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What to Consider When Looking for 5.1 Channel Home Theater Receivers 

When assembling a home theater system, one of the most important components is the receiver. Similar to a receiver in any stereo system, a home theater receiver processes signals from various HDMI input devices, such as a VCR, DVD player, Blu-ray, player, cable box, satellite dish, and other components. It interprets and amplifies the signals and then feeds them to output devices such as a television and a surround-sound speaker system. 

How Does a Home Theater Receiver Handle Audio?

While the receiver sends the video to a television, it sends the audio to a decoder, which sort out the various sound channels from the video signal and then forwards them to the amplifier. The amplifiers are connected to the corresponding speaker or subwoofer.

What Should I Know About Dolby Digital Vs. Analog Sound?

  • With a recording is made using Dolby, six separate digital audio channels are encoded, and each channel is sent to the appropriate home theater system. 
  • Unlike Dolby, with an analog recording, the surround-sound channels are extracted from just two standard audio channels that make up a traditional stereo recording. This is often called 4-2-4 processing, whereby the receiver encodes the rear and front channels and works them into regular stereo channels before a surround-sound decoder separates the four channels out again.

What Do I Need for True Surround Sound?

  • The number of channels a receiver has corresponds to the number of satellite speakers it can power, and you need at least five to get surround sound: front left, front right, center, rear left, and rear right).
  • With a 5.1 system, offered by such companies as Pioneer, there are five surround-sound speaker and one subwoofer channel. Models with seven, nine or 11 channels support advance surround formats, such as Dolby Atmos and DTSX. These extra channels also enable you to have speakers in multiple locations of your home.

How Much Power Is Required?

Power equates to volume levels. Not only does more power mean louder sound, it also produces clearer tones with less distortion. Speakers will indicate a range of acceptable wattages, but choose a receiver that can provide power at the top end of this range.

What Are Some Special Features Available With an AV Receiver?

The latest models include some state-of-the-art features, including:

  • Airplay (the ability to beam content from a wireless handled device to the receiver using bluetooth technology)
  • Remote apps
  • Built-in music streaming services
  • Internet radio services
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Built-in bluetooth
  • Inputs and outputs for HDMI
  • USB memory Input
  • USB front terminal