What kind of home theater receiver to choose? Part 1


There are a few things to consider when choosing a home theater receiver:

-The most important aspect to consider is whether you want to connect the amplifier to stereo speakers or a TV? If you will use it primarily for listening to music, you will need a stereo receiver. If you want surround sound while watching a movie. then select AV receiver. If you use it for both listening to music and watching movies, think of an AV receiver.

-Enough channels are needed if you want real surround sound. One channel = one speaker. Make sure the new receiver has enough channels for all the speakers and the ones you will get in the future. If you want surround sound, you will need at least five channels.

-Think about what you will use it for. Consider what source you want to connect the device to. For example, if you also want to use it to listen to a vinyl record, you will need a separate phono input. If you also want to play wireless music, you need Wi-Fi (plus Bluetooth, Airplay, etc., so you can play music from your smartphone and tablet) to connect new modules or devices you buy later, so you get more connectivity the newer the better.

-Modern video resolution is also beneficial. 4K picture resolution is an absolute must, even if you don’t already have a 4K TV. Make sure you can connect it to any video source, such as a DVD player or Apple TV.

-Select an AV receiver with Dolby Atmos and DTS: X functions for 3D surround sound. The good news is that the new AV receivers can play both formats.

-Find a receiver that can play all 3 HDR formats. Also check that the selected receiver has the capability to handle HDR10, DV (Dolby Vision) and HLG formats.

– Multi-room AV receivers can play up to two different programs in two different rooms on two different TVs, so consider the multi-room function.

AV receiver and stereo receiver – what’s the difference?

They may be similar, but they are two very different tools.

What is an AV receiver?

home theater AV receiver

The AV (audio / video or home cinema) receiver is responsible for receiving, interpreting and processing incoming audio signals before sending them to their final destination: the TV and speakers. The AV receiver includes at least five amplifiers to drive at least five speakers. Why do you need so much? An average home theater system has 5 speakers that work together to create surround sound … and each speaker requires a separate audio signal from the AV receiver.

Today, many home theaters already have more than 5 speakers, including those that are Dolby Atmos-compatible. In fact, to achieve the best possible effect, most home theater systems today have a dozen or more speakers, many of which are hidden and / or built into walls or ceilings.

What is a stereo receiver?

Marantz NR1200 stereo receiver

The stereo receiver contains 2 amplifiers (one per channel) and is mainly used for listening to music. The two amplifiers of the stereo receiver power the two stereo speakers, and although you can connect it to the TV, you do not get surround sound with the stereo receiver. (You may also encounter integrated amplifiers while searching, which is actually the same as the stereo receiver except for the AM / FM tuner.)

When should you use an AV receiver?

Excellent home theater AV receivers with 4K image processing and Dolby Atmos are now available at affordable prices. If you focus on listening to music over surround sound movies, buy a 2-channel stereo receiver instead. (but the latter will not make a surround sound).

So the point is : AV receivers are primarily designed and built for TVs, home theaters, movies to bring an authentic, cinema-like experience to their homes. And because AV receivers can do more than stereo receivers, you can use the AV receiver for both watching movies and listening to music. In addition, the combination of a stereo receiver and a TV alone does not provide surround sound.

How to choose the best AV receiver?

The primary purpose of AV receivers is to provide an amazing home theater system with surround sound. When buying, you have to take into account the features of your room, style, financial possibilities of your own taste.

Inputs, outputs

There is no such thing as too many inputs or outputs. This is because if we plan to connect new devices, new modules to the amplifier in the future, additional connections will be needed. At least 4 HDMI inputs are required to connect a cable box, a Blu-ray player, a PlayStation and at least one more input for further expansion. (For example, if you add an Apple TV – you’re already using all 4 inputs.) If you plan to connect a turntable, make sure you have a Phono input on the amplifier. Also, make sure the new products you purchase are compatible with anything you already have at home.


4K tv image

4K is the best possible highest resolution video format for home theaters. With 4K, the image is so detailed that it provides a clear and accurate view even when viewed up close.

Another feature to look out for is HDCP 2.2 support. HDCP 2.2 is the latest copy protection technology designed to prevent illegal copying of video content, especially 4K content. This is important because when you try to watch an HDCP 2.2 copy-protected movie and the 4K Blu-ray player and / or AV receiver is not authorized to support HDCP 2.2 content, the screen dims. Fortunately, all 4K TVs and receivers have at least one HDCP2.2 input.

Built-in Wi-Fi

Ideally, everyone can (physically) connect their TV to their home network, but this isn’t always possible – especially if you can’t route cables through walls. This is where the Wi-Fi connection comes into play, allowing all the smart features that new TVs use to stream movies, watch YouTube, etc., and work wirelessly over the network. For the same reason, Wi-Fi built into audio systems is also useful, so you can stream music, for example, without having to physically connect devices.

DTS: X and HDR formats

DTS: X is a new surround sound format designed to make your home theater sound as immersive as possible, similar to Dolby Atmos.

HDR TV picture

HDR stands for “High Dynamic Range”. That’s why today’s latest TVs in the field of imaging are so spectacular. The HDR of the TV generates more contrast within the existing pixels, expanding the contrast and color so the end result is more accurate and deeper. There are three versions of HDR: HDR10 and DV (Dolby Vision), and HLG. Although HDR10 is currently the most common format (due to iTunes, Netflix, and VUDU, among others), many consider Dolby Vision to be a better picture quality format. It’s hard to tell which HDR format is best.

Number of channels

Think of channels as speakers. And while most music formats require only 2 channels (left and right), true home theater surround sound requires as many channels as possible. In a nutshell: The more channels you have, the more speakers you can add – and the more speakers you add, the better and more stunning the sound will be. At least 5 channels are required to receive surround sound. But we recommend that you set up a system with at least 7 channels.

Klipsch home theater 2.1

-2.1-channel: Add a subwoofer to effective bass, and now you have 2.1. “2” refers to the first two speakers, and subwoofer refers to “.1”.

-3.1-channel: Add a center speaker so the dialogue always comes from the center of the screen (especially important if we sit a little sideways).

-5.1: This already means home theater sound. Place two more speakers in the back of the room for surround sound to achieve 5.1. If you even add a subwoofer and you already have a “5.2” system.

Klipsch home theater 7.1

-7.1 channel: In larger rooms, especially where the sofa or armchairs are more away from the rear wall, surround back speakers may be required to implement 7.1 sound.

-9.1 channels or more: In this case, we can talk about actual 3D sound. In summary, a 9.2.1 system has three speakers at the front, two on the right and left, two at the back of the room, and a pair on the ceiling. Plus two subwoofers, which are typically placed backwards, but can be placed anywhere. (You will need a 9-channel or more channel receiver for this system to work.)

Written by Róbert Polgár

Part 2 of the article is coming soon!