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In this article, you will learn all about what an AV receiver does. We will discuss the important role it plays in your home audio and video setup. From decoding and amplifying audio signals to providing a central hub for all your devices, an AV receiver is a crucial component for a high-quality entertainment system. We will also explore some popular brands and give you an overview of their features. So, sit back, relax, and get ready to discover the world of AV receivers.

What Does An AV Receiver Do?


An AV receiver, or audio-video receiver, is an essential component of a modern home theater setup. It serves as the central hub for all audio and video signals and is responsible for processing, amplifying, and distributing those signals to the speakers and display devices. In this article, we will explore the various functions and features of an AV receiver, and understand why it plays a crucial role in enhancing your home theater experience.

Understanding AV Receivers

Definition of an AV receiver

An AV receiver is a device that combines the functionality of an audio amplifier and a video processor. It receives audio and video signals from various sources, such as Blu-ray players, game consoles, and cable boxes, and processes and amplifies those signals to provide high-quality sound and video output. It acts as the central control unit, connecting all the audio and video components of a home theater system.

Components of an AV receiver

An AV receiver consists of several key components that work together to provide a seamless audio and video experience. These components include:

  • Audio amplifiers: AV receivers contain built-in amplifiers that power the speakers, ensuring optimal audio performance. The number of amplifier channels determines the receiver’s ability to support different speaker configurations.

  • Video processor: AV receivers feature video processing capabilities that enhance the quality of the video signals. They can upscale lower-resolution video content to match the resolution of your display device, resulting in a sharper and more detailed picture.

  • Input and output connections: AV receivers come equipped with various input and output options, including HDMI, analog audio, and digital audio ports. These connections allow you to connect different audio and video sources to the receiver for playback on your home theater system.

Importance of an AV receiver in a home theater setup

An AV receiver is essential for creating a captivating home theater experience. It serves as the nerve center that seamlessly integrates all the audio and video components and ensures their compatibility and optimal performance. Without an AV receiver, you would have to manually switch between different audio sources and connect them directly to your display device. The receiver simplifies this process by consolidating all the connections and allowing you to switch between sources effortlessly. Additionally, AV receivers offer advanced sound processing technologies and support for surround sound formats, providing an immersive audio experience that enhances your overall viewing pleasure.

What Does An AV Receiver Do?

Audio Processing

Audio decoding

One of the primary functions of an AV receiver is audio decoding. It receives audio signals in various formats, such as Dolby Digital, DTS, and PCM, and decodes them into a format that can be reproduced by the connected speakers. This ensures that you can enjoy the full range of audio effects and surround sound capabilities offered by your audio sources.

Audio formats supported by AV receivers

AV receivers support a wide range of audio formats, including popular ones like Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D. These advanced audio formats take surround sound to the next level by adding height and overhead channels, creating a three-dimensional audio experience. AV receivers with support for these formats can accurately reproduce the sound effects of movies, games, and music, enveloping you in a realistic and immersive audio environment.

Digital signal processing

AV receivers utilize digital signal processing (DSP) technology to enhance the audio quality and create a more immersive soundstage. DSP algorithms analyze the audio signals and apply various audio effects, such as equalization, reverb, and dynamic range compression, to ensure optimal sound reproduction. This allows you to fine-tune the audio settings according to your preferences and the specific characteristics of your listening room.

Audio calibration

To achieve the best possible sound quality, AV receivers often feature automatic audio calibration systems. These systems use a built-in microphone to measure the acoustic properties of your listening room, such as speaker distances, room reflections, and frequency response. Based on these measurements, the receiver can automatically adjust the speaker levels and frequency response to optimize the sound reproduction for your specific environment. This calibration process ensures accurate and balanced audio playback, regardless of the room acoustics.

Video Processing

Video upscaling

AV receivers with video upscaling capabilities can enhance the resolution of lower-quality video content to match the resolution of your display device. This is particularly useful when playing DVDs or streaming video from older sources that may have a lower resolution. The receiver’s video processor analyzes the incoming video signal and applies algorithms to improve image quality, resulting in a sharper and more detailed picture on your display.

Video passthrough

In addition to video upscaling, AV receivers also feature video passthrough functionality. This means that the receiver can transmit the video signal from your source device directly to your display device without any alteration or processing. This is particularly useful when you have a source device that already performs video processing, such as a high-end Blu-ray player or gaming console. By utilizing the video passthrough feature, you can ensure that the video signal remains in its original form and is not affected by any unnecessary processing.

