Do You Need a Receiver for Surround Sound?

Businessman in front of a home cinema system

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Knowing which devices are needed for each type of home theater setup can be quite overwhelming, especially for newbies. In this article, we will investigate whether you really need a receiver for surround sound.

It is also true that some people believe that if you have the traditional surround sound setup, you will need a receiver. But with a more modern setup, you don’t really need to add a receiver to your home theater system for surround sound.

Below, we are going to find out for ourselves whether a receiver is needed for surround sound or not. So read on to find out more.

What Does a Receiver Do?

The basic function of a receiver is to take the signals it gets from different devices and amplify them. The signals from your TV are sorted and separated from the video signals and then sent to the different output channels.

There is an amplifier for every channel available in the receiver, which will send the sound to their respective speaker. These receivers are available in various configurations for 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound setups.

A standard home theater setup contains a range of devices for different purposes that don’t seamlessly interact with each other. For that reason, you need to add a receiver for the different components of the theater system to communicate with each other more smoothly.

A receiver also allows you to choose what video you want to display or the sound you want to listen to with a single button.

When Will You Need a Receiver?

If you have a traditional sound system setup at home where you can pick out the different speakers, you need a receiver. This will allow you to connect different speakers in different locations to a specific zone or channel.

These speakers include rear speakers or ceiling speakers that need to be individually picked up and connected to the receiver. This is great for separating the front left from the center and the front right speakers.

With different output options available on the receiver, you can do that and more. Keep in mind that you’ll need to choose the right receiver to seamlessly integrate with your home theater system and all its components.

Having a receiver in your home theater setup is not really necessary, but it will help a lot if you have one. If your system has standard 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound or passive soundbars, you may need an AV receiver in your system.

With an AV receiver, you can connect all of the components of the system to one single device. These components can include your TV, Gaming console, Bluray player, DVD player, and even your projector and smartphone for streaming.

This is great technology, but it is not always necessary for surround sound.

Front side of the AV receiver with volume knob

When Don’t You Need a Receiver?

Another great setup that can be done is to introduce soundbars in your home theater surround sound output system. With this type of audio output, you don’t need a receiver in your home theater setup to provide you with surround sound.

Soundbars come with their own set of speakers and can include a subwoofer for high-quality surround sound output. There are two ways to connect the components of your home theater system for the best results and better quality sound.

The first method is to connect all of the components to the TV and then connect the TV to the soundbar. Another option is to add a subwoofer and more speakers to the soundbar, providing you with better sound output.

Most soundbars will work with a wireless subwoofer and speakers to increase sound output and improve surround sound. Many soundbars also come with HDMI input included, which will do the surround sound audio processing and therefore replace the receiver altogether.

So, the soundbar will do all the decoding and video processing and play the audio all by itself, similar to a receiver.

So, What is a Soundbar?

You may have seen these soundbars in ads or electronic stores, and they look nice. They are mostly made with a smooth and streamlined design to make them display nicely in your home or wherever you use them.

There is more to these soundbars than just their looks, and they are available in different sound configurations, such as 2.1 and 5.1. Each speaker of a soundbar setup is powered by an amplifier that is built into the bar for better quality sound output.

Soundbars work better if the room is not too large so the sound can bounce from the walls into your ears.

How to Use Soundbars

Setting up the soundbar in your home theater system is much easier than it would be with the receiver setup. Simply connect the soundbar to one of the audio outputs at the back of your TV by using the analog or digital connector.

Most soundbars come with both analog and digital Audio-n ports, making it easy to connect to your TV. You can use any of these types of cables to connect the TV to your soundbar for the best sound.

When you have either of these cables connected, you should hear sound from the soundbar, so make sure you select the correct input. You can also use the HDMI cable and connect it to the HDMI-Out port on the soundbar and the other end to the TV HDMI-In.

You can then connect other sources, such as a Blu-ray player, to another HDMI port on the soundbar. With this setup, the soundbar will play the audio while the TV will play the video, as well as disabling the TV’s speakers.

This is the basic setup for connecting the soundbar to your home theater setup for surround sound without needing a receiver.


We now know that you don’t need a surround sound receiver on your home theater system by simply adding a soundbar. Both the soundbar and the receiver provide great sound output, letting you enjoy movies, games, or even just music.

Endless hours of experimentation, professional work, and personal investment in Home Theatre, Hi-Fi, Smart Home Automation and Headphones have come to this.

Former owner of Headphones Canada, a high-end headphone specialty retailer.

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