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:


Personal Tech for Women: 5 Things You Need To Know About Apps For On ...
Before drones start parking our cars, delivering our groceries and cleaning our homes, we'll have to settle for smartphones. Since 2014, the market for mobile apps that deliver on-demand services has grown exponentially. And those trends are not ...

and more »

Wall Street Journal (blog)

Twitter's Periscope Lets You Share Your So-Called Life
Wall Street Journal (blog)
Fifteen people are watching me boil pasta. It's just plain, old (actually really old) whole-wheat penne. Yet people keep watching my live video of the simmering water—even astronaut and social-media superstar Chris Hadfield. Welcome to the world of ...
Twitter Puts Out Periscope To Bring Down MeerkatTech Times
As Twitter Introduces Periscope, Tech Titans Bet on Live Streaming VideoNew York Times

all 859 news articles »

Tech Times

Is Google Turning 'Ingress' Into A TV Show?
Tech Times
However, this move by Google doesn't actually mean that the tech giant is aiming to become a major TV player like Amazon or Netflix. In essence, Google sees it as adding a new layer and bringing new gaming experiences and influences to the people who ...

and more »

Tech Times

First Batch Of Apple Watch Apps Hits The App Store
Tech Times
As reported earlier this month at Tech Times, over 100 developers were invited by Apple to test Apple Watch apps. These include Starwood Hotels, BMW and United Continental Holdings. Apple must have decided to release the apps publicly ahead of the ...

and more »

Top Tech News

Meerkat vs. Periscope: Live-Streaming App Battle
Top Tech News
The launch comes in the heels of rival Meerkat's breakout at the South By Southwest Interactive (SXSW) tech gathering in Texas. The simple app allows people to live stream anything at the touch of a button and dominated conversations at the festival.

and more »

Tech Times

Facebook F8 Conference News: Parse Launches Internet Of Things SDKs
Tech Times
By Christian de Looper, Tech Times | March 25, 7:20 PM. Share(? )Tweet(? ) 0 Comments. Parse, owned by Facebook, has announced a number of new features to its platform, most of which relate to the Internet of things, a market that the company will be ...

and more »

Tech Times

Volvo's New Invisible Paint Lights Up Cyclists At Night
Tech Times
The promotion is designed to highlight the Volvo XC90's safety features, in particular the SUV's Intellisafe safety technology, which includes a pedestrian and cyclist detection system. The technology uses a combination of radar sensors and cameras to ...

and more »

New York Times

Video Feature: Design Gains Importance as Devices Get More Personal
New York Times
THERE'S how a product looks and how you interact with it, and both of those things come down to design. In tech, it is the design that separates a successful product from a dud. You need good physical design — or industrial design — to get people ...

and more »

Tech Times

LG G4 With Curved Display Out Before End Of April?
Tech Times
The LG G4 is rumored to be the first flagship smartphone that borrows the curved display from the LG G Flex line. The upcoming handset is said to feature a 5.3-inch sapphire 2K display, a Snapdragon 810 chip, 3GB of RAM, and a 16MP camera. (Photo : LG).

and more »

Tech Times

DC Comics Officially Launches 'Infinite Crisis' On Steam
Tech Times
DC Comics Officially Launches 'Infinite Crisis' On Steam. By Anu Passary, Tech Times | March 27, 7:50 AM. Share(? )Tweet(? ) Infinite Crisis. After being in beta for a long time, DC Comics' free-to-play MOBA game Infinite Crisis has finally launched on ...

and more »
Google News

Enhanced Web Browsing With Toolbars

As the Web grows more crowded and just plain "noisy"... Read More

How To Safeguard Your Computer?

The following practice, if done regularly, may help you to... Read More

How to Protect your PC from Spyware in the Cyber Age

Wouldn't you be shocked to find that your personal sensitive... Read More

Computer Consulting 101 PC Troubleshooting Advice

While most small businesses really do need to find a... Read More

Microsoft Great Plains Dexterity Customizations

Microsoft Business Solutions is on the way to popularize it's... Read More

Setting File Permissions On A Unix Server

File permissions are one of the strengths that the Unix... Read More

Getting Started with HTML

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

Web Standards

HTTP ProtocolThe web is run on port 80. You are... Read More

Some Thoughts on Choosing a Flash MP3 Player

Flash mp3 players come with an exciting array of features,... Read More

How To Recognize The Telltale Signs Of Spyware

Spyware is the software that collects information about your online... Read More

4 Computer Money-saving Tips

Tip #1 -- Rebates: A rebate is not always a... Read More

This Page Cannot Be Displayed ? What to Do When Your Internet Breaks

The DNS (Domain Name System) servers are what your computer... Read More

Is Your Web Browser Putting You At Risk?

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

Linux Power Tools - Great Tools to Make System Administration Easy

World War II - Germany decided to attack Poland. Poland... Read More

Palm PC critique

I met an entrepreneur who hole heartedly disagree with an... Read More

Digital Cameras Ratings Abolish Camera Comparison Guesswork

Digital cameras ratings are great tools for deciding which camera... Read More

PDA Bible Free Download

Your Bible At Your FingertipsIt is fairly easy to find... Read More

More Cool Web Tricks

If you ask most people what frustrates them most about... Read More

Mail-merging: The Principles

About mail-mergingMail-merging is the process of merging variable data and... Read More

A Lesson in HTML

As the owner of a Country Mall and Top Site... Read More

Cisco Certification: Building Your Home Lab, Part II

In the first part of this home lab tutorial, CCNA... Read More

Keeping Passwords Secure

As the web has evolved, so have the methods of... Read More

Dynamite Comes in Small Packages - Tiny Personal Audio MP3 Players Pack Powerful Music Enjoyment

MP3 players are Hot! Playing music has come a long... Read More

CCNA 640-801 Certification Primer

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Certification is meant for... Read More