support audio formats and DSPs you don’t care about, but that’s not what’s important. What is important is that it has features that you really care about and want to use.

Let’s look at it from another angle. If you have a huge home theater and need an AV receiver that can feed six overhead and seven floor-level speakers, you will need to buy one of the flagship models. Those receivers will also sport multiple zones of audio (and usually at least one extra zone with video). If you only plan on using that AV receiver in your home theater, is that AV receiver now “too big” for you? No! It has the feature you need (feeding enough speakers) and also comes with a lot of features you don’t.

Take Away

An AV receiver is not big or small, nor are they somehow priced based on the size of your room. An inexpensive AV receiver isn’t meant for a small room any more than an expensive one is meant for a large one. The price of an AV receiver is based solely on its capabilities. The more capable the AV receiver, the more it will cost. You could have a tiny room, but you’ll need an expensive AV receiver if you plan on shoehorning 13 speakers in there.

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