Is An Amplifier Necessary For Home Theater? + (Guide 101)

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This is not a complicated question to be answered but usually, amplifiers’ questions get technical quickly when talking about it. That’s why I will start with a simpler explanation and will dive deep into the technical aspects. The deeper you read this article the better answers you will get. Don’t worry the article is short. So, is an amplifier necessary for your home theater?

At A Glance: As a general rule, If the theater room is small and at least 12’x15′ and LCR speakers in it are 60 RMS watts each in 5.1 and the receiver is 75 RMS per 2 channels then you don’t need an amplifier but if numbers exceed then you need an amplifier to deliver the needed power.

There are many more technical aspects that we will discuss now in this article. Also, I surveyed many home theater owners and gathered data in the form of a poll. That’s why I stay glued to it. You will get many more of your queries answered here.

All 5.1 surround and at least 12’x15′ Theater room owners. Are You Guys Using an Amplifier? (FB Group Poll)

QuestionnairePoll Results
Yes, I have8.22%
No, I Don’t have91.78%
There were a total of 365 participants in this poll

As you can see here many majorities of the theater owners are not using amplifiers.

By interviewing them further. We conclude that they don’t need an amplifier in their system.

All of them have a 5.1 surround layout and the speakers there are of normal power. Like the front L & R speakers that consume the most power. Those speakers are at least 60 RMS Watts each. The receiver they have is providing them 75 RMS watts of power per 3 channels. So, they have more than enough to power up the two front channels with the center speaker and the rest of the watts are taking good care of the rest of the surround sound speakers.

The other speakers in the surround sound don’t consume that much power and the receiver is successfully taking care of it.

Let’s read and discuss the second poll data.

You can read more about my guide about the best SPL meter for home theater. You will know how to perfectly calibrate your home theater.

Those Who Have 9.2.4 Surround and at least a 26’x21′ Theater room. Are You Guys Using An Amplifier?

Questionnaire Poll Results
Yes, I have100%
No, I Don’t have 0%
There were a total of 51 participants in this poll

As you can see here every one is using an amplifier or two in this situation.

Why all? There are three reasons for this why,

  1. Because when I interviewed them I concluded that these are rich home theater owners and they have given a contract to a professional home theater setup company. Those companies have professionals that set up the home theaters for their clients. And they know when to use an amplifier and when to not.
  2. The second reason was that they have large rooms and in these rooms, you need an amplifier to give enough power to the speakers so that speaker sound can cover the whole room. After that, the sound feels completely 3D. In case you don’t want to use an amplifier here then the sound will be one-directional and the movie realism will be lost.
  3. They have Dolby Atmos and complete 15 channels in their theater room. That’s why a receiver with 75 RMS watts or 175 RMS watts per 3 channels can’t drive these channels with perfection. The receiver will blow the speakers.

Stick to the article as I am answering a few more critical questions about amplifiers.

Know how to arrange the speakers in the theater room for the best experience.

Why are amplifiers used in home theaters?

Not every receiver has the power to drive all the channels in the home theater. That’s when an amplifier gives power to additional channels in the theater room. This will give a 3D sound field and will keep the speakers away from damage.

When you have the front LCR speakers let’s suppose 85 RMS watts each and the receiver is capable of 75 RMS watts per 2 channels then this receiver will soon blow this speaker and will be a loss. 

Also, when speakers are underpowered they will experience clipping. And what clipping does is if they don’t blow today they will get damaged tomorrow. Their whole life span will shorten,

That’s why we use an amplifier in home theater systems. The amplifier will have the job to power up the front LCR speakers of 85 RMS watts and the rest of the surround speakers in the 5.1 layouts will be driven by the receiver.

Here every speaker in the layout will get the needed power. The sound will be 3D and the speakers will last longer.

Let’s suppose you add a sub and 4 Dolby Atmos speakers to this already 5.1. Then the Atmos speakers will be driven by the amplifier and the sub will be powered by the receiver. If the receiver supports dual subs.

Know how the set the right crossover for your home theater speakers. Read my guide to know more.

How do I know if I need an amplifier?

How do I know if I need an amplifier?

In-Short: Go and check if your LCR speakers are getting the rated RMS power from the receiver. If it is getting it then you don’t need it, if not then you need an amplifier.

In-Depth: How to know that they are getting enough power? Don’t talk to the manufacturers about their receiver RMS power. As they lie about it almost all the time. They just want to baffle you with their marketing language.

Let’s find out if you need an amplifier or not in easy steps.

  1. Find out the model number of your AV Receiver. Read the user manual that comes with your LCR (Front Left, Center, and front right) speakers. The brands don’t lie about the speaker’s rated power.
  2. Search the AV Receiver model number on the Crutchfield site. Scroll down and they will tell you about the RMS power of the receiver per 2 or 3 channels with THD. I don’t want to get you confused about THD. But the lower the THD the better. I prefer 0.07. 
  3. Now check this RMS per 2 03 channel power with the LCR speakers. If the speakers are rated as 75 watts and the RMS power per 2 channels of the receiver is 85 RMS power then yes they are getting enough power.
  4. But if that receiver per channel power is let’s suppose 60 RMS watts then your LCR speakers are underpowered.
  5. Now you need an amplifier for your theater room.

Did you get something out of this amplifier guide? Hold On We Have Something Exciting To Share.

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Does an amplifier improve sound quality?

Amplifiers give a complete 3D sound field to any surround sound. After I connected an amplifier to my theater system. I was able to feel each direction of the sound. The sound was creating a virtual sound bubble around me.

The whole aroma of the sound was immersive. I was feeling bullets and fast cars running towards me.

This immersiveness of sound was absent without an amplifier in the chain.

Also, the sound was so detailed. I was able to distinguish between treble, bass, and mids. All levels of sound were there to be enjoyed with great details.

My home theater was missing these details before without knowing. 

Do you need an amplifier for a subwoofer?

If a receiver is not able to power the subwoofer up. For example, if the receiver is busy powering all other channels and you want to add dual or 3 subwoofers in the chain and you are pretty sure that the receiver will need to handle the addition.

Then yes you will need an amplifier for the subwoofer.

What's the difference between an amplifier and a receiver?

An amplifier just amplifies the upcoming audio signals. It can only process audio signals and doesn’t have a preamp. And the receiver can process both audio and video and also it consists of building amplifiers and preamps.

Helpful Resources For The FAQs To Read More

  1. This was my opinion read more from this discussion on Quora. (Resource for the first answer)
  2. This was the briefest definition, You can read more about it on TechWalla. (Resource for the third answer)

Watch To Learn More

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Ayaan Khan
Ayaan Khan

I'm Ayaan khan, a freelancer and a Computer Science degree holder from P.E.S. College. After my degree, I started an internship with my father in his home theater showroom. After working for a month I realized that this is the best job in the world for me and it could be turned into a passion. Fast forward to when my internship ended, I joined my father as a full-time home theater equipment tester. I test new equipment and approve it before it can be installed in the customer's house. I love to test equipment and sometimes love to install it by myself in the customer's theater room. I have the right experience and knowledge to learn from my articles. In my Free time I write & answer questions here on AVSFORUM. Every Article on Homelytainment is curated according to Homelytainment's Editorial Policy and Sponsorship Policy. If you have any questions for me. Reach out to my email (Support(AT)

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