The home entertainment system is serviced by two types of components, the stereo amplifier and the AV receiver. However, even though they may look similar on the outside, they are actually very different. The key determinant of whether you will buy a stereo amplifier or AV receiver is the entertainment needs of your home.
While some of the essential features of both systems are the same, there are features on a stereo amplifier that will not be found on the AV receiver and vice versa. We will take a general and in-depth look at the differences between the two, as this will help you make an informed choice when you decide to buy a home entertainment system.
Stereo amplifiers receive sound
Basically, a stereo amplifier is meant to amplify sounds. It is usually connected to an audio source, for example a musical instrument or a CD player with a cable which transmits audio signals to the amplifier. The job of the amplifier is to enhance the received audio in several ways, which it then sent out through a built-in or external speaker.
The volume of sound that a stereo amplifier produces depends on its power, measured in watts. Thus high powered amplifiers produce better and clearer sounds than those with lower power. On the other hand, the AV receiver is meant to receive both audio and video sounds and its output does not depend on its power.
A/V Receiver Receive both Sound and Video
A/V represents “audio and video”, meaning that an A/V receiver has the ability to receive both audio and visual signals from several sources, including radio, video game consoles, as well as CD and DVD players.
The receiver then sends out an output of the received signals to several devices such as speakers or display devices, like a TV or CD player. The A/V receiver usually has several volume and sound regulators and can change between several inputs for a single output. Along with displaying the video, the AV receiver also emits the sounds that come along with it. The AV receiver is specially designed to act as a link and controller for both your video and audio needs. The stereo amplifier, on the other hand, cannot handle video input.
Owing to the fact that the stereo amplifier basically plays music, its music quality as well as output is comparatively better than that of an A/V receiver.
The stereo amplifier is specially designed to function as the regulator and connection hub for an audio-only listening experience. Therefore, if you are more interested in the audio quality of your music, it is advisable that you go for a stereo amplifier rather than an A/V receiver.
Ability to receive HDMI connections
Every AV receiver now has HDMI connectivity which allows both audio and video transmission to travel through it for resolutions not more than 1080p.
There are also several ones that allow 4K as well as HDR video to be transmitted as well. These HDMI connections also have the ability to travel through every available surround sound formats, along with supporting audio return channel.
The AV receiver has at least 5 built-in audio amplifiers along with a subwoofer preamp output. These features enable the creation of a 5.1 channel configuration which is made up of a front left, center, front right, surround left, and surround right loudspeakers. Along with all this, an AV receiver also has a powered subwoofer. The stereo amplifier on the other hand is made up of only 2 built-in amplifiers, and this offers a 2-channel speaker configuration (that is only left and right). This A/B speaker system enables the user to connect up to four speakers in all.
However, it still does not provide a surround sound experience because the only thing that the right (or B) speaker does is to mimic the main (A) speaker. It also drags supply from the same amplifier, meaning that the power of the sound is distributed among both speakers. The A/B speaker option is good in situations where you want to listen to music from the next room or play music in a big room. Thus, the stereo amplifier does not allow for surround sound decoding, nor does it enable sound processing.
Analog and Digital Audio connections
The AV receiver enables integrated surround audio decoding for both Dolby Digital and DTS groups of surround audio types which is part of DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, internet streaming sites, and certain TV programs. This means that the AV receiver allows for both digital and analog sounds. For stereo amplifiers, most manufacturers are incorporating a digital optical and coaxial audio system in other to allow better flexibility with CD, DVD and Disc players as well as internet streaming.
Unfortunately, these innovations do not allow access to or pass through Dolby Digital or DTS surround audio type signals. The highest they can offer is to access a two-channel PCM sound signal. In essence, this means that, a stereo amplifier can mainly handle analog audio connections, while its digital connections are limited.
AM/FM Radio tuner
While an A/V receiver usually comes with a built-in radio tuner (which can either be AM/FM or FM-only), stereo amplifiers do not have an in-built AM/FM or FM radio tuner.
So, what’s the right one for you?
As we have seen, there are obvious differences between the A/V receiver and the stereo amplifier. However, that does not mean that you have to get both for your home. For example, while the A/V receiver can enable surround sound and video, it can also work as a 2-channel stereo system to enable you to listen to music in a conventional way.
Here are some tips to help you make the right decision when you want to choose between an A/V receiver and a stereo amplifier:
If you are not technologically savvy or are a newbie, and do not know how to fit the different components of a stereo amplifier, the AV receiver would be an ideal choice for you.
The A/V receiver offers you more convenience than the stereo amplifier.
If you need the most recent and top quality sound technologies, go for A/V receivers because they are updated every year.
If you require more power in your sound system, go for stereo amplifiers as they allow you to connect as much as 1000W to your speakers
If you need top-quality audio with the best available tweaks and modifications, go for a stereo receiver.