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Choosing an Audio Visual Receiver

Picking the right Audio Visual Receiver[AVR] or Amplifier can at best, be annoying, at worst cause insanity. Here’s some but not all of the thing to take into account. Receiver or amplifier what is the difference? The only difference is that a receiver has a tuner for AM/FM radio. Your AVR is basically a command center for all your component sounds. DVD, CD, VCR, Tape Player etc. All your different components connect to it where they are decoded and amplified then sent to your speakers. So, number one when looking for a receiver make sure it has all the inputs for the components you have or are planning on maybe someday having. Next decide on what surround sound format you would prefer.

Dolby Pro Logic: This is a base level surround decoding that works with any source. It generate left, right, center and a mono surround channel.

Dolby Pro Logic II: An updated version of Dolby Pro Logic. It generates 5 channels, left, right, center, right side and left side. This is the minimum for today’s standards.

Dolby Pro Logic IIx: An enhanced version of Dolby Pro Logic II that has 7 channels same as above but two for the rear of the audience. If you have room for speakers behind your audience nice feature.

Dolby Digital: Best choice for decoding multichannel Dolby Digital soundtracks used on DVD, HDTV and some satellite transmissions. Useless for VHS or analog TV.

Dolby Digital EX: Enhanced Dolby Digital that allows back surround channels like Dolby Pro Logic IIX.

DTS: A surround encoding/decoding format that is equivalent to Dolby Digital. Not widely used.Choosing an Audio Visual Receiver

Confused yet, there’s more. Lets look at Audio inputs. The number and types of input on your receiver determines how many components you can connect. There are three main types.

Line-level stereo: These are the analog connections everyone has seen before. They normally consist of two RCA jacks. These are fine for Stereo or Dolby Pro Logic reproduction.

Coaxial Digital: This is a 75-ohm coaxial cable with RCA jacks. Necessary for Dolby Digital or DTS decoding.

Optical Digital: A digital connector that uses a fiber-optic cable.

Video inputs are not as important since its is not necessary to route your video signals through your receiver. Though it is more convenient to do so.

Composite Video: This provides the poorest quality video feed. It is a 75-ohm coaxial cable with RCA jacks.

S-Video: This is a better quality connector than Composite and is a cable with multi-pin sockets.

Component Video: This is a high quality connector consisting of three 75-ohm coaxial cables with RCA jacks.

DVI: This is the highest quality connection commonly used for HDTV tuners. Not included on many receivers yet.

Now lets look at Frequency response.

Frequency response measures both the range of frequencies that can be reproduced, from lows to highs, and the evenness of their reproduction. For example, you might see something like this: 40 Hz to 20 KHz, +/-3 dB. That means low frequencies from 40 Hz (cycles per second) to high frequencies up to 20,000 Hz (the upper limit of human hearing) are reproduced with no more than 3 decibels of deviation from perfect accuracy.

The part that is worth paying attention to is the low-frequency limit. For most music and many movies outside the action and sci-fi genres, a lower bass limit of 50 Hz will do. Pushing the bass down to 40 Hz will ensure that you never feel seriously deprived. And if you get it down to 30 Hz or below, you can feel some pretty bone-rattling effects.

Many people put a lot of stock in the power out-put of a receiver. The ability to produce loud sounds depends on both the receiver and the sensitivity of the speakers. A highly sensitive speaker requires less power for the same loudness. For example, a speaker with 91-dB sensitivity will sound just as loud with a 50-watt amplifier as a speaker with 88-dB sensitivity will with a 100-watt amp.

The above information should help, but it is not everything there is to know about receivers or amps.