Surround sound is one of the most popular features in a home theater system. It provides an immersive experience that can make you feel like you’re right in the middle of the action. But do you need a receiver to enjoy surround sound? In this blog post, we’ll take a look at what receivers are and how they work, and we’ll also answer that question for you.
What is needed for surround sound?
To enjoy surround sound, you need several things. Source components provide the content, typically in the form of physical media like DVDs and Blu-ray discs or streamed digital content like an online movie service. Speakers are where the sounds play, and to experience surround sound there needs to be at least five speakers plus a subwoofer (for bass). You’ll also need an audio/video receiver or AVR. This is the brains of your home theater system. It takes the signal from your source components, processes it, and sends it to your speakers via speaker wire.
What is the point of a receiver?
Why not just connect your source components directly to your speakers? A surround sound receiver does several things that make it an essential part of a home theater system.
First, receivers can provide built-in amplifiers for your speakers, which means you can leave those bulky external amps in the closet.
Second, the best receivers handle all of the surround sound processing, which ensures that you’ll get the best surround sound experience possible. That is why even the best stereo receivers can’t deal with 3 or more speakers.
Third, you can add on extra components to your system over time without having to replace your receiver because the best receivers have multiple HDMI inputs and outputs, plus other digital inputs.
How does a surround sound receiver work?
Generally speaking, the steps for processing surround sound are similar for all processors.
The receiver gets information about where you’re sitting in relation to your speakers (how many channels of audio it’s getting) and then uses that information to send the correct channel of audio to the correct speaker at the right time. The timing of when to play each channel of audio is called the “phase,” and it’s just as important as how many channels you’re getting.
Some receivers will let you manually adjust how much each channel affects the surrounding ones to customize this for your unique setup and preferences, while others will let you adjust the speaker size and level to scale down a large setup when appropriate.
The next step is to process the sound so that it has all of the surround effects the filmmakers intended. This means processing audio channels individually to ensure you’re getting crisp sounds behind you without pesky echoes or reverb. The best processors will even split out these individual tracks into discrete ones for your height speakers, which are specially designed for overhead effects like whispers and rain.
Do I need a surround sound receiver?
Now that you know more about surround sound processing, the answer to whether or not you need a receiver is simple. If you want the full home theater experience with optimal sound quality and the ability to expand your system over time, then a receiver is a must. Just make sure it has all the features you want when shopping for one.
How do you know which surround sound receiver is right for you?
Choosing a higher-end model can get you additional features that enhance your listening experience, but every home theater setup is different, so there’s no need to spend more than you have to. You should prioritize the number of channels over other features because the more speakers you have, the better your surround sound will be. The best way to tell if a receiver is up for the task is its watts per channel rating. The higher this number is, the more powerful it will be and the louder you can get your system.