Do AV Receiver Brands Sound Different?
There are long-standing claims that certain AV receiver brands have a different “sound” than others. Some insist that is an old wives’ tale while others swear it is true. Is there any truth behind the claims? Should you shop any differently? What’s the deal? Let’s discuss!
Modern AV Receivers
If you are shopping for a modern AV receiver, you don’t need to worry that one brand will sound significantly different than any other. All the amplifier sections are very uniform and will not color the sound. The only real sonic difference you may notice will come from your room correction or choice of upmixing. But, as we discussed previously, all the room correction programs on the market can be made to sound the same or tuned to your preference.
But I Upgraded and Heard a Difference!
That’s certainly possible. There are many psychological reasons why you might have noticed a difference, but let’s put them aside for a moment. Let’s assume that not only did you hear a difference between the sound of your old AV receiver and the new one, but there really IS a measurable difference. Why might that be?
If you haven’t upgraded in a very long time (a not uncommon occurrence), your old AV receiver might not have as linear a response. This means that your older AV receiver truly does have a unique sound! Your new one was designed to sound as flat (meaning it doesn’t color the sound) as possible. If you liked how your old AV receiver sounded, you can recreate that by adjusting the EQ on your room correction.
Tone Controls and Other Tweaks
It’s funny how human memory works. Some things stick forever and other memories almost immediately fade away. If you’ve owned your AV receiver for a long time, chances are you’ve made some adjustments. You probably remember many of them, but not all. Any of those changes could have made a difference in the sound that wouldn’t be immediately replicated by your new AV receiver.
Comparing two different AV receiver brands for sound quality is a difficult proposition. One of the harder things to do is to make sure you are comparing them at the same volume. If your older AV receiver had an absolute volume scale and your new one uses a relative scale, it can be near impossible. Different volumes mean that you’ll have very different experiences.
Of course, we’d be remiss not to mention room correction. Your older AV receiver surely had a less powerful room correction system (if it had one at all). Add to that features like curves of equal loudness and you have the recipe for a very different sonic experience. Room correction may seem like it killed the bass in your room. Heck, it can sometimes do little to nothing good and actually make things sound worse.
Apples to Apples
If we were to pit different AV receiver brands against each other (and we do), you’d find that they sound more alike than different. More than anything, you should shop for a receiver based on its features and price rather than any notion that it will “sound” different.