Best AV Receivers 2019-2020-Under 300-500-1000
Best A/V Receivers-of 2019-2020–An Audio/Video (A/V) Receiver is, if you’ll forgive a slightly clunky analogy, the quarterback of your home theater. It’s not just because it tells everything where to go, routing signals to different speakers and screens. It’s because it has a profound effect on the quality of the system. If it isn’t up to the task of handling the vast amount of data that get’s thrown it at, then you could have the best speakers on earth and still get bad results. The market is a crowded one, so we’ve picked out some of the best A/V receivers for 2019, ranging from sub-$300 budget options to monster units that will cost you a few grand.With a budget buster from Onkyo, MusicCast multiroom from Yamaha and a best in class Arcam flagship, there’s an AV receiver for everyone here.Best A/V Receivers of 2019-2020-Under 500-1000
Check out my list of high-end home theater Best A/V Receivers of 2019-2020 favorites in the $1,300 and up price range.
For additional suggestions, also check out our listings of Best Home Theater Receivers in the $400 to $1,299 and $399 or Less price ranges.
2.Sony STRDH550 5.2 Channel 4K AV Receiver-2019(Best Choice)
|8. Yamaha RX-V483 Receiver-2019|
$329 18% Off
|9. Sony STRDN1080 Receiver-2019|
|10.Denon AVR-S730H Receiver-2019|
Best AV Receivers in 2019-2020
You Save: $100.00 (22%)
Channels: 9.2 (Expandable to 11.2)
Surround Sound: Dolby (Various), DTS:X, DTS-HD
Wattage Per Channel: 150/8Ω, 2ch Driven
What We Like: Huge power, full 11.2 functionality.
What We Don’t: Overkill for small systems, no Auro-3D.
For quite a while, this model’s predecessor – the 3060 – was at the top of this list, and with good reason. For most people, it was quite simply the best receiver available, able to handle just about any circumstances. This is the newest version, and after having a listen, we’re sold: it deserves to remain in its spot. Compared to models from Arcam, Integra and Anthem, the value-for-money and feature set is just extraordinary. It’s a clear winner.
It adds a huge range of features: Tidal and Deezer streaming, 4K Ultra HD, and Hybrid Log-Gamma (a new type of visual standard for enhanced picture) are just three of the ones that we can think of off the top of our head. Added to that, it packs in built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, as well as full compatibility with almost all the latest audio codecs, with the exception of Auro-3D. Hopefully that’s something that Yamaha will add in an update further down the line, but for now, this is absolutely the one to go for. The crazy thing is, the original 3060 is still available – at the exact same price! In other words, there’s no reason not to buy this one, although if you don’t have the budget and do want to wait a bit, the 3060 is almost certain to undergo a price drop.
See the Yamaha Aventage RX-A3070BL
Bring the excitement home with 5.2 channels, 725 watts8 and iPhone and iPod connectivity. It also handles all of your components with 4 HD inputs and 4K resolution pass-through. Now, all of your music and movies will get the multi-layered sound quality they deserve with HD Digital Cinema Sound and auto calibration for easy set-up.Input and Output Terminals:HDMI Video In/Out (4/1);Composite Video Input (2);Composite Monitor Out (1);Opt Audio Input (2);Coax. Audio Input (1);Analog Audio Input (4);Headphone Output;USB (1 Front:iPhone/WM);MHL (1 Rear)
The Sony STRDH550 is one of Sony’s entry level receivers for this year. Unlike some of it’s more expensive relatives, it doesn’t have any advanced networking features like WiFi or Bluetooth. However, this AV receiver isn’t designed for people who want that fancy schmancy stuff. Sony’s designed this receiver for people who don’t care about WiFi or streaming music. Instead, it’s geared towards people who want one thing and one thing only… great sound quality. And that is the area where the STR-DH550 excels.
The Sony STR-DH550’s design is modern and simple. It’s not as pretty as Marantz’s designs however, the front is clean and uncluttered with buttons. The remote features a new design as well. As soon as you pull the remote out of the box you’ll notice that quite a few buttons are missing. This year’s remote doesn’t try to be a universal remote. Instead it focuses on controlling the main functions of the receiver. The 550’s remote is almost identical to that of the Sony STR-DN850. We enjoyed the simplicity of the 850’s remote and the 550’s is basically the same.
The user interface on the Sony STR-DH550 is bare-bones to say the least. Sony’s more expensive receivers have a slick icon driven interface which is reminiscent of the GUI on the Sony PS3. However, you don’t get this on the 550. Instead, hitting the home button on the remote pulls up a black and white text menu. While it’s not as intuitive as the 850’s interface, it manages to get the job done.
The DH550 comes equipped with 4 HDMI 2.0 inputs. All 4 allow for 4K-Ultra HD pass through. So at some point when 4K becomes the new HD standard the 550 will still be relevant. It also comes equipped with a handful of analog connections as well as three digital inputs. As mentioned earlier, the Sony STR-DH550 lacks WiFi and Bluetooth. If these features aren’t important to you then you have nothing to worry about. The front of the unit has a convenient front USB port that you can use for compatible devices. For you music aficionados out there, the 550 is capable of decoding MP3, AAC, WAV and WMA files.
Sony STR-DH550 Setup & Calibration
Like many of Sony’s receivers, the DH550 uses Sony’s Digital Cinema Auto Calibration (D.C.A.C.). Essentially, you connect the included microphone into the calibration jack on the front of the receiver and select the calibration option on the menu screen. The receiver then sends a series of test tones to each of your attached speakers. Each of the melodies that pour out of the speakers are picked up by the calibration microphone. The Sony STRDH550 then calculates the distance of each of your speakers, sets the decibel levels and also the crossover frequency needed for each speaker.
Sony’s calibration system has always been hit or miss for us. It could be because of our particular room’s acoustics, but we usually need to go in and manually calibrate the settings on our speakers. This time was no different. When we reviewed the Sony STR-DN850, the D.C.A.C. calibration incorrectly set the crossover setting of our speakers. We had the same issue with the 550’s calibration. We did listen to the speakers at the crossover settings the 550 had prescribed and it sounded OK. However, since we know what the crossover setting should be we went in adjusted them manually. The auto calibration has four settings “None”, “Flat” , “Engineer” and “Front Reference”. Flat, makes the frequency output from each speaker flat. Engineer sets your speakers to “Sony’s listening room standard”. Front reference adjusts the characteristics of all of the speakers to match the characteristics of the front speaker. By default the 550 chose the Engineer setting, however for our listening tests we preferred the “Front Reference” setting.
We listened to a variety of music samples through the receiver and it excelled. Vocal performances were clear and precise. We listened to several of Miles Davis’s jazzy tunes and the Sony STR-DH550 didn’t miss a beat. Each note was precisely reproduced without any coloration. When comparing it’s performance to the Sony STR-DN850, they sounded nearly identical although the 850’s sound reproduction seemed to have slightly more body.
It’s performance with movie sound tracks were equally as impressive. When listening to the Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Smaug’s voice was satisfyingly boomy and thunderous. One scene in the movie where the dragon expels it’s flames around the room, the sounds of the rampaging flames happily bounced from speaker to speaker creating an enveloping sound stage.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, while not the greatest movie, can be an aural torture test for speakers and AV receivers alike. Michael Bay’s kinetic visual style carries over to his movie’s sound mix. His movies, which are heavy on action, usually have a very visceral and energetic sound stage which make them a good test for an AV receiver’s prowess. The Sony STRDH550 didn’t disappoint. Every click and clank came through loud and clear. Every foot step and explosion was thunderous. The “pop” of each bullet accurately bounced from speaker to speaker. In sound quality it reminded us of the Yamaha RX-V377 which is one of it’s competitors in this price range. That being said it also shared one weakness with the 377. Even though the 550 is supposedly rated at 145 watts per channel at 6 ohms, it’s real world output will be far less than that. With that in mind, we noticed that when played at high volumes the sound quality of the 550 did start to degrade. This basically means that this isn’t an ideal receiver for large rooms with power hungry speakers. Ideally, this receiver should work fine in small to medium size rooms at normal listening levels.
Overall, the Sony STR-DH550 is a great receiver if you’re not interested in extensive networking features. It has great sound quality and is relatively inexpensive with a suggested MSRP of $279. It’s direct competitors in this price range are the Yamaha RX-V377 and the Pioneer VSX-524. The Yamaha 377 may have a slight edge just because of the Virtual Cinema Front feature that we liked when we reviewed it. However, the Sony STRDH550 is still a great choice for anyone looking for a simple good sounding AV receiver.
The blocky body of the Yamaha RX-V577 is what we’ve come to expect from an AV receiver. It’s not pretty, but then again an AV receiver doesn’t need to be pretty. It only needs to sound good. The front panel has the normal array of buttons; volume, scene presets etc. These buttons are nice to have, but rarely will you have any need to use them.
