Buying a Home Theater Receiver

Buying a receiver is one of the most important decisions you're going to have to make when building your home theater. The receiver has a number of functions including; connecting and switching audio sources; connecting and switching video sources; decoding surround sound formats; amplifying an audio signal and sending it to your speakers; tuning in to radio stations; and acting as the interface between you and your home theater.

The first thing to think about is whether you want a receiver at all or would you be better off buying a separate decoder, amplifier, and tuner?

Despite being a more expensive route - not to mention the extra space needed - separates do have some advantages. You can pick and choose your own combination of components, can upgrade each component individually and won't lose all the functions if one piece develops a fault. On top of that, having each electronic component in a separate box does improve sound quality when compared with having them all on one circuit board.

However, the separates route is more expensive, more complicated and needs more space than buying a receiver. And for most people its uneccessary. Today's receivers do a very good job in all of their functions.

So what should should you look out for when buying a receiver? The first thing is to make sure that it has ll the inputs you need for the equipment you need to connect to it. Sounds obvious, but its very easy to overlook. As a mimimum it should have digital audio inputs (optical and co-axial) for Dolby Digital and/or DTS. It should also have analogue audio inputs for CD player, set-top box and possibly DVD-Audio or Super Audio CD player (the last two currently don't have digital outputs in order to make it less easy to pirate CDs).

You should also consider whether you want to route all your video sources such as TV, DVD player, and games console through your receiver. Doing so means you can switch between sources from one controller, very easily. But if you want to do this you'll need to make sure the receiver you're interested in has enough video inputs. These could be S-Video or component inputs are best, or if you're in Europe, Scart. You should also make sure the video output from the receiver is of high quality, so again, it should be S-Video, component or Scart.

If you can test a receiver before you buy, its worth comparing the quality of a video signal from a DVD player when its connected directly to a display and comparing it with when its connected via the receiver. There shouldn't be any noticeable difference in quality.

The power rating of the amplifier is also important. The bigger the room you have for your home theater, the more power you'll need. And makes sure that the power rating is quoted in Watts per channel - the last thing you want is to get home with your 100Watt receiver and discover that its power is split between eight speakers in you 7.1 set-up. It's impossible to specify how powerful your amplifier should be, but if your home theater is in a reasonable-sized room, as opposed to an aircraft hanger, 100Watts per channel should be fine.

Finally, don't forget the remote control. It's the key interface between you and the reciever and you'll spend a lot of time using it. So make sure it's comfortable and straightforward to use. The last thing you want is to have to spend ages wading through on-screen menus to get what you want.

Kenny Hemphill is the editor and publisher of The HDTV Tuner, a site which aims to cut through the confusion surrounding HDTV and provide surfers with up to date, accurate and easy to read information on HDTV.

In The News:

Wall Street Journal (blog)

Flipboard App Gets 34000 New Topics For Deep Personalization
Wall Street Journal (blog)
There are five icons on the menu bar: Home (to your personal magazine), Following (where you can see the magazines of topics, people and news organizations you follow), Search (where you can look for new stories to checkout), Notifications (where you ...
Digital magazine app Flipboard rolls out biggest update, integrates Zite ...Tech Times
Flipboard's New App Gets Personal By Making Topics The Center Of AttentionTechCrunch (blog)
The Latest Flipboard Serves Up the News and Some SurprisesNew York Times
Macworld -The Verge
all 41 news articles »

Tech Times

Movie theaters ban Google Glass, wearables to stop illegal recording
Tech Times
The group has banned the wearable tech from cinemas. The rules were updated during the an industry convention in Hollywood, Fla. The new guidelines were detailed in a joint statement drafted by the MPAA and the movie industry's theater owners. "As part ...
Movie industry yells 'Cut!' on wearables in

all 144 news articles »

Tech Times

Google Wallet creator builds a new mobile payment rival
Tech Times
The device, called Poynt Smart Terminal, was created by Osama Bedier, who thinks the future of payments may not solely rely on near-field communication (NFC) technology. "The Poynt terminal represents a breakthrough in how small businesses can grow ...

and more »

Tech Times

5 devices for creating the smart home of your dreams
Tech Times
By Christian de Looper, Tech Times | October 29, 4:46 PM ... Here are five tech devices needed for creating your own smart home. ... Smart technology is becoming all the rage of late, with more and more connected devices being released every year.

