AVR: Internal 2 CHANNEL AUDIO MODE. OR: HT BYPASS (external equipment for 2 CH Sources)

1. AVR, every one I had includes an AUDIO MODE for 2 CHANNEL which sends ALL signals ONLY to L & R Amps/Speakers. True 2 Channel sources, OR, ’unencode’ or ’down-mix’ surround to 2 Channels (often sounds better). Critically, surround center signal goes equally to L/R. Poorly done surround or cable created pseudo surround is ’put back together’.


2. HT BYPASS: separate L/R inputs direct to AVR’s L/R Amps (at full gain). You send volume controlled L/R signals (devices with their own volume control or via a preamp). (I’ve never had one, nor anyone I know).


In both cases, the AVR L/R amps only are driving the L/R Speakers, thus the amp’s sonic signature is the same. Using ’better’ equipment to feed the same amp?

Why HT Bypass? Shortage of Inputs?

Blu-Ray players play CD, SACD so that’s already covered.

Aside from everything else, you need 2 remotes if you use HT Bypass (to control 2 Channel Volume).

Pure Signal? Many AVR’s offer ’PURE’ or ’DIRECT’. Many preamps offer tone bypass, i.e. Pure, Direct. Thus the preamp is simply a source selector and volume attenuator.


IF I wanted ’better’ 2 channel equipment, I certainly would want ’better’ L/R amp(s) (most probably Tubes) so the AVR will be off and a method to get to the L/R speakers is needed.

And, let’s not forget, the need for VIDEO (creating and maintaining L/C/R Imaging over WIDE multi-person viewing audience) is fundamentally different than AUDIO (refined/precise 2 Channel Imaging for a single listener).


My contention: a specific speaker solution for WIDE L/C/R imaging for Home Theater, and try/use the AVR’s 2 Channel MODE for 2 channel source and force 2 channel to see if a surround source might sound better (often does). Simple Mode button, same volume, single remote.

2 Channel Music: a separate speaker type, thus a separate system.

I’ve always had a dedicated PC (even prior to HDMI) as an optional source for my HT, that’s my streamer and full net access, You Tube, Netflix, Prime etc. is on Smart TV’s now, but not in the old days. Even then, PC the source, I often find trying the AVR’s 2 Channel Mode sounds better. Audio and Video on the motherboard, no fan noise of dedicated video card.

Pure Signal? Many AVR’s offer ’PURE’ or ’DIRECT’. Many preamps offer tone bypass, i.e. Pure, Direct. Thus the preamp is simply a source selector and volume attenuator.
Yes, you do get a pure, direct route right to the AVR’s crappy preamp section that completely ruins sound.  As has been said here many times before, most AVRs are basically an amalgam of cheap electronic parts combined to meet an extremely aggressive price point the mass market will bear, and those necessarily cheap electronic parts just cannot produce excellent sound (not the least of which are the crucial power supplies that are usually the first victims of cost cutting given their relatively high cost).  And while a preamp is basically a source selector and volume attenuator, it has a HUGE impact on the sound a system ultimately produces and minimizing its importance is a tragic mistake. 
IF I wanted ’better’ 2 channel equipment, I certainly would want ’better’ L/R amp(s) (most probably Tubes) so the AVR will be off and a method to get to the L/R speakers is needed.
Precisely, and that’s the function and purpose of the HT bypass.  But it’s not only to bypass the amp but also the all-important preamp section as well so that, even though it remains powered up, the AVR is completely out of the signal path for critical stereo listening.  To get truly better 2-channel performance you’ll need either an integrated stereo amp or separate stereo pre and amp.  There aren’t many (if any) absolutes in this hobby, but this comes about as close as anything to being one IMHO.  FWIW. 

