An AV receiver is aIndispensable device for audio lovers, even more so for those who need high quality audio output. However, choosing a good receiver is only part of the equation. To enjoy that enviable, immersive sound quality, you'll need to find the right types of speakers for your receiver.
Several factors come into play when choosing speakers for an AV receiver. In addition to size and general appearance, you'll need to check technical specifications such as impedance, power, and sensitivity. Combining an AV receiver with compatible speakers helps improve the overall audio quality.
Great, read on for an in-depth discussion of choosing the best speakers for your AV receiver. We'll also look at ways to configure your speakers to get the most out of your AV receiver.
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What is an AV Receiver?
An AV (audio/video) receiver, also called a home theater receiver, acts as the brain behind the entire home theater system. Its main function is to receive, interpret and process audio signals from different sources before sending them to their final destination: the speakers. Inputs can come from media players, radio, satellite receivers, VCRs, DVD players, Blu-ray disc players and game consoles, among other sources.
After receiving an audio signal, the AV receiveramplify the signal to drive available speakers. Receivers are useful because they perform tasks that would otherwise require separate equipment, such as equalizers, preamps, and various power amplifiers. Compared to stereo receivers that typically have two channels of amplification, AV receivers typically have a minimum of five channels of amplification.
What to Consider When Choosing Speakers for Your AV Receiver
When buying speakers for your AV receiver, you should first lookimpedance. Getting the impedance correct will ensure you getdynamic audiowithout compromising the overall performance of the devices.
Described as a measure of the electrical resistance of a device, impedance is often represented by the symbol Ω (ohms). You'll find impedance ratings listed on the spec sheets for amplifiers and speakers. Ideally, to get high-quality dynamic audio, you should buy speakers that match your receiver's impedance.
Receivers often have a resistance range that helps determine the minimum acceptable impedance. For example, a receiver that can drive a resistance between 6 and 12 Ω might work well with speakers rated at 8 Ω. However, you will need to be very careful not to connect high impedance speakers to amplifiers that are unable to handle the load.
Disclaimer:When purchasing speakers, check the AV receiver's spec sheet to determine its minimum impedance. If your receiver has a minimum impedance of, say, 8 Ω, connecting it to speakers with less than 4 Ω impedance is a recipe for disaster.
However, there is no problem connecting speakers with higher impedance ratings to receivers with lower impedance ratings, as the receivers can handle the load.
Mismatched impedance can overload your speakers and AV receiver, leaving you counting the losses. Fortunately, modern receivers come with protective circuits and thermal fuses that help prevent current from flowing in the event of an overload. One way to tell if your speakers and receivers don't match is when they go off frequently, especially during noisy scenes.
For an AV receiver, it's best to stay away from speakers with impedance ratings of 2 Ω and below, as they will present excessively large loads to the receiver. This explains why most AV receiver speakers have an impedance of 6 Ω and higher.
As you prepare to buyspeakers for your AV receiver, be sure to consult the specification sheet to determine the acceptable impedance range. If you choose to buy 4 Ω speakers, your receiver must be more powerful so you don't risk destroying it or the speakers.
power handling capacity
Power in AV receivers and speakers, as in all electrical appliances, is measured in watts. On speakers and receivers,canrepresents how much power the speaker can comfortably handle and the output power the receiver can handle.
Spec sheets usually mention two different types of power: continuous power (continuous RMS power or continuous power output) and dynamic (peak) power. When buying speakers for your receiver, pay close attention to the continuous and dynamic power, which indicates the volume of the speakers during operation.
Continuous power supplies fixed power into a fixed number of ohms, such as 60 watts per channel into both 6 and 8 ohms. On the other hand, dynamic power can transform 150 watts into 6 Ω and 100 watts into 8 Ω. Dynamic power helps ensure that all speakers receive the expected power.
When looking at power specifications, it is highly recommended to choose speakers with lower power capabilities than your receiver. A 500W receiver can perfectly control a 250W speaker, which is not the case when using a low-power receiver. A receiver more powerful than your speakers can drive the speakers, allowing enough headroom to accommodate loud peaks.
Don't pay too much attention to the maximum values, as they rarely count for much. Manufacturers often exaggerate the maximum values to attract potential customers to purchase. Instead, focus onmean square values, which convey the true potential of a speaker to consistently reproduce audio.
