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See also my home AV network

Home Theater:
Most are listed as 5.1 channels. The "5" stands for speakers in the front left, center, front right, rear right, and rear left positions, while the ".1" belongs to a subwoofer that helps flesh out the bass
5.2 has two sub-woofers.
7.1-channel system, which uses two side-channel and two rear-channel speakers

Home Theater Receivers at Crutchfield.com

See:
All About Home Theater
Home theater receiver setup guide

Digital Sound
Not only can optical and coaxial digital audio connections carry multichannel audio for surround sound, they can also provide crisper, more detailed stereo sound than an analog connection. These are especially good options when connecting video components that don't support HDMI but do offer digital surround sound.

Optical Digital to Analogue Converters (DAC).
As Far as I know the only receivers that are going to have optical audio inputs are AVRs. Standard stereo receivers don't need them, because if you're doing 2 channel analog audio there is no advantage to having a digital input.

Terms:
AVR - Alf (Egil Bogen) and Vegard (Wollan)'s RISC processor
In 2006 Atmel released microcontrollers based on the 32-bit AVR32 architecture. They include SIMD (Single instruction, multiple data) and DSP (Digital Signal Processor) instructions, along with other audio- and video-processing features.
Source: Atmel AVR - Wikipedia

DAC - Digital to Analogue Converters (DAC)

S/PDIF (Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format)
S/PDIF Definition from PC Magazine Encyclopedia

DTS - Digital Theater System

TOSLINK (Toshiba link) connector.

 

Five Best Digital-to-Analog Converters (DACs)
SPDIF Digital to Analogue Stereo Audio Converter | LINDY UK
Amazon.com: FiiO D3 Digital to Analog Audio Converter - 192kHz/24bit Optical and Coaxial DAC: Musical Instruments $29
Amazon.com: FiiO E17 Alpen Portable Headphone Amplifier USB DAC: Electronics $139
Amazon.com: SMSL SA50 50WX2 TDA7492 Class T Amp Integrated Tripath Stereo Amplifier Black: Electronics

Links:
Home theater receiver setup guide
DSP & SIMD - ARM
Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity - HomeTheaterHiFi.com
Products:


Return to Audio-Video

last updated 5 Jan 2014