How to Use a Second Receiver as an AMP (Explained)

Do you have an old receiver lying around in your attic or basement?  That old audio system can be used as a dual amplifier. It adds power and richness to your listening experience. But you’re maybe afraid because you don’t know how to use a second receiver as an amp.

Well, after reading this blog post you can turn your receiver into a powerful amplifier for your turntable, CD player, or another sound source with a few simple connections. It takes around 15 minutes, uses no technical knowledge. 

Why & How to Use a Second Receiver as an AMP?

As technology advances, many of us collect unused audio devices, such as obsolete receivers. Rather than destroying the device, you can recycle it as a specialized stereo amplifier. Using a second receiver as an amplifier has many advantages

1. Increased Power

Just adding a second receiver, you may double your amplification output and run stronger speakers. The increased wattage results in louder, clearer sounds with less noise at high volumes.

2. More Inputs 

A backup receiver has extra inputs for supplying additional sources such as a turntable, CD player, or streaming device. Using the receiver’s input selector, you can simply switch between inputs.

3. Zone Control

Running speaker wire from a second receiver allows you to power speakers in another room or area of your home. Place the second receiver near those speakers, select its input and control volume right at the source.

4. Backup Protection

Having two receivers covers your system in the event that one fails. Simply connect everything to the working receiver until the other unit can be fixed or replaced.

5. Experimentation

Try many receivers with different specifications to find out which model and setting combination offers the best sound quality for your needs and preferences. You can then decide whether to make the set-up permanent or to continue exploring.

What You’ll Need to Use a Receiver as an Amp

To use a receiver as a stereo amplifier, you will need the following components:

1. A Receiver

Of course, you’ll need a receiver to act as your amplifier. Look for a model with a strong power supply and amplifier section, which should be rated at 50 to 100 watts per channel. Check that all input and output connections are working.

2. Speakers

You’ll need a set of passive speakers, which don’t have an amplifier built in. Tower speakers, bookshelf speakers, and monitor speakers can all work nicely. Match the impedance of the speakers to the suggested range for the speaker outputs on your receiver.

3. Speaker Wire

To connect your passive speakers to the speaker wire outputs on the back of your receiver, you’ll need speaker wire. Most installations should be good using 16 or 18 gauge wire. Make sure that the cable you choose is designed only for connecting speakers.

4. RCA Connectors

You’ll need a pair of RCA cables for each device if you want to connect analog audio parts like a CD player or turntable. These wires connect to your receiver’s RCA inputs on the back.

5. Optional Digital Connections

If your receiver has optical or coaxial digital inputs, you may want to connect digital devices like a TV, streaming media player or game console. In that case, you will need either optical (Toslink) or coaxial (S/PDIF) digital cables to complete the signal path.

How to Connect a Receiver for Use as a Dedicated Amp

To use a spare receiver as a dedicated stereo amplifier, you will need to make the proper connections between components.

Connecting the Receiver

First Step: Check that your receiver is correctly grounded and in good condition. Using speaker wire or banana plugs, connect the receiver to your main speakers.

The positive terminal is normally red and should be connected to the positive terminal on the speakers.

Second Step: Connect your source parts, such as a CD player, turntable, or Bluetooth adapter, to a receiver input.

Most receivers have many inputs for various types of sources, so select one that fits your source, such as ‘Phono’ for a turntable or ‘Aux’ for an external DAC or Bluetooth adapter.

If your receiver has pre-amp outputs, you can use a separate power amplifier to augment the power transmitted to your speakers.

The receiver’s pre-amp outputs will transfer the audio signal to the power amp, which will amplify it and send it to the speakers.

This allows you to use the receiver as a pre-amp and volume control, with a separate power amplifier offering more power.

Finally Step: Connect the receiver to a power source and turn it on. Select the appropriate input for your chosen source on the receiver, and ensure the volume is turned down.

Power on your source component and slowly increase the volume on the receiver to a comfortable listening level.

