What Is an AV Receiver and Tips on Getting the Best Sound From It

Jul 13, 2022
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what is an av receiver


When you're setting up a newly bought multi channel home theater, one of the most important pieces of equipment is the AV receiver. 

But what is an AV receiver? And what should you consider when buying one?

In this article, I'll go into depth on what an AV receiver is, what it does, and how it works. 

We'll also go through some tips on getting the best sound from your AV receiver, so let's go!

What Is an AV Receiver and How Does It Work?

An AV receiver is a key component in any surround sound system. But what is it, and what does it do?

Simply put, an AV receiver is the hub of your home theater. It accepts audio and video signals from various sources—such as Blu-ray players, cable boxes, and gaming consoles—and distributes them to your TV and speakers.

AV receivers come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have the same basic components: 

  • An amplifier to power your speakers

  • A preamplifier to boost the signal strength

  • A decoder to decode the digital audio and video signals

It takes all the incoming audio and video signals, and processes, and organizes everything before sending it out to the proper outputs like your speakers and the display.

The AV receiver is responsible for decoding and amplifying the audio signals so that they can be sent to your speakers in a proper way. 

It also converts the digital signals from your components into analog signals so that they can be played through your surround sound speakers.

In addition to its essential function, an AV receiver can also be used to control other components in your home theater setup, such as your TV and cable box.

And if you want the best possible sound quality from your system, there are a few things you need to consider when buying an AV receiver, I'll cover that later on.

What Are the Benefits of an AV Receiver?

An AV receiver is one of the most important pieces of gear in your home theater system, just like the head on your shoulders.

Not only does it power and connect all of your audio and video components, but it also processes and equalizes the sound, making sure that everything sounds great no matter what you're watching or listening to.

There are a lot of things to consider when buying an AV receiver, but here are some of the key benefits that they offer:

They provide great sound quality, with customizable options so you can get the perfect sound for your room and preferences.

They're versatile, working with a wide range of audio and video formats so you can play virtually anything.

They're easy to use, with intuitive menus and buttons that make it simple to control all your devices.

They're a great value, providing a lot of features for a relatively low price tag.

How to Choose an AV Receiver

When it comes to choosing an AV receiver, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, you need to decide which type of speaker system you're using. The most common setups are 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound, but there are other options available as well.

Next, you need to consider the features that are important to you. A good AV receiver should be able to handle 4K video and provide quality sound for all your movies, TV shows, and games.

It's also important to find one that has a variety of ports so you can connect all your devices, including gaming consoles, satellite boxes, and Blu-ray players.

Finally, it's important to consider your budget and find the AV receiver that fits your needs without breaking the bank. 

There are a lot of great receivers available for under $500, so there's no need to spend a fortune on this part of your home theater system.

Unless you're going for the blockbuster home cinema experience with sound jumping from your ceilings, then you'll need something more capable.

How to upgrade an AV receiver

An AV receiver is not a product that you upgrade very often, but when you do, it can make a big difference in your home theater sound system. 

Here are a few tips on how to upgrade your AV receiver:

Make sure that the new receiver is compatible with your current speakers and other audio equipment.

Consider the power output of the new receiver. It should be able to provide enough power to drive your existing speakers.

Check the number of HDMI ports on the new receiver and make sure it's enough to connect all of your devices.

Make sure that the new receiver has all of the features you need, such as wireless streaming, Bluetooth connectivity, and 4K passthrough.

How to set up an AV receiver

Setting up your AV receiver may seem daunting at first, but it's really not as hard as it seems.

The first thing you'll need to do is determine where you want to put it. Ideally, the receiver should be placed in a central location in your room, so that all of the speakers can be easily reached.

Once you've determined its placement, run all of the cables from your speakers to the back of the receiver. 

Make sure that each cable is securely attached, and that there are no kinks in the wire, which could potentially damage the speaker or the signal transmitted to it. The connection between the front left and front right channels is very important because it produces the stereo sound that you hear.

Now it's time to power on your system and configure it. This will vary depending on what brand and model of AV receiver you have, so be sure to consult your owner's manual for specific instructions.

In general, however, you'll need to set the input and output sources, configure the surround sound settings, and set the speaker sizes and distances.

How to troubleshoot an AV receiver

Below are some common troubleshooting tips that should help get your receiver back up and running.

First, try turning it off and on again. Sometimes all it takes is a quick restart to fix a minor issue.

If that doesn't work, check to make sure all your cables are plugged in correctly and that there's no debris or dust blocking the ports.

If you're still having problems, try resetting the receiver to its factory settings. 

This will erase all your settings and preferences, but it may be necessary to get your receiver up and running again.

If all else fails, contact the manufacturer's customer service department for help. They should be able to assist you with any further issues you may be having.

Pro Tips for Getting the Best Sound From Your AV Receiver

Once you've got your AV receiver set up, it's time to start using it! Here are a few tips on how to get the best sound from your system:

Make sure that all of your speakers are connected and properly configured. Consult your speaker manuals for more information on how to do this.

Calibrate your receiver using a calibration microphone. This will ensure that your audio is perfectly balanced across all channels. The receiver usually comes with instructions on how to calibrate everything, and nowadays it's pretty easy to do.

