HOW TO COMBINE YOUR HOME THEATER TWO CHANNEL STEREO INTO ONE SYSTEM?
I have noticed over the years that there is very little practical advice on combining your home theater and stereo system into one usable system. As someone who is always trying to save a little money and yet still get excellent performance from both my home theater and stereo system, I have been experimenting with combing the two systems for over twenty years. The nice thing about being an audio dealer is that I have had an opportunity to do this with multiple brands of receivers, multiple brands of preamplifiers, amplifiers and speakers. I can tell you from first hand experience that it is 100% possible to pull this off. It just takes a little thought and planning to do it right. I’m going to put a quick list of questions below that should help you decide if you are ready to experiment with combining your systems or if currently you only have an HT receiver, would adding an amp and preamp to it be worth it. The questions are asked from the perspective of a person who currently owns a home theater receiver and is considering improving the music listening experience by adding an integrated amp or amp/preamp combo.
The biggest question to ask yourself is, “If I do this, will I achieve better sound than I have now?”
Things to think about before creating a combined HT and two-channel system
What source equipment i.e. (CD Player, DAC, Turntable, Phono Preamp, SACD Player) will I be using?
Can I afford to purchase a preamp that performs better than the one in my home theater receiver?
Can I afford to purchase an amplifier that performs better than the amplifier in my home theater receiver?
Do I have rack or shelf space for the extra equipment?
How good is my current home theater receiver?
All of the above questions are important. If your speakers are not very good for stereo listening it would not make sense to spend the money on a preamp, amp or integrated amp. Likewise, if you have decent speakers, but you can’t correctly place them in your room, you probably won’t be able to take full advantage of an equipment upgrade. Your current receiver will do just fine, but you could always consider a receiver upgrade in that situation.
If you don’t have any great or high-performing source components, turntable, CD Player, etc., then it probably doesn’t make sense to spend the $$ on a preamp and amp. The reason being is that you need to feed the preamp and amp a good quality source signal. If all you have is a $95 Samsung Blu-ray player, it’s probably best to stick with your receiver.
If you have a very high performing HT Receiver like one from Arcam or Anthem and a few others, you will have to purchase a preamp and amp combo or integrated amp that can outperform it. There are plenty out there that do, they just may start at higher price points.
Hopefully you are following my logic. The opposite would also be true if you have an excellent pair of speakers, set up properly in a decent room. If you are in this situation, then you have a good start an adding two channel components to your home theater system.
What if I have a good stereo two-channel system and want to add a little home theater?
If you already have a decent two channel system, then it is pretty easy to add some home theater to your rig. You could just add a moderately price receiver and some surround speakers that somewhat match your main front speakers and you would be there. Honestly, you wouldn’t even have to add a center channel if your front two speakers are really good. There are multiple ways to add home theater to your two channel rig, but I won’t cover that here. Feel free to email me for advice. firstname.lastname@example.org
HOW TO HOOK THEM UP
The diagrams below are very crude, please don’t laugh. I will be updating these soon. If you have some that are better and don’t mind sharing, I would love to see and use them.
In the meantime, until I can get better ones made, these do work. They should help you will how you would connect your preamp/amp to the home theater receiver or processor. If you were using a HT Receiver, in most cases you would probably just have one 2-channel amplifier. I have had customers use HT Receivers as an HT processor in order to save money. Typically, HT processors are more expensive than receivers.