A lot of people have the fundamental question – what is an AV Receiver?

It’s really simple. An AV Receiver is the central component used in a home theater. The AV stands for Audio Visual.

Its primary purpose is to be the center of your home theater setup designed to receive audio and video signals from a number of sources, processing them and drive your TV and speakers.

This centerpiece of your home theater system has many duties, namely:

  • Acting as the main user interface to the home theater
  • Switching between the different audio and video sources that you have connected
  • Decoding surround sound signals from your media like Bluray discs and streams
  • Amplifying audio signals, and sending them to your speakers
  • Adjusting audio volume and tones
  • Tuning into AM/FM radio broadcasts
  • Inputting multiple audio and video sources
  • Outputting to multiple speakers, a subwoofer, and headphones
  • Outputting to one or more video displays

How did we get here? It’s pretty interesting…

The average consumer watches TV and movies at home. That experience has typically consisted of watching a television and getting the video and sound from that TV. As technology advancements rolled in, a bunch of things started to happen all at once.

Movie Theater

Movie Theater

Companies like Dolby began creating better experiences in movie theaters all across the world. This meant that when you watched a movie in the theater, you had a great audio visual experience but when you got back home it was substantially different and not in a good way. You got an OK picture and substandard sound from your TV.

Eventually companies decided that there was enough demand and interest in replicating the movie theater experience in the home and the explosion in home theater products began.

TV’s began to get bigger, lighter and cheaper. This meant that the average consumer was getting better picture value and quality at a much more affordable price.

Next, you were able to add speakers to the front and to the back of your room and more recently even to the sides of your room for better sound. You were even able to add subwoofers to handle the lower frequency bass signals from your movies.

At this point, it became clear that if a consumer was going to try and create a home theater environment, a central unit was needed that would control the audio and video signals and make sure all signals were distributed correctly to each component.

AV Receiver connections

AV Receiver connections

That became the job of the AV receiver. The AV Receiver is designed to handle all your video and audio needs and make sure all the components in your home theater receive the signals they need to in real time.

You don’t need an AV Receiver if you are fine with the sound that comes from your TV but if you want your house or apartment to have (almost) theater quality sound, you need a home theater receiver or separates.

There are a number of companies that specialize in creating AV receivers. And there are literally hundreds of them on the market these days, ranging from anywhere from $200 to well over $5,000 and beyond — basically all segments of the market are covered, and it’s hard to be stumped for choices when you are looking to make a purchase.

This site is 100% dedicated to walking you through the features they have and make recommendations about some of the best and most cost effective receivers you can buy for your home.

Some of the biggest names in the business are Anthem, Harman-Kardon, Marantz, McIntosh, NAD, Onkyo, Pioneer, Samsung, Sony, and Yamaha, along with several other smaller brands.

Almost all of these offer support for the latest audio and video technologies like 4K and HDR, and the newest innovations in standards like Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision.

Even the entry level models are capable enough to drive an excellent home theater experience for most people.

Now you understand what an AV Receiver does, let’s talk about:

=> how AV Receivers work