What Is a Home Theater Bypass?

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Q I have a Denon A/V receiver hooked up to a 5.1-channel speaker system. The setup works fine for movies, but every now and then I want to listen to good ol’ stereo recordings ( I have a modest collection of CDs stored as Apple lossless audio files).  I am tempted to purchase a high-end integrated amp for just this purpose. Which gets me to my question: Can I hook both my receiver and the integrated amp up to my front L/R speakers? —Nick Gruin

A My advice: don’t. There are other, more elegant ways to do what you’re looking to do. Integrated amps with a home theater-bypass feature are a great option for those like yourself who want to integrate high-end stereo playback with a conventional surround sound receiver for movies.

Basically, home theater-bypass is a stereo RCA jack input on an integrated amp or preamp that hooks up with the main left/right outputs on your A/V receiver. When you select this input, the signal will bypass the preamp’s gain controls, letting you use your integrated amp purely as a stereo amplifier without having to worry about adjusting volume when watching movies—the receiver’s own volume control takes over that function. Then, when you select other components connected to your integrated amp, such as a turntable, CD player, or external DAC, its volume control will operate normally.

Integrated amps with a Home Theater Bypass feature range from the Marantz PM8005 ($1,200) and Music Hall a70.2 ($1,500), to Parasound’s Halo Integrated ($2,495) and the Musical Fidelity M6500I ($7,000). This is just a representative sampling; there are plenty more models out there for you to choose from.

goodfellas27's picture
Sonodyne's picture

HT Bypass is quite an interesting option to add flexibility to your current system and using your receiver as a pre-amp; if you can:

1. Get a two channel amp
2. Run the center and rear speakers via your receiver
3. Add a Halo P5 via the HT bypass (the manual is excellent btw); it would give you the added benefits of analog bass management with two sub outs.

You will never go back listening to two channel music via a receiver! Enjoy!!

Perrin1710's picture

I have recently bought a Marantz SR7010 after reading rave reviews on it's functionality AND on it's musical prowess in two channels. I am very satisfied with the stereo imaging, tone, rhythm and all other qualities at hand. Especially since there is also a 'pure-audio' mode. No need for a separate stereo amp for me (although I do admit I use the pre-out for my front channels to drive hypex as2/100 powered speakers.

A guy in Saskatoon's picture

If you connect the pre-amp out from the receiver to the inputs of the integrated amp, then where are the front speakers wired to? Wouldn't you be using the amp of the integrated amp for the front channels all the time? (Unless you're unhooking the speakers every time for 2 ch.)