Welcome to the best AV receiver under 2000 review compiled out of the flagship models in the market. The main aim of the current review is to find the solidly built and reliable AV receivers priced between 1000 and 2000. Receivers in this segment represent the modern complex technical devices featuring the leading electronic technologies for versatile settings. Such diversity, along with the compatibility and format-related issues, can make the buyer dizzy. That’s where this review comes in handy. Here, the real usable parameters and features are considered, it’s not a technical manual but a real-time user guide.
The price range allows choosing the best AV receiver under 2000 having many useful options at a lower cost. Meanwhile, it also includes the serious professional devices that provide the seamless clear sound with voluminous effects, able to satisfy the experienced music lovers.
This review also contains the older models of the quality AV receivers, while some of the receivers are followed by the newer unit of the same model line. These items represent the improved receivers with enhanced functions and format options. They usually feature enhanced technical characteristics and wider connectivity options, which are described in the review. Meanwhile, the appearance of a newer model is not a reason to immediately replace the high-quality receiver you have - so far as it satisfies your needs.
AV receiver is an important part of a home theater, adapted to the new object-oriented formats Dolby Atmos and DTS: X. Direct Power FET transistors suppress high-frequency pickups. The whole block of multichannel pulse amplification is enclosed in a separate metal casing, electrically isolated from the main steel chassis. Reliable network transformer is also located on a separate steel appliance. MCACC allows an auto-calibration performing, moreover, it has an ability to adjust with high accuracy not only temporal but also phase shifts of imperfectly placed speakers, including subwoofers. Bass management selects a mid-bass component and sends it to the front speakers, which have to reproduce the sound correctly. Such a peculiarity brings more naturalness, especially when watching music videos.
The unit can integrate into a home computer network via RJ-45 Ethernet port and wireless way because it is equipped with a dual-band Wi-Fi adapter. The wireless connection and app installation also make it real to control the receiver with the help of the smartphone. Fire Connect technology of creating a distributed multi-room music system brings together various sources of audio content and active speakers installed in rooms.
The volume and source switching controllers are rather voluminous, so it’s not really comfortable to use them. The Pioneer SC-LX901 also has a set of ports: HDMI, USB, headphone jacks, and a calibration microphone, all of them work smoothly. The front panel of this best receiver is made of plastic and its polished texture looks the same at any angle. On the rare part, there are seven HDMI inputs, five of which meet the requirements of the HDMI 2.0a standard, in other words, they are capable of working with 4K video streams at a frame frequency of up to 60Hz with HDR support and in the BT.2020 color space. There are two HDMI outputs, and considering the class of the device, the second one will be used more often to connect the projector. The transparency and clarity of subtle musical accents and the resolution in the upper range and microdynamics are really impressive. On high-resolution tracks, the amount of musical information sometimes overlaps and for the numerous details, the overall music is not so clearly perceived. In order to interact with mobile gadgets, Pioneer offers a convenient and well-designed iControlAV5 application, which visualizes all calibration steps up to displaying the current phase characteristics of all channels in real time.
The device has a built-in multimedia player that can not only play high-resolution audio files from external USB storage devices and DLNA servers on the network but also stream content from required Internet services such as Deezer, Spotify, and TIDAL. Ethernet RJ-45 port provides an opportunity for home network integration. Moreover, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth can be used to broadcast music directly from mobile gadgets. Pioneer remote app is able to control the receiver. It is quite intuitive and easy to use (except for the volume control scale, but you can use the physical buttons on your remote control). Due to the FlareConnect and DTS Play-Fi technologies, the SC-LX801 is the center of a distributed wireless audio system. A special system performs the automated equalization in each channel in order to align the resulting frequency response.
Produced sound is dense and scale, but at the same time, all the details can be heard even in high noise conditions. Mentioned home theater receiver presents all the intense scenes of modern blockbusters without lack of vigor and loss of legibility of the supply. The device is fully ready to work with modern optical disk players Ultra HD Blu-Ray. It can scale video up to the 4K resolution, and, if necessary, pre-convert analog signals from composite or component video inputs to digital form. Two HDMI outputs can work simultaneously, which will be useful when creating complex AV systems with two display devices (for example, with a projector for watching movies and a TV for watching shows and games). I don’t like the moments when the picture freezes up and I have to reset the receiver in order to make the image appears again.