HDR and Dolby Vision support

AV receivers have evolved to support the latest video technologies, such as High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Dolby Vision. These technologies enhance the contrast, color accuracy, and overall visual quality of the content being displayed. AV receivers with HDR and Dolby Vision support can receive and process HDR and Dolby Vision signals, ensuring that you get the full benefit of these advanced video formats on your compatible display device.

Video calibration

To achieve accurate and natural-looking video playback, some AV receivers offer video calibration options. These options allow you to adjust various video parameters, such as brightness, contrast, color saturation, and color temperature, to suit your personal preferences and viewing environment. By calibrating the video settings, you can ensure that the colors are reproduced accurately and that the image looks its best on your display device.

What Does An AV Receiver Do?

Multi-Channel Audio

Surround sound formats

AV receivers are designed to support various surround sound formats, such as 5.1, 7.1, or even more advanced setups like 9.1.2 or 11.1.4. These formats utilize multiple speakers placed around the listening area to create a three-dimensional soundstage, making you feel like you’re in the middle of the action. The AV receiver processes the audio signals and distributes them to the appropriate speakers, ensuring that each sound effect is reproduced accurately and positioned correctly in relation to the on-screen action.

Dolby Atmos and DTS:X

Two of the most popular immersive audio formats available today are Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. These formats go beyond traditional surround sound by adding height and overhead channels to create a truly immersive audio experience. AV receivers with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support can decode and process these formats, allowing you to enjoy the full impact of overhead sound effects, such as helicopters flying overhead or rain falling from the sky. This creates a more realistic and enveloping audio environment, bringing movies and music to life like never before.

Speaker configuration

AV receivers provide the flexibility to accommodate different speaker configurations based on your listening preferences and room size. You can set up a basic stereo system with two front speakers, or opt for more advanced configurations like 5.1, 7.1, or even 9.1.4 setups. The AV receiver takes into account your speaker configuration and adjusts the audio processing accordingly to ensure that each speaker is utilized effectively and that the sound is balanced and cohesive across all channels.

Channel amplification

AV receivers contain built-in amplifiers that power the speakers in your home theater system. The number of amplifier channels determines the receiver’s ability to support different speaker configurations. For example, a 7.2 channel receiver can power a setup with seven main speakers and two subwoofers. The amplifiers ensure that each speaker receives the necessary power to reproduce the audio signals accurately and with sufficient volume. This results in dynamic and impactful audio playback, especially during intense action scenes or musical performances.


HDMI inputs and outputs

HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is the standard connection for transmitting high-quality audio and video signals between devices. AV receivers feature multiple HDMI inputs and outputs, allowing you to connect various sources, such as Blu-ray players, gaming consoles, and cable/satellite boxes, to your home theater system. HDMI is capable of carrying high-resolution video, including 4K and HDR formats, as well as multichannel audio, making it the preferred choice for connecting your audio and video sources to the receiver.

Analog and digital audio inputs

In addition to HDMI, AV receivers also offer analog and digital audio inputs. These inputs allow you to connect devices that don’t have HDMI capability, such as legacy audio equipment or older gaming consoles. Analog inputs support standard RCA or 3.5mm connectors, while digital inputs support optical or coaxial cables for transmitting high-quality audio signals. Having a variety of audio input options ensures that you can connect any audio source to your AV receiver, regardless of its connection type.

Wireless connectivity

Many AV receivers now come with built-in wireless connectivity options. This allows you to connect the receiver to your home network and enjoy various streaming and media playback features without the need for additional cables. Wireless connectivity options include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which provide convenient ways to stream audio from your smartphone, tablet, or computer directly to the receiver. Some AV receivers also offer support for popular streaming services, allowing you to access your favorite music and movies directly from the receiver.

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support in AV receivers offer versatile wireless connectivity options. Bluetooth allows you to connect your smartphone or tablet to the receiver wirelessly, enabling easy playback of audio from your devices. Wi-Fi connectivity expands the possibilities further by enabling the receiver to connect to your home network. This opens up the ability to stream audio from various online services, access firmware updates, and even control the receiver remotely using a dedicated mobile app.

What Does An AV Receiver Do?

Streaming and Media Playback

Streaming services integration

AV receivers are increasingly incorporating streaming services integration, allowing you to access popular music and video streaming platforms directly from the receiver. This eliminates the need for separate streaming devices and provides a seamless experience, with all of your entertainment options accessible from a single interface. Some AV receivers offer built-in support for popular streaming services, such as Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, or Apple Music, while others support streaming via integrated apps or through AirPlay or Chromecast.

