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That last part about bringing customers into the fold is an interesting aspect of the branded vivaldi audio trend, too. Getting someone who might not have previously been into home audio into a dealer to sit and listen to systems and spend all kinds of money is, understandably, a big lift. But getting someone interested in your brand's home audio offerings if they've already experienced it in their cars makes more sense. It's a conversion rate the companies can't really quantify, but they all seem to think it's a real thing.   
  
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The Onkyo TX-NR696 is the best AV home-theater receiver for those looking for a budget-ish option. This receiver was released in 2019 with a wealth of connectivity that supports multiple audio formats and gives a big, bold sound. It isn't the direct replacement to my favorite receiver of 2018, the  
  
The Yamaha RX-V6A is one of the few receiver models that has debuted since 2019 and, despite a couple of minor dings, offers excellent sound and up-to-date features. The Sony STR-DN1080 also puts in a good showing despite being from 2017. I have rated the Yamaha, Sony and Onkyo as "excellent," with just a little daylight separating their overall CNET ratings. They're all great performers and, as prices fluctuate regularly, if you can find one that's significantly less expensive than the others, go for it -- your speaker system will be well served in any case.  
  
The problem: You can set up a Google Home Routine to do just about anything, and for awhile the only way to trigger it was with a voice command. Then, finally, Google added home and away routines. Problem is there's only one home routine and one away routine, and that's the extent of location triggers. location triggers for pretty much any coordinates on the globe. So when you leave work, for example, or arrive at school, you can have Alexa execute a sequence of commands like adjusting your thermostat or turning on the lights.  
  
Hey, Boo Boo, can I get a different wake word? The problem: "OK, Google" just feels awkward and clumsy to me, and "Hey, Google" is no better. Don't even get me started on Google being the name of the device (Google Home Max), the AI (Google Assistant), the technology that powers the AI (Google search and services) and the company that owns it all (Google). Alexa lets you choose from several wake word options ("Amazon," "Computer," "Echo"). Why not Google?  
  
4K HDR compatibility You want to make sure your new receiver can keep up with the latest TVs and video gear. Standards do change all the time, but the bare minimum right now is support for HDR and Dolby Vision (at least HDMI version 2.0 or better). All of these models support 4K and HDR video. 8K is coming, eventually, but most recorded content is still going to be in 1080p or even worse for many, many years. If future-proofing is a concern for you, the Yamaha RX-V6A and Denon AVR-S960H offer 8K compatibility.   
  
You don't really need Dolby Atmos 'height' speakers Most receivers in the $500-and-above price range include support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, but the effects they have on your home theater movie-watching can be subtle, or in most movies nonexistent. In other words, don't worry about missing out on these formats if you don't install an extra height speaker or two. Mounting your rear surround speakers high on the wall will get you halfway there in terms of quality, immersive sound.  
  
Sarah Tew/CNET  
  
  
  
  
The Sony STR-DN1080 got our Editors' Choice Award in 2017, and it's still an excellent AV receiver package, albeit getting slightly long in the tooth. Sound quality isn't quite as strong as those of the Denon and Onkyo, but they're all very close. If you want a receiver that offers ease of use and integrates both AirPlay (but not AirPlay 2) and Google Chromecast built-in wireless streaming, this is a great AV receiver option. It even uses virtual speaker relocation technology to optimize sound in the room where you set it up. Don't pay full price, though -- it has been on sale in the past for between $400 and $500.  
  
Wi-Fi music streaming Most midrange receivers have onboard Wi-Fi network connectivity for wireless music streaming through your speaker system. There are plenty of standards for wireless streaming services, but the most universal are Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay 1 and 2 and Google Chromecast built-in. If you're looking to build a multiroom system with a variety of AV systems and speakers with wireless connectivity, these are the three flavors to aim for. The Onkyo and Sony are the only two devices that support all three. The Denon receiver model lacks wireless streaming via Chromecast but ups the ante to AirPlay 2 and the proprietary HEOS system. Yamaha has its own MusicCast in the meantime.

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