BestBuy has lots of A/V receivers to look at from $200-1000USD or so
Originally Posted by Paratrooper1n0
Can you link me to some product sites?
I have not ventured into the receiver and/or multi-channel (more than 2.1) world yet. And yes, I plan on sticking with analog.
, and you probably have one near you so you can physically see units. What gets you, is that for your usage A/V receivers have LOTS of features you won't care about like iPod docks A/B/C speakers sets for different rooms etc. You probably don't need/want more than RCA multi-channel inputs.
Consumer reports has a handy guide to get started with home theater:
If you're curious here's how my setup works:
Soundcard: Asus D2X Xonar (as DAC)--->Analog output (5.1) to Stereo-mini-to-RCA cables (X3 cables for 6 speaker channels)
RCA cables------->to STR-DE995 multi-channel inputs
DE995 output--->5.1 speakers with powered subwoofer.
If you're using analog outputs like me, your sound card is doing the DAC (digital-analog-convertor). As such you don't need/want an A/V receiver with lots of DAC options. Depending on your speakers, you may need to adjust your crossover frequency for when a given sound gets sent to the regular speakers and when it gets sent to the subwoofer channel. Since you're using your soundcard as DAC, to do this you need a driver-option to adjust it.
If you're in a small room, you probably won't care about the Watt-per-channel specification. What'll get you is powered versus unpowered subwoofers I/O on receivers. Buy for the speakers you have. These days most receivers are made with powered subs in mind.
One of the many parameters for audio quality is THD (Total Harmonic Distortion). My system (minus speakers), can do ~0.01% distortion. To buy a receiver new that can reach that is $500USD. I recently did all this shopping myself, start with Wiki if there is a term or abbreviation that you don;t understand. It ain't simple at all. In the new retail arena, it is cheaper to buy a home-theater-setup-in-a-box than a receiver alone. But customization and audio quality will likely suffer.
EDIT: Some big name games do not do multi-channel audio. For example Mass Effect 1 will only output audio in 2.1...whereas Fallout New Vegas does proper 5.1Edited by Skripka - 8/21/11 at 11:00am