If possible, try to position your AV receiver in a location where it will not be blocked by furniture or other objects as the device can become warm. This will help to ensure optimal sound quality as well.

Experiment with different speaker placements to find the best setup for your room. You might have to move some speakers around or even try out a few different combinations before you find the sweet spot.

Make sure all of your components are properly connected and that all cables are in good condition and tightly screwed into place. When connecting devices, always match the color-coded ports on both devices for best results.

If you're having trouble getting the sound you want from your receiver, try turning up the master volume and increasing the speaker volume for each individual channel. 

You can also experiment with different sound modes and audio codecs such as Dolby Digital and DTS to find the one that best suits your needs.

Adjust the settings on your receiver to match your listening preferences. This will depend on things like the size of your room, the type of music you're listening to, and how loud you want it to be.

Last but not least for some systems and wireless setups that are hooked up to the internet, always keep your firmware up to date. Manufacturers like Sonos often release updates to their apps that improve audio playback quality. Some smart TV's also need to update their software once in a while.

Wrap Up

An AV receiver is one of the most important pieces of a home theater surround sound system. It's what ties all of the different components together and allows them to communicate with one another.

There are a lot of different factors to consider when buying an AV receiver, but with a little bit of research and some careful planning, you can find the perfect one for your needs and your home theater system.

Your AV Questions Answered

| Different types of AV receivers

There are a variety of AV receivers but they all do the same thing: receive and decode audio and video signals.

When it comes to choosing an AV receiver, there are a few things to consider.

There are 5 main types:

  • Stereo receivers,

  • Home-theater-in-a-box receivers, 

  • Surround sound preamp/processors,

  • A/V receivers with amplification,

  • Power-amplifier only receivers.

You'll also want to think about the following features in each AV receiver:

  • Do you want a 4K definition passthrough?

  • Dolby Atmos? 7.1 channels?

  • Wi-Fi?

  • Bluetooth?

It's important to pick the features that are important to you and your family, as they can make a big difference in your overall experience.

| How to clean an AV receiver

Cleaning your AV receiver is a pretty simple process, but it's important to do it regularly to keep it running at its best. Here are a few tips on how to clean your AV receiver:

Unplug the receiver and all of your audio/video components from the wall before starting.

Use a soft, dry cloth to clean the exterior of the unit.

Use a vacuum cleaner with the hose attachment to gently clean any dust or dirt from behind and on the sides of the unit.

Re-attach all of your audio/video cables and plug the unit back in.

Turn on your components and test them out!

| What are the inputs and outputs of an AV receiver?

The inputs of an AV receiver can include: 

  • Analog audio inputs 

  • Digital audio inputs 

  • Video inputs 

The outputs of an AV receiver can include: 

  • Analog audio outputs 

  • Digital audio outputs 

  • Video outputs 

  • Speaker outputs

| What is the power output of an AV receiver?

The power output of an AV receiver is the amount of power that the device can output to the speakers. The power output is typically measured in watts.

| What is the frequency response of an AV receiver?

The frequency response of an AV receiver is the range of frequencies that the receiver can reproduce. 

The frequency response is affected by the design of the receiver and the quality of the components used. 

Generally, the frequency response of an AV receiver is 20 Hz to 20 kHz.

| What is the signal-to-noise ratio of an AV receiver?

The signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of an AV receiver is the ratio of the strength of the signal that the receiver is able to process to the strength of the noise that is present in the signal. 

The higher the SNR, the better the receiver will be able to process the signal and produce a clear, noise-free output.

| What is the THD of an AV receiver?

The THD of an AV receiver is the total harmonic distortion of the audio signal that is output by the receiver. 

This distortion can be caused by a number of factors, including the quality of the components used in the receiver, the design of the receiver, and the way in which the receiver is used. 

The THD of an AV receiver can be affected by the quality of the components used in the receiver.

| What is the price range of AV receivers?

The price of AV receivers can vary greatly depending on a number of factors, including the brand, features, and quality. 

However, as a general rule of thumb, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $1,000 for a good quality AV receiver. 

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, so it is always best to check the latest pricing before making a purchase.

| How do I connect an AV receiver to my TV?

What type of receiver do you have? 

If you have an HDMI receiver, then you will need to use an HDMI cable to connect the two devices. 

If you have a component receiver, then you will need to use three RCA cables to connect the video and audio signals from the receiver to the TV.

| Who makes the best AV receiver?

There are a lot of great AV receivers on the market these days, and some of the best manufacturers are:

  • Yamaha

  • Pioneer

  • Denon

  • Sony

  • Onkyo

| What are the features of an AV receiver?

An AV receiver usually has a few different features such as:

  • Multiple HDMI inputs

  • Component and composite inputs.

  • A built-in amplifier that allows you to connect speakers

  • Built-in Bluetooth to wirelessly stream audio from devices

| Where do the speakers hook up to the av receiver?

There are typically four places where speakers can hook up to an AV receiver: 

The front left and right channels, the center channel, and the surround channels. 

The front left and right channels are the most important, as these are the main speakers that produce the majority of the sound. 

The center channel is responsible for reproducing dialog and other sounds that come from the center of the screen, while the surround channels (rear left, rear right) produce the surround sounds in your room.