Amplifiers Vs Receivers | What is the Difference Between Receiver and Amp?

Now, you’re here because you want to know the difference between amplifier and receiver. After all, don’t they do the same thing?

Well, not really. Although the two products do a lot of the same things, there are key differences between receiver and amplifier. With this is mind, it’s important to know the differences before you buy one.  Without further ado, let’s get started!

Receiver Vs Amplifier

A receiver does what an amplifier does, but an amplifier doesn’t do everything that a receiver does. Simply put, a receiver is an amplifier that has more functions that a standalone amplifier. With that said, an amplifier still may be more appropriate for your specific needs.

We would recommend a receiver for the majority of people. They are great for home theater systems and any other situation where you want to connect to a projector or TV.

Those who want to take their music to the next level would be better suited to purchasing an amplifier, as they don’t need the video capabilities of a receiver.

Pros of Receiver System

  • All-in-one system – With a receiver, you have everything you need to get going! There’s no need to spend time trying to find multiple components, and the set-up is really simple
  • Saves space – As we have just mentioned, a receiver is an all-in-package. As such, it takes up hardly any space
  • Generally less expensive – Buying a receiver is generally a lot cheaper than buying all of the components separately

Cons of Receiver System

  • Lower quality sound amplifier – You can purchase some high-quality receivers these days. But even so, it’s hard to beat the sound quality of a separate system. Audiophiles who own large speakers won’t be happy with a receiver system that lacks power and a high-quality sound
  • Hard to upgrade – If you want to upgrade a part of your receiver, you have to purchase a completely new unit. This is in direct contrast with a separate system where you can chop and change the components

Pros of Amplifier Separate System

  • More control – Amplifiers (separate units) allow you to have more control of your audio system. When using an all-in-one receiver unit, you are forced to use those components. However, going with a separate amplifier set-up means you can buy the pre-amp, amplifier, and tuner separately
  • Easy to upgrade – It’s a simple job to upgrade a separate system. For example, if you need a better pre-amp, you can purchase a new one. This simply can’t be done with a receiver system

Cons of Amplifier Separate System

  • Price – Buying a complete separate system isn’t cheap. This is because you’ll be buying the best for each component of the system, which quickly adds up
  • More space – A complete separate system will naturally take up more space than a single receiver unit would

Is an Amplifier the Same as a Receiver?

No. An amplifier processes an audio signal, and then amplifies it through your speakers. A receiver is able to do what an amplifier can do, and then some! Receivers can work as a radio, tuner, input selection, and volume control unit – amongst other things.

When discussing receiver vs amp, we are comparing whether the buyer should buy a system with every component together (receiver) or a system where each component is purchased separately (amplifier).

So, it seems that a receiver is the much more convenient option. But don’t rush out to buy a receiver just yet, as there are benefits of only an amplifier too. Furthermore, there are many different types of amplifier and receiver to choose from.

Standalone Amplifiers

An amplifier receives a small audio signal, and then amplifies it to the speaker. This amplified signal gives enough power to make your speakers work.

Now, we have already discussed the topic of amplifiers versus receivers, but there is actually more to it than that. Those who buy an amplifier will need to purchase other items too. For a complete system, the standalone amplifier will need a pre-amp and some speakers to go with it.

Different Types of Receivers

There isn’t just one type of receiver. In fact, there are two main choices:  stereo receiver and A/V receiver.

Stereo Receivers – This type of receiver is for audio only. As such, they have a number of helpful audio functions, like volume control and multiple input selectors.

However, stereo receivers don’t support a video source, which means they are not for individuals who want to create their own home theater. They are much better suited to people who want a cheap way to power their speakers for music.

A/V (Audio/Video) Receivers – This type provides support for BOTH audio and video. With space for multiple inputs, A/V receivers allow you to connect a number of devices, like games consoles, speakers, TV, Blu-ray player, and more.

If you need a receiver for home theater set-up, you would be wise to go with an A/V receiver. It brings all of the components into a single all-in-one unit.

Should you Buy a Receiver or Amplifier?

The answer to this depends on your personal situation. If you’re building a basic home theater with modest speakers, then a receiver will get the job done.

However, if you want to achieve the highest quality of sound, then an amplifier with separates would be the better choice. This set-up will allow you to customize to your heart’s content.


Do you need a receiver and amplifier?

You usually don’t need both of them. Receivers have built-in amplifiers. They receive audio signal, and then amplify this signal to the speakers, where they can also pass video to a projector or TV. On the other hand, amplifiers can only receive audio signals, and then amplify the sound to speakers. Seeing as they do such a similar job, users should only need an amplifier or receiver.

Will the audio be worse from a receiver?

Not necessarily. The sound quality from a receiver is similar to the sound quality from an amplifier. With that said, a receiver doesn’t allow for a personalised audio set-up.

What is the difference between amplifier and pre-amplifier?

An amplifier is much more powerful than a pre-amplifier. An amplifier needs to boost the signal so it can be used by the speakers. Whereas a pre-amplifier is designed to only provide a small boost of power to bring the signal to base level.


So, that’s the difference between amp and receiver! We hope you now have a good understanding of how these two pieces of equipment are different. A receiver can be seen as an amplifier that has more functions that a standalone amplifier. With more functions and able to handle video, audio/visual receivers are the wise choice for those who are building a home theater set-up. Audiophiles who appreciate the highest quality of sound would be better using a separates system, where they can buy the best of each component.