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Breaking Down: AV Receivers

Updated: Sep 29, 2022

Whether you're creating an entire home theater or only a surround sound system, you'll need an AV receiver.

The receiver is the hub. An A/V receiver contains inputs for all the user's audio and video sources such as a cable TV box, Blu-ray or CD player and digital media hub (Apple TV, Roku, etc.). The receiver's video output goes to the TV via HDMI, and its several audio outputs connect to speakers and a subwoofer using stranded wires. A/V receivers support several movie soundtrack formats such as Dolby Digital, Atmos and DTS. They also have built-in audio effects to enhance music and movies (PC Mag Encyclopedia).

Although an A/V receiver has its own amplifiers for powering the speakers, it generally provides optional outputs to external audio amplifiers if more speaker power is required. In such a case, the receiver functions as a preamplifier (PC Mag Encyclopedia).

When choosing a receiver, there are some things to consider.

First, how many devices are you going to connect? Think of every cable box, streaming device, DVD player, gaming system, etc. you might add to your receiver. A good rule of thumb is to choose a receiver that has at least one more input than is currently needed. Something new may come along and require that additional port.

Next, how many speakers are you thinking of adding? All of the devices mentioned in the paragraph before this need their own input port, so that means all the speakers you want to use require their own output port. A 5.1 channel receiver can handle 5 speakers and 1 subwoofer. Make sure you are choosing the receiver with the number of channels you may need.

AV Receiver

Moving on, you should choose the receiver that has the functions you need. If you want to watch 4K movies, then you need to make sure the receiver has that capability. Do you want to use Bluetooth to play music? Do you want to use AirPlay? Maybe you're thinking about multi-room audio. If wanted, all of these need to be something your receiver can do. Not all of them can, so pay attention to the specs.

Lastly, the watts need to be considered. If you've already chosen the speakers you want, take a look to see if there is a recommended amplifier range. Make sure your receiver can achieve the recommended watts and vice versa.

To make things a little easier once you have a receiver, you can set up a universal remote to control everything. I wrote about the URC last week.

If you're looking to add a receiver to your setup, reach out to us. Let us know how many devices might be hooked up to the receiver, how many speakers you plan on using, and if there are any extra functions you're looking for, so we can pick the right receiver for you.

Read more about receivers on our Projection Systems page.


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