AV Receivers

For the few who own a receiver, they will be happy to know receivers are incredibly easy to integrate into the smart home.

: Denon.jp
Categories > Media > Home Theater > Home Automation
Competitors in this space: Onkyo, Pioneer, Sony, Denon, Yamaha, Marantz
July 24, 2019: Review: The Sony STR-DN1080 is capable, compatible with Home Assistant, and still sold at retailers today. I would get one if I needed it.

I’ve personally tested the following:

VSX-1131 (2016) TX-NR509 (2011) Denon AVR-3808CI (2007)
Marantz M-CR510 (2013)
STR-DN1080 (2017)

What you need to know

These days, most people don’t own AV receivers and the massive speakers that accompany them. They are bulky and tend to dominate the living room space, so I usually recommend customers invest in a good sound bar for home theater quality sound. If you still want or already have a receiver, then you might as well integrate it with the rest of the smart home. Luckily, the latest AV receivers are easy to integrate into Home Assistant! Every network-enabled AV receiver I’ve tested is supported by Home Assistant, making it an easy recommendation.

There aren’t many AV receiver brands out there, which is good because the remaining few are supported by Home Assistant. There is a compatibility list for some integrations, like Denon, but the only way to find out if a specific model works with Home Assistant is to try it yourself.

If the AV receiver doesn’t have network capabilities, then a universal remote like the Logitech Harmony can achieve some integration but lacks features like state awareness (i.e. knowing if a device is on or off).

Voice control of the AV receiver is possible with Home Assistant Cloud and Google Assistant or Alexa, but is unnecessary as the HDMI-CEC technology can handle powering on and changing AV receiver inputs.

A friend recently asked for AV receiver recommendations, which made me realize how easy it is to buy the wrong AV receiver and cables. From my experience, there are several considerations before buying an AV receiver and HDMI cables:

Considerations before buying an AV receiver

  • Find a receiver with at least FOUR HDCP 2.2 ports, which is necessary for outputting 4K video at 60 frames-per-second. Not all HDMI ports on the receiver are HDCP 2.2. compatible, even the expensive AV receivers like the Pioneer receiver I reviewed.
  • The receiver and TV should support HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) or eARC, which allows the TV to send audio to the soundbar or AV receiver with a single HDMI cable. This is important if you want both surround sound support when using the TV’s smart apps and a single HDMI cable to handle audio. The alternative is to connect the TV and receiver via optical input.
  • The AV receiver and TV should support HDMI-CEC, also known as Samsung Anynet+, LG SimpLink, and Sony Bravia Sync. CEC lets devices control the TV and AV receiver inputs automatically. It also allows the TV to automatically turn on the AV receiver.
  • HDMI cables must be rated at 18gbps to support 4K resolution at 60 frames-per-second. The most common HDMI cables are 10gbps, which is not true 4K. HDMI cables that will be going inside the wall must be rated as CL2 to CL3. It’s a safety thing.
  • Check the Home Assistant Component page to see if your brand AVR is supported.

What you get with a network-enabled AV receiver

  • Get rid of remotes since HDMI ARC, CEC can turn on the TV and change inputs for you.
  • Universal remote control of the media center in Home Assistant.
  • More specific automations (if Chromecast Audio is playing, then turn on the receiver).

The Sony STR-DN1080, the current receiver to beat. | Sony

Sony STR-DN1080

To be succinct, anyone in the market for a high-end AV receiver should check out the Sony STR-DN1080, which regularly goes on sale for as low as $300. It has all the newest features necessary for a complete home theater setup: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, 6 HDMI ports supporting HDCP 2.2 (for 4K/HDR/60FPS content), but also supports new and useful technologies like eARC and HDMI-CEC (read this article for an overview) to reduce the number of remotes and cables.

On the home automation side, the STR-DN1080 includes bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Spotify Connect, Airplay and Chromecast Built-In. That means you get multi-room audio with Chromecast, casting music to the receiver from any mobile device, and full media player control in Home Assistant, allowing for a more intelligent remote control setup.

The Problems

I haven’t personally tested the receiver for long, so I can’t comment on reliability, but Slickdeals forum members in this post have nothing but constant praise for the receiver.

However, most devices will have one or two issues with the HDMI-CEC implementation, so it’s important to test the receiver with your TV and connected devices. On another receiver, I had issues where my gaming PC would constantly power on due to the AV receiver constantly sending CEC messages to turn on the PC.

Installation and Smart Home Integration

I’m happy to say that setup with Home Assistant is easy and full media player functionality is supported. Using the Sony Songpal component requires setting up a static IP address for the receiver and entering that information in the Home Assistant configuration.

All media player functions in Home Assistant are supported, including: remote power on/off, volume and input changes. State changes are instantly reflected in Home Assistant–that’s not useful to most people, but helpful for me when checking the dashboard to see if the receiver is still powered on.

Home Assistant: Great
Easy to set up. Instant status, full media control.
Voice: Average
Works through Sony>>HA>>Google Assistant. Basic commands work but not necessary with HDMI-CEC.
SmartThings: None
Integration does not exist.
Songpal App: Average
Basic controls. Music streaming is provided using Chromecast Built-in.

An Onkyo receiver. | Onkyo

Onkyo Receivers

My 2011 Onkyo TX-NR509 receiver is an ancient relic, but surprisingly, it is fully compatible with Home Assistant. Thanks to those folks who reverse-engineered Onkyo’s API and the lack of updates from Onkyo, the receiver correctly reports the power and input state instantly in Home Assistant, and I can remotely turn on change inputs within the UI. Installation is a breeze—type the receiver’s IP address into the Home Assistant configuration and you’re basically done.

