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AV Receivers 101: Definition, Functions, and Why You Need One

What is an AV receiver? Find out the basics about this audio equipment and learn how it could improve your home theater system’s sound quality and performance. 

After browsing online about home theater systems, no doubt you encountered the term ‘AV receivers’ many times. It is a piece of audio-visual equipment that connects the TV to speaker systems. While getting to know about this equipment, you’ll find out that some systems require this equipment, but others don’t.

AV Receiver; A Definition

An audio-visual receiver, or simply AV, is an electronic component that simultaneously receives visual and audio signals from different sources. It controls and vastly influences your home theater system speakers. It processes visual signals, which allows you to see pictures on the screen. It is also responsible for amplifying audio signals, thereby increasing sound quality and volume.

AV Receiver Functions

An AV receiver has various tasks. Below are the primary functions of this electronic equipment.

#1 Connects Audio Sources

One of its functions is to connect and switch audio sources. All audio sources on your home theater system must be connected to a receiver. Thus, each speaker of your sound system should connect to the receiver. By connecting these speakers, you can easily switch or select the audio source you want to listen to. For example, you can choose to play a movie using your home theater system. You could also select to play the movie without using the speakers.

#2 Connects Video Sources

Your TV or visual source must be connected to the receiver. The equipment allows the images to display on the available visual source. The receiver makes it easier for you to specific select video sources you want to play.

#3 Decodes Multiple Sound Formats

The function to decode surround sound formats is unique to AV receivers. Most receivers are compatible with commonly used sound formats such as Blu-ray, Dolby DTS, and Dolby Digital. Newer versions of receivers work with the latest surround sound formats such as Dolby Digital Plus that are usually seen in the latest 7.1 sound systems.

Remember that not all AV receivers are compatible with any sound formats. You have specific the decoder compatibility of the equipment. A mismatched decoder simply won’t work together.

#4 Amplifies Audio Signals

Another unique aspect of receivers is their ability to amplify audio signals to provide power to multiple speakers. A standard receiver contains five channels, which works with a 5.1 channel surround sound. If you are using a 7.1 or 9.1, make sure to choose a receiver that is compatible with these channels.

#5 Home Theater Interface

It also provides a user interface for your home theater system. This feature makes it easier to control the settings and command the sound system.

Do You Need an AV Receiver?

Not all surround sound system requires an AV receiver. Check your sound system’s manual to determine whether it needs a receiver or not. Usually, sound systems with built-in HDMI ARC have no longer need an AV receiver. Also, newer speakers do not support this system. Although it seems convenient that HDMI ARC does not need a receiver, this type of system is not compatible with all devices.

If you are using a standard 5.1 sound system, you will need an AV receiver.