The home cinema receiver is the mecca, the brain, the nexus of your home theater. If you want a truly magnificent home cinema it all starts with the home cinema receiver. Sure a quality HDTV or Projector is key, but you want a home cinema not just a television or else you wouldn’t be here reading about receivers. Read on if you want to build a truly amazing home theater as we will get into the most critical aspects in choosing your receiver.
First things first, what is a home cinema receiver? A receiver is simply what everything gets plugged into. The home cinema receiver is the brain of your home theater operation and choosing the right one for your needs is critically important. We’ll get into the planning phase in the next article, but first lets continue breaking down what all the A/V receiver does.
The home cinema receiver is a hub for both all your audio and your visual hook ups. A receiver will have inputs and outputs for both audio and video and allow you to switch between all the different sources, be it a Blu Ray Player or a video game console. The home cinema receiver is critically important to the entire setup or else you’ll constantly be fiddling with wires, plugging and unplugging and having to hassle when you should be relaxing!
Many home cinema receivers come with amplifiers built in. In fact most do unless you’re springing for a more expensive receiver as it will usually beckon the necessity of an external amplifier. Other than that the home cinema receiver is the only central piece of equipment you’ll need for your cinema. Most receivers have enough inputs for everything from your Blu Ray Player to your Xbox to your camera. But there are many more things to consider beyond just finding a home cinema receiver with enough ports to plug everything in.
We’ll delve into all the features and options available for your next home cinema receiver in upcoming articles. First I want to lay the groundwork and ensure that you know how important it is choose a great home cinema receiver. By purchasing a great receiver you can use it for years even as you upgrade your t.v. or other peripherals. Lets dig in and learn what the most important part of purchasing your home theater receiver is: Planning!
Many will bypass this step. They’ll purchase the first home cinema receiver that’s in their price range and regret it almost immediately when they find out that their receiver is either inadequately equipped for everything they need or that it is better suited for different types of entertainment. By following my suggestions your planning phase will result in the absolutely perfect home cinema receiver for your theater.
There are a ton of things to consider when planning which home cinema receiver to purchase. Firstly you want to think about what you’ll be doing most in your home theater. Personally I don’t want T.V. so my home cinema is tuned and set up for listening to music and watching movies and watching them loudly. This may not be the case for many of you however wherein you may be more interested in building a home cinema that is focused on watching sports or playing video games or just watching T.V. In that case you would want a different type of home cinema receiver.
Ask yourself what your primary uses for your home theater will be then you can decide upon a home cinema receiver. Will you want wireless music streaming? Will you have a bunch of peripherals plugged in at once? Will this be a media station for pumping loud music throughout the house? Will you just be watching T.V.? All these questions are critical to ask because every home cinema receiver is built differently and finding the correct receiver is key to building an excellent theater!
Plan ahead what you’ll be doing in the room. Will you be wanting to play loud music? Will you not be worried as much about music but more about dialogue (i.e. T.V) or will you want bass rumbling action movies to be the focal point of your home theater? Also consider what type of audio and video inputs you’ll need. Are you hooking up a HDTV or Projector? If so then you’ll obviously need a home cinema receiver with an HDMI port. What about component cables, will you need them? If so ensure you’re going to be getting a receiver that has inputs for them.
Other things to keep in mind are the al in one options. Many people will opt for a home cinema receiver that has everything, from all the standard inputs/outputs to a 6 disk dvd player and an ipod hookup with amplifier to power 7.1 surround. While yes these do have everything you need, they don’t do what you need them to do as good as a pieced out home theater does. If you have a powerful home cinema receiver with a Blu Ray player plugged in external as well as an amplifier and everything else separate, the device can usually do what is critically important best, which is deliver high quality audio and video.
Knowing what you’ll need is critically important and before we move on I want you to plan out what you’ll predominately be doing in your home theater to help you gauge which home cinema receiver is best for you. After careful deliberation continue reading on the site to learn more about features, pricing and brands to go after! Good luck and enjoy!
So you know what you want it to do but now you need to compare all the different functions of your future home cinema receiver. I’m going to talk about all the different key areas to pay attention to when picking out your home cinema receiver to ensure that you can accurately decide which home theater receiver is best fitted for your needs. Fear not as I will help guide you through this difficult and ever-changing world of electronics!
While there will be a variety of different features depending on the style of home cinema receiver you purchase, finding the perfect one is critical. Some features you want to decide on primarily are what sort of inputs do you need. Do you want an iPod input? Do you want hookups for satellite radio? How many devices will you be hooking into the home cinema receiver?
After you determine this weed out which receivers have the appropriate hook ups and move on. Next you want to take a look at the total wattage of the system. Usually a system will have wattage equally divided amongst the channels except for the reach channels will have usually 20%-30% less wattage than the front channels and the sub will have 75%-150% more wattage than the front channels. So for example on a 600 watt 5.1 surround sound system, each front channel speaker would have 100 watts, the 2 rear channels would have 50 each and the sub you have 200 watts. Paying attention to overall wattage is good to help you decide on the type of home cinema receiver you’ll need.
Besides paying attention to the total output of the system in watts pay close attention to the amount of distortion the home cinema receiver has. You want the smallest percentage of distortion, ideally under 1%. Finding a home cinema receiver with a distortion level under 1% means you’ll have a quality sounding system that can be cranked up loud without any noticeable distortion. This also depends on the type of speakers your blasting the feed through.