Installation and Smart Home Integration

In the AV receiver settings, be sure to turn off any power saving mode, and enable network standby option. This is necessary for Home Assistant to remotely turn on the receiver.

Home Assistant: Great
Easy to set up. Instant status, full media control.
Voice: Average
Works through Onkyo>>HA>>Google Assistant. Basic commands work but not necessary with HDMI-CEC.
SmartThings: None
Integration does not exist.
Onkyo App: Average
Basic controls. Hasn't been updated in years. Some network functionality (Spotify/Onkyo integration) no longer works.

A Pioneer receiver. | Pioneer

Pioneer Receivers

As of 2014, Pioneer and Onkyo are effectively the same company! I tested the 2016 Pioneer VSX-1131 receiver and found out that it uses the Onkyo Component in Home Assistant, and thus provides full media control and responds instantly, just like my Onkyo receiver. Another plus is that this receiver can be powered on over Wi-Fi, which is not always true for every receiver.

Installation and Smart Home Integration

In the AV receiver settings, be sure to turn off any power saving mode, and enable network standby option. This is necessary for Home Assistant to remotely turn on the receiver.

Pioneer’s installation and smart home integration are exactly the same as the Onkyo integration, so please read that section for details.

The Denon AVR-3808CI receiver. | Crutchfield

Denon Receivers

I tested the Denon AVR-3808CI receiver (2007) which is due to it age, doesn’t perform well as an integrated receiver in the smart home. It barely works with Home Assistant. I wouldn’t knock Denon for not supporting a decade-old receiver–in fact, the new line of Denon HEOS AV receivers support Home Assistant, and Denon HEOS lead architect is actively working with Home Assistant developers to integrate more features. I’m mainly reviewing this receiver for completion’s sake.

The Problems

The official Denon mobile app no longer supports this receiver, though unofficial apps like AVR-Remote provide some functionality. I rarelly use mobile apps anyways–what really matters is HDMI-CEC, HDMI ARC, and Home Assistant integration, which this receiver has limited support.

Installation and Smart Home Integration

To no one’s surprise, Home Assistant integration with this decade-old receiver hardly works. There are two Denon components for Home Assistant: denon and denonavr. From my initial testing, only the denon component works with the AVR3808-CI receiver.

Home Assistant can remotely power off, change volume and inputs on the Denon receiver, but that’s about it. You cannot remotely power on the receiver from the mobile app or Home Assistant. Changing inputs take a few attempts to work. Status updates such as power and input status are reflected in Home Assistant, but may take a few seconds to update. I would forget about creating any automations with the receiver and focus on getting HDMI-CEC to work properly because that is all the receiver can do reliably from a smart home perspective..

With limited functionality in Home Assistant, voice assistant capabilities are also useless here.

Home Assistant: Poor
Only a few commands (power off, volume, change input) work.
Voice: Poor
Works through Denon>>HA>>Google Assistant. Commands limited to what is supported in HA.
SmartThings: None
Integration does not exist.
Denon App: Poor
The official mobile app does not support this receiver, but the app AVR-Remote does.

Marantz Receivers

I tested the Marantz M-CR510 (2013) network receiver, which uses the same Home Assistant component as some Denon receivers and supports the basic functions for home automation (remotely power on/off, change inputs and volume). If you can find a used one for cheap, the Marantz M-CR510 has enough features–like Spotify Connect, Apple Airplay, and Home Assistant support–to be useful in today’s smart home, though I’d rather find a new receiver that supports Chromecast or Airplay2 in order to use multi-room audio. I wished that this receiver could power a Chromecast Audio through the receiver’s two USB ports, but the ports work only when the receiver is on.

The Problems

To support multi-room audio, I added a Chromecast Audio, which takes up one of the two available audio inputs. A Home Assistant automation can remotely turn on the receiver when the music starts playing on the Chromecas to make music playback a seamless experience. The USB ports on the receiver cannot power any devices unless the receiver is turned on, so the Chromecast Audio is powered up by another device.

The M-CR510 isn’t that old (2013), but the Wi-Fi it supports is 802.11g, which is a legacy standard and may slow down other wireless devices on your network. According to this post The performance impact may be minimal as long as you do not use the receiver to stream music directly, but it’s better to use ethernet if available.

For Apple users, Airplay is supported but not Airplay 2, which means no official multiroom audio support. I can’t blame Marantz since the Airplay 2 standard wasn’t released until 2017. To get multi-room audio with Apple devices, you need an intermediary device, like an Airport Express connected to the receiver.

The official Marantz mobile app still works on the latest Android OS, but it is such an ugly and cumbersome interface that its better not to use the app.

Installation and Smart Home Integration

The M-CR510 works with Home Assistant through the denonavr component. To remotely turn on the receiver with Home Assistant, the ‘Auto-standby’ feature needs to be enabled in the receiver’s settings. Power, volume control and input select work in Home Assistant. State updates in Home Assistant aren’t instant, but take no more than five seconds.

Home Assistant: Good
Power on, volume control, change input works, with a few seconds delay in state updates.
Voice: Okay
Works through Marantz>>HA>>Google Assistant.
SmartThings: None
Integration does not exist.
Marantz App: Okay
It works and is sufficient, but hasn't been updated in years.

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