These days, home-theater-in-a-box systems (HTIBs), which usually consist of matching speakers and a combination DVD player/receiver, are overwhelmingly more popular than traditional A/V receivers. The problem is that most of them sound kind of small. Budget shoppers who want bigger sonics would do well to invest in a low-cost A/V receiver. At $219 (list), JVC's RX-6040B is one of the most affordable receivers we've tested at CNET, but it still offers full-fledged surround processing, component-video switching, and the obligatory 100 watts per channel. If you combine it with the right budget-speaker package and DVD player, you'll probably wind up with a system that performs better than an equivalently priced HTIB. As 100-watt-per-channel receivers go, the 19.5-pound JVC RX-6040B is a lightweight, but it has full-size dimensions, measuring 17.3 inches wide and 16.2 inches deep.
The RX-6040B's Quick Setup feature requires minimal effort on your part, which is a good thing, because we found the full setup routine something of a hassle. The lack of onscreen menu displays wasn't the main snag; the problem was that we couldn't navigate most of the setup routines with the remote. You'll have to make your way through setup using only the controls on the RX-6040B's front panel.
The tiny remote jams in a lot of buttons and was pretty easy to use, but we would have preferred something a bit larger.According to its spec sheet (see ), the JVC RX-6040B delivers 100 watts to each of its five channels. It lacks the sixth channel found on 6.1 receivers such as , so it can't power surround-back speakers. The JVC is outfitted with every 5.1 surround format, including Dolby Digital and Pro Logic II, DTS, and DTS 96/24. It also has inputs to accommodate SACD and DVD-Audio players.
The RX-6040B includes a few unusual extras, such as a five-band DSP digital equalizer for the front-left and front-right speakers, and a five-step tone control for the center speaker. You can easily turn off the subwoofer output without trudging through menus--a feature that might be useful during late-night listening sessions. There's also a nifty 3D headphone processor that effectively opens up the sound of stereo headphones. Finally, the RX-6040B has a two-year parts-and-labor warranty that's pretty rare in this receiver's reasonable price class.
Connectivity is fairly limited but should be adequate for basic home theaters. You might not have expected component-video switching on a $220 receiver, but the 6040B can handle two component sources, such as an HDTV cable box and a DVD player. We counted two A/V and S-Video inputs and outputs, three analog stereo inputs, and three digital inputs (two optical, one coaxial). Unfortunately, the speaker-wire connectors are cheesy spring-clip types, and the front panel doesn't have another input set.