Google’s Nexus Q – AirPlay & Apple TV competitor?

Back of Nexus Q. The front is solid black orbAirPlay landed with a splash and continues to dominate the in-home streaming discussion despite bluetooth having been around for much longer. There have been speakers and docks but as for well designed audio amplifiers that allow you to BYOS (bring your own speakers), there has been no one. Enter Google and the Nexus Q.

This little deivce has an Apple like design quality without the white. It’s a simple design,streams audio and video via bluetooth and can power a modest pair of speakers of YOUR choice. The great thing here is there are many great sounding speakers out there you can hook up to this deivce. Don’t want to hook up speakers? No problem. Just hook it up to your current audio setup and you’re good to go.

Ease of Use

The key factor is except for the simple dial the top of the unit acts as, the entire experience is controled from your android device, your phone or tablet. At $299 it’s a bit pricy but still a good deal given the simplicity and incredible design. See it here.

Onkyo AirPlay Home Theater Receivers

Onkyo has 4 receivers in their regular line that are AirPlay compatible. All are well worth considering. In audiophile circles these are often considered a notch below the Denon receivers however, what they may every so slightly lack in sound they make up for in ease of use. In general, most folks well never hear the difference, really. But you will notice the difference in the day to day use of product. Especially in user interface with AirPlay. We left off the last receiver in the line in this chart because it does not have wireless capability.

How to choose an Onkyo AirPlay compatible Receiver

First and foremost you should almost NEVER purchase a receiver based upon the stated wattage. The difference between the wattage here are tiny. The main reason to choose one receiver over another form most brands, including Onkyo is the number and configuration of hte Zones. In simple terms this means how many different sources (CD, Radio, Internet) you can play back at one time.

Zones in Onkyo AirPlay Compatible Recievers

For instance the NR616 offers the most flexible solution with two zones that are powered and one that is a line out, meaning you’ll need another amp to power it. The NR515 only had 2 zones but you can use a line out for the second zone if you’d like. The NR414 however only offers one powered zone, meaning you’d need a separate amplifier to play music through the second zone.

Our choice would be the NR515.

Power Output (per channel)
115 W
100 W
80 W
Apple AirPlay
Channels
7.2
7.2
5.1
THX Certified
Select2 Plus
3D-ready: HDMI In/Out
7+1/2
7+1/2
6/1
Surround Sound Formats
Audyssey DSX,
Dolby Pro Logic IIz, Dolby TueHD,
DTS-HD Master Audio
Dolby Pro Logic IIz, Dolby TueHD,
DTS-HD Master Audio
Dolby TueHD,
DTS-HD Master Audio
Audyssey Room Calibration
2EQ
2EQ
Cloud Audio Streaming
Internet Radio
Remote App for iPhone /
Android / Kindle Fire
Video Upconversion (Analog to HDMI)
InstaPrevue Technology
Multi-Zone Playback
Powered Zone 2, Zone 2/3 Line Outs
Powered Zone 2, Zone 2 Line Out
Zone 2 Line Out
Hybrid Standby Energy Saving State
On-Screen Display via HDMI
1080p
1080p
Text
USB Ports
2 (Front/Rear)
2 (Front/Rear)
1 (Front)
Wireless Ready

New AirPlay Receivers from Denon Starting at $399.99

Denon - AVR-1613 Home Theater Receiver Product ShotDenon has broken the $400 for an AirPlay compatible home theater receiver. (the Denon AVR-1613) With 75 watts per channel this 5.1 receiver includes 3D pass-through and 5 HDMI in. It even includes an HDMI port on the front of the unit. This does not seem important until your think about all the other HDMI devices you might want to get on your big screen like your phone, tablet, camera and video camera. Of course AirPlay will let you play all your favorite iTunes musics directly from iTunes or your AirPlay compatible Apple device. The unit also includes streaming Internet radio and Pandora. The up front USB port also lets you plug in your iPod or other non AirPlay devices.

Key features include

  • Fully discrete power amplifiers for all 5 channels (120 W x 5 ch, 6ohm 1kHz 0.7%).
  • 3D pass-through technology Enjoy 3D video entertainment with dynamic surround sound.
  • 5 x HDMI in / 1 x HDMI out Lets you connect your HDMI-equipped devices with a single cable. Enjoy high definition audio and video.
  • Front Panel HDMI Input Provides an easy connection for quick hookup and playback of your HDMI-equipped portable devices.
  • AirPlay Stream music from your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch or from your iTunes music library.

You can get the Denon AVR-1613 for $399.99 at Amazon (currently on pre-order)

Should you Buy a HTiB because of AirPlay?

YamahaFor those who don’t want to think about having to match speakers with a separate receiver you’re certainly considering a home theater in a box. Though many will scoff at the idea as less than optimal, it can be a real time and money saver. Many folks cannot hear the difference between high end equipment and HTiB’s. But, there are many who can.

What will you loose with these systems? Not much, but those with other high end systems in the house will likely notice the difference, especially in the speakers. Everyone else will likely love these systems, especially if you’re mostly watching movies.

Airplay compatible
Of course these affordable home theater systems include AirPlay compatibility which means those with iPhones and touches will be thrilled that they can send their favorite music or internet radio station directly to the system. No video still but that is a feature lacking in AirPlay, not a drawback of the systems. Another neat feature is the compressed music enhancer which could help your Pandora or Slacker radio sound better. Nice.

