Home Theatre Receivers

Written by Serena Berger
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Understanding home theatre receivers is one of the most important things you can do to make sure you get the home movie and television viewing experience that you want. If you feel like the best part of watching a movie is feeling completely enveloped and swept away by the sound, you will need a receiver and speakers that make that happen. And while the speakers and the wires have to be high quality for the sound to be its best, the receiver is the first, central, and most important component to the home theatre system.

Home theatre receivers process all of the signals from the television or DVD and distribute them to the appropriate components. If you know what components you want, then you can choose a receiver that will support all of them. For example, if you just want two front speakers, you can get a two channel receiver. If you want surround sound, however, what you will be looking for is a 5.1 channel receiver (or 6.1 or 7.1 if you're really ambitious and have some money to spare).

Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound Home Theatre Receivers

The most popular surround sound format for home theatre receivers is Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. A receiver with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound will support two front, two rear, a center speaker, and a subwoofer. This is just about the closest you can get to replicating a movie theater, depending on the quality of speakers you decide to get. Of course, space and price range are limiting factors, so some people don't buy all of their components separately, but instead choose a smaller scale pre-packaged home theater system which includes the receiver and miniature speakers.

If you're opting for a high end system, however, there are a number of things you should consider when choosing your receiver. Power of over 100 watts per channel is desirable even if you don't want to crank the volume; power increases sound quality even at lower volumes. You also want inputs for additional features like a Personal Video Recorder or DIRECTV, if you're likely to be interested in those in the future.


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