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Home Theater Receivers

The centerpiece of your home theater system is your home theater receiver. This piece of equipment is not only a big factor in how your system sounds and performs, but the receiver also serves as the traffic cop in the busy intersection of various signals. In most budget systems, the receiver processes the surround format, amplifies the signal, and decides which signal should be output to the TV monitor. It’s easy to see why the receiver is considered the most crucial part in the home theater system.

The receiver’s first purpose is to decipher the various sound formats you encounter when viewing different sources. For instance, for most DVDs, the receiver decodes either a Dolby Digital or DTS digital bit stream that ultimately outputs 5.1 channels of sound. For normal TV viewing, the receiver most likely receives a Dolby Pro Logic or stereo signal. Thankfully, most new receivers detect the correct format for you. Most receivers also let you select a different sound format manually if you so choose. However, because a stereo signal doesn’t include the proper encoding, you cannot make the receiver play back in Dolby Digital. If you want to obtain surround sound from a stereo source, you need to select a surround sound format that creates matrix channels from a stereo source. Dolby Pro Logic II has this ability, but Dolby Digital does not. Most receivers do not give you the option of selecting the Dolby Digital format when the receiver detects that the input source is an analog signal.


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