Consumer Advice on Receivers

The receiver is the brain of an audio/video system. It provides AM and FM tuners,Guest Posting amplifiers, surround sound, and switching capabilities. It’s also the heart of the setup–most of the devices in a home-entertainment system connect to it, including audio components such as speakers, a CD player, cassette deck, and turntable, as well as video sources such as a TV, DVD player, VCR, and cable and satellite boxes. Even as receivers take on a bigger role in home entertainment, they’re losing some audio-related features that were common years back, such as tape monitors and phono inputs. Manufacturers say they must eliminate those less-used features to make room for others.


Sony is by far the biggest-selling brand. Other top-selling brands include Denon, JVC, Kenwood, Onkyo, Panasonic, Pioneer, RCA, and Yamaha. Most models now are digital, designed for the six-channel surround-sound formats encoded in most DVDs and some TV fare, such as high-definition (HD) programming. Here are the types you’ll see, from least to most expensive:

Stereo. Basic receivers accept the analog stereo signals from a tape deck, CD player, or turntable. They provide two channels that power a pair of stereo speakers. For a simple music setup, add a DVD or CD player to play CDs, or a cassette deck for tapes. For rudimentary home theater, add a TV and DVD player or VCR. Power typically runs 50 to 100 watts per channel.

Price range: $125 to $250.

Dolby Pro Logic. Dolby Pro Logic, Pro Logic II, and Pro Logic IIx are the analog home-theater surround-sound standard. Receivers that support it can take a Dolby-encoded two-channel stereo source from your TV, DVD player, or hi-fi VCR and output them to four to six speakers–three in front, and one to three in back. Power for Dolby Pro Logic models is typically 60 to 150 watts per channel.

Price range: $150 to $300 or more.

Dolby Digital. Currently the prevailing digital surround-sound standard, a Dolby Digital 5.1 receiver has a built-in decoder for six-channel audio capability–front left and right, front center, two rear with discrete wide-band signals, and a powered subwoofer for low-frequency, or bass, effects (that’s where the “.1” comes in). Dolby Digital is the sound format for most DVDs, HDTV, digital cable TV, and some satellite-TV broadcast systems. Newer versions of Dolby Digital, 6.1 and 7.1, add one or two back surround channels for a total of seven-channel and eight-channel sound, respectively. To take advantage of true surround-sound capability, you’ll need speakers that do a good job of reproducing full-spectrum sound. Receivers with digital decoding capability can also accept a signal that has been digitized, or sampled, at a given rate per second and converted to digital form. Dolby Digital is backward-compatible and supports earlier versions of Dolby such as Pro Logic. Power for Dolby Digital receivers is typically 75 to 150 watts per channel. smart home automation company

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