Yamaha RX-V577 Performance
The Yamaha RX-V577 is rated at 80 W per channel (8 ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.09% THD, 2-ch driven) which is a little optimistic if you’re operating with a 5 channel or 7 channel setup. However, from our listening tests the 577 has plenty of power for a small or medium size room.
For music playback, the Yamaha 577 performed surprisingly well, especially in stereo mode. Vocals were precise, clear and delivered with the appropriate authority. The Yamaha RX-V577 proved especially adept with Rock and Hip Hop music. Bass output was satisfyingly thumpy without being overbearing. Music playback however, wasn’t perfect. High notes were sometimes overly accentuated although not to the point of degrading our listening experience. The 577 was also equally adept with a variety of classical music. It has several preset DSP settings that replicate various listening venues such as a hall in Vienna which approximates a live concert performance. The AV receiver also has a direct mode which disables all unnecessary circuitry in order to reduce electrical interference that may degrade the audio quality. For music playback this seemed to produce a slight improvement in sound quality although it wasn’t a drastic improvement.
For home theater use, the 577 performed even better. The Yamaha RX-V577 has quite a few pre-set audio modes. Yamaha’s Virtual CINEMA FRONT feature gives users more flexibility with speakers placement. If you don’t have the space for five or seven speakers, this setting essentially widens the sound field of your front speakers. While it doesn’t replicate a true surround experience, it does effectively open up the sound stage. We’ve experienced Yamaha’a Virtual CINEMA FRONT feature before when we reviewed the Yamaha RX-V377 and we were fairly impressed with it. With the 577 our experience was basically the same. Anyone who doesn’t have room for additional speaker channels will benefit from this feature.
To test the multi-channel chops of the Yamaha 577 we plopped in one of our favorite movies Avatar. The 577 handled every action scene and explosion with authority and satisfaction. Even when played at high volumes it’s sound field remained fairly cohesive. It wasn’t until we cranked it to the max that we started to hear some distortion. Sounds and special effects bounced around our surround channels effortlessly and convincingly. It’s performance with quiet scenes were equally impressive as dialogue was clear and precise.
Connectivity wise, the 577 has an abundant array of input options highlighted by 6 HDMI inputs. The Yamaha 577 supports 4K Ultra HD pass through, 3D and Audio Return. To go with the HDMI inputs the 577 also throws in 4 analog audio inputs (1 in front), 3 digital inputs, 2 component, 1 ethernet and 2 subwoofer preouts. All told, the Yamaha RX-V577 gives you a good amount of connectivity options for the average home theater. The 577 also supports 2 zone operation although most people probably won’t use this feature, some will appreciate it.
When we reviewed the Yamaha RX-V475 last year, we weren’t huge fans of the button filled remote. Thankfully, Yamaha heeded numerous grumblings from consumers and decided to pair down the remotes on their group of receivers this year. Instead of putting a button on the remote for every feature of the receiver, Yamaha has thankfully, only put the buttons that are needed. For the most part it works well. Personally, I like the minimal approach that Sony took with their remotes this year, but all-in-all Yamaha’s new remotes are an upgrade over last years.
The interface of the Yamaha RX-V577 is your basic black and white text driven menu. When compared to the Sony STR-DN850’s slick interface, the 577’s interface doesn’t have the same pizzazz. However, it gets the job done. Once you sit down to spend some time with receiver, you’ll see that there’s lots of options and customizations that you can do to tailor your listening experience. For instance, the Yamaha 577 has a pretty in depth equalizer that allows you to go in and adjust the EQ settings for each speaker. For most people we wouldn’t recommend doing this, but if you’re the type who likes to go in and tweak your speaker settings it’s a pretty nice feature to have available.
Many AV manufacturers have control apps available for download on Android or iOS devices and Yamaha is no different in this department. Most of these control apps are best suited for use on a tablet since you have more viewable real estate for the App. The AV control app from Yamaha does a good job of controlling the main functions of the receiver. It also includes DSP parameter adjustments that allow you to tailor the sonic character of your listening area.
Yamaha RX-V577 Calibration and Features
Yamaha uses their own calibration system called YPAO. Like most calibration systems it blasts a series of test tones through your speakers and based on the results it adjusts the speakers levels etc. accordingly. It’s also able to detect if your speakers are out of phase in which case it will indicate which speakers are causing the problem so that you can re-wire them if necessary.
The Yamaha RX-V577 comes equipped with built-in WiFi. Curiously, if you need blutooth Yamaha still requires you to purchase a bluetooth adapter. The 577 supports a variety of internet streaming services including Spotify, Pandora, AirPlay as well as a wide selection of internet stations. It also supports HTC Connect so that you can stream music from HTC Compatible Smart Phones. Music aficionados, will be happy to hear that the Yamaha 577 supports several high resolution audio files including FLAC, ALAC, WAV 192 kHz / 24-bit, and Apple® Lossless 96 kHz / 24-bit playback.
With an MSRP of $549, the Yamaha RX-V577 has a lot to offer. It has great sound quality and more features than most people will use. It’s lack of built-in bluetooth is a little questionable however, it’s other features quickly make you forget this omission. With a little more power and a cleaner interface it could be perfect.
$59 Best Budget
1994+ customer reviews
Easily stream your satellite/cable, DVDs, gaming console and more to any TV wirelessly using RCA connections
Transmit standard definition audio and video seamlessly from one room to another without the hassle of installing messy cables
Powerful long range 5.8 GHz signal transmits video and audio up to 225 ft (maximum transmission is under clear line of sight). Transmit through walls, ceilings, and floors (range/signal quality will decrease based on environment).
Change channels, pause your movie – control your device from another room with the remote extender
4 selectable channels to avoid interference with other wireless devices
Transmission Frequency: 5.8ghz
IR Frequency: 38/56khz Switching
Signal Range: Up to 225 Feet (Obstacles/Interference Decrease Transmit Distance)
Transmitter Connections: RCA Audio/Video Composite Jacks, External IR Extender Jack
Receiver Connections: RCA Audio/Video Composite Jacks
Remote Type: Infrared (RF Remotes Not Supported)
Infrared Remote Control: Signal Range Up To 100 Feet
Built-In Directional Antenna: Yes
Selectable Channels: 4
Output Impedance: 2K Ohm
Output Signal Level: 1.0 VPP +/- 0.2 VPP
Dimensions: 4.33 X 3.94 X 1.5 Inches
5.8 ghz Receiver With Built-In IR Extender
External IR Extender
110-240v AC Power Adapters
Audio/Video Composite Connection Cables
Quick Start Guide
Wirelessly Send Audio and Video to your TV
Streaming clear audio and video from one room to another is easy with the Nyrius NY-GS10. Whether it’s your favorite TV show, Netflix movie, or video game, this wireless system uses radio frequency technology that will allow you to watch it all on another TV without limiting yourself.
Powerful Long Range Signal
This wireless system broadcasts real time audio and video up to 225ft (open space). It also transmits through walls, ceilings, and floors effortlessly. Watch TV in your bedroom, basement, or any other room wirelessly with crystal clear sound and video. The directional antennas ensure an optimal signal and minimize interference from other devices. The powerful 5.8GHz signal will not interfere with Wi-Fi signals.
4 Channel Frequencies to Avoid Interference
There are 4 channel frequencies to choose from on this system. Matching the channel buttons on the transmitter and receiver will ensure both devices are on the same frequency. If you have multiple 5.8GHz wireless devices, this system’s ability to switch channels will help avoid interference with other wireless signals.
You can easily add additional receiver units to the NY-GS10 system depending on your needs. Purchase any number of additional receivers to broadcast audio and video to even more TVs. You can also buy additional systems and set them to different channels to broadcast up to 4 different audio and video sources – the possibilities are endless.
Easy to Set Up and Use
Not only can you can enjoy exceptional video and digital surround sound remotely, you can also control it. The IR (infrared) remote extender will wirelessly send your device’s remote control signals. Change channels, pause your movie, adjust volume – any function available will work using the remote extender. Simply position the IR extender toward the device you want to control and your device can be used from another room.
Control Your Audio/Video Device from Another Room
This wireless sender is incredibly easy to use and set-up is within minutes. Neatly organize all your audio/video components by keeping them out of sight in another room or cabinet without installing lengthy cables throughout your home or office. There’s no software required – simply plug in the included RCA cables to your TV and audio/video device, and you’re ready to go.
Satellite/Cable – Have a satellite/cable box and two TVs? Now you can broadcast to your other TV wirelessly!