The digital amplifier provides 200W per channel, and the total power is limited only by the capabilities of the transformer. Both channels have 140W, which is quite enough for a home theater pair – only special multichannel amplifiers for the professional segment can provide more. The device itself is rather heavy (38.5 pounds), so it’s better not to move it in a room and just place in one location. Its dimensions (7.4 x 17.1 x 7.3 inches) are compact enough for distribution under the TV or on the subwoofer with good vibration absorption.
The model is equipped with nine discrete HDAM amplifiers, each of which has 110W. Mentioned amplifiers provide pure dynamic sound and easily cope with low-impedance speakers. A special eco-mode helps optimize the power consumption of the receiver. The ability to drive 5.2.4 or 7.2.2 setups allows the SR6012 to create an acoustic field with reasonably good depth. Such a peculiarity gives a realistic audial perception of space and the environment around the user. Due to the installation of dual subwoofers the product produces a more balanced bass reproduction. It creates all the conditions for details and environmental ambient sounds hearing. The music playback is performed in a clear way by means of the Marantz HDAMs (Hyper Dynamic amplifier modules).
Accurate Audyssey MultEQ XT32 app, supplemented by a package of such technologies, is used to calibrate the speakers: Dynamic Volume (eliminates the difference in volume, which is important when watching programs with ads), Dynamic EQ (optimizes frequency response), LFC (doesn’t allow bass to penetrate the adjacent rooms), and Sub EQ HT (provides the coordinated work of two subwoofers). This app was available only for professionals earlier and not everyone can set a maximum filter frequency and get rid of the low-frequency noise with no need for the speaker’s system overall timbre changing.
The Marantz SR6012 receiver is equipped with dual-band Wi-Fi, which is important for congested networks. It connects to the local network via LAN/WLAN and is integrated into the wireless multi-room HEOS system. Specified HEOS application has everything to control the receiver, as well as broadcast content of a local network or audio stream of web-services Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, Tidal, Deezer, and other resources to components that support this technology. In such a system you can simultaneously play the same track in all rooms or transfer specific music to an assigned group of components. The Bluetooth and AirPlay options allow you to stream tracks absolutely from all the compliant devices. There are three HDMI outputs, of which two allow connecting to the projector and TV easily. One of them supports the advanced eARC return channel, capable of working with Dolby Atmos and DTS: X. In order to connect speakers correctly, there are 11 pairs of screw terminals with color markings.
The device is hard to call the last innovation, but it has full 11.2-channel preamp outputs, which make it possible to drive a 7.2.4 Atmos/DTS:X system with an occasional external stereo amplifier. Pay attention that Onkyo product has a European safety-standard-compatible spacing for the multi-way posts, which are made for all channels’ speaker outputs. Such a peculiarity means that 0.75-inch dual-bananas (U.S.-style) won’t fit. The system doesn’t have widespread Audyssey MultEQ equalization because the manufacturer implemented its own technology – AccuEQ, which makes it possible to fine-tune system parameters when playing 3D sound. It’s easy to adjust everything because the on-screen prompts are simple and useful. The unique sound-setup technology focuses more on the sharpness of treble-rich elements and while working with low octaves it raises the level and tightens it down. It’s easy to hear a lot of details and even cymbals or brass attacks. Almost every octave sound clean even in an up-tempo style, moreover, the D-extension double bass sounds vibrant, woody, and rich.
With the help of the DTS Neural: X processor, the device is able to form high-pitched sound effects for ordinary 5.1 and 7.1-channel tracks. The unit’s front-mounted stereo channels have high-end DACs, and the extra-current circuitry of all of the final amplifiers ensures reliable operation of the device with the most complex load.
This receiver works by applying 7.2 channels to the distribution of the audio stream. Wired connection with other devices is provided by 8 HDMI connectors, moreover, two of them are frontal and support most of the popular today 4K standards. USB, line inputs, and even a built-in phono preamp provide a means for the old-school vinyl sound enjoying. Special digital-to-analog converter guarantees the listener a natural but at the same time multi-dimensional sound with a lot of audio notes.
