Digital Receiver Buying Guide

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Digital Receiver Buying Guide

The digital receiver is usually described as the centre of any home theatre or home audio system. The reason why the receiver is called the heart of the system is because without it many of the components in a home theatre or home audio system are not able to communicate with each other. It is the component that receives a signal from radio, television, satellite, other components, or another source. It allows the signal to be seen or heard through speakers or a visual device.

Many different receivers are on the market today; these include HD receivers as well as standard audio receivers. Digital receivers may be purchased through electronics shops and on the online auction website, eBay. There are many different aspects of receivers that need to be compared. Sound and picture quality are the most important aspects of a receiver. In order to make an intelligent purchase, a consumer needs to know what the inputs and outputs are and the general specifications that are needed to produce the sound quality that is desired.

Basic Types of Digital Receivers

There are three basic types of receivers. There is the stereo receiver that only receives audio input from a radio station, CD player, or other audio-capable device. The stereo receiver is the most basic type of receiver on the market. The next receiver is the home theatre receiver. The home theatre receiver receives input from almost all audio and visual devices, such as satellites, game systems, and DVD and CD players. The home theatre receiver is the heart of a home entertainment system. Finally, the last receiver is the multi-room receiver. This receiver can receive audio or visual input and transmit it to another room. These are also called source receivers or dual source receivers. They allow video and audio to be transmitted to more than one room of a home when connected and programmed.

Digital Receiver Inputs

Inputs on a receiver allow a receiver to collect information. There are many types of inputs depending on the system. A few basic inputs are standard for most receivers.

Input Type


Line-level stereo

Analogue stereo


Record player

Digital audio

Digital stereo

Component video


HD players



Antenna input







Higher-level input devices


High-end video players

This is a partial list of inputs that are available. Some receivers are designed for certain purposes, such as audio-specific receivers and satellite-specific receivers. Since an input is a signal travelling into a receiver, there are many combinations of devices that can be linked to it through different inputs.

Digital Receiver Outputs

Outputs on receivers are not nearly as complex as inputs. The standard outputs on receivers run to speakers, a television, converter, or stereo system. Most receivers contain digital and analogue outputs. There are more outputs available depending on the individual system and receiver. Some receivers are meant for specific outputs, such as a receiver that has an output to a computer system or soundboard. Most of the receivers with specific outputs are professional receivers and are used by DJs and other sound professionals.

Specifications of Digital Receivers

When considering the specifications on receivers, it is important to make sure that the receiver handles everything that is being put into it. Most receivers are surround sound capable but differ in format, and most modern receivers can handle more than one, if not all, of the surround sound formats.


Most of today’s receivers are known as 7.1 channel.. This means that it can split one signal into seven different channels and send the signal to seven different devices, such as speakers. The channels range from 5.1 all the way up to 9.3. The 7.1 is the most versatile and works with just about any of the speakers a person want to connect to it. Most receivers have at least a left surround channel, right surround channel, main channel, right main channel, and a left main channel. All of these are included with the 7.1 channel receiver with two extra channels available to connect to other devices.

Power Handling

Power handling is the amount of power that the speakers can handle. A receiver or receiver amplifier combination should have the same, or less, power output than the speakers. If the receiver or receiver amplifier combination puts out more power than the speakers or output device can handle, then the speakers overload and can be damaged. Many speaker systems have regulators on them so this does not happen, but older speakers may not have the regulator so it is important to know how much power the receiver emits.

Watts per Channel

When someone speaks of watts per channel they are talking about how much power a receiver puts out to each channel. So if a receiver is a 100-watt 7.1 receiver, it means that it puts out 100 watts to each of the seven channels, or in this case, speakers. Receivers come in a variety of power levels but the amount of watts a receiver puts out does not necessarily mean better sound quality. The quality of sound is dependent on a combination of the receiver, the speakers, and the amplifier if there is one.

Surround Sound Options

Surround sound is a technology that most people want in a receiver. There are quite a few different forms of surround sound from which to choose. The basics are Dolby, DTS, THX, and Dolby Pro. Each surround sound option has a different capability and purpose. The most common are the Dolby Digital and the Dolby Pro surround sound options. When it comes to sound and sound options, it is important to hear the receiver. Some consumers prefer Dolby Digital while others like THX, and still others prefer Dolby Pro. The surround sound option that is chosen is a matter of personal preference and the manner in which the receiver is used.

Standard Cables and Accessories

The cables that one needs depends on the receiver. There are a few standard cables that should be purchased when a receiver is being set up. Most of these are multi-purpose cables, which can be used for more than one component. The first cable that any receiver requires is a speaker cable. Measure the distance between each speaker and the receiver, allowing for enough room for it to lie flat on the surface that it is being run across. Then, purchase a cable that is slightly longer than is needed. Coaxial cable is needed if the receiver is being connected to a cable box or satellite receiver. Component cable is needed if other components are going to be plugged into it as well. Two cables that are becoming more and more popular are the HDMI cable and the DVI cable. HDMI cable is used to connect high-definition tuners to receivers, and DVI cables connect to digital tuners and Blu-Ray players.

Some of the components that may be connected to a receiver are connected through infrared, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth connections. These do not need cables to connect to the receiver. Before purchasing these components make sure that the receiver can handle the wireless connection that the component uses. Ordinarily, the wireless capabilities of a receiver are listed in the owner’s manual or on the receiver, itself.

Another device that may come with the receiver, or may need to be purchased separately, is a remote. If a receiver comes with a programmable remote, make sure that it is compatible with the components that have already been purchased. If the receiver does not come with a programmable remote, then it is a good idea to purchase one that can control all of the components, including the receiver. Most of the universal remotes list the devices with which they are compatible, either on the packaging or on the insert.

Buying a Digital Receiver on eBay

To buy a receiver on eBay, all you have to do is go to the eBay website and input the receiver that you want to buy into the search box, and then click on search. This populates a list of the different receivers for bidding or purchase on eBay.. Scroll through the listings until you see a receiver that you like, and click on the listing. The listing appears with a description, picture, and information about that specific receiver. You can refine your search by narrowing the search terms to a specific type or power of the receiver.

The listing has several important parts that should be reviewed. The first are the product details, which should provide you with the specifications and information about the receiver. Next, there is the shipping and return information, which describes to you the terms of the order. There is also a way to ask the seller a question about the listings. The last thing that should be reviewed is the seller’s feedback and star rating. The feedback provides information about the seller from other buyers, and the star rating tells how those buyers ranked the seller.


The type of receiver that is chosen depends largely on personal preference and usage. The receiver can be used for a stereo or as part of a home theatre system. It is important to choose the right receiver for the other components in the system so that everything works together without power issues or problems with incompatible connections. Looking at the inputs, outputs, and specifications of a receiver is an important part of the decision-making process. It is the only way to ensure that the receiver is both compatible with components already in the system and components that may be added in the future. The last thing is to consider is that all of the cables in the system are purchased. These are all things to be considered while searching for the perfect receiver for your home system. After learning about the inputs, outputs, and types of receivers, one can search for the perfect digital receiver using eBay.

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