DLNA too!
For those not inclined to use AirPlay or living in a dual OS household with Android devices, these receivers also include connectivity for DLNA.

These new Yamaha models include some pretty spiffy features including Dolby TrueHD and the ability to transfer 3D video signals. The models include the YHT-897BL ($850 suggested retail), YHT-797BL ($800), YHT-597BL ($650), which will ship in May, and the YHT-497BL ($480) and YHT-397BL ($450), which are available this month.

Save $100 Now – Yamaha YHT-897 5.1-Channel Network Home Theater System00 Now Yamaha YHT-897

On a slimer budget? AT only $429, consider the Yamaha YHT-497 5.1-Channel Home Theater System

Via Yamaha Unveils AirPlay-Ready HTiB Systems – 2012-04-09 18:02:46 | TWICE

Recommended AirPlay Reciever for Under $400


So for full disclosure, I did work for Denon in a past life. I’ve also owned some Pioneer receivers. We’re approaching the time of year when receivers go on sale and this year is no different. The first salvo comes in the form of the Pioneer VSX-1021-K 7.1 Home Theater Receiver  selling for $399 (normally $549)  on Amazon. This receiver really rocks. In addition to having AirPlay it boasts a very easy to use interface and DLNA, which the Denon receivers do not have. The app for the Pioneer also works much better than the current Denon app, which is very challenged. Please note that there are some third party apps you can get for the Denon that blow away almost all other remote apps for as little as  $5. But they don’t come with the receiver.

Setup

The Pioneer also has setup videos and other very sophisticated setup tools in their iPhone and iPad apps that the Denon just cannot compete with. At $499, it’s a steal.

Check out the videos on Amazon that highlight some of the cool feature of this receiver.

2012 AirPlay & Network Receiver Predictions

AirPlay was all the news in audio receivers last year. Every major brand had at least one unit in their lineup that included AirPlay. Expect to see more wireless connectivity this year. Not only will receiver companies cut the cord with more AirPlay models but expect more built-in bluetooth and DLNA. Though the older but less understood cousin of AirPlay, DLNA is just as functional and in most cases works just as easily as AirPlay. Unfortunately it is not compatible with Apple devices so those of us with dual OS homes will have to hope for receivers with both DLNA and AirPlay.

Denon Adds Online Store

You can now purchase Denon products directly from Denon in the US at http://usa.denon.com

Why would you want to purchase direclty from Denon?

Pricing – Nope, although Denon controls their pricing and you have to pay the same price from all authorized dealers, the price on their website is List Price. Same as what you’ll pay anywhere else

Shipping – For the moment they are offering free shipping

Perks – Right now they are sending free hats with every purchase. OK, cool but not a reason to buy from them.

Bottom line – Buying from the manufacturer direct is a good deal IF they offer the same support as a dealer. You will need to pay tax if you are in NJ, NY, CA or IN Since Denon has offices in those states.

Denon is not known for great customer support so you have to consider this when purchasing.

Buy from Amazon –  You can of course get the free shipping, no tax and the full support of purchase from Amazon

Yamaha RX-671AV Receiver with DLNA, Pandora

No AirPlay but the Yamaha RX-V671  AV Receiverhas built in DLNA and has Rhapsody, Napster (paid services) and Pandora (free Internet Radio built in, plus it gets 5 stars from 10 reviews on Amazon.

When it comes to DLNA vs AirPlay it all depends on how you buy and store your music. If you’re an Android phone user that gets their music on CD, Amazon or other source than AirPlay means nothing to you. You could also add an Apple TV to your setup if you’d like and still get AirPlay.

Sound and Interface
When it comes to choosing a receiver with streaming technology what you really want is a choice of music services and high quality sound. You also want an interface that is easy to use. Yamaha gets great ratings in this area, maybe a little better than the Denon and Onkyo but not by much.

Best Feature & Bottom Line
One cool feature this receiver has is a Front panel HDMI port. This is something we’d like to see all receiver manufacturers include. With DLNA giving you access to your library of tunes on your PC you might not care that this unit is not AirPlay compatible

Search for Yamaha Network AV Receivers

Onkyo Receivers With Internet Radio

HT-RC370- 7.2-Channel Network A/V ReceiverNo Airplay compatibility here, but these two new receivers from Onkyo do sport Network Compatibility and deliver Internet Radio and Network Streaming. The HT-RC360 ($549) and the HT-RC370 ($849) have skipped the AirPlay and went straight to Spotify, a pay service that just landed in the US.
No AirPlay but iPod & Android App Available
Onkyo has an app for that. The app lets  you control  your Internet ready Onkyo receiver as well as it many on-board features including Spotify and Pandora.
For those of you who could care less about AirPlay but want all the happiness  you get from controlling an Internet enabled 7.1 surround receiver from you mobile phone or iPad, these units may be for you.

Slacker Radio AirPlay Compatible

Slacker with AirPlay iconSlacker Radio, one of my favorites, is of course AirPlay Compatible. Since my receivers all have Pandora on them but not Slacker, I used the apps connection to play externally.

It did however take a few minutes to find out how to connect it to myDenon AVR-1912A/V Home Theater Receiver. It was pretty easy once I contacted Slacker through chat. You can see the red circle in the image on the left to indicate that AirPlay is off. If you touch it, it gives you a choice of active components to choose from.

From the Denon side you need to be in Net/USB mode and have nothing else playing through that zone. It takes a second or two but will then start playing. Technology is wonderful!