Therefore, in terms of power, it is highly recommended to choose speakers that have a lower power rating than your receiver. This is because with high powered speakers you will need to turn up the volume on the receiver to turn the speakers on, which can send clipped waveforms to the speakers, increasing the chance of damage.
Simply put, compare your receiver's power to your speaker's continuous power to determine if they are compatible and can work together. Try to get speakers with less power (up to half) than your receiver. This will ensure that the receiver works well with your speakers without overloading any devices.
sensitivityis a measure of the loudness of a loudspeaker (in decibels) when it is one meter away and is being driven by a single watt of power. Considering the sensitivity rating helps determine how the speakers can be when in use.
While not discussed as often as impedance and power ratings, sensitivity is a crucial feature to consider when connecting new speakers to your AV receiver. Speakers with low sensitivity tend to sound quieter compared to speakers with higher sensitivity.
Speakers with higher sensitivity are not necessarily better than their lower sensitivity counterparts. It just means you'll likely have less difficulty hearing, eliminating the need to invest in a more powerful receiver. If you buy speakers with low sensitivity, your receiver needs to be loud enough to generate sufficiently audible sound from the speakers.
the room size
When all is said and done, you'll need speakers that can fill a room with good audio quality. Assuming you have a capable enough AV receiver, finding speakers that match its capabilities shouldn't be too difficult. Although a high-performance receiver can handle outputs of over 200 watts per channel, you won't need to use it all the time, especially in medium-sized rooms.
Satellite speakers won't do much in terms of good audio distribution, especially in rooms with high ceilings. So it's up to you to assess the structure and size of your room and accordingly buy a speaker that can fill the space without being too loud or too quiet. This is where you can get creative and choose bookshelf, in-wall, or floor-standing speakers with similar or slightly lower power ratings than your receiver.
Are you tired of all the technical terms? Easy, so maybe you should try pairing your AV receiver with similarly priced speakers. While this is more of a shortcut than a proven solution, you can try shopping for speakers in the same price range as your receiver.
Buying $40 worth of speakers to service your $2,500 receiver is a sure recipe for disaster. However, if you spend, say, $1,200 on your receiver and end up spending $700 on your speakers, chances are you'll get your money's worth.
Disclaimer:Buying speakers for a receiver based on price is not a safe way to get compatible speakers. To increase the chances of success, it is highly recommended to consult an expert. So don't hesitate to inquire until you get speakers that are perfect for your receiver; after all, you will pay the best price.
You can choose to buy a full set of speakers, or do it the hard (and legendary) way of gradually adding speakers. When purchasing individual speakers you will need to take extra care to ensure you are purchasing products that complement the head unit.
However, if you're not the type to assemble your surround sound speakers one by one, it's best to buy a complete set of home theater speakers to lighten the load. Either way, be sure to check the resistance and overall power stats to get speakers that are compatible with your receiver.
With multiple types of speakers available on the market, finding one that meets your home audio and design needs is anything but easy. To help you find the best speaker type for your AC receiver, here is a detailed overview of some of the main speaker types:
Also called a media bar, a soundbar is a speaker that projects audio courtesy of its wide enclosure. Soundbars are characterized by their width, as they are usually wider than they are tall. While the soundbar's design is typically acoustic-oriented, its wide form factor allows for easy mounting above or below display devices.
Typically, multiple speakers are placed inside a soundbar to create a surround or stereo effect. Like active systems, most soundbars have built-in amplification that allows direct audio playback without the need for a separate amplifier. However, if you want a receiver-powered soundbar, you'll need to opt for a passive soundbar.
passive sound barsthey usually need amplifiers to produce audio output. Passive soundbars often include front left, front right and center speakers in one unit to provide the desired surround sound. Compared to regular soundbars, passive soundbars perform much better when it comes to dynamic and immersive audio.
Some soundbars come as a complete package with dedicated surround speakers and a wireless subwoofer. An example is theNakamichi Shockwave 7.2.4 channel Dolby Atmos Patent pending soundbarspace envelope elevation(SSE) Technology.
center channel speaker
A center speaker plays the most important role of reproducing center channel information in a surround sound system. While it's mostly dialogue, it can also be music and sound effects in a movie.
In most cases, the center speaker is usually a single-channel mono speaker, but with multiplemidrange driversand tweeters. You'll find speaker terminals that allow you to connect to your AV receiver.
A good example of a respectable center channel speaker to connect to your receiver is thePolk Audio Center channel speaker. This center channel speaker features a superior quality balanced dome tweeter.neodymium magnetstructure that allows the realistic reproduction of instruments and voices.