Streaming Video – Download or stream movies on your media box and watch them on your TV in real time
Wired Surveillance Cameras – Connect any wired camera to the sender for a wireless surveillance system
List Price: $279.99
You Save: $50.00 (18%)
The Denon S510BT is one of the top sounding budget receivers this year. It’s inclusion of bluetooth and HDCP 2.2 make it an excellent value. One of its chief competitors is the Yamaha RX-V379 and honestly speaking, I don’t think you can go wrong with either one. Although, the 510BT gets a slight edge because of its USB input.
The Denon AVR-S510BT is basically identical to last years 500BT. The front of the receiver is clean and uncluttered. It has buttons for input selection, sound mode selection etc., but between the remote and the Denon control app that’s available for iOS and Android devices, you’ll rarely have any use for these buttons.
The remote of the S510BT has a pretty good layout. None of the remotes we’ve seen this year are as simple as the sweet little clicker that’s packaged with Sony’s receivers. However, the 510’s remote is certainly serviceable.
The big feature being touted on AV receivers this year is HDCP 2.2. The Denon S510BT has a total of 5 HDMI inputs. Three of which are HDCP 2.2 compliant along with one HDCP 2.2 output. Basically this means the 510 is well equipped to handle future 4K-UltraHD content.
At this price you don’t expect a lot of connectivity options, so it’s no surprise that the 5.2 Channel Denon AVR S510BT has a limited supply of hook-ups. You get a couple of analog inputs and 3 digital inputs (2 optical/1 coaxial) along with 2 subwoofer outputs. The front has a convenient USB input which is great for attaching a USB drive or iPod to. It also includes a headphone input on the front.
The 510 isn’t billed as a network receiver, so you won’t find an ethernet port or built-in WiFi. However, it does include bluetooth. The Denon 510BT can remember up to 8 bluetooth devices at a time which is great for multi-person households. I was able to have my bluetooth enabled devices up and running in a few seconds without any major hiccups or snafus. Bluetooth typically isn’t a good conduit for transmitting high-end audio so it wasn’t a surprise to me that the audio was just “OK” via bluetooth.
Denon has really put a lot of effort into simplifying the setup process of their AV receivers. For instance, the 510 includes colored labels that you can apply to your speaker wires so you know which is which. All of the speaker terminals on the back are color coded and correspond with the wire labels.
The Denn S510BT uses spring clips for speaker connections. Spring clips aren’t as secure as binding posts, but they get the job done. If you have thicker gauge speaker wire, the spring clip openings are a little snug so it may take a bit of effort to get the wire to fit.
If you’ve setup an AV receiver before you can go ahead connect all of your speakers and move thru the calibration process unhindered. But, if this is your first receiver, the Denon AVR-S510BT doesn’t leave you hanging.
Upon first booting up the 510BT, it will walk you through the entire setup process from connecting your speakers properly to calibration. The onscreen prompts of the 510 are clear and concise and makes the entire process less intimidating for first-timers.
Connecting the calibration microphone to the Denon AVR-S510BT will cause the receiver to blast out a series of test tones to each of your speakers. Based on your rooms acoustics it will compensate and adjust the speaker levels, crossovers etc. so that you get the best listening experience. The entire process is worth it as it only takes a couple minutes. You could manually make the adjustments yourself of course, but be ready to spend a good bit of time doing so.
After doing the calibration I still recommend going in and reviewing the settings. For my setup the 510BT had my fronts mislabeled as large which I quickly went in and switched to small. If this is your first receiver, you may be wondering why this makes a difference.
Essentially if the receiver marks a receiver as “large” it thinks the speaker is capable of creating a full-range of sounds from high frequencies to low frequencies. It has nothing to do with the actual size of the speaker. So even if you have big floorstanding speakers it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re “large” speakers. If the receiver thinks the speaker can handle the full range of sounds it will send all the low frequencies signals to the speaker. However, very few speakers are full-range and most are unable to reproduce the low frequencies that a good subwoofer can. Long story short, unless you know that your speakers can dip down to the 20Hz to 40Hz territory you’re better off setting them at small and letting your subwoofer handle the low frequencies.
Last year we felt the Denon 500BT came up a little short in the sound department. With the S510BT, it seems that Denon has corrected the flaws that held the 500BT back last year.
Across the board, the Denon S510BT is better. It has better treble response, better mid-range and better bass response.
Superman: Man of Steel sounded fantastic on the Denon AVR-S510BT. The battle in Metropolis came alive as Superman battled Zod. The 510’s treble and mid-range displayed excellent detail as shattering glass and falling debris exploded in our listening area.
The confrontation between Smaug and the Dwarves in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug sounded remarkable for a “budget” receiver. Smaug’s voice bellowed around the listening area. When the dragon spewed flames from its mouth the room sounded as if it was ablaze.
Switching to Expendables 3 on Blu-ray the S510BT’s performance was just as exciting as bullets seeming whizzed past my head. The 510BT proved to me that its capable of providing an exhilarating listening experience. However, even quieter scenes were handled well as dialogue was crystal clear. In fact, for the first time in a while I didn’t have to bump up the center channel level after calibration. The audio was well-balanced with dialogue never being drowned out by heavy on-screen action.
I like everything Denon has done with AVR-S510BT this year. They’ve improved upon all the shortcomings of last years 500BT while also adding a few notable items such as bluetooth and HDCP 2.2. We had great things to say about the Yamaha RX-V379 when we reviewed it and the Denon S510BT may be just a tad better.
6. Integra DRX-4
Surround Tech: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X
Wattage Per Channel: 110/8Ω, 2ch Driven
What We Like: Incredible value – probably the best budget option (although you can get cheaper options!)
What We Don’t: Ugly interface
In our opinion, this is not only one of the best receivers available to buy right now, but one of the best receivers, period. It offers much of what more expensive ones offer, and its sound is very hard to top, delivering extraordinary quality for the money you pay. With 7.2 channels to play with, a ton of connectivity options, and full support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X (including an ability to up-mix non-Dolby content) you get an awful lot for your money here. The Arcam AVR850 (below) may offer more raw power and more surround codec options, but honestly, this is the one we pick. For most people, it’s an easy choice.
The downside? Aside from the fact that you can’t really go higher than 7.2, it must be said that the interface of the DRX-4 is very, very ugly indeed. It feels clunky and a little bit difficult to use, which is a bit of a black mark. All the same, we think this deserves its spot in the higher echelons of this list, and we think it’s going to be here for a long time to come. A fantastic amplifier, and a brilliant budget pick.
See the Integra DRX-4
7.Cambridge Audio CXR200 ($2,000)
Channels: 7.2 (Expandable to 7.4)
Surround Tech: Dolby, DTS
Wattage Per Channel: 170/8Ω, 2ch Driven
What We Like: Terrific detail and treble, great design.
What We Don’t: Low-end doesn’t wow – and it doesn’t offer anything hugely special.
This is Cambridge Audio’s flagship receiver, and while we think it’s very good – enough to put it into the top five – it doesn’t really have one killer feature that would put it over the top. If it came down to a shootout between this and the Yamaha RX-A3070BL, we’d go for the Yamaha. No question. They are the same price, and we believe the Yamaha is a superior product. Feel free to fight us in the comments if you disagree!
That’s not to say this is a bad product. Far from it. It does have a lot to offer, including some absolutely brilliant top end, with fantastic detail. It’s a shame the bottom end doesn’t quite measure up. But it gets the job done, and the amp does deliver quite a bit more power than other models. Go for this one if you can’t find the Yamaha, and don’t want to spend $3,500 on an Anthem.
See the Cambridge Audio CXR200
Channels: 9.2 (Expandable to 11.2)
Surround Tech: Dolby (Various), DTS (Various), Auro-3D (Via upgrade)
Wattage Per Channel: 110/8Ω, 2ch Driven
What We Like: Arguably one of the best receiver designs out there.
What We Don’t: Not enough of an upgrade on the 7011 – and the 8012 is just around the corner!
At CEDIA 2017, Marantz unveiled their 8012 receiver, which promises to incorporate Amazon Alexa and HEOS multi-room functionality into what is an already fantastic product. At the time of writing, that one isn’t out yet, and the flagship is the 7012. We loved the 7011, which Marantz sent us for review a little while back, and while we think that the overall design is one of the best out there, we’re not sure the 7012 is enough of a leap to justify the extra expense.
Yes, it offers full 4K functionality, and the ability to use the Auro-3D codec, but we’re not sure that’s worth the extra cash when you could pick up a 7011, or even a 7010, for about the same amount of money. All the same, this is still a very good receiver, with some excellent features and absolutely superlative sound that will blow your windows off. We’ve got high hopes for the 8012, and we think it will be able to leapfrog right back to the top of the list when it’s released. In the meantime, do check out this range – but be aware of what you’re paying for.