I would use a completely separate 2 channel preamp for 2 channel listening. Haven't heard any AVR even in HT bypass that could match the stereo sound of a separated preamp. It's not the amplifiers that are the problem, it's the AVR preamp that degrades the sound. I agree with soix, get the AVR completely out of the loop when listening to 2-channel stereo.
Years ago I had a 3 channel amp w/HT processor. I installed it in my 2 channel system. This way I had the best of both worlds. When I wanted movies, I'd press HT bypass (?) and combine the 2 systems. I can't remember if I had to sync the volumes  but after that volume and controls were handles by the amp/processor remote. Sound like a great idea, right
My wife HATED it. It was a PITA to get everything going. Kinda reminds me of streaming today. Too many things which have to communicate. So it didn't last long. I still have that amp/processor. maybe I ought to put it on Epay and list it as "Vintage"
I had a full Mcintosh HT set-up, then got a Lexicon pre, not cheap by any means, and yet no matter whether using the built-in two channel or a by-pass to 2 channel, it never sound that good for just music. When I got rid of HT and went to a high-end 2 channel, I realized within seconds how much I had been missing. So it really doesn't matter that much which way you go, by-pass or 2 channel mode in my experience are both lower-fi. Get the AVR out of the loop or just pick the easiest one to use for HT and live with the sound quality for 2 channel.
I have a 2 channel preamp for music and a HT processor. I don't use HT passthrough. I use my 2 channel Bryston amp. The RCA connections go to the 2 channel preamp for music and the balanced connections on the amp are hooked up to the HT processor. I just hit the balanced/RCA switch on the amp for what I'm listening to. Gives me a direct source for either preamp.

HT Bypass is a DIRECT INPUT to the AVR Front L & Front R AMPS.

It USES the AVR’s primary L/R amps, at full gain, it does not bypass them, it does not involve other amps.

i.e. A CD Player, with it’s own Volume Control, like my Oppo 105 can be plugged into the HT Bypass, therefore get the Oppo’s superior processor’s 2 channel music signals, but the AVR amps are driving the main L/R speakers. However, the Oppo’s superior video (I don’t use mine) needs to be a direct input to the AVR, so ....

Several sources, thru your ’best in the world’ Preamp, still go to the AVR’s L/R amps thus the AVR is still driving the speakers, the preamp a switcher with volume control.

Using separate amps for 2 channel is a different solution than the 2 options I mention here:

1. AVR’s Internal Audio Mode (auto-select/selecting/forcing 2 channel), or
2. external volume controlled sources (single direct, or several thru a switcher i.e. preamp or integrated pre-out) via AVR’s HT Bypass INPUT.

Back to my Oppo 105. I can send it to one of the other AVR Inputs. IF 2 channel SACD or CD, the AVR will ’know’ it’s 2 Channel, OR, I can ’force’ 2 channel mode via AVR’s remote. 1 remote, or 2? Why/


Let’s not forget, those of us with Home Theaters have chosen our AVR’s, and are very happy using them for Movies, any content involving Video. Most of us, I bet, use the HT more than the Music System, I sure do.

Many people do not have either the space, desire, funds for 2 systems, so, a ’dual’ system is often sought. Is the HT Bypass any better, that’s the question.

I contend the Imaging is fundamentally different for Video or Music, but, if you get a nice wide l/c/r image, you can always sit in the middle when listening to music.

Bass extension, i.e. SUBS with smaller Mains become an issue, i.e. Are the SUBS IN or OUT in your setup. I advise planning the crossover location so the subs are still involved in the AVR’s 2 channel mode. ’SUBS IN for either AVR Internal 2 Channel Mode, or HT Bypass method.


Interesting, what are the equip model #s? I'd like to see the features/options, often these alternate uses are not apparent.

I once searched for integrated amps with remote balance controls (and volume), discovered many were buried menu items, not mentioned in product literature, had to download and read the manual, and often discovered remote controls were not shown in product photos.

Many times I have been too clever for my own good. Wives are good at reveling this. Takes us years to admit it.
deadhead1000, others

It's easy to pontificate and dismiss (not you, others in any HT thread), but many people want/need to solve the problem: HT for the family, and optional better 2 channel for music. Two sets of speakers not possible, and equipment space limited in the HT.

With a simple operational scheme. We sell our souls for convenience, gotta avoid that.