Network audio playback

AV receivers with network connectivity can access media stored on your home network, such as music stored on a network-attached storage (NAS) device or files shared from a computer or media server. This enables you to enjoy your entire music library without the need for physical media or additional streaming services. Network audio playback also supports high-resolution audio formats, ensuring that you can enjoy studio-quality sound reproduction with your existing audio collection.

USB and Bluetooth audio playback

AV receivers often feature USB ports that allow you to connect USB storage devices or USB thumb drives containing audio files. This provides a convenient way to play back your favorite music without the need for a network connection or streaming service. Additionally, Bluetooth audio playback allows you to wirelessly stream music from your smartphone, tablet, or computer directly to the receiver. These playback options ensure that you have flexibility in accessing your music library and can enjoy your favorite songs with ease.

Integration with smart home systems

As smart home technology continues to evolve, AV receivers are increasingly compatible with various smart home systems and protocols. This allows you to control your receiver and home theater system using voice commands or through a dedicated smart home app. Integration with systems like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit enables you to control various aspects of your home theater setup, including volume control, source selection, and playback, all without lifting a finger.

Control and User Interface

Remote control

AV receivers usually come with a dedicated remote control that allows you to control various functions, such as volume, audio source selection, and surround sound settings. The remote control provides a convenient way to navigate through the receiver’s menu system and adjust the audio and video settings to your liking. Some remote controls even offer backlighting or touchscreens for ease of use in dark or low-light environments.

On-screen display

AV receivers often feature on-screen displays (OSD) that overlay menus and settings directly on your connected display device. This provides a user-friendly and intuitive interface for navigating through the receiver’s menus and adjusting the various audio and video settings. The OSD makes it easy to configure your home theater system without the need for a separate display or complicated setup procedures.

Mobile app control

Many AV receivers offer mobile apps that allow you to control the receiver from your smartphone or tablet. These apps provide an intuitive interface, similar to the on-screen display, allowing you to adjust audio settings, switch between sources, and control playback directly from your mobile device. Mobile app control offers the convenience of controlling your home theater system from anywhere in your home, without the need for the dedicated remote control.

Voice control

With the rise of voice assistants, AV receivers have integrated voice control capabilities. By connecting your receiver to a compatible voice assistant, such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, you can control your home theater system using voice commands. This hands-free control allows you to adjust volume, switch between inputs, and even start playback of your favorite movies or music, simply by speaking commands to your voice assistant device.

What Does An AV Receiver Do?

Room Correction and Optimization

Automatic speaker calibration

AV receivers often provide automatic speaker calibration systems that simplify the setup process and optimize the audio performance for your listening room. These systems use a built-in microphone to measure the acoustic properties of your room, including speaker distances, room reflections, and frequency response. Based on these measurements, the receiver can automatically adjust the speaker levels and apply equalization settings to ensure accurate and balanced audio playback.

Room EQ

Room Equalization (EQ) is a feature found in AV receivers that helps to compensate for the acoustic properties of your listening room. It applies specific EQ settings to the audio signals, taking into account the room’s unique frequency response and sound reflection characteristics. Room EQ helps to reduce the impact of room resonances and standing waves, resulting in more accurate and natural sound reproduction.

Audyssey, YPAO, and other room correction technologies

Various AV receiver manufacturers offer their own proprietary room correction technologies. For example, Audyssey, YPAO, and others provide advanced algorithms and processing capabilities to optimize the audio performance in your listening room. These systems typically include automatic speaker calibration, room EQ, and other features that help tailor the audio playback to your specific environment, ensuring the best possible sound quality.

Speaker distance and level adjustment

AV receivers allow you to manually adjust the distance and level settings for each speaker in your setup. This ensures that the sound from each speaker reaches the listening position at the same time, creating a cohesive and immersive audio experience. Adjusting the speaker levels also allows you to balance the sound output from different speakers, ensuring that all channels contribute equally to the overall audio performance.


In conclusion, an AV receiver is a crucial component of a home theater setup. It serves as the central hub that connects and controls all the audio and video components, providing a seamless and immersive entertainment experience. From audio processing and video enhancement to multi-channel audio and connectivity options, AV receivers offer a wide range of features and functionalities that enhance your viewing and listening pleasure. Whether you’re watching movies, playing games, or enjoying your favorite music, an AV receiver plays a vital role in delivering high-quality sound and video that brings your home theater to life.

What Does An AV Receiver Do?