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:


Tech Times

Google Unveils Android Pay At I/O 2015
Tech Times
Google Unveils Android Pay At I/O 2015. By Steven Schneider, Tech Times | May 28, 1:32 PM. Android Pay could be the next big thing for online shoppers: sure, NFC payment programs exist already, but Google's putting some interesting new features into ...
Hyundai first to use Android Auto in carsTechworld.com
A Murky Road Ahead for Android, Despite Market DominanceNew York Times
Google Offers Users More Control Over Sharing Data with Android AppsWall Street Journal (blog)
OregonLive.com -Yahoo Tech -Slate Magazine (blog)
all 1,950 news articles »

Top Tech News

Lenovo Intros Futuristic Smart Mobile Technologies
Top Tech News
Lenovo is working with Microsoft's Cortana personal assistant on REACHit to extend Cortana's capabilities to include non-Microsoft services. The company is working with Lenovo on WRITEit to tie together speech and writing technology to improve the Yoga ...
Lenovo Rubs Elbows With Bigwigs From Microsoft, IntelWall Street Journal (blog)
Lenovo and Microsoft Make Devices Even More Personal with Cortana and ...Business Wire (press release)
Lenovo's new REACHit app makes Cortana even more personal on Windows 10WinBeta
The Indian Express -Gotta Be Mobile
all 138 news articles »

Tech Times

Pebble Time Starts Shipping To Kickstarter Backers: Third Time Lucky?
Tech Times
By Christian de Looper, Tech Times | May 28, 9:24 AM. Pebble Time. Pebble has finally starting shipping its latest smartwatch, the Pebble Time. The device features a number of improvements over the previous Pebble device, and reviewers have been ...

and more »

Tech Times

Smartphone Face Off: LG G4 vs. HTC One M9
Tech Times
Plenty of other electronic companies, including LG, HTC, Sony, Asus, Xiaomi and others are weighing in with their own take on the ubiquitous personal device we call the smartphone, and they are doing a pretty good job at it. In fact, these companies ...

and more »

Wall Street Journal (blog)

Google Photos Brings Unlimited Photo Storage to iOS, Android and Web
Wall Street Journal (blog)
Suddenly, tech's biggest names want to organize your messy lifetime collection of photos. On Thursday, Google GOOGL -0.44% upped the ante against Apple with unlimited storage and some fun photo tricks. At Google's I/O developers conference, the ...
Google Photos Offers Free Unlimited Storage For Images And VideosTech Times
Google Photos will soon solve all your storage needsFortune

all 190 news articles »

Tech Times

Apple Is Building Google Now Rival 'Proactive' Into iOS 9
Tech Times
For once, this tech rumor seems to have had some basis in truth as the company looks set to launch a new discovery tool for iOS 9. Code-named "Proactive," the tool isn't a traditional search engine but is more of a rival to ... The scaled down Siri API ...
Report: Apple's Smarter iOS Spotlight Will Challenge Google NowForbes
Apple's Proactive for iOS 9 to challenge Google NowTech2

all 97 news articles »

Tech Times

iPhone 6s Will Be Game Changer With Force Touch
Tech Times
By Christian de Looper, Tech Times | May 28, 6:14 AM. Apple iPhone. Apple will reportedly be introducing Force Touch into the next line of iPhones, giving users a new layer of input for their devices. Force Touch can already be found on the Apple Watch ...
Apple Promises Fix for iPhone Messaging Crash BugWall Street Journal (blog)

all 798 news articles »

Tech Times

Google's Upgraded Cardboard Viewer Brings VR To The Classroom
Tech Times
Remember that gimmick last year that Google introduced at its I/O conference? The piece of foldable cardboard that turned your Android phone into VR goggles? It's called Cardboard, and it's back with version 2.0. The new Cardboard is bigger, able to ...
Google Intensifies Focus on Its Cardboard Virtual Reality DeviceNew York Times
Google played it safe today, and the tech industry is a little worse for itBusinessinsider India

all 182 news articles »

Tech Times

Quick Smartphone Comparison: Sony Z3 vs. Sony Z3+
Tech Times
Sony Z3+. By Rex Macadangdang, Tech Times | May 28, 8:56 AM. Xperia Z3+. A quick comparison shows the differences between the Sony Xperia Z3 and new Sony Xperia Z3+. The Z3+ has some minor improvements but no drastic changes. (Photo : Sony).

and more »

Tech Times

Google Confirms 'Buy' Button Is Coming Soon
Tech Times
By Nicole Arce, Tech Times | May 28, 10:20 AM. Google chief business officer Omid Kordestani confirms during the Re/code Code Conference that a "Buy" button on the Google search results on mobile is "imminent." Could Google shake up the e-commerce ...
Google Confirms a Buy Button Is 'Imminent'Wall Street Journal (blog)

all 67 news articles »
Google News

Get Ahead When You Build Your Own Computer

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

An All Too Familar Pain

Lost & Found for the 21st CenturyIn today's hectic world... Read More

Selecting the Perfect Big Screen TV

Selecting a TV isn't as easy as it used to... Read More

Linux Power Tools - Great Tools to Make System Administration Easy

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

Home Electronics: The Facts About Plasma TV

Not so many years ago, homes across the country watched... Read More

Your Home is in Your Hands

I would like to tell you about a magic home.... Read More

Your Affiliate Business - Peripherals, Software, Computers

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

Basic Problem in a PC

I have a p3 500MHz PC with 128MB RAM, 10.2... Read More

Toshiba Wins Hollywood Support for the HD DVD format

What led them to this choice, as all four studios... Read More

Buying a Home Theater Receiver

Buying a receiver is one of the most important decisions... Read More

Help, I Need a New HDTV! (Part 3 of 5)

Feeling overwhelmed in selecting a new TV? With all the... Read More

Make Windows XP Run Faster!

A friend told me: "My computer startup seems to be... Read More

Registry Tools Demystified

Not sure what Windows registry is or how it works?... Read More

Connect Your IPAQ to Linux

Choose Not To ConformPalm pilots and pdas are constantly growing... Read More

Advantages and Guidelines of Automated Testing

"Automated Testing" is automating the manual testing process currently in... Read More

JVCs First Three-Layer Combo-Disc Blu-Ray / DVD

JVC developed and used a high-performance reflective film to produce... Read More

Three Things You Can Do to Keep Your Computer Running at Maximum Performance

Although there are many things that can affect the performance... Read More

Reliable File and Folder Sharing in Windows Xp

This tip is on sharing files and folders on a... Read More

Cisco Certification: Building Your Home Lab, Part II

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

Repairing A Corrupt .RAR/.ZIP Archive

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

Apache, MySQL & PHP for Windows

Apache, MysQL and PHP for Windows could be a nice... Read More

Healthy Webmasters Choose Ergonomic Computer Products

Webmasters usually sit at their computers much longer in a... Read More

How To Safeguard Your Computer?

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

Selecting a Personal Digital Assistant

A Computer in Your HandCarrying around an address book and... Read More

Why Build Your Own Computer System

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