I think you got it, go for the easiest operational hookup, live with that sound quality, my contention, use the AVR's 2 channel mode, and even try that mode for content with surround, you may be surprised how much better it sounds, especially programs with musical content. I like surround for Blackhawk Down, Dinosaur Stomps, but MOST musical content sounds better in 2 channel mode.


two systems: HT or 2 CH Music.

2 sets of speaker wires with banana plugs to a 4' long female banana pigtail from the speaker works. I used to run 3 amp comparisons (2 channel): McIntosh MC2250 SS; Fisher Tube Receiver 500C; Fisher Mono Tube Amps. I put a hook on the wall behind the speakers to hang 3 sets of color coded speaker wires so I didn't need to bend much.

Everyone chose tubes over SS (sold the McIntosh), using a Cayin AT88 with remote volume now, the Fisher Receiver and Mono Amps idle now.

Then and now, everyone chooses LP over CD, and R2R tape over LP.

2 amp switch


being cheap, or impatient until something arrives, I’ve used equipment ’backwards’,

like this Niles Speaker Selector, used ’backwards’, can be an amp switch for the front speakers.


Not sure about internals, impedance protection, anybody know ’right’ and ’wrong’ about this ’too clever for my own good’ solution?
HT Bypass is a DIRECT INPUT to the AVR Front L & Front R AMPS.

Several sources, thru your ’best in the world’ Preamp, still go to the AVR’s L/R amps thus the AVR is still driving the speakers, the preamp a switcher with volume control.
I think we have a fundamental misunderstanding of what is meant by HT bypass vs. a “Pure Direct” mode of an AVR. HT bypass as it’s most commonly used here is an input on the stereo preamp, not the AVR — that would obviate the whole point of a “bypass.” The whole idea of the HT bypass is to do just that — have your higher-end sources completely bypass the AVR. Once they enter the AVR in any fashion, any higher-quality audio signal is effectively ruined. Specifically, the front L/R preouts from the AVR get routed into the stereo preamp’s (or integrated’s) HT Bypass input along with all other critical 2-channel sources connected to other line inputs thus “bypassing” the AVR while the stereo pre allows the AVR’s front channels to pass through it unaffected by and independent of the preamp’s volume control. Hopefully this helps put things in a clearer perspective.
Post removed 

Well I’ll Eat My Hat,

You are correct, I misread the link.

Wrong: I thought the AVR had the HT Bypass Input (wrong), to convert itself into a simple 2 channel amp, skipping all of it’s processing and deactivating all of it’s speaker outputs except it’s Front L & R. Wouldn't that be a decent budget solution?

I think this is Correct:

It requires both an AVR for HT Surround Sound AND a separate 2 Channel Integrated Amp with HT Bypass feature.

The HT AVR needs FRONT L & R Pre-Out.

HT Bypass is an INPUT on a separate 2 channel Preamp or separate 2 channel Integrated Amp.

here’s a list of ones with that feature I found


found here



Kindly explain what/how the front speakers are wired/powered.

It’s still a case of two amps to one set of front speakers isn’t it?

How does surround sound front l and front r get to the speakers; how does 2 channel music front l & front r get to the speakers.

In each case, what amps are powering the front speakers?

I think both systems must be on and the separate 2 Channel Integrated always powers the front speakers. No front l or r speaker wires from the AVR. Thus the integrated sends any 2 channel source to the front, or it sends the Surround Sound front signals via HT Bypass (should be called HT Front IN IMO).


This presumes 2 separate systems, not for the budget minded.

