There is more to improving or completing your home theater than just going to the local best buy an d getting a new receiver. Look at the following features before plunging in.
Your home theater receiver is the brain of your operation. Without the receiver, nothing else would matter. The receiver is the receptacle for all of the information that is brought into the home via satellite, cable, or antenna. Receivers do everything from the basics of being the channel hub to being the audio/video receiver for your television and the FM receiver for a stereo, as well as the “circuit hub” for everything that is involved in your system. Some of the more upscale and modern models include ports for connecting your XM radio or Ipod. With all of the bells and whistles available on these receivers, it is important to know what you want in a receiver before you ever start looking. When you do start your search, make sure that you do your homework and get all of the accessories you want as well as a good price on your new theater system.
Any receiver can handle a basic two channel stereo playback, but a good model will be equipped with Dolby Digital and or DTS surround sound processing. Both of these formats use five audio channels plus a special low frequency bass to present a more theater like feel and sound quality. Many DVDs are equipped to utilize these features of the modern home theater system. Many of the upper model receivers are equipped with Dolby Digital EX that will allow a greater filtration and presentation of the movie’s background noise and create a more realistic theater viewing.
The most common type of receiver -5.1-channel models- decode the audio information contained in Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks and route them to front left and right, center, and surround speakers in your system via their five built-in amplifier channels. (The .1, or low frequency effects, channel in a movie soundtrack gets directed to a powered subwoofer with its own on-board amplifier.) Along with all of the attributes of the 5.1, the 6.1 include an additional amp channel that drives another surround speaker when watching a DVD equipped with Dolby Digital EX, creating the more realistic feel.
7.1-channel receivers are basically the same as 6.1-channel models, but they include yet another amp channel to drive a second back surround speaker. In this case, the audio information going to both back speakers is identical; it’s just distributed between the two back speakers to create an even more expansive rear sound field. The specifications for the new HD DVD and Blu-ray disc formats allow for soundtracks with up to 7.1 discrete audio channels. So while a 7.1-channel receiver might seem like overkill, right now it’s a more future-proof option than 5.1 and 6.1 models.
Since the receiver is the brain of your home theater, you want to try to get the most bang for your buck when purchasing a system. You may think now that you do not need all of the amenities involved, but in six months, you may wish you had all of the sound quality of that model you saw that was only $30 more. If you are interested, you may want to even get a model that allows you to change rooms within your system so you can switch to a different set of speakers that you have set up in your dining room or on the back patio.
Buying a top of the line receiver with all of the possible accessories is the easiest way to go, but there are negatives to this idea. If you are unfamiliar with a product and its accessories or the correct usage of either of them, you could end up damaging your new investment. It is best to do your homework and make sure that the product you are getting is the correct receiver for your needs and desires.
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