Best AV Gear of 2019 (So Far)

Best AV Gear of 2019 (So Far)

As spring gets underway, it’s the perfect time to stop and smell the AV roses and reassess the best gear we’ve laid our hands on so far this year — all recipients of Sound & Vision’s prestigious Top Pick designation. From a $179 wireless smart speaker and value-packed surround-sound speaker system that can be had for $1,500 to a $35,000 projector that may well put your local movie theater to shame, there’s something for everyone. We’ll be posting our monthly recap of Top Picks in just a few days, so here we present only products that made the cut through the end of February. For a deeper dive into our list of recommended AV products, click here.

SVS Prime Wireless Speaker System: $600

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value

SVS may be late to the wireless speaker party but the company known for delivering great sound at reasonable prices has made its presence known with the Prime Wireless. The powerful dual-speaker system delivers audiophile-caliber sound, uncompromised connectivity, and a wealth of streaming options — including Bluetooth/aptX and DTS Play-Fi support — in a stylish package that won’t break the bank. Reviewer Rob Sabin praised the system for having a near-perfect frequency balance down to its low-end limit: “As long as you don’t push it harder than you would any small speaker of its size, it does everything right.”

AT A GLANCE

Plus

Neutral, open sound
DTS Play-Fi hi-res and multiroom options
Extensive wired and wireless connectivity
Dedicated subwoofer out

Minus

Limited bass output begs for a subwoofer

Full Review Here

Onkyo TX-NR787 9.2-Channel Network AV Receiver: $699

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value

Onkyo has outdone itself with a versatile nine-channel AVR that delivers an impressive blend of performance and features at a price that all but assured its status as a Sound & Vision Top Value Pick. With ample processing power to accommodate a DTS:X or Dolby Atmos 7.1.2 setup, the TX-NR787 is capable of delivering impressively rich, powerful sound in rooms as big as 2,000 square feet as confirmed by its THX Select certification. Its robust feature set, which includes ready access to a wealth of wireless streaming options and features like AccuEQ Advance room calibration, will more than satisfy most listeners.

AT A GLANCE

Plus

Powerful, full-bodied sound
5.1.4 and 7.1.2-channel surround options
AccuEQ Advance room calibration

Minus

No multichannel preamp outputs
Basic remote control

Full Review Here

Riva Concert Wireless Smart Speaker: $179

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value

The Riva Concert is a standout in the ever-expanding world of voice-enabled smart speakers. It’s splash-resistant, can play for up to 15 hours on a single charge, and is packed with features. In addition to Alexa voice control, it supports streaming via AirPlay, DLNA, and Bluetooth and delivers sound that is well-balanced with surprisingly rich bass. All that from a speaker that stands 7 inches tall and costs less than $200.

AT A GLANCE

Plus

Audio playback from connected USB drive
Portable with optional external battery
Solid bass performance

Minus

Narrow soundstage at close range
Treble could be more transparent

Full Review Here

Sonos Amp Streaming Amplifier: $599

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value

The Sonos Amp is a marvel of simplicity and versatility that will enhance and expand any Sonos multiroom music system. In addition to delivering a beefy 2 x 125 watts (into 8 ohms), it supports Apple’s AirPlay 2 wireless platform, enables audio from any source — even a turntable — to be streamed wirelessly throughout the house, and can be pressed into action to power front or rear speakers in a wireless home theater. Reviewer Darryl Wilkinson called the amp a “versatile addition that’s worth every penny for anyone building a multiroom music system with Sonos speakers.”

AT A GLANCE

Plus

Impressive versatility
Easy integration
Designed for shelf or rack mounting

Minus

EQ limited to bass and treble adjustments
Noticeably bright sound with some speakers

Full Review Here

Vizio 5.1.4 Atmos Soundbar: $999

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value

For many of us, a full-blown Dolby Atmos speaker system is simply out of the question due to concerns over complexity, space, budget, or some combination of the three. Enter what may be the ultimate compromise: Vizio’s 5.1.4 soundbar system (model SB46514-F6), which delivers a shockingly good immersive sound experience from a four-piece setup comprising a 46-inch-wide bar with eight drivers (two up-firing), two rear satellite speakers (also with up-firing drivers), and a subwoofer. As a bonus, the system supports wireless streaming via Bluetooth and Chromecast.

AT A GLANCE

Plus

Potent sound for the price
5.1.4 Atmos playback
Chromecast built-in for music streaming

Minus

No wireless surround speaker option
No DTS:X decoding

Full Review Here

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