A broad variety of technological goods blesses and curses us with a question of choice at the same moment. This problem aggravates with vivid complimentary reviews to each model that highlight only minor flaws that aren’t helpful in terms of making a final choice. Thus, I’ve come up with the idea to create a list to assist you in finding your best AV receiver under 500. This price allows you to purchase a sturdy model that is able to fulfill your demands.
Receivers in this price range are modern and sophisticated; they include many contemporary technologies but not all, of course. This price range, as seen from my personal testing, comprises affordable models with essential features, such as the Denon AVRX1500 with the high-quality picture and sounding, or the Pioneer SC-LX501 that has the famous MCACC automatic speaker and room calibration system.
I’ve included practical advantages and disadvantages of each model, which I’ve discovered during my testing. In addition, I’ve decided that it would be useful to compare old and new versions of the device that has an upgraded version. However, if you’re looking for some specific features, browse only through detailed receiver reviews and pro and cons, because models of previous years already comprise all essential features. So, don’t chase for the freshest models, they aren’t necessarily better for sure. Moreover, they’re at least $100 more expensive.
My list of top AV receivers under 500 includes six most popular brands such as Onkyo, Denon, Marantz, Pioneer, Yamaha, and Sony that have already carved their names in the history of electronic products development. Besides, I’ve found the most popular models of these brands and scrutinized them.
This device provides great sounding not only due to the speakers quality but also thanks to the auto-calibration feature. It deals with the resonance of a room by adjusting the sound according to the surroundings. It amplifies the power of the receiver’s sound, making it deeper. Although I’ve found in the manual setup that Onkyo TX-NR686 has settings for 4 and 6 Ohms, in fact it can be supposedly compatible within the range of 4 to 16 Ohms. I wish the initial setup guide was more user-oriented. In short, this model doesn’t have settings for 16 Ohms (at least I failed to find it in the manual setup options). Amazon Music, Deezer, Spotify, TuneIn, Tidal, and Deezer (as well as Bluetooth, AirPlay, and Google Chromecast) are easily accessible through the Onkyo Controller, so I’m not concerned about connectivity because, in addition to this, it also has a couple of legacy ports.
The receiver has the full package of features and even more: a full set of banana jacks, Ethernet jack, ARC, HDMI ports; thus, there aren’t any concerns about connectivity. Also, I didn’t waste time on calibration, it was done absolutely automatically.
For those who, similar to me, are keen on all gadgets being connected and working together – a receiver with Google Home is right up your street. I’ve noticed that the DCAC EX calibration has been improved, so now it analyses the exact speaker package configuration and after that makes musical test tones.
The initial Audyssey speaker level setup works great; the Wi-Fi firmware update goes perfectly. However, Alexa has flaws; mainly, it doesn’t work no matter how I’ve tried. I’m concerned only about the HDMI CEC that works on the shutdown but not on the startup. The NR1608 is a proper AV entertainer with an attractive form factor. It can impress with action movies and has an inherent stereophony that also offers nice High-Res audio. 5.1.2 Atmos is more effective in smaller listening areas.
The new slim version, Marantz NR1609, has less than half the height of traditional AV receivers. Also, it works better with Alexa.
I’ve used a new control app (the Android version) for this receiver, which works perfectly/ However, when I was controlling it on our desktop computer, it once got stuck in Spotify Connect instead of going to the Media Player mode. It was strange, I still haven’t understood the reason. However, the multiroom capability is great, I’m already used to having different functioning sources in two rooms simultaneously.
An upgraded Denon AVRX2500 model has got multiple HDCP 2.2 inputs and now offers more connectivity and Alexa control; together they make its operation easier. Atmos Sound is great but despite Component / Composite inputs, this can’t be converted to HDMI. A built-in HEOS multi-room music system can be readily adjusted to the home network without any adaptors due to the dual-band Wi-Fi connection; it ensures filling every room with music even in a huge house.
I assume that the main benefit of this receiver is that it connects very quickly and easily to both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and the Chromecast functions without lags. Also, I use the Onkyo Controller App on my smartphone to keep an eye on it. Many aspects (such as zone controls) are quicker and easier to perform through the app. I also adore the Apple AirPlay for playing music directly from my iPhone, which saves time. However, I should point out that I’ve had a few problems getting the Bluetooth music from Alexa, but it somehow corrected itself after a while. I also use a Harmony remote and it works perfectly.
A new Onkyo TX-RZ830 model has a plethora of music streaming options, such as built-in Google Chromecast, which differs it from the previous models. I control playback via voice through my Google Assistant, get to Amazon Music via the Onkyo Music Control App; the likes of Tidal, TuneIn, Deezer, and Spotify are accessible from the Onkyo Controller that provides local and DLNA streaming. Moreover, there are two hi-res, multi-room streaming platforms: DTS Play-Fi and Onkyo’s own FlareConnect that give access to networked files and various music streaming services.
