Best receiver for home theater?
October 9, 2018 12:03 PM   Subscribe

I have a projector, decent speakers, and a Chromecast. I need them to play nicely with each other. My movie nights need better audio.

This is a follow-up to this ask. I am now the proud owner of an Epson Home Theater 600. I have a decent set of logitech speakers (two speakers and a large subwoofer).

I tried to connect them via a 2RCA to female 3.5 mm, which did not work as I am 100% streaming on Chromecast, not connecting my laptop directly to the projector. Apparently the video and audio for Chromecast is sent as a single (HDMI?) file that external audio can't separate and what I now need is a receiver to split the signal so my external speakers will work.

Questions: Am I correct with this line of thinking? If so, what receiver do you recommend. I'm fine with anything under $300.
posted by ananci to Shopping (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
something like this? I have no experience with it but I found it with the search terms "audio hdmi extractor".
posted by BillMcMurdo at 12:15 PM on October 9, 2018

Yeah, if you already have powered speakers a receiver is overkill. Just get a splitter as recommended above
posted by doctord at 12:24 PM on October 9, 2018

the projector does the job of splitting the audio track and sending it out the red and white RCA ports on its rear, you should not need another device for that.

I have a similar setup and it goes like this:

1. chromecast plugged into projector
2. audio cable from projector's audio out to amp (my projector has a standard headphone jack, which yours doesn't, but the RCA ports work the same way)
3. amp connects to speakers.

one question for you is do your speakers accept inputs or do they require external amplification? if they have a headphone input as your post suggests, I don't think an amplifier would solve your problem. I would check your projector's settings to make sure it's outputting audio out of the correct port (some projectors have internal speakers - it might just be that it's sending sound out of there and the volume is very low?)

if your speakers do need amplification, I have this Onkyo receiver which I like very much (it was the cheapest/best reviewed amp I could find that also has a phono input).
posted by mustardayonnaise at 12:29 PM on October 9, 2018

I would future-proof that Onkyo recommendation with something that is 5.1.
posted by bbqturtle at 12:55 PM on October 9, 2018

When I consult the manual, I find that those RCA jacks are INPUTS. As I dig deeper into the manual, it doesn't appear that this projector has audio output, other than the speaker.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:07 PM on October 9, 2018

huh, go figure. disregard my answer then, it seems like you do need that splitter.
posted by mustardayonnaise at 1:35 PM on October 9, 2018

Even the splitter won't work if the OP want to stick with plugging the Chromecast in the projector.

Edit: Oh hmmm, do you plug the chomecast into the splitter?
posted by humboldt32 at 1:59 PM on October 9, 2018

Wouldn't you connect the Chromecast to an HDMI input on the receiver and then have the receiver output video to the projector and audio out to the speakers?
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:05 PM on October 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yes, any portmanteau, that would be the standard setup. You'd plug your source equipment (in this case a Chromecast, but it doesn't really matter) into a home theater receiver, and then it sorts out routing the audio to the speakers, and doing the 5.1 decoding if it's capable of that. Many also have a built in n-to-1 switch (where n is bigger the more you pay, naturally) so you can have multiple sources, but only a single cable running to the projector. Some also upconvert all signals to 1080p or 4k or whatever the video flavor du jour is, for consistency or because they're theoretically better at doing it than your projector (the truth depends on the projector).

However... basic home theater receivers are arguably expensive for what they are (an HDMI switch and an amp, basically) and you can easily put together same functionality with an HDMI audio extractor and a separate amp (or powered speakers) and then add the HDMI switch in the future if needed. Depends on what you want and if you care about having a single box that does everything.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:30 PM on October 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Most projectors don't have audio outputs, in my limited experience. You'll want an audio extractor.

A receiver would be way overkill since you already have powered speakers.
posted by neckro23 at 1:28 PM on October 10, 2018

I have had great luck with the Marantz Receivers I've bought through Accessories4less. They are refurb and are a great value. Bonus is these are probably some of the best musical receivers and not just focused on home theater. This Receiver is a little over your budget but will future proof you for the newer formats.
posted by white_devil at 7:07 AM on October 11, 2018

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