Hey Elliott, I know this is tough to grasp at first as it seems almost too good to be true, but it exists and allows us audiophiles with only one room to seamlessly blend HT and stereo systems into one and switch between them with only the push of one button (assuming you have a HT bypass input, although any unused line input on the stereo pre will work, but let’s save that for another day). And when playing critical 2-channel sources the AVR is COMPLETELY out of the signal path. Seems impossible to accomplish without having some form of extra switch or speaker cables involved, but here we are.
It’s still a case of two amps to one set of front speakers isn’t it?
No! That’d be a complete mess.
This presumes 2 separate systems, not for the budget minded.
No!!  The only thing you need to add for this to work is a stereo integrated and a pair of interconnects, and as everything is connected together I still consider this technically to be one “system” — or, maybe more accurately, a “system within a system.”  So, in my opinion this IS for the budget minded because you’re basically getting two separate systems just by adding one component (or two if you go for stereo separates).
I think both systems must be on and the separate 2 Channel Integrated always powers the front speakers. No front l or r speaker wires from the AVR. Thus the integrated sends any 2 channel source to the front
Yes!!! Ding Ding Ding (although the AVR doesn’t need to be powered on when listening in stereo). Only the stereo amp/integrated is connected to the front L/R speakers, so by connecting the L/R preouts from the AVR to the stereo pre you’re allowing the stereo pre to simply pass through the L/R signal from the AVR (when the HT Bypass input is selected on the stereo pre) that is still completely controlled by the AVR’s volume control. Everything else from the AVR remains connected and works as it was/did before. It’s deceptively simple, but it works beautifully and many among us lived very happily like this before acquiring dedicated listening rooms. Anyway, hope this is a little clearer but definitely ask away if I missed anything.

You were kind when I got it backwards, thanks for that. I assumed the AVR would be in control, that was my error. It's completely unaware of what's happening here.

So you start with a Stereo System, and use it for the AVR's Front Signals. I'm calling it a 'Front Stereo System'.

Thus, the WHOLE POINT of it: all FRONT content is ALWAYS thru the 'FRONT STEREO SYSTEM'.

1. AVR MUST have Front L & Front R Pre-Outs (to the separate front stereo system's HT Bypass L & R inputs).

2. no speaker wires from AVR to front speakers.

3. AVR speaker wires to the Center and Surround Speakers which are only ON in Surround Mode.

4.  'FRONT Stereo System' (integrated amp or preamp/amp combo) ALWAYS what drives the Front L and Front R speakers, via it's speaker wires. (not front center, that is driven by the AVR).


a. AVR OFF: 2 Channel Music (any source) thru the 'Front Stereo System'


b. AVR ON: AVR's Front Signals' to/thru the 'Front Stereo System' as part of the AVR's Audio Output (any AVR Mode: 5.1/7.1 ... Surround; Direct; 2 Channel; even forced 2 channel as I often do ...).

5. Modern equipment has 'HT BYPASS' for this specific purpose

HT Bypass uses the front system amp's full gain, thus the volume must be controlled before it enters, as it would be by the AVR volume control. Relative Balance of AVR front signals to other surround channels, once set, is maintained by the AVR, unchanged by the 'Front System'.

6. Older Stereo Systems without HT Bypass can be used this way, however the coordination of the front volume can be tricky.

i.e. My Cayin Integrated has an input labeled 'Pre-In'. It works exactly like 'HT Bypass', it sends whatever it gets via that input directly to it's L & R amps, the volume is controlled by whatever is connected. It's design is to skip it's selector and volume circuits. Works for either my McIntosh mx110z preamp, or, any AVR Front signals.

i.e. An old amp, without any kind of bypass: you can use any line level input:

BUT now there is the problem of volume integration when using the AVR.

I suppose some pencil marks could be established, coordinate 'normal' on both the AVR and the amp's volume controls, then the AVR volume would control 'more' or 'less' from that pre-coordinated start.

By George, I think he’s got it!  It’s a beautiful thing, ain’t it?
Older Stereo Systems without HT Bypass can be used this way,however the coordination of the front volume can be tricky.
Not really.  When I did it I just set the “reference” volume level on my stereo preamp at the 12:00 position when I balanced the channels using the AVR, so whenever I selected the line input on the stereo pre that was fed by the AVR I just set the stereo pre’s volume knob to 12:00 and all was right with the HT world.  The only thing was I had to remember to lower the volume on the pre when switching from HT to stereo to avoid being blasted out.  Minor inconvenience IMHO, and it has the benefit of allowing you to choose any preamp you want and not limiting you to one with an HT Bypass.  Anyway, thanks for sticking with me through this — you hung in like a champ, and it’ll surely be worth it.

