For some this question may be easy to answer, but we still get a surprising number of questions about what is an AV receiver exactly and what it is for exactly. Especially for the starting home cinema enthusiast it is interesting to know why a receiver is one of the most important devices in the home cinema system.
Especially for the starting home cinema enthusiast? Stand-alone or integrated receiver
When we talk about an AV receiver, in most cases we are talking about a stand-alone device that receives all signals from sources and sends them to the relevant components. However, all-in-one home cinema systems, and even sound bar systems, also have a receiver. In most cases, however, this is integrated in the player or soundbar and has far fewer options and features than a stand-alone receiver.
What is an AV receiver?
An A / V receiver is actually the centerpiece of your home cinema system, provided you have a system with separate components, and it receives all incoming signals. Think of the input of a Blu-ray player, game console, CD player, radio or media box in the form of image and / or sound. All these components are connected with a cable to the receiver (receiver) which has a large number of connections .
The receiver then ensures that the signals from these devices are forwarded to the components that need to display them, also connected by means of a cable. Normally this involves a TV (or projector) and a speaker system. Most receivers have speaker connections for at least a 5.1-channel (five speakers and a subwoofer) system, but with a larger budget you can also find receivers that support up to 11.2-channel systems. In most cases there is at least one HDMI output for connecting a display.
You can see the receiver as a kind of intermediary, but it is more than that. A receiver also has an amplifier with a decoder, something you need to convert audio from a digital (or analog) signal into an amplified signal that can be played by the speakers. In addition, many receivers have an integrated FM / AM (or digital) tuner for listening to the radio.
Another advantage is that receivers offer you the possibility to easily connect all components with each other. After all, the TV or projector only needs to be connected to the receiver with one cable, since the incoming signals from Blu-ray players, consoles and other devices enter the receiver and can therefore be piped directly. This saves you extra cables and offers you the possibility to easily switch between these sources.
Lots of features and functions
That all sounds very good, of course, but it is not even 10 percent of the possibilities that receivers offer nowadays, of course depending on how much you have to spend. For example, receivers can nowadays often receive music wirelessly from a NAS server or a PC in your home network, you can stream music from services such as Spotify, you can upscale footage to a higher resolution, there is often a USB port on the receiver. connecting a smartphone or USB stick, there is the possibility to link multiple rooms in the house through multi-zone or multi-room , you can often adjust the audio reproduction completely to your own wishes and even automatically, and you can choose from different surround techniques and formats to create an impressive surround experience.
Read more in our new article about what an AV receiver is and what to look for when you buy one . We also deal with the latest standards and techniques.