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Video: Choosing a Home Theater Receiver

Tara W. has worked for Crutchfield since 2004. She writes about whole-house music and video gear, and works on Crutchfield's video team.

More from Tara W.

Dolly, Mac and Tara discuss the features available in home theater receivers, and the best way to choose one that's right for you.

Video Transcript

Tara: We're here on the Crutchfield campus with Dolly and Mac to talk about home theater receivers and how to choose one that's right for you. A lot of people aren't very familiar with receivers but it's the central component-kind of the brains and the muscle of a home theater system. So it'll take the audio and the picture from different sources and pass that on to your speakers as well as your TV. When you guys are helping people pick out a receiver what do you suggest for them?

Mac: Well usually what I look for is: try to match the receiver up with the speakers and the size of the room. The larger the speakers and the larger the room the more power you're gonna need from the receiver.

Dolly: It's also important to think about what kind of components you have. What are you actually hooking up to the home receiver? Do you have a Blu-ray player or a high definition cable box? Are you a gamer and have a gaming system? There are options now for satellite radio and iPods. Most of the new receivers now are gonna have the connections needed for this. If you're listening to vinyl there's even phono input options available for turntables.

Mac: Also another nice thing about most receivers these days is they'll allow you to plug all your inputs up to the receiver and then output the video through one HDMI cable up to the TV. This is gonna eliminate the need for all those excess cables we used to have all hooked up to our TVs.

Tara: And if you're interested in 3D TV you'll want a receiver that's 3D capable and that means that it can pass those 3D high-def signals up to your television.

Dolly: A lot of folks nowadays are looking to stream music and videos from their computer or the internet and there are plenty of options available.

Mac: A lot of receivers these days will have and on-screen display so you'll be able to set them up-calibrate your speakers from the TV instead of just looking at the little teeny screen on the receiver itself.

Dolly: And there's definitely some easy ways to calibrate your speakers nowadays. Some receivers have automatic speaker calibration so I consider this the no-brainer way to set up your home theater professionally. With an included microphone you set it in the room. It helps the receiver identify all the speakers and then send the best sound possible out to the speakers making a custom sound just for you.

Tara: And as you step up to higher end models in addition to getting higher quality and better performance you'll also get some kind of neat add-ons. One of the most popular is the ability to play two different things in two different rooms. So you could watch a movie in your living room listening to surround sound but also play music out on your deck through outdoor speakers.

Mac: And when you're looking to set everything up Crutchfield does also offer free lifetime tech support. Now this isn't just for malfunctions, but also if you have any questions about setting it up, getting the speakers calibrated, we're there for you.

Tara: So to learn more you can visit, send us an e-mail, chat with us online, or call one of our advisors like Dolly and Mac.

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