A home theater receiver is the central hub of your home theater surround sound system. It switches between your audio/video components and sources at the mere push of a button or turn of a knob, like when you want to switch between your DVD player to your satellite programming. The controls (tweaks call this the pre-amplifier section) on a receiver allow you to adjust your sound and video to your specific tastes or situation. A volume knob and tone controls are examples. A remote control allows you to adjust settings AWAY from the front of the receiver. An on-screen menu, or display (OSD) is another way to control your surround sound settings using your remote control and your TV screen.
A home theater receiver also has a built-in multi-channel audio amplifier whose job it is to take the sound signal from whatever music or movie soundtrack you are listening to and deliver a clean, high-quality, non-distorted signal to as many as 6 or 7 home theater speakers. Home theater receivers are usually rated in watts per channel. A 6.1 receiver, for example might be listed as 6 x 100 watts. A multi zone av receiver can even drive speakers in 2 different areas of your home at the same time. Multi source receivers take it one step further and allow you to listen to 2 different source components on different sets of speakers at the same time!
Lastly, a surround sound receiver includes an AM/FM radio tuner, usually with station presets. Onkyo’s Net Tune feature is available on 2 Onkyo receiver models. You might even consider adding Sirius satellite radio for increased entertainment options.