Tips for Getting the Best Performance From Your Receiver AMP

To get the best performance from your receiver as a stereo amplifier, follow these tips:

Provide Adequate Ventilation

Check that your receiver has proper circulation and ventilation. Because receivers release heat, they should be placed in an open location away from walls.

Components should not be stacked on top of the receiver. Dust build-up inside the machine can also cause overheating, therefore vacuum vents and ports on a regular basis.

Use High-Quality Speaker Wire

To connect your speakers, use 16-gauge or lower speaker wire. Power loss and audio quality may arise from thinner wiring.

Keep the speaker cable as short as possible for the best signal. To maintain the proper polarity, label the positive and negative ends of each wire.

Set Speaker Impedance Properly

Check your receiver’s manual to determine its speaker impedance range, such as 4 to 8 ohms. Then, match your speakers to stay within that range.

If the impedance is too low, it can damage the amp. Too high an impedance reduces volume and dynamics.

Select an Input with a Strong Signal

Choose an input with a free signal, such as a CD, tuner, or phono, for the best sound quality. Inputs such as television often have a compressed signal with less dynamic range and quality.

Choose the highest quality streaming format available if using a streaming device.

Adjust Settings for Your Listening Space

To suit the noise level of your room, fine-tune settings such as bass, treble, and speaker balance or distance.

In a large room, you may need to raise the bass, whereas in a small room, you may need to reduce it. Check settings based on quality recordings that you are familiar with.

Consider Bi-amping or Upgrading Components

For more power and control, you can bi-amp your speakers, using the receiver to power the tweeters and a separate amp for the woofers.

You can also upgrade to a more powerful receiver or external amp and use your current receiver as a pre-amp. With some receivers, you may be able to add additional amplifier modules.

Frequently Asked Questions About Using Receivers as Amps

Many audiophiles have old receivers in storage that look to be old but still function quite fine. You may be wondering if an old receiver may be used as a stereo amplifier. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about reusing radios as amplifiers:

Question: Will any Receiver Work as an Amplifier?

Answer : Most receivers can serve as amplifiers, as they contain the necessary preamplifier and power amplifier components.

As long as the receiver is in working condition, it should function adequately as a stereo amplifier. Some receivers may require minor repairs to operate properly as an amp.

Question: Do I need to Modify the Receiver in Any Way?

Answer : Typically, no modifications are needed to use a receiver as an amplifier. You can simply connect your audio source components like a CD player, turntable, or DAC to the receiver’s inputs and your speakers to the speaker outputs.

The receiver’s preamp and power amp sections will amplify the signal for playback through your speakers as expected.

Question: Will a Receiver Provide Enough Power for My Speakers?

Answer : Most receivers can power a typical set of speakers, especially bookshelf or tower speakers.

Vintage receivers usually output between 20 and 200 watts per channel, which is sufficient for most home audio setups. For high-power speakers or less sensitive speakers, a more powerful amplifier may be required.

You can determine if a receiver meets your power needs by checking its specifications.

Question: What are the Benefits of Using a Receiver as an AMP?

Answer : Repurposing a receiver as an amplifier offers several benefits: Cost savings, Familiar interface, Reliability, Nostalgia

Using an old receiver as a stereo amplifier is an easy, inexpensive way to get more life out of equipment you already own.

With few downsides, repurposing a receiver is worth considering if you need an amp for a basic audio setup.

Final Verdict

I hope now you understand how to use a second receiver as an amp, so bringing an old receiver back to life and using it as a dedicated stereo amp in your listening room is an excellent way to give an old piece of gear a new lease on life.

You may have a powerful amp using your speakers for years by following a few easy steps to clean, test, and connect it.

Rather than sending that receiver to the garage sale or electronics recycling, give it a second chance to do what it was designed to do, provide a pleasant, rich musical experience.

Your ears and wallet will thank you for bringing back your receiver and allowing it to sing once more.