at-a-glance deciphering features on a product spec sheet feature/spec what to consider Types and # of Inputs/Outputs Ensure that you can connect all of your components, and still have excess inputs so you can grow your system in the future. To maximize quality, you’ll want both analog and digital inputs and outputs. Also, consider a front-panel input for convenience when connecting a camcorder or digital camera. Video Switching and Up-Conversion Most audio systems offer basic video switching, which allows you to connect both the audio and video outputs of your DVD player, cable box, etc. to your audio system and conveniently use the audio system, not the TV, to select which device plays on your TV screen. If you have a progressive scan DVD player or HDTV set-top box, you’ll want an audio system with component video and/or HDMI switching for the best quality. Surround Formats In order to fully experience the surround audio tracks on your DVDs, SACD, HDTV or other Dolby® or DTS® encoded programs, your audio system must be able to process the format in which the program is presented. Number of Channels Some receivers and amplifiers are stereo (2-channel) only, while many are 5.1 channel or higher (up to 7.1 channels or more on high-end models). To experience the Dolby® Digital soundtrack on a DVD, HDTV or video game, you’ll need a system with at least 5.1 channels of amplification. Power Output This rating indicates how much power the receiver or amplifier sends to your speakers. Don’t shop on “watts” alone, as there are also other factors - both measurable and subjective - that affect how loud a system plays. If you enjoy listening to an MP3 Player or satellite radio, MP3 Player or Satellite Radio Control you’ll want to consider a receiver or pre-amp processor that integrates controls for these devices to keep your system looking clean and easy to operate. Lucasfilm/THX™ Certification Once a THX™ certified receiver or processor sorts out the channels with either Dolby® or DTS® decoding, it sends those signals through additional THX-developed circuitry to make home theater reproduction closer to a real theater experience. Automatic Calibration A receiver or processor with automatic calibration can analyze your room acoustics and speakers and tweak your system’s timing and sound levels to help you get the best sound possible at the listening position.
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