Choosing a Receiver

How to purchase a Receiver.


A lot of guys get overwhelmed with this part of the process, after all the receiver is the soul of your system.  You can buy a great set of speakers, but you’ll never really appreciate them if your receiver isn’t able fully power them.  That’s why you should purchase both items at the same time, so you can make sure that receiver can properly power the speakers by comparing the specs side by side. 


A good rule of thumb is, whatever price you paid for your speakers the receiver should be about $200 - $300 less (for speakers and speaker sets up to $1000).  So if you bought 5 speakers for $500 (keep in mind you still need to purchase a subwoofer) the price of your receiver should not be less than $300.  The $$$ signs are adding up quickly, but if you really want a true 5.1 or 7.1 (if you have a HUGE room and lots cash) Surround Sound experience a receiver is a must have item.  A sound bar or inexpensive HTIB system will not be able to give you the full effect.  Also, you’ll want a receiver that has an AM/FM tuner, MP3 integration, 3 HDMI ports, and 3D ready (just in case).  Additionally, two other great features are an Onscreen Display and Apple’s AirPlay so one can stream music wirelessly, but not necessary.  


Here are a few things to look for and ask about when buying a receiver.  The most important is knowing that Power ratings can be misleading and must be taken into account with other specs.  Just because one receiver can produce 100 Watts/channel doesn’t mean it better than a competitors that can only produce 75 Watts/channel.  When comparing receivers pay attention to how watts/channel is measured by the manufacturer, you want the measurement to be in RMS (Root Mean Squared) and not Peak Power.  Peak power is not an accurate measurement because it measures all the channels as if they were combined together.  For example many systems are marketed as 5 x 50W and having Peak Power of 250-500 Watts which it could possibly maintain, but only for a few seconds before damaging the receiver. You don’t want to have crank the volume ¾ way up to fill your room with sound either.  When speakers end up damaged its because they weren’t getting enough power.  The amps run out of power and the distorted signal burns out the tweeters and/ or woofers.  It’s always better to have a receiver that’s able to put out more power than your speakers can handle.      


Tip:  An indicator of a quality receiver is its weight.  As you look prices of receivers you’ll notice as the price escalate so does the weight.


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