Home Amplifier or Receiver: Which Should I Choose?

What Is a Home Amplifier and What Does It Do?

An amplifier (which is also loosely referred to as “separates” in audio slang) is used to change low signals from your equipment into a high signal that can be sent through your speakers. It does this by boosting the electric current.

This currently uses a 2-channel stereo audio output to send the sound to 2 speakers—a right speaker and a left speaker.

A home amplifier literally amplifies the sound of your movie or music into your speakers. You can have the most expensive speakers on the market but if your amplifier is lousy, your sound will be lousy.

You plug your equipment into an amplifier through a cable. The amplifier is plugged into the speakers through a separate cable to produce sound. The downside is that you need a different amp for different components.

The Pros of an Amp

Amps offer stronger and louder watts than a receiver does. This can completely change the sound dynamics in your room, whether the speakers are for a home theater or for music listening pleasure.

They also can give you a better-balanced input and output and you’re less likely to have to worry about any sound distortion through your speakers.

If distortion does become an issue, you can reduce this distortion easier because the components are kept separate. The circuits of the surround processor can come into several different issues that will ruin the sound.

But if you’re able to track the distortion down to one speaker or one amp, you’re going to have a better chance of fixing the issue at hand.

You also have the flexibility of using multiple brands and setting your preferences. You don’t have to settle for one brand all around. If you prefer a specific brand for your speakers but another brand for your amps, that’s just fine. It’s whatever your heart desires!

Audiophiles and those that have been messing around with home speakers for ages prefer an amp set up to a receiver setup. This gives them more control over the quality of sound for each speaker.

If you’re a seasoned audiophile you know, the more control, the better.

What Is a Home Receiver and What Does It Do?

The modern “theater receiver” is the all-in-one device that amps aren’t. They have a tuner that lets you choose what sound goes to which speaker and they also contain more HDMI inputs and outputs than any amp can give you.

But there are 2 types of receivers to choose from if you decide to use a receiver instead of an amp.

Stereo Receiver

The stereo receiver is the all-in-one device for your speakers. Not only does it amplify sound like an amplifier but it also has volume control and a radio tuner. However, stereo receivers won’t let you transfer video or images.

If you choose to purchase a receiver and your setup is for music, you will want a stereo receiver.

A/V Receiver

An A/V receiver can receive both audio and visual signals hence, the A (audio) and the V (visual) in the name. So, not only does a receiver have the ability to amplify the sound, it can produce pictures as well. They combine video and multichannel audio in one device.

If you choose to purchase a receiver and your setup is for a home theater, you will need an A/V receiver.

The Pros of a Receiver

Receivers are the cheaper solution and they’re super easy to hook up to your speakers. Since advances are made constantly on receivers, the only way for companies to keep up with the competition is to offer a good quality receiver at a lower price.

Since amps stay virtually the same, they can get you to pay a small fortune forhigh-end quality.

Receivers also save you space. If your setup is in a smaller room, you may not have the space to set up several amp components. Then there’s the jumbled mess of cords that you’re left constantly organizing and untangling.

Receivers are the perfect choice if you’re new to the world of home theaters and home music setups, if you need to save a few bucks, and if you don’t have much space to work with.


In order to decide whether an amp or a receiver will work the best for your home, you need to ask yourself a few questions.

What’s your budget? Do you have extra space? Do you want high-quality sound or are you content with a lower sound output? Are you a speaker pro or are you a newbie? Are you creating a home theater setup or is your setup for music pleasure? There’s no right or wrong answer to these questions, just your answers.

What’s best for you all comes down to your personal preferences, your personal situation, and your experience! Don’t feel bad if you need to start with a receiver. After testing the water, you can always move up to tinkering with amps!