What is a Home Entertainment Receiver?

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  • Written By: R. Kayne
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2019
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In decades past the stereo receiver was king. It was the center of the music system, commonly included an FM/AM tuner, and powered a turntable and cassette player, later replaced by a compact disk (CD) player. The typical stereo receiver had outputs for one set of stereo speakers, or in some cases two sets for a total of four speakers. The home entertainment receiver is the updated version of a stereo receiver with one basic difference: it is designed to reproduce movie soundtracks in surround sound, connecting to the television as well.

While yesterday’s stereo receiver is made specifically for two-channel (stereo) music, a home entertainment receiver powers an entire set of surround sound speakers for duplicating encoded movie tracks. Sound tracks made with modern technologies place sounds within the acoustic environment to create an “envelope” around the listener. Surround sound speakers are placed strategically, connecting to specific outputs on the receiver, to duplicate the envelope created by the sound engineer.


Surround sound can be encoded using 5-channel surround sound, or 7-channel surround sound. If a movie is encoded for 7-channel surround and is played through a home entertainment receiver that only supports 5-channels, the two extra channels are directed through the most appropriate speaker(s). If a movie encoded with 5-channel surround sound is played on a receiver that supports 7-channels, the two extra speakers might not be used, or the receiver might send “duplicate” audio signals through the speakers. All depends on the encoding technology used and on the features of the receiver.

It might be daunting at first glance, to see the back of a home entertainment receiver. There are many more ports than you’ll find on a stereo receiver. The speakers alone occupy an entire bank, and surround sound supports a separate subwoofer for duplicating deep bass tones. CD players, DVD players and auxiliary inputs are also accommodated, plus standard RCA audio, or optional digital audio. Video ports come in at least four flavors: composite, S-Video, component, and HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface). A home entertainment receiver might also support a direct connection from a PC or game station.

Luckily, connecting components isn’t difficult, and the home entertainment center does a superb job of not only duplicating movie tracks but of spreading stereo music across the surround sound envelope. Thus, this updated breed of receiver does far more than the old style stereo receiver. However, if the receiver will only be connected to a music system and isn’t required to connect to a television, a standard stereo receiver is all that is needed.


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Post 2

An amplifier is built into the receiver. Karaoke is not part of the normal functions of a standard home theater receiver. There are karaoke players made specifically to plug into the aux ports of a home theater system. The karaoke unit supports one or more mic's and all karaoke CD standards for displaying graphics on the TV while playing the music. Finally, multi-channel systems are not called "stereo" because stereo refers to two channels only: left and right. Multi-channel systems (surround sound) feature additional speakers placed in a circle or semi-circle around the lister providing a more complete and natural listening experience.

Post 1

Does home theatre amplifier combine with karaoke function? is a home theatre amplifier also called an A/V receiver? Is a stereo amplifier different from home theatre amplifiers? Is stereo just 2 channels? Why are 5.1 6.1 7.1 channels not called stereo?

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