I can name it the best home theater receiver under 500 judging by its performance with my LG Oled 55" TV via ARC HDMI. I’m used to connecting a TV and a projector in one room and play different content on a second zone screen thanks to three HDMI outputs. The sound is crisp and clear as you expect to have in more pricey models. Besides, it doesn’t have any voice latency or lagging issues.
The process of setup and connection to my 7.1 surround speaker system was very quick. I used the YPAO to adjust it, and I also connected it to Apple Airplay through Wi-Fi. I love the app, it’s so easy to use it without looking for a remote! Due to the two-zone capability, I’ve connected a 5.1 channel system and an extra pair of speakers for another area.
The new Yamaha AVENTAGE RX-A780 has a sleek elegant design with its aluminum front panel and smooth volume knobs. This shield guaranties maximum sonic performance in different environments. This feature, in addition to its external elegance, makes this device a reasonable candidate for the title of the best AV receiver under 500. The whole AVENTAGE series have achieved the highest possible sound performance. In addition, its outstanding new feature is that the receiver is shielded from external noise and electronic radiation generated by dimmer switches or video monitors.
This device benefits from having the famous MCACC automatic speaker and room calibration system that makes it a sort of the best audio receiver under 500. The tones are relatively unusual, and the receiver is a bit slower than some systems. The levels and speaker distances are determined correctly; however, be ready to check and manually adjust the results. Also, at the end, it could be necessary to check the Audio Adjust part of the main System Setup menu. There is a deeper ‘Dolby’ menu, as well as ‘Loudness Management’. It differs from Dolby Volume, perhaps it’s some sort of a dialogue adjustment for Dolby TrueHD.
The new Pioneer VSX-LX503 is twice as expensive as SC-LX501; it includes built-in Chromecast, FlareConnect wireless multiroom audio streaming, and a multitude of room correction and phase correction tools as part of its Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration System. This new Elite VSX-LX503 can become the best receiver under 500 offering the ultimate Dolby Atmos or DTS:X surround-sound experience through speaker layouts up to 7.2.4 channels. The VSX-LX503 offers 120 W per channel, features Pioneer's Direct Energy and is the first announced Elite receiver to earn the "Works With Sonos" certification. I didn't need to do any calibration. The MCACC technology ensures your sound is perfectly balanced! This receiver handles all of HDMI inputs without any problem. Dolby Vision from the Apple TV 4K works flawlessly. Switching between inputs is not a problem and is perfectly quick as well as the work of the HDMI outputs (one to a 4K TV and the other to a 4K projector).
The setup process is really quick; the M-CR611 model has the frontal panel display that helps with this, and with navigating around the various inputs and browsing music libraries. A remote control is included, but I don’t use it, so I can’t say anything specific about it.
The most important – the sound is clear and well-defined. No part of the frequency range feels too prominent or overlooked.
This model is equipped with low impedance drive capability that provides operational stability with 4-Ohm speakers. That makes AVR-S930H at least the best AV receiver under $500 in the Denon’s S Series. It’s possible to configure the AVR-S930H receiver for a 7-channel home theater surround system, but I’ve chosen to have a 5-channel surround system in the living room with two of the amplifier channels dedicated to driving separate stereo speakers in the bedroom.
Control freaks, like me, can also download the Audyssey MultEQ Editor app which allows you to adjust settings for detailed tuning and customize the sound specifically according to your room, and tailor the sound to your personal preferences. This comprehensive app harnesses the power of Audyssey MultEQ taking a total control of the sounding of your home theater.
An innovated Denon AVRS940H receiver can be properly controlled through a Smart TV remote via the HDMI CEC functionality associated with the Smart TV, which is a crucial benefit in comparison to the previous model. In order to start controlling the AVR-S940H with your TV remote, you should simply switch on “HDMI Control” in the receiver, then enable “Smart Menu”. The Smart Menu home screen will provide you quick access to the source and surround mode selections, the AVR setup menu and four Smart Selects. Moreover, it has a powered Zone 2 for the same or different source.
This one definitely wins the award “the best audio receiver under 500” for clear bass sounding. It equally passes through 1080P, 4K, HDR10, Dolby Vision and all speaker terminals except banana connectors. In addition, it drives the Polk RTi3A and the subwoofer nicely and with the great crossover matching.
With the built-in Google Assistant, I’m used to controlling music on the new TX-RZ730 model by voice. Streaming music and controlling playback is possible with Chromecast, iOS apps (as well as it could be done from Android), Mac devices, or a Chromebook.
For clearer demonstration, I’ve put all data of the best receivers under 500 with the full name of the model and its characteristics in a chart. This way you can have a more detailed comparison of your top choices. Select the most appealing models for you and compare them by quantitative parameters only.