A home theater system can truly bring your movies and TV shows to life. The surround sound system and subwoofer work together to create an immersive experience. But does a home theater system need an amplifier?
In general, home theater systems don’t need an amplifier. The reason being, they come with an AV receiver that works as an amplifier. An amplifier is only necessary if you’re making a custom home theater system, and it must be capable of powering your speakers.
Read on as I explain how a home theater system works and what the amplifier does.
Do I Need an Amplifier if I Have a Receiver?
You don’t need an amplifier if you have a receiver, as it already works as an amplifier for your home theater system. Both the receiver and speakers are designed to work out of the box.
In a nutshell, a receiver is an amplifier that also acts as a radio. The receiver picks up a signal from your TV or radio station, amplifies it, and sends it to the speakers.
Your home theater system simply wouldn’t work without an amplifier of some kind, but it doesn’t have to be the included AV receiver.
You can use any amplifier that’s powerful enough.
But I wouldn’t go out of my way to get a separate amplifier. The receiver that comes with your speakers is probably just fine, as you won’t hear much of a difference with an expensive amp.
The Yamaha YHT-4950U, available on Amazon.com, is a great home theater system. It has a powerful AV receiver that can power all 5 speakers and subwoofer without a problem.
Also, the receiver works with Bluetooth so that you can play music from your phone or tablet. The sound is clear, and the bass is punchy, and it’s the kind of sound you expect from Yamaha.
If you’re having trouble setting up your home theater, don’t worry. This video from Sony Electronics Asia Pacific explains how to connect speakers to a receiver:
Do Custom Home Theater Systems Need an Amplifier?
Custom home theater systems do not need an amplifier. Speakers don’t work without an amplifier, and the signal from your TV is too weak to power a speaker. You can make a home theater system with any speakers, provided the amplifier is powerful enough.
A custom home theater system can be significantly more expensive. However, it could also be cheaper if you already have a costly amplifier that you want to put to good use. You have much more flexibility with a custom system.
Plus, you can use whatever subwoofer and speakers you want. The only prerequisite is that you check for speaker impedance. So, before you destroy your expensive sound system, make sure they’re compatible.
Watch this video by Axiom Audio to get an idea of how speaker impedance works:
If you’re looking for a home theater receiver that does it all, get the Pyle PT6060CHAE, which can be found on Amazon.com. It has Bluetooth, six channels for speakers, and it also looks great. The equalizer is split into two parts so that you can fine-tune the sound.
All in all, it’s an amazing receiver for a great price.
If you don’t mind paying extra, these are some unique benefits of a custom home theater setup:
- It offers more flexibility. You can use whatever amplifier or receiver you want. Also, you can mix and match different speakers and subwoofers.
- You can choose your cable length. Most home theater systems already have a preinstalled wire. With custom speakers, you can use any wire length you wish.
- It offers easier mounting. You could even wire the speakers through the wall for a permanent home theater setup. If you resell the house later, don’t forget to mention this upgrade.
- You can add more components. A home theater in a box won’t let you upgrade much, if at all. But here, you can add tweeters, subwoofers, or soundbars.
What Does an Amplifier Do?
An amplifier boosts the signal from the output device, such as your TV or computer. The signal travels to your speakers, where it turns into sound. It also sends power to the speakers. Without an amplifier, passive speakers can’t make a sound.
Passive speakers are speakers that need an amp to work. They don’t have any other way to get power. On the other hand, active speakers have a built-in amp. Your computer speakers are a good example.
For a home theater, you’ll probably use passive speakers because you’ll have more flexibility with them. You can use any wire length and gauge you want. You can use different passive speakers for a home theater.
But I recommend getting five identical speakers for a 5.1 surround sound system.
That way, your listening experience will become more immersive and balanced.
I’m in love with the Edifier P12 Bookshelf Speakers (available on Amazon.com), as this minimalist pair of speakers will look great wherever you put it. It uses silk dome tweeters for crystal-clear treble and powerful 4” (10.16 cm) woofers with a bass port for punchier bass.
Home Theater in a Box vs. Custom Home Theater
There are a few reasons why you might want to go with one over the other. I’ll explain a few important details about both so that you can learn which one works best for you.
Home Theater in a Box
There’s no need to waste time finding the right speakers and a matching amplifier.
If you get a home theater system that comes with everything, it’s pretty much plug-and-play and you don’t need to do anything. All you have to do is mount the speakers, plug them in, and they work right away.
The convenience of a home theater in a box is hard to beat because it’s a perfect choice for non-audiophiles. And they’ll sound miles better than the built-in TV speakers or a soundbar.
A typical 5.1 home theater has the following:
- AV receiver (which we now know is also an amplifier)
- Four side speakers
- One front speaker (usually horizontal and slightly different than side speakers)
- Remote control
So, you get everything you need to get started. The included wires are typically ready to go and you simply plug them into your receiver and speakers. Note that some home theaters only come with two speakers, but I would stay away from those.
There’s also 7.1 surround sound, which has three additional speakers, so you get even more immersion.
The Fluance Elite Home Theater 7.1 System, found on Amazon.com, is a fantastic choice. It’s true 7.1 with floor-standing speakers, and since it’s a high-end system, it sounds incredible.
Custom Home Theater
If you’re a true audiophile, maybe a custom home theater is the best choice as you can combine pretty much anything. Make sure that you get a powerful amplifier or AV receiver because the last thing you want is to blow up your expensive bookshelf speakers.
You’ll have to spend a lot of time figuring things out. But once you’re done with the system, you’ll be left with a phenomenal home theater system.
A custom setup allows you to use a few different speakers. Perhaps you want your more expensive speakers to be on the sides, but a cheaper pair will do just fine in the back. Or maybe you want to use two subwoofers to really feel that chopper flying over your head.
Movies and even video games will feel more immersive than ever.
Note that building a custom system is usually more expensive, and it takes a lot more time to buy matching parts and to set up.
A high-quality home theater in a box can also sound awesome, but it’s not for everyone. So, only get one if you’re up for the task.
Home theater systems don’t need an amplifier if they come with an AV receiver, because the receiver is essentially the amplifier. So, if you’re building a custom system, you’ll need one. You can’t plug more than one speaker into your TV in the first place.