You’ve made the decision to build your own home entertainment system, but now you’re at a crossroads. “Do I need a receiver or an amplifier? They must be the same, right? Given how frequently these phrases are used interchangeably, it is not surprising that this is a complicated subject. However, there are differences between them, so you should probably at least be aware of the fundamentals before choosing your personal entertainment system.
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What is an Amplifier?
An electronic device called an audio amplifier boosts the power, voltage, and current of an audio signal.
Amplifiers use electricity (from a power source) to increase the audio signal by a predetermined gain (the ratio of output voltage, current, or power to input). There are numerous different types of amplifiers. They can be made for a variety of audio equipment kinds (microphones, hardware processors like equalisers and compressors, active loudspeakers, powered mixers, etc.).
Operational amplifiers, transistors, and vacuum tubes are examples of distinct audio components that might be referred to as amplifiers. They can also be created as isolated units, which is the design we’ll be concentrating on today. Amplifiers can be categorised in numerous ways. We could divide them up, for instance, according to class (Class-A, Class A-B, Class B, etc.), channel count (monoblock, dual mono, stereo, surround, etc.), and more.
Your sound system’s amplifier drives your speakers as well as allowing you to choose the music source and regulate the level. A stereo amplifier, in its most basic configuration, controls the left and right channels, which together make up the sounds you hear. Even cordless headphones with an integrated amplifier cannot power speakers or headphones without some sort of amplifier.
It’s vital to keep in mind that amplifiers are made to power passive speakers, or speakers that get their power from the amplifier itself rather than from a direct power source. Active speakers wouldn’t require an amplifier to be connected. Due to the fact that each of these speakers ought to have an inbuilt amp connected and matched to the driver, they are also known as powered speakers (internal speaker). Every rule has an exception, though, so if you want to upgrade an old setup, you may really connect a new amplifier and set of speakers.
What is a Receiver?
A receiver is an electronic device that has an amplifier (typically a stereo integrated or surround sound integrated amp) and some type of built-in radio tuner when it comes to audio/sound systems. A visual component is frequently included in receivers, which classify as “audio/video receivers” or AVRs. Not only will these gadgets enhance and direct sounds from numerous sources. Additionally, they will route video signals to the displays that they are intended for (television, monitor or video projector, etc.).
It should be noted that in today’s technological environment, Bluetooth is a widely used technique for wireless audio transfer. In order to transmit digital data, the Bluetooth protocols really use radio waves (at and near 2.4 GHz). But in terms of semantics, if an amplifier includes Bluetooth capabilities but lacks a conventional radio tuner, it is still referred to as an amplifier (and not a receiver).
A receiver can output audio into five, seven, eleven, or even thirteen separate channels instead of the standard two channels found on an amplifier. It can also handle video data, typically over an HDMI connection. Although it doesn’t look all that different from standard amplifiers—we’re talking about enormous, black boxes here—the difference is in the amount of power, the number of channels, and the sheer variety of options it offers. Room correction, Bluetooth, wireless capability, and other technologies are much more likely to be included with AV receivers.
Should I buy a Receiver or Amplifier?
What then ought to you select for your own audio system? You’ll need a receiver if you want radio functionality or a combined audio and video device. If not, I’d advise choosing an amplifier. Manufacturers of amplifiers can increase the performance-to-price ratio of the amp while also minimising the physical size of the unit without requiring any new circuitry for the radio unit and visual hardware.
In other words, amplifiers will typically perform better than their similarly priced receiver counterparts since they are more “focused” on their mission of amplification music. You’ll probably get a better product if you only use it for audio. However, having a single device to handle all of your home AV requirements can be convenient, in which case an AV receiver is the best option. Naturally, there are a lot of criteria to take into account when picking an amplifier or receiver for your speaker arrangement. These specifications include the following, without being limited to:
Channels (mono, stereo, surround, etc.)
Impedance at output
Do I need a receiver and amplifier?
Usually no. An amplifier is already present in an A/V receiver. An audio signal can be received, processed, amplified for speakers, and video can be passed through to a TV or projector using an A/V receiver. While an amplifier can only accept audio signals, process them, and amplify them for distribution to various speakers. Almost never will a setup require both an A/V receiver and an amplifier.