Home Cinema Amplifier Buyers Guide

If you want the ultimate quality and flexibility for your home cinema system, then a separate home cinema amplifier or receiver is the way to go. A home cinema amplifier enables your home cinema system to be able to grow and adapt to your changing requirements and to advances in technology much more easily than an all in one system. You can choose your own speakers, and the connectivity options are also far greater enabling you to plug in more equipment and so get the full benefit of surround sound from your games consoles and iPod as well as your DVD or Blu-ray player. For this reason the amplifier can really become the hub of your system, and with most amplifiers also having a built in radio (known as home cinema receivers) you'll have everything you'll need. We've listed our top five reasons why you should choose a home cinema amplifier:
  1. Speakers - A separate amplifier will not come with speakers (unless you get some as part of a package deal) so you have the complete freedom to be able to choose the speakers that suit your listening style, your decor, the available space in your room or your budget. This also means that you can also progress in stages by getting the all important front 3 speakers first, and the other speakers and sub woofer later. Read more about speakers
  2. Connectivity - If you are new to the world of home cinema separates, then a quick look at the back of an amplifier can be quite an eye opener! With a multitude of connection options, and an initially confusing array of sockets the rear of the amplifier really shows how flexible they can be. With all the sockets clearly labelled, connecting everything is actually more simple than people first think, and with the auto set up systems that many of the latest amplifiers have, you can have them up and running in no time. See our section on home cinema amplifiers and receivers for more.
  3. High definition sound - the latest amplifiers are fully capable of decoding, or accepting high definition sound over an HDMI cable. This means you can get the full HD benefit from your Blu-ray player with the very latest high quality audio.
  4. Brands - Many familiar brands like Sony, Pioneer and Yamaha produce very high quality home cinema amplifiers, but there are also numerous specialist brands like Onkyo, Denon and Arcam to choose from. The quality of choice means you will easily be able to find something that ticks all the right boxes.
  5. Value - There are numerous home cinema units available from as little as £150, sometimes even less, and when you think of how long an amplifier will last, and the flexibility it offers, we think that represents very good value for money.
When you've worked out if a home cinema amplifer is the right choice (it almost always is!) then you can set about choosing your amplifier - the fun part! There are 4 main areas to consider when choosing your amplifier:
  1. Budget - The first thing to consider is how much you want to spend. Many people start by deciding on speakers and working out what money they have available for the amp and cables after. This is often a good method because bad speakers mean bad sound - no matter how good your amp - so you'll want to get the speakers that can do the job.
  2. Power - Have a look at your speakers power rating and select amplifiers with a similar power rating - basically, you don't want to under power or over power your speakers - you want to get the balance right.
  3. Connectivity - work out what equipment you have, and what you want to connect now or in the near future, and make sure the amp has enough connections to cope, especially the number of HDMI inputs available.
  4. Then if you still have more than one amp on your shortlist, buy the one that has the features you want, or gets the best reviews, or even looks the best! The choice is completely yours!
If you need more information about an amplifier, search our site for the latest reviews, and feel free to post a question - someone will be along to help. Also make sure you look up the best prices for the amplifier you've chosen before you buy!
Tags: Buyers Guide