Most bookshelf speakers are equipped with two drivers, a tweeter for high frequencies and a woofer to handle low frequencies. These speakers are common in most homes due to their convenient sizes as they can fit in cabinets, small speaker stands, and bookshelves.
These types of speakers are typically used for left and right pairs, but you can also use them for surround sound, although they can be difficult to fit in small rooms. When purchasing bookshelf speakers for your AV receiver, be sure to check the impedance and power rating to ensure they are fully compatible.
Also called floor or tower speakers, thesethe speakers are ideal for home theaterconfigurations and can handle frequency ranges up to 30 Hz. The convenient size of the tower speakers allows them to reproduce extremely low bass frequencies while still having clarity in the high and mid frequencies.
The height allows for the placement of multiple speaker drivers, so each one will be able to reproduce specific frequencies with very clean crossover between them. In home theater systems you will mostly find floor standing speakers used for the left and right speakers.
Since tower speakers are designed to reproduce low and mid frequencies well, you may not need to connect a subwoofer to your AV receiver. However, a subwoofer may be necessary if you are watching a movie with very low sound effects.
An example of a high quality floor standing speaker is theKEF Q550 floor standing speakerWorks well in limited spaces. It features KEF's unique set of Uni-Q drivers that help promote more accurate 3D sound.
Subwoofers are commonplace gadgets that regularly appear in the speaker world. Subwoofers come in a variety of sizes and shapes and are designed to reproduce deep bass sounds, allowing for proper bass sound effects.
Subs usually have cones ranging from 6 inches (15 cm) to 15 inches (38 cm) or even larger. As a general rule, the larger the cone of a subwoofer, the better its performance in producing low frequencies.
These speakers are used as part of surround sound systems and are mostly used inSurround sound 5.1 or 7.1, but you can also buy these bad boys separately to add to your existing speaker setup. Satellite speakers are preferred for homes with limited space due to their small size, which eliminates the need to move or remove furniture.
The main disadvantage of satellite speakers is their inability to reproduce the lowest frequencies. Sure, they can be a great investment for high and mid frequencies, but you'll likely need a subwoofer for your lower frequency needs.
A great example of satellite speakers includes theSVS Prime satellite speakerit comes as a pair. This pair of satellite speakers reduces distortion while delivering impressive bass response for high-quality audio output.
Bipolar and dipole loudspeakers
These types of speakers are mainly used as surround sound speakers as they have a unique design characterized by two speakers included in one unit. Dual speakers reproduce sound by firing in different directions simultaneously, thus creating a less directional output.
Their ability to send sound in different directions makes bipolar and dipole speakers ideal when used as part of multidirectional surround sound. On bipolar speakers, the audio is usually in phase, meaning both speakers are pushing and pulling at the same time. On the other hand, the audio normally produced is out of phase by a margin of 180 degrees in dipole speakers.
Wireless speakers are becoming more and more popular due to advances in technology. In most cases, wireless speakers are used for the subwoofer and surround sound. While wireless speakers help improve comfort, they only work when used on AV receivers that support wireless speaker technology.
However, most receiver-compatible wireless systems do not allow speakers to be part of the surround sound setup. Instead, they primarily work for multi-room audio in and around the house.
Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers
Dolby Atmos Elevator Speakers are designed to direct sound waves upward so that they reflect off the ceiling, allowing for immersive audio quality. These speakers are easy to set up and are primarily used as supplemental speakers to give the final audio output the edge it needs to create an immersive atmosphere.
However, for these little giants to work, they will need a room with a low ceiling. Flat ceilings work best as they tend to reflect and send sound waves back to the listener, allowing for a proper wraparound feel.
The Best AV Receivers to Suit Different Types of Speakers
The type of receiver you get plays a big part in determining which speakers work best. As a result, you'll need a receiver that can accommodate multiple inputs and outputs. Since most people tend to add new speakers to complement their existing ones, having a multi-channel AV receiver is vital.
Ideally, you should get receivers with 7.1 channels or more, as they give you the freedom to add new speakers as needed. The more channels a receiver has, the better your chances of improving overall sound quality and getting high-quality surround audio.
Are you curious about the best AV receivers to suit different types of speakers? Then you'll love our little survey of the best AV receivers on the market.
