Need help understanding different terms ...

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Joseph_March, Jan 1, 2004.

  1. Joseph_March

    Joseph_March Extra

    Nov 17, 2003
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    Hello everyone ....

    I just happened to be looking on to get some ideas of which receiver im going to choose from ...

    my newbie question of the days is -

    What's the difference between a "Surround Sound Receiver" & a "Surround Sound Processor" ???

    Is one better than the other ??? Im confused [​IMG]

    Any help is greatly appreciated!

    .. Thanks,

  2. Jason GT

    Jason GT Second Unit

    Dec 12, 2002
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    From its various inputs, a surround sound receiver can take a signal, decode it, process it (add DSP modes, crossovers etc), attenuate it (volume control) and amplify the signal to send out to your loudspeakers. Basically, you directly connect your reciever to your speakers.

    A processor (sometimes also called a preamp/processor or pre/pro) can do all of the above but it cannot amplify the signal itself. Instead of hooking up the outputs to speakers, you connect the outputs of a processor to a power amplifier whose job is to ... amplify the signal. From there, you can hook up your loudspeakers.

    There isn't one necessarily better than the other. Recievers are more convenient; they are a one box solution and are generally less expensive. The nicest receivers approach and in some cases exceed the cost of a preamp/processor combination.

    preamp/processor + power amp (also known as separates) are generally agreed to provide superior sound quality, though the amount of improvement is sometimes debated. Upgrading is easier as you only need to upgrade one section at a time. Also, as a general rule, a good separate power amp will easily outperform the power amp section of a receiver.

    Keep in mind that separates are often expensive. For example, Rotel offers a receiver for about $1300 USD. Their most inexpensive pre/pro is $ 1500 USD and you still need to add a power amplifier (and a tuner if you like radio).
  3. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

    Aug 19, 2002
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    The comparison is very similar to the olden days of stereo:

    For instance, in the two-channel only world, there are 3 main things you can get:


    Integrated amp,

    and a stereo receiver

    A pre-amp is JUST the source selection/volume control portion, that you then connect to separate amplifiers.

    An integrated amp, is both of these in one. It contains in one unit, a preamplifier, and an amplifier, basically a receiver, except without a radio tuner.

    A receiver is an integrated amp that has a radio tuner in it, thus the "receiver" name.

    Now, in the days of surround sound, A/V receivers have lots more going on, more channels, 5.1/6.1/7.1, and digital processors for decoding Dolby Digital, DTS, etc, and adjusting the volumes between all the various channels, etc.

    So a preamp/processor is all the processing portion, but without the amplifiers, as Jason explained. One is not necessarily better than the other, though there are inherent benefits with going with separates. But you must keep in mind that they are different. You need to buy a pre/pro AND amplifiers, whereas a receiver comes with everything.

    Hope that makes sense!

    Also, rotel has a good PDF booklet on their site, that is rotel/B&W biased of course, but it does cover this i beleive.

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