See the Marantz SR7012
Channels: 9.2 (Expandable to 11.2)
Surround Tech: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Auro-3D (Via upgrade)
Wattage Per Channel: 150/8Ω, 2ch Driven
What We Like: Excellent workhorse receiver, with good power.
What We Don’t: Currently overpriced.
Normally, when something is more expensive, it tends to rank higher on our list – for better or worse, more money does equal better quality of the audio world. That’s not the case here. While the 7200WA is an excellent receiver, there’s no real reason to choose it above the Marantz SR7012 – something that is only going to be reinforced when the 8012 comes out.
That’s definitely not enough to disqualify it from this list, however. Despite it being overpriced for what you get, what you get is some very good stuff. You get full Dolby and DTS:X functionality, as well as the ability to upgrade to Auro-3D, allowing you to make use of that speaker you’ve (obviously) got installed in your ceiling. And at 150 watts of power per channel (two channels driven) the Denon is no slouch in the audio department, delivering great power with excellent detail. While it lacks the killer feature to really boost it into the upper reaches of this list, it’s still an excellent workhorse A/V receiver, and we are excited to see what Denon has planned.
See the Denon AVR-X7200WA
10.Best Receiver 2019:Sony STR-ZA3100ES ($1,498)
Surround Tech: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X,
Wattage Per Channel: 110/8Ω, 2ch Driven
What We Like: Some interesting features – especially for small rooms.
What We Don’t: A touch underpowered?
It’s actually quite rare to find an A/V receiver with innovative features. For the most part, this is a product category that is used to progressive, small iterations on existing tech. But with Sony’s STR-ZA3100ES, they’ve come up with something genuinely interesting: so-called phantom channels. Essentially, this is a software solution that replicates the feel of a full 7.1 setup while only having 5.1 channels connected, meaning that you can deploy this receiver in smaller rooms without the additional two speakers, and still get a similar effect.
Granted, it’s not going to be a patch on actual 7.1 or above, but it’s good to see a company innovating. And if you are into object-based surround systems, you’ll be pleased to hear that this receiver is fully compatible with both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. It sounds good, looks great, and while being a tad underpowered, delivers solid sound. It’s arguably a tiny bit overpriced, but then again, how often do innovations come along in this space?
See the Sony STR-ZA3100ES
Surround Tech: Dolby Atmos
Wattage Per Channel: 130/8Ω, 2ch Driven
What We Like: A great budget 7.2 receiver.
What We Don’t: No DTS:X, somewhat boring design.
$600 and up is where you start seeing stuff that’s more suitable for bigger home theater setups. Perfect example: the Onkyo TX-NR838. It has a whopping eight HDMI inputs, including one on the front, and it comes absolutely rammed with features.
It has most of the streaming capacity of the Marantz 7012, as well as Dolby Atmos sound that turns an already very good receiver into an essential one – although as far as we can tell, there’s no DTS:X functionality. Even if you couldn’t care less about the different sound technologies, you’ll be getting a big black box with some mind blowing sound. Careful: the price fluctuates, as does its availability. If you’re in the market for something now, and don’t see this at around the price listed above, it may be worth your while to wait a bit! If you do decide to buy, however, you’ll snag yourself a very, very good system.
See the Onkyo TX-NR838
Surround Tech: Dolby True HD and DTS-HD
Wattage Per Channel: 80/8Ω, 2ch Driven
What We Like: Arguably the best pure 5.1 receiver on this list.
What We Don’t: Definitely doesn’t trouble the big boys!
Small room? Just a few speakers? Dipping your toe into surround sound? Check this one out. Yamaha’s entry at the top of this list may be too much for some people, but their legendary quality bleed through into this one: a much smaller unit that sacrifices advanced features and additional channels for some very good quality delivered into a smaller package. If you’ve only got a small living room to fill, this will be a huge upgrade to your existing setup.
It offers basic surround sound functionality, and delivers some excellent sound quality, with deep bass and detail highs. You’ve got full Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, 4K Ultra-HD passthrough, and reasonably intelligent (albeit slightly rough) front end. There are a lot of budget receivers on this list – we do like to cater for everyone, not just the custom-install crowd – but we think this is the pick of the bunch.
See the Yamaha RX-V483
Surround Tech: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X
Wattage Per Channel: 100/8Ω, 2Ch Driven
What We Like: Increased HDMI ports, room correction.
What We Don’t: Doesn’t do anything special.
This is a good, solid all-round system; although it doesn’t do anything particularly special, it’s one of the more reliable units out there. It’s a slightly cheaper alternative to the Denon S920W, and offers much the same features, albeit for slightly diminished sound quality. It’s a 7.2 system that works equally as well as a 5.2.2 or 5.1.2 channel system, making it pretty versatile.
We do like the increased HDMI ports, and we really enjoyed the room correction system, which calibrated the system nicely. It’s called the Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration System (MCACC), and it works rather well. Outside of that, you do get a good range of features, including connections to all your favorite streaming services. We also like the emphasis that Pioneer have placed on the DAC, which helps convert those digital ones and zeros into analogue audio that you can actually hear. While it’s not a patch on some of the other models on this list, the conversion is clean and clear.
See the Pioneer VSX-1131
Surround Tech: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X
Wattage Per Channel: Unknown
What We Like: Terrific sound and user interface.
What We Don’t: Doesn’t quite compete with bigger models.
We loved the STRDN1060, which we reviewed in full some time back. This is a superb update, with excellent sound quality for the price, and which adds in a slew of useful features. While it doesn’t compete with models like the Onkyo TX-NR838, which have a little more oomph, it does offer some very good incitements to buy. If you’ve got around $500 to spend, this is the one you should go for.
We love Sony’s interface, which continues from the one present on 1060, and which is very easy to use. We love the great sound quality – far better than we’d expect from a budget unit – and we love the fact that it not only has Dolby Atmos and DTS:X functionality (not a given at this price range) but also DSD functionality, meaning it can play ultra-high-resolution audio files. A nice touch, and not one you see often. Not quite a top ten model, but boy, does it get the job done. Here’s to the…1090? 1100? What we wouldn’t give for some original receiver names…
See the Sony STRDN1080
Surround Tech: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X
Wattage Per Channel: 75/8Ω, 2ch Driven
What We Like: Superb value, terrific auto-calibration.
What We Don’t: HEOS is nothing to write home about, the Sony model above sounds better.
While there’s plenty to love about Denon’s 730H model – its fantastic room calibration, great set of features (including 4K, Dolby Atmos and DTS compatibility, and more) and decent power, it doesn’t quite do enough to reach the upper echelons of this list. We know Denon is capable of greatness, so it’s a shame to see them fall just short here.
For starts, we don’t think it sounds nearly as good as the Sony STRDN1080 above, which costs only a fraction more and offers far better sound. There’s also no denying that Denon’s HEOS functionality just isn’t quite as good as SONOS, for example, which offers much better multiroom sound. However: there’s no denying the value of this receiver, and if those two negatives don’t mean much to you, you’ll love the sheer amount of bang you get for your buck here. Overall, this is a very good receiver that, while not the best, gets the job done.
See the Denon AVR-S730H
Surround Tech: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X
Wattage Per Channel: 125/6Ω, 2ch Driven
What We Like: Solid sound for the price.
What We Don’t: Terrible control app.
We admit: it was difficult to stop Denon dominating this particular part of the list. Reason being, they make several good-but-not-fantastic models, and at least one major model (the $2,999 X7200WA). If we’re talking a list of the best receivers, only a few companies are going to dominate, and they are one of them.
That being said: while this doesn’t touch other models, sound-wise, and has an awful control app, it does offer some goodies. You get eight HDMI ins (ideal for when you have a lot of sources), some decent power, and compatibility with Dolby and DTS. You also get 4K, and a decent number of channels. It’s something of a workmanlike receiver, but in the end, it’s ideal for smaller rooms, or those who want features over pinpoint sound quality. Check it out, or check the remaining Denon model further down in this list. They do make good receivers, although sometimes not very inspiring ones.
See the Denon AVRX2300W
Surround Tech: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X
Wattage Per Channel: 90/8Ω, 2ch Driven
What We Like: Good power and value.
What We Don’t: Doesn’t do anything special.
The story of receivers is often one of small, incremental updates, not to mention immensely boring names and feature lists that make your head spin – does anyone outside of the custom crowd actually use 12V trigger outputs? But this one – an update on the S720W, which adds 15W extra per channel and more HDMI ports – is very good.
In this price range, it can often be very difficult to tell the difference between models, as they share many similar components. Nevertheless, we really feel that the S720W is one of the best available right now, hence its inclusion on this list. It offers truly magnificent sound for a sub-$500, and the setup is as basic as can be. We’d go so far as to say that the primary selling point: if you want zero hassle when you’re getting started, go for this one. It’s not Denon’s only entry here, and there’s a very good reason for that.
