A Stereo Amplifier Or An A/V Receiver For Your Home Entertainment System?

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There are two types of components that are practically driving any home entertainment system.

These are the A/V receiver and the stereo amplifier. If you think they are the same based on the way they look, we assure you they aren’t. Depending on the way you are planning to use your home entertainment system you will buy either an A/V receiver or a stereo amplifier.
On one side, they have some similar features, but they also have some specific features on their own the other component doesn’t have.

Let’s take a closer look at the differences between the A/V receiver and the stereo amplifier.

The Differences between an A/V Receiver and a Stereo Amplifier

A/V Receivers Can Handle Both Audio and Video

As the name suggests the A/V receiver can handle both audio and video signals. At the same time, it can receive these signals from several different sources like CD or DVD players, game consoles, radio and so on.

After it receives the signals the A/V receiver can send them to different devices like speakers and TV or projector or CD player. Besides displaying video signals the A/V receiver has the ability to emit the audio signal that comes with it. So practically the A/V receiver can handle both audio and video signals, while the stereo amplifier can handle audio-only.

Stereo Amplifiers Can Handle Just Audio

As you may guess the key role of the stereo amplifier is to amplify audio. We usually connect it to an audio source that then sends audio signals to the amp. The role of the stereo amp is to amplify that sound and make it better in several different ways and then send that sound to the speakers.

Depending on the wattage power of the amp the volume will be higher or lower. For example, if the stereo amplifier has higher wattage power you can expect louder and clearer sound.

Sound Quality

In terms of sound quality, the stereo amp does a better job mainly because it’s its primary purpose.

It is designed to connect and regulate just audio. So, if you are going to use your home entertainment system mainly for listening to music then a stereo amplifier is a better option.

Surround Sound

In most cases, the A/V receiver has a minimum of 5 integrated audio amps plus a subwoofer preamp output. This allows a 5.1 channel system to be configured and experience all the advantages of surround sound in your home theatre. Therefore, we highly recommend visiting the Audioreputation blog to see what is the most recommended A/V receiver for movies and music.

On the other hand, the stereo amplifier has just two integrated amps and based on that you can configure just a 2-channel speaker configuration. Because of this, a stereo amplifier can’t be used for surround sound systems and at the same time it doesn’t support sound processing.

HDMI Support

If you are interested in HDMI connectivity, we can say that every A/V receiver supports this type of connection. This type of connection enables transmission of video and audio signals for resolutions up to 1080p. Of course, today we have HDMI connections that support 4k video and HDR video as well.

Digital or Analog Audio

The A/V receiver will do a great job decoding surround audio for the DTS groups or Dolby Digital. They are practically a standard for Blu-ray or DVD discs, streaming services and some TV programs. Based on this we can conclude that the A/V receiver can easily handle analogue and digital audio. On the other hand, when we speak about stereo amplifiers, coaxial and digital optical audio systems are being incorporated by the manufacturers for better flexibility and support.

The sad thing though is that they still don’t support or can’t handle DTS surround sound or Dolby Digital signals. The best they can do is two-channel PCM audio signals. Basically, it practically means that the stereo amplifier will have some limits in handling digital audio, while analog audio won’t be a problem.

Radio Tuner

Generally, stereo amplifiers don’t come with integrated FM radio or AM/FM tuners. On the other hand, the A/V receiver usually has an integrated tuner.

What to Choose Between Those Two?

As you can see, although there are some similarities between an A/V receiver and a stereo amplifier, there are some important differences as well. If you can’t decide you can even have them both in your home theatre system. And depending on the way you want to use your home entertainment system; you can use either one of them. If you are into video, you will normally use the A/V receiver to enjoy the movie and boost your movie-watching experience. One the other hand, if you just want to listen to music you can use the stereo amplifier and you will be more than satisfied with your listening experience.


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