HT Setup Question - Need for a Receiver?


Just a question i hope can be answered..

I have talked to a few people at various department stores about recievers and a Home Theater setup.. All I want to do is have a Home Theater style setup that cranks (Around 80w) to play music, watch T.V and play the odd DVD, VCD and Video.. I own a DVD player that is DTS and Dolby Digtal ready but doesn't have an inbuilt decoder..

I've now been told that I dont need a reciever to hook up 5.1 speakers and that simply plugging in a amplified 5.1 speaker package will do the job.. Is this true?.. Do i actually need a receiver?

Greg Lee
What do these people say that you're supposed to plug the speaker package into? The speakers have to have something to play, don't they?

You need a receiver, which will decode and amplify the signal from your DVD player, and unpowered speakers to connect to the receiver. Check all the types of audio output connections your DVD player and other devices have, so you can make sure the receiver you buy has the right input audio connections.

If you specify a budget and give more detail about your equipment, the folks here will probably give you some suggestions.

Actually Logitech, Klipsch, Cambridge Soundworks and others make amplified speakers with decoders that have an average RMS output of 80watts per channel over 5, 6 or 7 channels. They are designed mostly for computers and I wouldn't call them audiophile fidelity but they don't require a receiver and are cheap at around $300. See for reviews.

Greg Lee is right about the amplified speakers. The only way you are going to get self amplified speakers is either computer speakers or pretty expensive self powered monitors and very few towers.Most of the time if the tower is powered, it will just have the woofer powered and not the mid or tweeter. The computer speakers arent going to move much air and cant put out the amount of volume you want. They just dont move enough air! Also, the self powered speakers that I know of that are done right are pretty expensive. Also, it would be nice to know your budget to know what you are looking for. But I would recommend seperates which are pre-amp, amps, and speakers rather than an all in one reciever. But like I said, I need to know your budget before I can reccomend anything. I hope this helped a little and I can really help you out if you let us know your price point. Thats if you want to let us know. You can e-mail me at if you have any other questions. Thanks and feel free to ask anything.

Okay.. you see now i'm confused once more..

I live in Australia, so my price range 'WAS' looking at around $900AU but as cheap as possible..

Well these are the type of speaker packages that i was shown would work;
Sansui Speakers - Middle Ones

My DVD is a Conia M300TZ and has an optical output. I have been lead to believe that by connecting my optical connection to an 'Amplified Subwoofered Package' like these ones, that I'll be able to play Music etc.. straight through it without the need for a receiver..

Also I have been lead to believe that although my DVD player is DTS and Dolby Digital Ready, I dont actually need the decoder if i don't want the above and wish to have just 5.1 split channels...



Greg Lee
Well, judging from what Derek said and the advertisement you give a link to, I guess it would work to get just an amplified speaker system. At least, one that has an AC3 decoder, like the Sansui system in the ad which mentions an AC3 decoder. I assume that the subwoofer in these systems has amplifiers for the other smaller speakers, but I can't tell that from looking at the ad. I don't see any model numbers in the ad, and I haven't been able to find any specifications for Sansui powered speaker systems.

A disadvantage to such a system is that it will probably be difficult to upgrade. Receivers, powered subwoofers, and unpowered speakers can be from different manufacturers and can be replaced separately.

My own favorite strategy for a cheap system (which I have) is a receiver with old speakers bought at used stores.

I'm with you Greg. A Dolby Digital receiver from Pioneer or Sherwood can be had for $150(US). The other $750 could get you an Athena or Energy system that would run rings around anything it its price range.

Want to go cheaper?
JBL, AR, Polk and others will sell you 5.1 speakers for under $500 to go with the above receivers.

Okay cheers and thanks for your help.. I'll start looking for a cheap receiver and some speakers and see if it'll make up the difference..

In the meantime.. would it be possible to say buy one of these packages and then later on buy a good receiver (I've heard Yamaha Receivers are good) and hook it up to that?.. Or would they conflict?

Then I might possibly buy some better speakers down the track..

Greg Lee
Darkhour: "would it be possible to say buy one of these packages and then later on buy a good receiver...?"

If you're referring to a set of unpowered speakers like those Derek mentioned, the answer is "yes".

I have the same questions...

I am thinking to buy a cheap 5.1 set of computer speakers(below $80), amplified, and I don't know if I can use the internal decoder of a DVD player(DTS or Douby), like Pioneer 656A. The only thing I know is that I CAN CONNECT this set of speakers to the DVD player, but I don't know if I will need an adaptor, or even what DVD player output I should use(coaxial/digital, 5.1), or if a computer speaker set can use the decoded DVD player's output.

Can anyone clarify this for me?
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