See the Denon AVR-S920W
Surround Tech: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X
Wattage Per Channel: 80/8Ω, 2ch Driven
What We Like: One of the better sub-$400 receivers.
What We Don’t: Off-the-shelf components
This is a smaller version of Onkyo’s TX-NR838, higher on this list. If you can’t afford that one, which costs around $300 more at the time of writing, you may wish to look at this slightly smaller model. It loses quite a bit from its bigger brother, including the wireless connections and a few HDMI inputs, but if you aren’t concerned with those, this may be ideal – especially if you have a smaller room to deal with, or fewer speakers.
And you still get a decent amount for your money. 7.2 channels, the standard Dolby and DTS surround functions, and some good power. Don’t expect audio quality to be fantastic – at this price range, almost all components, from amps to digital-to-analogue converters, are off-the-shelf, meaning there’s less variance in audio style between brands. But it will still function as a good quarterback for your home theater, and we do still recommend it.
See the Onkyo TX-NR575
And For When You Want To Get Really Serious:
20.Krell Foundation ($7,500)
Surround Tech: Dolby (Various), DTS:X (Various)
Wattage Per Channel: N/A
What We Like: The ultimate in home audio processing.
What We Don’t: Huge price tag, definitely not for conventional systems.
So this technically cheating. The Krell Foundation is a processor, rather than a receiver, which means it doesn’t actually deliver amplification. You’ll need a separate amplifier to power your speakers, as this is unable to do so, its purpose being solely to route audio and video signals. But oh my, what a mighty machine. And if you’re upgrading your system to full separates, Krell is an excellent place to start.
You get a smorgasbord of surround sound codecs, with the full gamut of Dolby and DTS variants (although no Auro-3D, which is surprising) as well as 7.1 channels of routing. The sound, as you can imagine, is out of this bloody world, with rich, sumptuous detail and head-pounding bass. It has a pricetag that will deter all but the most dedicated of receiver fans, but this is still one hell of a piece of kit. We even love the name.
See the Krell Foundation
1 – Yamaha Aventage RX-A3070 – Best AV Receiver
Our first pick is from Yamaha, and for those who don’t know the company Yamaha is one of the most popular companies and propably most known for its high quality receivers and also its music products (like: pianos and keyboard instruments etc .. ).
Before we begin looking how good this receiver, I want to mention that this receiver is unique in a sense that it has numerous combined features that you can’t find them in many AV receivers.
… our first pick is the Yamaha AVENTAGE RX-A3070 the receiver with the latest audio / video and cinema technologies.
Let’s begin with the exclusive features :
MusicCast is one of the best features and unfortunately it’s exclusive to Yamaha, this feature helps you play the sound in more extra 9 rooms by other music cast enabled speakers.
So that you can share the entairtainment experience around your entire home.
The system offers a very good experience of sound , that makes the wall shake because this receiver support the latest 3D surrounding sound with the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. This device is 9.2 channels receiver, with 150 watts per channel (230 max).
This Yamaha AVENTAGE can easly support features like 4K resolution display, this device also comes with 8 HDMI Inputs and 2 HDMI outputs that allows you to branch many electronic devices.
The RX-A3070 can make the sound more realistic with precise room calibration capabilities (with YPAO Technology ).
What’s on the box ?
The 9,2 Channel Yamaha Receiver packed with 6.5′ AC power cord, Wireless remote control (RAV559), 2 “AAA” batteries, YPAO microphone, Mic base/stand, WLAN/Bluetooth antenna (installed), AM loop antenna, FM wire antenna, Owner’s Manual CD-ROM, Quick Start Guide, MusicCast brochure, Warranty information, On-line product registration information, “Yamaha Worldwide Representative Offices” note and Spotify Connect brochure.
Overall, the Yamaha AVENTAGE RX-A3070 is a great choice. However, there is one downside. We would like them to make their devices more affordable. With that said, we are going to take a look at both the pros and cons of the Yamaha AVENTAGE RX-A3070.
2 – Marantz SR7011 – Easy to Setup AV Receiver
The second brand on the list is Marantz and for those who don’t know that Marantz is one of the best receivers companies and actually it’s taking a place on the receivers market with brands like : Yamaha , Onkyo , Sony , Pioneer and few others.
As well the company makes other products like Hi-Fi components and AV Seperates etc ..
Now let’s talk about the Brand Flagship receiver the Marantz SR7011 that comes with few new features compared with it’s previous the SR7010.
The SR7011 comes with 9,2 channels of amplification (can be pushed to 11,2) with an estimated power output of 125 watts per channel.
AND the SR7011 supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X which are great sound technologies. You can enjoy also the 7.1 3D sound experience when you add a 2-channel amplifier (Thanks to the 11ch processing).
This Marantz supports the Auro3D but unfortunately with a paid upgrade.
The SR7011 has a total HDMI I/O of 8 Inputs and 3 Outputs that handle Ultra HD content . NOT Only that, but also the receiver’s HDMls supports HDCP 2.2 color protection , 60 Hz video and HDR ( High Dynamic Range ) .
The device supports almost all standards conectivities like Wi-Fi , Bluetooth and also Apple AirPlay. it supports 4K Resolution and it can upscale a standard or high-end defintion to near 4K quality.
Compatible with Denon’s HEOS ?
Yes it is ! this Marantz receiver supports the Denon’s HEOS multi room audio system that allows you to play music on every single room of your house as long as there is compatible speakers .
The Marantz SR7011 is a good receiver, it’s not perfect, it does have some flaws like it’s not a big deal when it comes to upgrading from its previous the SR7010. and Now without further ado let’s the pros and cons.
3 – Cambridge Audio CXR120 – Good Audio Quality
The third device is from Cambridge Audio a well known brand in this field also known for making high quality products like sound amplifiers and loud speakers.
Now let’s see it in details, AS you can see on the image the Cambridge Audio CXR120 has a good looking grey design that makes you feel that you have a big silver piece on the shelf.
So the CXR120 is a terrific but personally I prefer the Yamaha or the Marnatz.
this receiver comes with 7.2 channels of amplification with an estimated power output of 120 watts per channel and it’s supports 4K and WiFi and a total HDMI I/O of 6 Inputs and 2 Outputs .
… the receiver dosen’t support bluetooth (fortunately you can add it with a seperate adaptor) and the surprise that the receiver dosen’t support Dolby Atmos or DTS:X technologies.
Why we listed this device with this lack of features ?
Well, you maybe noticed that we’re focusing on audio quality so that’s why we rated this receiver on the top of the list, maybe it hasen’t Dolby or DTS but it has a superb sound quality that makes it unique and different from other receivers.
AS you can see this is the Cambridge receiver it’s not perfect but it has a unique sound quality, still has downsides like the lack of the bluetooth feature but still a good choice for some people.
Also Cambridge Audio has an other good receiver with 200 watts per channel . didn’t mentioned because I think it’s overpriced compared to its competitors like Yamaha or Marantz who have more advanced features. that’s why the CXR200 not mentioned, but if you want to check it out this the link.
To the Pros and Cons guys !
4 – Onkyo TX-RZ1100 – Onkyo Receiver
Our next product comes from Onlyo, it shouldn’t be surprising that Onkyo is listed because it produces good looking and high-quality products.
Wether we are talking about home cinema systems or portable audio or personal audio systems or Hi-Fi components and more ..
Onkyo is one of the leaders, and the company been for always taking a part on the market of home theater stuff and the company releases new gadgets regularly.
Before we dive into the technical specs of the receiver just I have to mention that Onkyo TX-RZ1100 cames with two colors the white version and the black version, and they’re great in the two versions.
THE TX-RZ1100 has the standard functionalities like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and it’s capable to run 4K resolution. AND it has a Total HDMI I/O of 8 Inputs and 2 Outputs. This Onkyo is 9,2 system (it’s expandable to 11,2 by connecting an extra amplifier) with 140 watts per channel, also capable to deliver high quality sound with features like the Dolby Atmos and the DTS:X. The sound isn’t fine as the other models but still good and acceptable.
I think the only downside here is the price, found that the receiver is a bit expensive compared to other receivers that have exclusive features that worth the money. AND Know Without wasting any further time, let’s look at the pros and cons.
5 – Integra DRX-4 – Best Receiver under 1500
The list wouldn’t be completed if we don’t pick an Integra receiver and put on the list, right?
Well, as you probably know that Integra is great receivers brand. also know for creating products like amplifiers, preamplifiers, soundbars and cd players.
In case you’re worndering why the DRX-4 and Not the DRX-5 or Even the DRX-7 ?
