AV receivers are excellent devices for managing all of the components of your home theater system. These systems are advantageous for configuring a robust surround sound speaker system as well. But did you know that some AV receivers can also receive television signals?

AV receivers can have TV tuners. These tuners are chipsets located either inside or outside the receiver. You can also purchase a tuner chipset separately and install it on your receiver. There are other ways to connect TV services to an AV receiver input, either through the TV set or directly into the receiver.

Read on to learn more about the various ways you can watch TV with your AV receiver.

Do AV Receivers Have Built-In TV Tuners?

AV receivers, for the most part, contain built-in TV tuners. However, I encourage you to check for this feature before purchasing since it is not universal. If you are unsure, check for a sticker on the system’s side or refer to the manufacturer’s product manual.

Unlike a pair of old-fashioned rabbit ears, the TV tuners built into AV receivers are chipsets. Most buyers look for this option when they feel the current output device disservices the picture quality. However, these chipsets are also useful for recording screen and audio signals onto your receiver.

Where Is the TV Tuner Located?

The location of the TV tuner on the receiver varies by brand. The tuner can exist inside or outside of the system. In either case, you need to connect the chipset to the processor for it to function.

It’s essential to check the receiver’s TV tuner when purchasing to make sure it works properly. Additionally, store and maintain the AV receiver properly to ensure the tuner works appropriately. Your AV receiver does a lot of work and generates heat proportionately. If you leave the receiver in cluttered, airless spaces, the system will damage.

You will also want to check the chipset specifications for any features you wish the TV tuner to have. When you want to install additional components to enhance these features, change the receiver position accordingly.

How Do I Activate the TV Tuner?

To activate and configure the TV tuner, you need to connect the receiver to your TV first to access the settings via the user interface. From there, follow the steps provided to you by the manufacturer. While installation differs from brand to brand, here is a general review:

  1. Connect the AV receiver to your TV via HDMI cable or analog connections for older television models.
  2. Additionally, connect your receiver to the internet via the ethernet port. You may have to run some software, like Windows Media Center for example, to install it on your receiver.
  3. Follow the instructions provided by the receiver UI. It will guide you through the signal setup of the tools that will allow the tuner to function.
  4. Once the UI notifies you that the tuner is activated, it is now functional.
  5. Perform a trial run of your tuner. Use the run as a diagnostic tool to troubleshoot any possible errors made during installation.

What if I Am Adding a Tuner to My Receiver?

Suppose you are adding a tuner chip externally to your receiver. Is the installation much different? Not really. A tuner chipset can connect to your receiver as an input device. The easiest option is to connect it via your receiver’s USB port. From there, connect your receiver to a television screen and follow the user interface instructions as you would for a built-in tuner chipset.

What Can My Receiver’s TV Tuner Do?

Activating your receiver’s TV tuner will provide plenty of features. Improved audio and video quality is an obvious plus. Your receiver can decode and amplify the signals provided by the tuner, making their playback on the output device that much better! Additionally, you can add features to your tuner by connecting the receiver to an external hard drive. For the most features, invest in a receiver from one of the top brands.

Can You Hook Up a TV Antenna to a Receiver?

I established that TV tuner chipsets are either built-in to receivers or connected externally. But what about TV Antennas? You can send television signals to your AV receiver, no matter the method, via an RG6 coaxial cable. Let’s talk through how you can connect different TV services to your AV receiver.

  • Antenna for non-HDTV Over-The-Air Broadcast TV (or non-digital cable without a converter box): This connection is straight-forward. Attach the coaxial cable from the wall to the Antenna/Cable Input on your TV. If you own a VCR or PVR, connect the coaxial cable to that device first, then connect that device to your TV. From there, you would link your television to your AV receiver.

Note: Your cable company may have wired your home with R59 cables. However, these cables work similarly to R6 lines. If you are wiring your home yourself, use R6.

  • Digital cable, analog cable with converter, or DSS Dish: These services work differently. First, you need to run the coaxial cable to the set-top box, DSS receiver, or HDTV tuner, whichever is appropriate. Then, link that device to the AV receiver and the video output to your television screen. Respectively, connect the audio output to your speaker system.
  • Broadcast HDTV on a true HDTV with an integrated tuner: In this circumstance, connect the coaxial cable to the TV set’s back.
  • Digital cable-ready display using CableCARD: With this method, you can directly connect the coaxial cable to your television without a set-top box and then connect the TV to the receiver. This setup is very convenient. Unfortunately, the drawback is that you cannot use the set-top box features like Video-On-Demand or on-screen channel guides.

How Do AV Receivers Affect Picture Quality?

Once again, built-in TV tuners might help picture quality on your television. But is that always the case? AV receivers have visual features that can improve or hinder the quality of an image. The determining factors are the source of the video and whether it needs visual enhancement or not.

AV receivers change picture quality in two ways: upscaling and post-processing.

If you understand how an AV receiver’s amplifier works, then you know upscaling. Like an audio amplifier strengthening signals for playback on a speaker, an AV receiver builds up video signals to play at higher resolutions. This feature may be useful if you are watching a lower quality source, like analog cable, on digital television. However, if the video source already caters to your TV, the upscaling can cause adverse effects.

Post-processing is an AV receiver’s way of touching up visuals for improved quality. Unfortunately, different video sources take to this process differently. Additionally, the post-processing system of that brand of a receiver may not be flattering. Sometimes post-processing can inflate visual blemishes, resulting in a grainy image.

How do you know if a receiver’s visual features are right for you? Manufacturers are not as upfront about visual enhancements since AV receivers are primarily used to enhance audio. But if you know what source you plan to watch, scout reviews and AV forums online for more specific information. Prepare to test the visual features in a series of trial and error. Some sources may look better with these features turned off, while others benefit with them enabled.

Final Thoughts

In short, there are AV receivers on the market with built-in TV tuners. This tuner chipset is a convenient option if you wish to bypass a cable/satellite service or find your current TV service suboptimal. Furthermore, AV receivers can improve picture quality, but their effectiveness is subjective to many factors, including the video output and the video source. Online AV forums are great research tools for home theater enthusiasts if you have a specific query.