Tech Times

Apple Pay rival hacked. Has anyone seen Tim Cook around?
Tech Times
MCX requires retail stores to not accept other mobile payment systems, with both Rite Aid and CVS having disabled near-field communications capabilities in the past two weeks. NFC is the technology used with services like Apple Pay and Google Wallet ...
Apple Pay Is Disabled by Rite Aid and CVS as a Rival Makes PlansNew York Times
Apple Pay Perturbs Prying Personal ProspectorsScientific American
Consumers Unconvinced on Mobile Even as Tech Battle BrewsPaymentsSource
CIO Today
all 1,756 news articles »

Tech Times

Google rolls out Google Fit for Android. Hello, Apple HealthKit
Tech Times
Google has released Google Fit, a fitness-centered app that seeks to help users in effortlessly tracking physical activity. Google is hoping that Google Fit will push users to become more aware, active and motivated in improving their personal fitness ...
Google's new Fit app plays well with Strava, Runkeeper and

all 237 news articles »

Top Tech News

Own Your Own Hoverboard for $10000
Top Tech News
“The underlying technology is totally scalable,” Greg added. “We can make it really small, or really big.” Alongside the hoverboard, Hendo is using the Kickstarter campaign to produce a developer's kit for supporters who pledge $299 or more. The kit ...

and more »

New York Times

Amazon's Grand Design in Devices
New York Times
The hardware shows off Amazon's strengths in the continuing tech war between it and Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft. Among these strengths: Like a true retailer, Amazon appreciates the attractiveness of clever pricing strategies, and of giving ...

and more »

Top Tech News

Ballmer's Clippers To Use Tech To Let Fans Call Shots
Top Tech News
It sounds like a scenario that could exist only in the mind of a tech savant. A fan at Staples Center wants to see his favorite Clipper dunk on the overhead video board during a timeout. He accesses a website with his mobile · Relevant Products ...

and more »

Top Tech News

Now on Aisle 3 at Lowe's: Customer Service Robots
Top Tech News
Lowe's started working with Fellow Robots, a technology company in Silicon Valley, in November to develop the robots. The cost of the project is undisclosed. Lowe's has been working on infusing more technology into its customer service. It has also ...

and more »
Google News

Is DVD Storage An Attractive Alternative For Your Computer Backup?

If you have a computer for home use or for... Read More

Is Your Web Browser Putting You At Risk?

It's free, it comes with Windows and it's used by... Read More

Portable Technology: Getting to Know the Treo

Up until the recent past, those who wanted to take... Read More

5 Simple Ways To Increase Your Computer Speed & Help Your Computer Run More Efficiently!

If you're a computer expert, you'll probably already know about... Read More

What Exactly are Screensavers? - part I

After reading this good article you will know some important... Read More

Windows PDA Medical Software Benefits

PDA Medical BenefitsIf you are concerned about your medical history,... Read More

SOBIG.F Virus Promises Ill Be Back

On 21 August 2003 Symantec Security Response upgraded the W32.SOBIG.F... Read More

10 Easy Steps to Speed Up Your Computer - Without Upgrading

1. Empty the Temp directory regularly. To do this, make... Read More

The Ipod Mini: Why Its Not that Hot

I got my eyes set on a iPod mini, as... Read More

Getting Started with HTML

The basic language of the internet is html. If you... Read More

Looking For an MP3 Player?

If you don't have an mp3 player, and even if... Read More

Why Build Your Own Computer System

Have you ever thought about building your own computer system?... Read More

Your Affiliate Business - Peripherals, Software, Computers

I have always been interested in computers, but in the... Read More

Repairing A Corrupt .RAR/.ZIP Archive

Step 1:Open WinRAR and browse to the folder with your... Read More

A Tale of Two Regeds

Tech support tells me to type 'regedt32' as opposed to... Read More

Image Formats: GIF, JPEG, BMP

When browsing the internet you are likely to come across... Read More

Why There Are Color Differences in Printing from Your PC

This article describes the basic properties of color, what the... Read More

Get Ahead When You Build Your Own Computer

If you've been kicking around the idea of building your... Read More

How Does a Palm Pilot Work?

Just The Facts, Ma'mPalm pilots are all the rage now.... Read More

Compile .BAT Files into Native Windows Applications (.EXE)

Since the DOS days, batch files have been one of... Read More

Flow Text Around a Graphic in Microsoft Word

Flow Text Around a GraphicQuestion: I have inserted a photo... Read More

D2X Digital SLRCoolpix 8800 Actually Refers to Two Nikon Cameras

Addressing a D2X Digital SLRCoolpix 8800 search, this article provides... Read More

2 PC Annoyances and How To Solve Them!

I have a love-hate relationship with my computer.In fact, often... Read More

Tips for Buying a PC

Buying Your PCBuying a PC that's right for you and... Read More

Cisco CCNA / CCNP Certification: OSPF ASBRs Explained And Illustrated

When I first started studying for my CCNP, some of... Read More