Good question, as I said in the beginning of the post that I take into consederation many things like the price, and the specs. 1st I picked to DRX4 Over the DRX5 because both devices have almost the same features so I think its not worth it to put some extra hundreds of dollars on it, check DRX5 price here .
AND why not DRX7? well , I know that DRX4 is a 7,2 channels receiver and the DRX7 is 9,2 channels one. I didn’t put it because you can pick a 9,2 channel receiver for less money than the DRX7 like the Marantz SR7011 for example, check the DRX7 price here.
This Integra supports 4K resolution like the other devices here on the list, also comes with the basic standard functionalities like the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Has total HDMI I/O of 8 Inputs and 2 Outputs.
As I mentioned the receiver is 7,2 channels device with 110 watts per channel. Supports also the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X technologies that helps the receiver delivers high quality sound.
This Integra is THX Certified receiver, which means that the DRX4 is capable of of meeting rigorous audio and video performance standards for reference level.
Well, the receiver is custom install friendly device which is great for those who want a costumizable receiver that allows them to add PCs or custom lighting and projection screens, this is the model is for you, also has the HDBaseT connectivity for setup over distance which is ideal for big rooms. However there is one downside : Simply its not for newbies and now without wasting any further time let’s checkout pros and cons.
6 – Sony STRDN1060 – Best Receiver for Movies
One of the big brands listed on the Best AV Receivers 2018 list is SONY which is a well known brand specially on this domain with it’s famous TVs , Home Theater and Blu-Ray Players also it has good receivers on the market and one of them is the STRDN1060.
The SONY STRDN1060 is reliable , easy to install and perfect for people who’re confused and won’t to pay too much money for extra features that aren’t so important for general use , and also for those people who’re searching for pure sound quality for an affordable budget .
The device is 7,2 channels receiver with 165W per channel and also you can enjoy an HD sound quality with the Dolby True HD and DTS HD. so the sound quality of the receiver is good specially for a budget device.
The receiver is highly recommended for movie lovers because it’s capable to run videos with 4K resolution. as always the receiver has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Speaking about cables the SONY has a 6 HDMI Inputs and 1 Output.
also you can see how beautiful and elegant is this receiver, so with that out of the way, let’s see pros and cons.
Buyer’s Guide :
What’s an AV Receiver exactly?
an AV Receiver or Audio Video Receiver is an electronic component that helps you switch between different audios and screens from different electronic devices ( like: Game consoles , satelite receiver and Blu Ray Players etc … ).
How it Works exatly ?
The AV Receiver receives audio and video from electronic devices, processing them to drive loudspeakers and a display.
Display Examples : TV , Monitor and Video Projectors.
Inputs Examples : DVD players , Game consoles etc… .
Conclusion : the receiver is a device that tells everything on the home theater where to go and helps you switch between these different audio and video signals.
0 – What you should care about when you buy a receiver ?
When you’re going to buy a new receiver you need to take in consideration many things like connectivity (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc..) also HDMI inputs and outputs are so important , and I think also that sound quality is the most important part that we’ve taken in consideration when we’ve written this article , so don’t be confused because I’m gonna make it simple and easier for you with this buyer’s guide that will make you take a decision of which of these items is the best av receivers 2018 for you , so keep on reading .
1 – HDMI
HDMI ports are one of the most important features that comes with receivers that’s why it really matters that you have a receiver that have good number of HDMI ports that at least
Let’s make it simple :
There is no perfect number of HDMI inputs and outputs for everyone , because it depends on the person and his needs .
I think if you use too many electronic stuff six HDMI ports it will be good , Obviously you can buy an HDMI switcher to expand input ports but I think it will not look elegant , so why not take in consideration to take one or even two more HMDI ports , EVEN if you are sure that you doesn’t use them , who knows , GREAT product came out , or you decide to buy a new console , or buy a new streaming device etc.. so take one extra HMDI input port it will be great decision.
2 – How much should I care about Sound Quality ?
Sound Quality !! It’s important and it’s not in the same time !! How ??
I will explain it to you , not everyone need a high quality and high definition sound quality because you can find an AV receiver with really good features but the sound isn’t that good but it still acceptable and if you don’t use the receiver too much often , I will simply say go for it , but if you are a kind of person that you use it too much , I will say take in consideration the sound quality , because it’s really important and you should choose a receiver with Amazing and Terrific sound quality .
3 – 4K compatibility ?
Maybe you should care about it.
Because 4K becomes one of the Standards now days and 4K TV’s are anywhere on the market and for a really cheap price .
“Check this Cheap 4K TV – Click Here”
So if you already have a TV but it’s not 4K compatible, No problem , maybe in the future you’re going to pick a 4K TV , so if you’ve chosen a 4K compatible AV receiver and your TV not 4K compatible. Don’t take it seriously because I think HD quality is usually enough for daily and general use.
5 – How do I will connect the Receiver?
Well ! I’ve chosen for you a great article that tells you how to connect everything so all you need to do is to check it out right here.
1. Onkyo TX-SR373
Best AV receiver under £300
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
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If you don’t have the space or budget to accommodate Dolby Atmos upfiring speakers, a budget 5.1 receiver is your best bet. And this is the best bet in that particular horse race.
Onkyo’s TX-SR373 comes with a matinee ticket price, but is 4K ready and ideal for gaming, box-set binging and movie nights.
You get four HDMI inputs, and can stream music to it from your smartphone over Bluetooth, giving tunes an upscaling tickle with Onkyo’s DSP Advanced Music Optimiser.
Setup is aided by AccuEQ Room Calibration, which is unusual at this price point. The receiver decodes both DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD formats, and has a 135W per channel power plant.
Proof you don’t need to dig deep to deeply annoy the neighbours.
2. Marantz NR1607
Best AV receiver under £600
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
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AV receivers may have a deserved reputation for bulk, but it is possible to have a home ‘thinema’, if you will. Thanks, I’m here all week.
The NR1607 is the latest iteration of the Marantz slimline AVR range, and stands just 105mm tall. Despite the lack of stature, there’s no compromise on features: this good looker packs in seven channels of 50w amplification, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding, the latest HDMI input spec, plus hi-res audio playback, including DSD. Set up is aided by Audyssey room correction.
All seven rear HDMI inputs support 4K with HDCP 2.2, so there’s ample opportunity for hardware hook-ups. Integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are also provided.
Despite that meager sounding 7x 50w spec, the amp’s performance is energetic, with snappy multichannel steerage and enormous clarity. The NR1607 is also surprisingly nimble with two channel music.
If you have a relatively modest home cinema space to fill, this is a must-try.
3. Yamaha RX-860
Best AV receiver under £900
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
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Yamaha’s versatile mid-range Dolby Atmos 4K AV receiver should suit most room sizes, and it sounds terrific. A seven channel design, it decodes both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, and supports Yamaha’s MusicCast wireless multi-room audio system.
The RX-860 is big and beautiful (well, sort of), with excellent build quality.
There are seven rear HDMI inputs, although only three of support 4K HDCP 2.2 sources. On the plus side you get twin outputs, handy if you want to feed both a telly and a projector.
You can network and stream over ethernet or Wi-Fi, and there’s also Bluetooth Apt-X.
The AVR is rated at 100 watts per channel, and has a wonderfully dynamic attack. It’s also fabulously fluid with high-res audio. File compatibility includes 24-bit 192kHz FLAC and DSD.
Additional niceties: Yamaha’s clever YPAO room calibration system, and a variety of Cinema DSP modes. Silent Cinema (aka virtual surround) works with any wired headsets, and is well worth checking out.
4. Denon AVR-X4300H
Best AV receiver under £1300
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
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Offering nine channels of amplification, this beefy Denon allows you to run either a 5.1.4 or 7.1.2 layout – and there’s processing for a full 11 channels (7.1.4) if you have space for additional amplification.
It handles both Dolby Atmos and DTS X decoding, and can even be upgraded to Auro 3D, although with next to nothing compatible, you have to think of it as, at best, possible future-proofing.
There’s Wi-Fi plus Bluetooth, naturally, while auto calibration comes via Audyssey’s top rated and hard-to-spell MultEQ XT32 system.
Rated at 9x 200w, this Denon really does have massive power.
Multichannel imaging and transient delivery are superb. Blockbusters play with room shaking power, but it does the quiet atmospheric stuff well too. High-res audio file support covers 24-bit/192kHz WAV and FLAC, as well as DSD.
The receiver is HEOS multi-room enabled, which means it will integrate with a larger HEOS whole home audio system.
You can even play a CD, select that input as the source on the AVR through the HEOS app, and then ‘Party Zone’ – woo! – the music through to any connected HEOS speaker.
Design and connectivity are also properly premium. The X4300H has a copper plated chassis and mono block construction, with seven rear HDMI inputs, all of which support 4K HDCP 2.2.