Wireless connection is traditionally carried out through Wi-Fi (2.4 and 5GHz) and Bluetooth technologies. In addition, the receiver supports the AirPlay interface, the Spotify streaming audio server, and can play music broadcast by Internet radio stations. The 9.2-channel unit has 135W and looks very massive, but it can be not only a part of home theater but also a device to produce modern object-based audio and classic stereo sound. The TX-RZ920 has enough power to shake the house, but its assembly quality isn’t really good because of the weak plastic elements and their strange smell.
I tried this receiver with the 9.2 Yamaha acoustic set and 4K Apple TV. The effect of the creeping bass coming from four channels at once is truly penetrating! The sound is crystal clear and fills the room physically. The volume range is large due to considerable wattage per channel, yet the smart calibration allows removing all the thump from the subwoofers making it stay within the room. The mids are super clean and rich, while the highs become a bit thin when the back speakers are involved.
I also appreciated the smart sound distribution between the speakers during movie watching - it was great having the Atmos effect from the large facing-up speaker as if coming right from the ceiling. The video is superb, the native 4K and HDR are implemented seamlessly, there were no out-of-sync issues or any HDMI handshakes at all! The colors are rich and vivid, while the contrast is sharp. I was pleased with the fast and solid work of the wireless network, especially with the streaming through Pandora. The Bluetooth transmission to the speakers from the receiver featured slight crackling - and it wasn’t fixed by the firmware update. The latter is fast and simple, not interfering with the receiver’s performance.
The Yamaha RX-A3070 is followed by the next-gen AV receiver Yamaha AVENTAGE RX-A3080 that is yet more functional than its predecessor. It can manage two more channels producing the unbelievable backstage sound from my 11 Klipsch speakers’ set and two Sony subs. I could hear every track distinctly and write a music diagram for them myself - so clearly it was produced! The Atmos effect was outstanding, but it was stunning to find out that it is perfect in headphones as well. The video upscaling adds even more contrast and colors than in the Yamaha A3070.
An upgrade of the Yamaha RX-A2060, this receiver provides more advanced wireless options. The Internet apps like Sirius radio and Napster work without issues. I could easily adjust the volume, switch within the playlist, and shift to another input. This unit supports up to four zones with up to three powered ones (while there is no zoning distribution in the previous model). The AVR is equipped with Surround:Al technology ensuring the optimal sound settings in real-time. The audio converter is enhanced up to 32 bit enabling the crystal pure sound in any mode.
Compared to the Yamaha RX-A1070, this RX-A1080B provides better control over the zones through MusicCast app. I could set the EQ and perform regular controls for each zone staying 100 feet away. The number of zones increased due to MusicCast transmission to other locations. The setup became easier, letting tune any basic setting from the main menu. The transmission via Bluetooth is improved. I connected the subwoofer to the dedicated output while syncing the bathroom speaker via Bluetooth. I was stunned to have powerful, well-centered and full-presence sound.
The unit has several impedance options for connecting to the wide range of acoustic sets. I used it with the 5-speaker Sony set and a Sony sub. This AV receiver provides different setup levels that appeal to a wide audience. A regular movie buff with no affection for technics, and a techie will both enjoy the simple menu and intuitive tuning. The Pioneer’s proprietary auto-calibration MCACC has tuned the system well for me. Yet, choosing the Pure Direct sound mode and fiddling a bit with the subwoofer settings (I set the lows to my liking and adjusted the frequency a bit lower than in default mode), I got an outstanding accord with the midbass. The sound got rich and vibrating. I marveled at the vivid and razor-sharp picture on my Epson 4K projector with HDR support - it works for 100% and brings the incredible texture. Meanwhile, the ARC connection with the 4K TV didn’t allow setting the options like contrast and brightness, so I connected it through HDCP-compatible HDMI. This AVR is the state-of-the-art device; still, it supports the 3D pass-through as well. I enjoyed the full presence effect enhanced by the enwrapping Atmos sound.