Choosing A Home Theater Receiver

The heart of a home theater system is the home theater receiver which can also be called the AV receiver or the surround sound receiver. The home theater receiver connects almost all of the inputs and outputs of your system including your television. To centralize your home theater system the home theater receiver is both an easy and cost-effective method.

How It Works

A home theater receiver essentially has the function of three separate components. It has a tuner which can receive AM/FM, HD or high definition radio, XM or Sirius satellite radio and internet radio. Then a home theater receiver has a preamp which allows you to select the source of audio/video such as DVD player, VCR, CD, iPod, etc. In addition you can also process an incoming stereo/surround sound signals and distribute them to the channels and subwoofer output. The third component of a home theater receiver is a built-in multi-channel amplifier which distributes the surround sound signals and power to the systems speakers.

What To Look For

When you see an add for a home theater receiver you will always see a watts-per-channel rating listed. With many electronics you would think a higher number is better, but this isn't the case with a home theater receiver. Rather the type of receiver you are trying to purchase will determine the watts you need. In addition you need good distortion otherwise the amount of watts in a home theater receiver won't matter.

You want to find a home theater receiver that has a low distortion level. A receiver that has a high distortion level means that it will have excessive noise or distortion when used at loud volume levels and it came make your entertainment difficult to listen to. Therefore you are better with a low watt and low distortion level receiver instead of a higher performance amplifier that has a lot of distortion.

You should also consider the receiver's ability to maintain full power output continuously. Even if you have a 100 watt home theater receiver it won't be good if you can't get it to perform of a significant length of time. Rather you should check the watt output in terms of RMS measure. This shows you the specific volume level that can be sustained with power output.

When choosing a home theater receiver you shouldn't make your decision by looking at only a single specification. You cannot get an accurate pictures of the true capabilities of a receiver without considering all the specifications and looking at the big picture. You should also consider other factors besides technical specs such as the sound quality, ease of use and flexible connectivity options with your other home theater components. Always make sure you purchase a receiver that you have been able to listen to before making a decision. You should also make sure it at least comes with a thirty day return and exchange policy so you don't get stuck with a receiver you don't like or need.