There are also three HDMI outputs, which means you can feed both a flatscreen and projector in one room, while routing the third HDMI to… something else.
Best AV receiver under £4500
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
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Arcam offers a different take on high-end AV: treating you mean to keep you keen.
There are few fripperies here: no Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, not even Apple AirPlay, the high-res support doesn’t include DSD and the AVR850 is ‘only’ a seven-channel design, which translates to a 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos layout.
However, the payback for your restraint in terms of modern features is glorious cinema surround and stereo.
Key to its success is Dirac Live, a supremely sophisticated auto calibration system. If you want your listening room to sound like a studio mastering suite, EQing it with Dirac Live is probably the best way to go about it.
All seven rear-placed HDMI inputs support 4K with HDCP 2.2, and there are three HDMI outputs.
The AVR uses Arcam Class G power amplification, rated at 100W per channel, to deliver the goods.
Spatial placement and dynamic attack are hugely impressive. Once finely tuned by Dirac, the receiver is taut and effective with every source.
This is Arcam’s best sounding AV receiver to date, in short, and well worth a purchase, if you have the readies.
Best For Custom Installs Runner-Up – Integra DRX-4/DRX-5 Home Theater Receivers
The Integra DRX-4 and DRX-5 are two THX Select Plus 2 Certified Home Theater Receiver entries from Integra, which is the custom install product division of Onkyo.
The custom control features available on these receivers include: Bi-Directional RS232 control ports, Bi-Directional control via Ethernet, IR sensor input/output, RIHD (Remote control via HDMI), and three 12 volt triggers.
What all this means is that the DRX-4 and DRX-5 can be used to control video projection screens, lighting, and other components in a home theater setup, as well as being able to be integrated into a system that includes control via PCs and related devices.
The DRX-4 and DRX-5 also incorporate HDBaseT connectivity. HDBaseT provides an efficient and cost-effective way of connecting HDMI sourced audio, and network sources over a single CAT5e/6 cable, especially over long distances, making it practical for Multi-zone audio and video setups. Signals transferred via CAT5e/6 cable from these receivers can be converted back to HDMI via a converter box(es) on the receiving end.
In terms of audio and video, both receivers provide up to a 7.2 channel configuration, with 5.1.2 channel support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, as well as the full pass-through capability for 3D, 4K, HDR, and Wide Color gamut video signals, and 1080p to 4K upscaling. Both receivers also feature wired and wireless network connectivity for access audio files from local devices as well as internet radio and several streaming music services.
Where the two receivers differ is that the DRX-4 has a stated power output of 110 wpc (2 channels driven, 8 ohms, 20-20kHZ, 0.08% THD), while the DRX-5 takes that up to 130 wpc using the same measuring standard. Also, the DRX-5 has more comprehensive audio processing, and although the DRX-4 features Zone 2 operation, the DRX-5 can handle up to 3 Audio Zones.
What Does An A/V Receiver Do?
Got multiple speakers? Planning on a surround system? Then you need an A/V receiver.
We used a quarterback analogy earlier, but perhaps a better one is air-traffic control. A receiver takes all the incoming audio and video signals, and reroutes to them their correct locations on the fly, sending audio out to your speakers and video from your XBox (for example) to your widescreen TV. If it’s a good receiver, it will sharpen and improve the signals before sending them on, using its converters and amplifiers to make things better.
A lot of the picks on this list don’t actually look like much. They are fairly dull, bland boxes with a bunch of controls on them, and a bewildering array of inputs and outputs around the back. But without this box, your home theater setup is going nowhere.
There are a few key components inside each box. There’s a preamplifier and an amplifier, for handling audio signals, a set of video inputs to work out where to send the visuals, and a decoder to separate the two. In addition, there may be a separate surround sound decoder, which splices the audio into its different channels and makes sure they get to the correct speaker.
And by the way, it’s only functional if you have speakers to plug into it, or if you’ve got a full home theater system where the central component needs an upgrade. Good hunting!
You’ve probably noticed the numbers 5.1, 7.1 and 9.2 floating around this article. What’s up with that?
This number refers to the amount and type of speakers in the setup: the first (5, 7, 9, whatever) refers to the number of high end and mid range speakers, while the second one (the .1, sometimes .2) refers to the subwoofer, or low-end speaker. Simply put, the more quality speakers there are, the more rich and dynamic your sound is likely to be. At the same time, you’re likely to pay more the higher those numbers get.
5.1 and 7.1 are considered the standard – the basic number of channels which a given receiver might have. Any receiver above about $500 will almost always offer 7.2 channels, allowing for seven speakers and two subwoofer. Even cheaper models, like the Denon AVR-S730H, come with 7.2 speaker channels.
A 5.1 system would include three front channels (a center speaker, designed to sit under your TV, and two bigger ones just off to the left and right), and two on either side of the listening position. A 7.1 would add two more, behind you.
A 9.1 or 11.1 system is where you start adding height speakers – something only a few receivers can actually take, like the incredible Yamaha Aventage RX-A3070BL, which offers 9.2 channels. This kind of thing is usually undertaken when you have a large room, and don’t mind doing some DIY to mount your speakers!
Some further useful info. The subwoofer channels (the .1 or .2) will require their own power, meaning you’ll use a different connection to that from your speakers. We’ll go into this in more detail below. And some receivers, like the Yahama above, also allow you to expand your channel quota by adding more amps into the mix.
Simply put: surround sound aims to deliver multi-dimensional sounds that move around in the same way as objects would in real life, by adding height to our aural perception. Surround systems rely on multiple speakers positioned in front of, behind, to the side and sometimes above your listening position.
What makes surround sound possible are codecs: software code converting digital ones and zeros into an audible sound. They take the sound being sent into your A/V receiver, and tell it where to go and how to be reproduced. If you’re not into reading tech specs, you can think of an A/V receiver as a phone, and a surround sound codec as an app on that phone.
There are many, many surround sound codecs, but there are the just three main ones you’ll need to worry about. Let’s break them down.
Let’s start with the DTS:X system. This is the easiest one out of the lot to integrate within an already existing 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound setup, and as such it’s perfect for beginners. If you’re just getting started in surround sound, and you already own some speakers or plan on getting a basic setup, this is the one to go for. DTS:X’s approach to improving the listener’s experience is by “freeing the audio content from specific speaker channels” and is purely software based – there are no physical requirements for the number of speakers or their locations when setting up the system. It’ll work with any conventional speaker setups, up to 32 speakers.
With a DTS:X-enabled receiver connected, the rest of the setup is straightforward, really – the auto-calibration system optimizes all dialogue and sound effects feeds for you. The system’s menu also allows user-definable level adjustment, and can even boost hard-to-hear dialogue above the other sounds. Plus, older format movie and game soundtracks and even stereo music files can all be played through DTS:X – the conversion (from non-DTS:X sources) uplifts the content with an added spatial audio realism. For best results, it is recommended that you play content (Blu-ray discs or streaming Digital Media) optimised for DTS:X.
Then there’s Dolby Atmos. Where Dolby Atmos differs from conventional surround set-ups is by necessitating one, two or more extra pairs of ceiling speakers. Such elevated “reflecting” speakers will be positioned above your existing floor-level surround speakers, allowing for sounds to move between top and bottom. If starting from scratch, there are many Dolby Atmos enabled packages available to purchase, ready-in-a-box, including everything you need: A/V receiver, amplification, and speakers. If you’re upgrading an already existing home surround system, you would need a Dolby Atmos-compatible A/V Receiver. The biggest investment, though, would be for the additional elevated speakers – even for a minimal Dolby Atmos setup, you would need at least two ceiling speakers on top of a regular surround set, if not four.
Now you’re probably thinking: really? Drilling holes in my ceiling? Fortunately, the guys who make Dolby are wicked smart, and they’ve come up with an alternative solution. Instead of installing speakers in or on the ceiling, you can add speakers on top of your existing towers, with drivers projecting upwards. Atmos-enabled speakers can come with such drivers already built-in, and you can buy Atmos-modules that will work with your existing speakers.
Worth noting: These additional up-firing speakers have their own speaker terminals to make them into separate, dedicated channels. This of course increases the number of amp speaker outputs needed – you might have to invest in additional amplification if you’ve already used up all of your amp’s available speaker connections.
Dolby Atmos have their own way of naming their height-elevated setups, because surround sound systems weren’t confusing enough already. A 5.1.2 Atmos set-up would be like a traditional 5.1 surround system (in other words, five speakers and a subwoofer) but with an added pair of ceiling speakers (or Atmos modules): the ‘2’ in 5.1.2. Similarly, a 7.1.4 Atmos set will be like a 7.1 conventional surround setup with two extra pairs of ceiling speakers or Atmos modules (hence the 4 in 7.1.4).