Why HT Bypass? Shortage of Inputs?
Why?  Because of space limitations I have a combined 2 channel / home theater system.  I don't want to use the AV processor for two channel listening. 

When listening to 2 channel, it looks like this:  Source --> Preamp --> Amp --> Speakers.

The HTBP allows me to use the same amps and speakers for the front two channels.  The volume control on the preamp is disabled and the signal from the source goes to the AV processor, which controls volume, room correction, etc.

When listening to home theater, it looks like this:  Source --> AV processor --> L/R outputs --> Preamp --> Amp --> Speakers.

As the name implies, the signal bypasses the AV processor and goes to the amps/speakers with the simple push of a button, allowing you to share the amps for the front speakers between two separate systems.


Now I understand HT Bypass.

Your’s is exactly what HT Bypass is intended for, thanks for the simple diagram, very easy to understand.

My (perhaps other’s?) Backwards Erroneous Assumption:

I started by assuming someone had a HT, and wanted to add better 2 channel to that system. Assuming there were speaker wires from the AVR to the front speakers, I supposed the HT Bypass was a new feature in AVR’s, that was my fundamental error.

’FRONT STEREO SYSTEM’ incorporating a ’HT Bypass INPUT’ for AVR Front L & R makes sense to my mind.

I'm old and left handed, my understanding process is not like most people.

@elliottbnewcombjr Glad that helped.  I don't want the home theater processor as part of my two channel system and prefer to use external amplification and a home theater processor vs. a receiver with built in amplification.  HTBP is a simple solution that ticks those boxes for me.
@big_greg — good idea using a diagram.  Much easier and more effective than using all those damn confusing words.  Wish I’d thought of it.
@elliott it really is a thing of beauty once you get your head around it.  Truly the best of both worlds. When I started down the upgrade path a bigger badder AVR was on the agenda, but quickly went by the wayside after listening to a quality integrated.  Check out my system for an example. 
this popped up on eBay, seems like a good deal to me, has HT Bypass

I have owned a couple of Peachtree integrateds, the Nova 300 and Grand Integrated X1.  Both were quite a way up the food chain from the iNova, so I can't speak specifically to the iNova. 

The Peachtree units I owned had 300 and 440 WPC respectively, and this has 80 (at 6 ohms, so probably 60 at 8 ohms).  Peachtree has a fairly "neutral" sound and they put pretty decent DACs in their gear, so if you want to use the iNova for digital, that might be a good fit. 

One of the reviews I read said the preamp section is a little lacking, and since everything flows through that, that's a bit of a red flag for me, and makes me question how much better (if at all) it would be than using your AVR for 2 channel mode.  The lack of power means you better have fairly efficient speakers. 

For $500 you can hardly go wrong.  If it's not to your liking, you should be able to flip it and get most of your money back.


Thanks for your personal experiences. I never heard a Peachtree.

I imagine many people have main speakers efficient enough for 60 wpc into 8 ohms where this would just turn things very darn good easily.

I also assume anyone tempted would jump about looking for any specific model's reviews/comments

you are right, those needing a dual duty system, HT Bypass is salvation indeed!

I still want to emphasize, using the same front speakers for 2 channel and video (3, 3.1; 5.1 ...: video needs to maintain L/C/R imaging over a much wider area for multiple viewer/listeners than 2 channel imaging does.

Your setup looks very nice, I’d be happy there,

but I would want to adjust the toe-in (via ’possible movement’, not easy movement of course).

1. best toe-in for one listener (audio or video if sitting in the middle alone);

2. more toe-in for two music only listeners and

3. any video with 2 or more watching/listening.

My music system at the music/dining end of the 'split' room is shown with toe-in for 1.

All my chairs and tables move easily on felt feet on the wood floor, so listening with a friend: little table in the middle, both off-center: left speaker aimed directly at right chair; right speaker aimed directly at left chair.