Denon AVR-X22700H 7.2 Channel AV Receiver
HeDenon AVR-X22700H 7.2 Channel AV Receiveris a high-quality AV receiver rated at 95W per channel and fully compatible with 3D audio formats, making it an excellent choice for home entertainment enthusiasts. With a minimum resistance of 8 ohms, this seven-channel receiver will easily accommodate most modern speakers.
Denon's 7.2-channel AV receiver stands out for its wireless streaming capabilities. Some of its impressive features include Bluetooth, Heos multi-room streaming, and AirPlay2, which let you stream from anywhere in the house. When purchasing speakers for this bad boy, choose ones rated less than 80W per channel or even less to avoid draining your devices.
Yamaha RX-A1080 Aventage 7.2 Channel Receiver
With a very impressive wedge of anti-resonance technology, theYamaha RX-A1080 Aventage 7.2 Channel ReceiverThe receiver can dampen the vibrations coming from the power transistor, heat sinks and power transformer. It also helps to minimize vibrations coming from the speakers, thus improving the overall audio quality.
With this receiver, you won't have to worry so much about equalizing your speakers. It features impressive AI technology that instantly analyzes various scenes, focusing on sonic elements like background music, dialogues, sound effects and ambient sounds. Once the AI evaluates the sounds, it automatically optimizes the final output, allowing for a clean, high-quality surround effect.
This high-capacity receiver is compatible with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, allowing for an extraordinary audio experience. Once connected to the correct speakers, the receivers will provide realistic surround sound.
Marantz SR8012 11.2 channel receiver
HeMarantz SR8012 11.2 channel receiveris among the best when it comes to high power performance. Its explosive power allows you to achieve theatrical effects in the comfort of your home. Widely known as the beast of AV receivers, this bad boy can accommodate up to 11 speakers and two subwoofers, making it a reliable receiver for audio lovers.
Even better, all channels deliver an impressive 205W, allowing for seamless surround sound integration. It also features 32-bit 192k converters for all channels, ensuring the best listening experience.
This AV receiver has an Audyssey MultEQ acoustic correction feature that uses advanced algorithms to examine the output of all speakers to ensure all effects are balanced to produce rich sound.
Frequently Asked Questions about Combining Speakers with Receivers
Can any speaker be used with a receiver?
Yes, you can use any speaker with a receiver as long as you check the ohm load and overall power. For AV receivers, try using speakers in the 8 ohm range, as they tend to work well. However, avoid going below the minimum impedance rating indicated on your receiver to avoid overloading it.
How many speakers can I connect to one receiver?
The number of speakers you can connect to one receiver depends on the number of channels. You can choose between 5.1 channels, 7.1 channels, 9.1 channels or even go higher, depending on your preferences (and budget).
More channels means you can connect more speakers to your receiver. Therefore, be very careful when buying a receiver, especially if you like to listen through multiple outputs.
Is it advisable to buy an AV receiver with speakers separately?
We highly recommend purchasing a separate receiver and speakers if you want better sound quality and the option to upgrade over time. This is because with a standby receiver you can easily change or add speakers based on the number of channels.
However, for some people, especially those with little technical knowledge of connections and powers, it is better to buy complete kits. The sound won't be as good as it could be, but it's relatively easy to set up.
What is a Second Zone Capable Receiver?
A second zone capable receiver lets you connect multiple video sources (Blu-ray player, Apple TV, cable, etc.) and send the signal to two TVs in separate rooms. By sending signals from a second source to a different audio system, this technology allows you and your family to enjoy viewing in different locations.
How can I tell if my speakers and AV receiver are incompatible?
Aside from the obvious crappy audio output, you'll know your connections are wrong when you constantly need to turn the receiver (or speakers) volume to maximum. Another sign of incompatibility is when the AV receiver keeps turning off during noisy scenes.
Ideally, a good speaker and AV connection should produce a well-balanced and dynamic audio output. At the time of purchase, be sure to check the top ratings to ensure you are purchasing speakers of the correct audio quality.
Choosing speakers for an AV receiver is no walk in the park (especially if you're inexperienced). However, by understanding key terms like impedance, power, and sensitivity, you'll be well positioned to choose speakers that are a perfect match for your receiver.
Take as much time as possible to check the size, price, and functionality of the speakers to determine if they are a good fit for your receiver. When buying a receiver, try to choose one with multiple channels, as this will give you the flexibility to add new speakers to your surround sound when your budget allows.