Auro-3D is kind of a dark horse here. Dolby has a huge market share, and DTS:X is gaining fans fast, but Auro-3D’s technological requirements have seen it struggle, despite the fact that it’s pretty incredible.
It requires two extra height levels added to the conventional surround experience: wall mounted height speakers installed on the sides, as well as a single main ceiling speaker- the awesomely-named Voice Of God speaker.
Found in 9.1, 11.1 and 13.1 configurations, Auro-3D is surprisingly flexible. For example, if you are already using a 5.1 you can start your upgrade to an Auro 9.1 setup by adding four wall speakers – two above your two main speakers, and two above your two surrounds. If upgrading a 7.1 surround set to an Auro 3D layout you’d need an additional speaker above each surround and center speaker plus the added single ceiling channel.
We need to point out that an Auro-3D installation (or an upgrade from a regular surround system) can be a bit tricky due to the very specific positions, heights and angles of the additional Auro-3D overhead layers and wall speakers. This plays a major role in achieving the best possible audio quality.
And unless you’re rich enough to have two home theater rooms, you aren’t going to be combining an Atmos system with an Auro-3D one. You have to pick one or the other. Since only the Voice Of God speaker lives on the ceiling, an Auro-3D setup would leave an Atmos sounding far from its best. Similarly, Auro-3D won’t be happy with multiple ceiling speakers or up-firing drivers. If all that sounds splendid, then take a look at a receiver like the Marantz SR7012 which, for a small fee, will allow you to upgrade to Auro-3D functionality.
This is the amount of power that the amp will push through to your speakers, and it can be as low as 30 watts (W) and as high as 500 watts. You’ll need to make sure your speakers can actually take this level of power, and again, there’s no point paying for power that is going to be overkill in the room (or which isn’t going to fill it up enough of it).
You need to look at the wattage, which will give you an idea of how powerful your sound is going to be. We spent some time thinking about which stat to list here, and in the end, you’ll see that for most of our amps, we list wattage for two channels driven – two channels being the minimum (we think) that a receiver takes.
The first thing you might be wondering is: if a receiver is 7.2, then why are they being rated for two channels of sound? That, my friend, is because the two channel ratings look better than the seven channel ones, which are considerably lower. However, almost all receivers will be able to deliver enough power, so don’t stress about it too much.
It’s more important to match speakers well, and you can do that by looking at output specs. Here’s an example of a typical manufacturer stat: Rated Output Power (20Hz-20kHz, 2ch driven): 80 W (8 ohms, 0.09% THD). That’s for the Yamaha RX-V483, and what it means is that when two channels are receiving power with eight ohms of electrical resistance, between the ranges of 20Hz and 20kHz, you’ll be getting eighty watts of power with around 0.09% of distortion.
And if that was gobbledegook, the only thing you need to pay attention to is the bit that says ‘eighty watts of power’. Find a speaker that can take that particular wattage at eight ohms, and you’re good to go. We explain it in a lot more detail here – don’t worry, it’s easy!
There are a huge number of connections on the back of any given unit, both analogue and digital, and we could spend quite a while going into all of them, and which ones you will need. By far the most important ones are the HDMI inputs. You’ll want at least a few of these, as it’s by far the most-common and most-utilised type of port.
When we say HDMI I/O, we mean HDMI Inputs/Outputs. Usually, there are more of the former than the latter, and depending on how many HDMI-capable gadgets you have, they could be super important.
But do you actually need those seven HDMI ports? For most of us, three or four will be more than enough. So why are you going for a unit that has more than double what you need? You think those things come for free? No way. You pay for extra ports, so think carefully about how many pieces of equipment you’re going to be using before you shell out your hard-earned.
But on the other hand: these things last for quite a while. You will probably own yours for years. And over those years, you will collect new electronics, new gizmos, new devices…all of which will need a discrete HDMI port. Really, what you’re going here is a balance: the number of ports you’ll use now, plus one or two left over for the future.
4K, if you don’t know, is a new standard of content with ridiculous visual fidelity and color sharpness. There are plenty of 4K-ready TVs, and so many bits of A/V gear exist these days that you might fool yourself into thinking it’s something you need to have.
But: the problem is that not enough content is 4K yet, meaning most of what you’ll see has been ‘upscaled’: translated to a 4K setting without actually being 4K. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The good news is that all the picks on our list are 4K-ready, so even if you couldn’t care, you’re getting it anyway. Congratulations!
If you want more info, there’s a great video explainer here.
Something new to many A/V receivers in the last few years is the advent of Bluetooth and WiFi. Long may it continue!
Bluetooth streaming allows you to send audio from your phone or tablet out to your receiver, to be played by your surround speakers. It is easy and convenient, but even at higher encoding levels (like aptX, or Bluetooth 4.1, which allow more data to be sent faster) it isn’t a patch on wired sound, which is always going to be better.
WiFi, on the other hand, is giving speaker wire a run for its money. Connecting a receiver to your home WiFi network means you can play music or video from anything else connected to it, like your PC. It’s also less prone to dropouts than Bluetooth, and as we mentioned, it sounds better. The downside? It adds another device onto your home network, which we’re betting is probably already crawling with devices.
One nifty WiFi trick: some manufacturers, like Denon, have made their receivers compatible with their wireless multiroom speakers. That means you can set up complex wireless systems that allow you complete control of your music. If you have some of Denon’s HEOS speakers, you may want to pick up their AVR-S730H, which will slot right in.
We actually have a full guide to this, explaining every single connection on that crazy-complicated rear of your receiver, and what to do with it. But here’s a very short version, if all you need is a quick reference. It covers one of the more common setups.
- Connect your Blu-ray player or console to one of your receiver’s HDMI In ports, using an HDMI cable.
- Using speaker wire of at least 16-gauge, connect your speakers to their individual channels. You do this by unscrewing the cap, and threading your stripped wire through the hole so the metal wire makes contact with the metal speaker port. Then screw the cap back on.
- Each speaker has a red (+) connection, and a black (-) connection. Black to black, red to red. Always. A sharpie to color in the right split on the wire may be helpful.
- Connect your subwoofer to the Pre Out port, using a standard RCA cable.
- Connect your TV to the receiver’s HDMI Out port, using a standard HDMI cable.
- Plug in the receiver and subwoofer. Yes, we put this last for a reason. DO NOT DO ANY CONNECTING WITH YOUR RECEIVER PLUGGED IN. EVER.
- Turn on your TV and receiver. Switch to the relevant HDMI input using your TV remote. Follow the on-screen setup instructions.
You don’t play your music or movies in a vacuum. Your sound comes out in a room filled with things: couches, tables, bookshelves, children, the dog, glass windows, pictures on the walls. All of these things affect the sound.
Calibrating your room – which your system will do by playing a test tone and then recapturing it through a special microphone before adjusting the sound accordingly – is a crucial part of the whole home theater experience, and will help you get the best out of your receiver, and indeed your whole system. Not every unit has this type of thing, but it can work really, really well when you use it.
Each receiver that includes it will usually include very detailed instructions about how to get this done, so it should be a fairly straightforward process – and if you have it, you’d be crazy not to do it. The receiver with the best room calibration on our list is probably the Anthem MRX 1120, which has astounding intelligence. Although at $3,500, it had better!
Something we saw far more often than we’d like: someone placing their A/V receiver in a crowded TV cabinet.
Do not do this. A/V receivers can get really hot – especially after a few hours of operation. It won’t catch fire, but it may shut down, and you’re definitely shortening its lifespan. Give it some room. Two inches (at least) on the top, sides and rear should be more than enough to allow air to circulate.
But – we hear you say – it’s an ugly machine! I want to hide it away! We get it. Receivers aren’t pretty, even at the top end of the price ranges. But hiding them away causes more problems than it solves, as it also means you may not be able to use your remote. If you have to put it in a cabinet, make sure it at least has enough space. You could also invest in a remote extender, which means you don’t need line-of-site to the receiver to control it.
A better option would be to place the receiver in an open-face cabinet, or on the floor out of the way. Whatever you choose, just make sure you give it a little room, yes?
How We Choose The Best A/V Receivers of 2018
A/V receivers don’t get major game-changing updates that often – home theater companies are more than likely to bring out a new bigger (or smaller/entry-level) variation of their existing models. Receiver tech is tried and tested these days, so there are plenty of familiar faces here. We compare receivers from dozens of different manufacturers, taking into account everything: whether they have 4K capability, how many HDMI ports they have, what their connectivity is like, price and more. Our experience in home audio lets us pick out the best receivers – there are dozens available, and these are the absolute best around. We also take care to point out what each receiver is best for. Agree? Disagree? Be sure to let us in know in the comments, or on Facebook or Twitter.