What’s the Benefit of Getting the Newest Generation of Receivers or Processors, and Do I Really Need It? | Arendal Sound

What’s the Benefit of Getting the Newest Generation of Receivers or Processors, and Do I Really Need It?

June 14, 2024

As always: It depends!

The main benefit of getting the newest generation of receivers is that you’ll have the latest and greatest in terms of features and technology. The drawbacks may include cost, stability, and early adopter issues. This article will take a look at both sides and help you determine if you really need the latest and greatest, or if getting the previous generation will serve your needs.

Benefits of getting the latest and greatest

The newest receivers will have support for the latest HDMI standards, surround codecs, and HDR formats. If you use your system for gaming, having HDMI 2.1 support is great, as it allows for high refresh-rate playback, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), and eARC to mention a few. eARC (Enhanced audio return channel) is another great feature that comes with HDMI 2.1 which is great for movie-watchers. eARC allows for uncompressed audio and surround formats (such as Dolby Atmos) to be sent from the TV/projector back to the receiver. On previous versions of ARC, this would be compressed and not be lossless due to bandwidth limitations.

Longevity is also a strong point for getting the newest generation: They might be a little more pricy, but the newest generation will most likely receive updates and support for longer than older generations.

Another new feature that is becoming more common, is the ability to turn off amplifier sections if you use a separate amplifier, basically using the receiver as a processor for the respective channels. This is beneficial, as it frees up power for other channels, as well as greatly lowers distortion as opposed to if it was left powered.

Room correction is also an aspect that keeps evolving. By getting the newest model, you ensure that you’re getting the latest version of that respective version, which likely has improvements over previous generations. Newer models also tend to have support for the calibration of multiple independent subwoofers, which is really important for a smooth bass response.

Benefits of getting an older generation

The main benefit will of course be cost, as older generations are cheaper when they leave the shelves for good, or especially on the second-hand market. Another benefit is that you won’t have any early adopter issues. One example is the first few receivers that featured HDMI 2.1: Some of them had bugs with the HDMI chips, that led to a black screen when trying to display certain types of content. Getting an older “tried and true” model will likely not have these kinds of issues, as they’re ironed out over time.

Are all the features really necessary?

One important question you should ask yourself is: Are the new features really something I’ll use? If your TV or Projector doesn’t support HDMI 2.1, you won’t be able to take advantage of those features without upgrading other parts of your system. If you only plan on powering your speakers with the built-in amplification on your receiver, you won’t really need the option to disable amplifier channels. The same goes for subwoofer outputs: If you’re in a small room and can only fit 1 subwoofer, it probably doesn’t make sense to choose “the latest and greatest” just because it has 4 subwoofer outputs.

So which one do I get?

As stated in the beginning: It depends! The “buy once, cry once” mentality usually saves money in the long run, but if you know you’re going to upgrade again in the near future, it might make more sense to get an older generation. If you do end up buying second-hand, we don’t recommend buying receivers or processors older than 4-5 years, as electronics like this will have a limited lifetime. Amplifiers will usually last quite a bit longer and is normally possible to service if components start going bad due to age.