Very nice results, imaging maintained because you get more directivity, thus more volume from opposite side, and more volume by nearer distance on your side. Works.

Notice too, no solid arms or backs or solid bodys on the chairs, better sound of music on the sofa for Donna, ...

The video system other end of the room, those DBX Soundfield 100’s were specifically designed to do that with some extra tweeters thrown in. My music system tweeters are horns, wide dispersion, no extra tweeters needed even though they are ’crossed’ some, within limits of course.

I haven’t looked, I have to wonder if some current speakers do the DBX thing?
HT bypass all the way.

As my room is dual use, I struggled and was determined to make my AVR a 2 channel preamp. But, as my own music SQ demands grew, I finally gave in and separated everything, on the same rack, in the same room.

I already went to a separate amp for my front speakers, and that did help. But what really helped (and thank goodness my AVR has pre outs) was finally getting a dedicated 2 channel preamp with bypass which the AVR can pass through in HT mode.

Now, all my 2 channel listening (turntable/pre, CD/DAC, and tape deck) is all through the 2 channel preamp>amp>main speakers. Thus, the AVR is no longer part of the music chain. And yes, everyone was right about it sounding better. Using the AVR as a 2 channel pre cannot compare. And I can change anything in the 2 channel chain I wish, without considering the AVR/HT at all. The one big limitation, and to make things easy, I would prefer a 2 channel pre with bypass. You can do it without, but it is more complicated. I wish more 2 channel pre’s had that option. But many do not, and one of the reasons I did not get serious on a vintage pre.

And, when watching TV, a simple press of a pre remote button, and all except my front/main speakers are driven by the AVR (front/mains are still driven by my separate power amp), where I am extremely less critical about the sound quality.

I think there is almost no way a HT processor can compete with a dedicated 2 channel setup. That is my opinion based on my personal experience attempting to do so. With my current setup, my 2 channel experience has been risen to a level I did not think possible.

Fantastic thread ! Please clarify something for me as I hope to advance to the higher end 2 channel sound as well. I have a Marantz 8805 with a Mc8207 amp. If I add a high quality integrated or even separates for the 2 channel side with HT bypass what happens to the Mc8207? Is it relegated to just driving the center and surrounds? Or do I just need a high end preamp for 2 channel and the 8207 still drives all the speakers? Thanks ! 
what speakers are you driving?

bypassing a lower quality AVR is one thing, but yours?

Marantz says you have a high end preamp 8805

McIntosh says you have 7 channels of high end amp 8207

I will take 7 gazillion external and internal twists and turns, switches, pots, .... rather than a ’straight wire with gain’ IF it sounds awesome!! yours sounds awesome???

Have you heard something better? If so, are you sure it’s not their speakers?

IF I don’t hear degradation, I’m not losing features or convenience for nothing gained but meeting esoteric ’ideas’. I’m battling that now with whether my Oppo 105 will make a real difference, or just do it because ’they say it’s better’.


you could get ’better’ 2 channel amp for the ’front stereo system’, and let that system handle 2 channel sources fed straight into it, AVR OFF.

then, as you suggest, the 8207 would only drive center, surround When 8505 is sending those signals.

Sub(s)? Depends on your existing main’s bass capability.

I went to the extreme with identical monoblocks and similar speakers on all channels. A lot of people consider the center speaker unimportant, but if it is not good as the main speakers the sound quality is going to be compromised. In my mind, the same for all channels!

Couldn't be happier with my results.
I just upgraded our center channel and rear surround speakers, some used Klipsch. We both like the Klipsh R34-C center, sound and looks, it's low height, wide dispersion, and no rear ports perfect for our setup. 


After volume adjustment (I had to cut it's relative strength): you never know how the tonality will mix, in our case it blended in as well with the old DBX Soundfield 100's as the smaller Bose one it replaced.

The rear ones, replaced some Paradigms, no real difference, just made the Paradigms available for my shop, out go the tiny Energys (my original rear speakers).