Having a receiver that has a ton of wattage power but also a high distortion percentage is much worse than finding a quality home theater receiver with low distortion and half the power. You’re going for sound QUALITY here not QUANTITY. You’ll notice the difference when you turn crank your new home cinema receiver up and hear nothing but static and fuzz at a nearly inaudible level. You won’t care how many watts your system has if you can’t stand to listen to it or understand anything beyond all the distortion.
Doing your research and looking through these 2 key factors is critical in determining what the perfect home cinema receiver for you is. If you can pick a good home theater receiver with low distortion, one that has all the features you’re looking for and inputs you need and with a good amount of power you’ll be set. Now you just need to bite the bullet, pull the trigger and buy your home cinema receiver.
Now that you know sort of what you’re looking for and what you’ll be needing to fully set up your home theater, it’s good to have an idea of what else you’ll need for your home cinema receiver as well as the different brands to consider. I’m going to go through not only what you’ll need to set everything up but also who to avoid when installing your home cinema receiver. If you read along you should have absolutely no problem getting set up in no time!
There are a few things you’ll need other than a home cinema receiver in order to have your theater 100% ready. First things first is a video source. If you don’t have a video source you’ll do nothing but listen. A video source can be anything from a built in DVD player to a video game console such as a PlayStation 3. Aside from having a source from which you video signal runs into your home cinema receiver, you need a place to display those your video signal!
Next on the checklist is either a T.V. or a projector. There are a variety of these and for your home theater system to work you’ll obviously need a place to watch your entertainment. You’ll also need speakers and speaker wire running out of your home cinema receiver and into your speakers. The audio in cables should be included with whatever peripheral device you’re plugging into your home cinema receiver, but many times speaker wire isn’t included. Another great reason to have extra speaker wire is that it will allow you to run cable to the corners of your room instead of settling for the distance of the provided wire the companies throw in.
You’ll also need a video out cable that runs from your home cinema receiver to your display source, be it a T.V. or a projector. This is the number one most forgotten item when people build a home theater because they don’t realize that there is now another relay between their media and their eyes: the home cinema receiver. You’ll need an HDMI cable, component cable or standard RGB video cable to run from your source to your receiver and from your receiver to your screen.
Now you’re almost ready and you know all the peripherals to purchase, but you may be asking what brand of home cinema receiver should you purchase? There are a variety of different schools of thought in regard to brands. Honestly following the advice from the previous article on this site relating to what is critical to pay attention to when purchase. Like we talked about before we’re looking for low Signal To Noise Ratio, low distortion and overall power. If you can find good numbers in lesser known companies do the research and look into these companies. I cannot give a full review of absolutely every company here but I can recommend Sony and Phillips as well as many of the new Korean electronics companies that are making a rise in popularity because of their inexpensive yet quality built electronics.
Now you know what you’re looking for exactly, you know what kind of home cinema receiver to purchase as well as the peripherals you may need. You’re also aware of brands to look for and all the different qualities the perfect home cinema receiver for your needs has. There’s only one thing left now and It’s purchasing the receiver. In our upcoming article we’ll talk about where to purchase your receiver!
Well it’s the moment of truth. Hopefully you’ve done your research and know what signal to noise ratio is, how much distortion you’re looking for (none!) and what kind of power you’re looking to get from your home cinema receiver. It’s now time to finally decide on a model and make a purchase. But where will you actually go about purchasing your home cinema receiver to get the best deal? We’ll go over a variety of different places to secure a great deal.
You may think, well obviously I’ll go to my local electronic store and check them out now that I’m armed with knowledge! Well hold up mister because actually “hearing” a system isn’t always the best bet. Make sure that if you do go to have a listen that you take your time and pay attention. Many times the home cinema receiver you’re “hearing” doesn’t come with everything it’s hooked up to in the store. Many stores will run a bunch of home theater receivers through a different amp and speakers and allow the customer to judge which they like the best, wherein when you get it home it sounds nothing like that!
Trust your research and trust the numbers. Remember what to look for in distortion, wattage and signal to noise ratio. It’s rare that thee numbers will be false and following the numbers means you won’t end up with surprises later. Don’t just trust your ear or a slick talking salesman when you’re in stores, trust your research.
One great place to find a great home cinema receiver is obviously online. Looking on the Internet for a receiver is a great idea because not only can you find a cheaper model but you can find a more specific model that will fit the personalized needs of your ideal home cinema receiver. Finding a receiver online means you can find that perfect one that is great for action movies or Nascar races or video games, whatever your fix. Many times these more customized or specialty receivers won’t be in stores because they aren’t as in demand by the masses.
Also looking for a qulity home cinema receiver in used venues such as craigslist and on ebay are great options as well. Finding a used device is perfectly fine as long as you do your research and ensure that the device is both working and in good condition. You’re expected to do due diligence, but if you’re looking for a great home cinema receiver, they usually don’t date as fast as other pieces of technology, so finding a used one online can save you a heap of cash in the long run!
So there you have it, you now are exponentially more educated in the field and your hunt for the perfect home cinema receiver will soon draw to an end. Remember to always do your research and write down and plan out exactly what you’ll be wanting your home theater to do because there’s nothing worse than having a bad home cinema receiver for your desired needs!