Best AV receivers under $500 in 2018

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The best AV receivers under $500

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 by highlighting 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’ AV receiver that is able to fulfill your demands.

Receivers in this price range are modern and sophisticated that include a lot of contemporary technologies but not all, of course. This price range, as seen from my personal testing, gives models with essential features at an acceptable price tag such as Denon AVRX1500 with a picture and the sounding of a high quality or Pioneer SC-LX501 that has famous MCACC automatic speaker and room calibration system.

Also, 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, glance through detailed receiver reviews and pro and cons only if you’re looking for some specific features because models of previous years have already included all vital features. So, don’t chase for the freshest models, they aren’t better for sure. Moreover, they’re more expensive at $100 minimum.

On my top av receivers under 500, I’ve included six the most popular labels such as Onkyo, Denon, Marantz, Pioneer, Yamaha, and Sony that have already carved their names in the history of electronic products development. Also, I’ve found the most popular models of these brands and scrutinized them.

Receivers under 500 — reviews

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Our pick
Yamaha RX-V485BL
The best receiver under $500
This 5.1-channel AV receiver offers Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and the latest streaming technologies.

Onkyo TX-NR686 — home theater receiver with a crystal clear sound

Onkyo TX-NR686

Not only due to the speakers quality the sounding is great but also thanks to the auto-calibration feature. It deals with the resonance of a room adjusting the sound to the surrounding. It amplifies the power of the receiver’s sound making it deeper. Although in the manual setup I’ve found that Onkyo TX-NR686 has settings for 4 and 6 ohms but, actually, it can be supposedly compatible over a 4 to 16 ohms range. I wish the Initial setup guide was more user-oriented. In short, this model doesn’t have settings for 16 ohms (at least I haven’t managed to find it in the manual setup options). Amazon Music, Deezer, Spotify, TuneIn, Tidal, and Deezer (as well as Bluetooth, AirPlay, Google Chromecast) are easily accessible through the Onkyo Controller, so I don’t think about connectivity because in addition to this, it also, has a couple of dated ports.

Pros of Onkyo TX-NR686:

  • This one has native support for both surround sound, DTS:X and Dolby Atmos, as well as the latest formats.
  • Onkyo TX-NR686 has six HDCP 2.2 HDMI inputs for 4K content, HLD, Dolby Vision, and HDR10. Also, the inputs are visually separated into two zones – each one allows you to run speakers for multiple rooms independently or even use different audio sources.

Cons of Onkyo TX-NR686:

  • The model has only audio “built-in Chromecast”; it isn’t the end of the world, but it should have been stated in the description.
  • The parameters are immense − 14.9 x 17.1 x 6.8 inches; weight − 22 pounds; it's in double bigger than a typical model. So, prior buying, check up the space dimension where you’re going to put it in.
  • When I have tried to watch the DVD player I understood that it would work only if I switched off the HDMI Blu-Ray input and turned on the DVD component input in order to BD/DVD button could work with it.

Yamaha RX-V485 – the model that works with separate sets of speakers

Yamaha RX-V485

The receiver has the full package of parameters and even more: a full set of banana jacks, Ethernet jack, ARC, HDMI ports, thus there aren’t any questions about connectivity. Also, I didn’t waste time on calibration, it was done absolutely automatically.

Pros of Yamaha RX-V485:

  • I’m astonished by the possibility to connect 2 separate sets of speakers. In such a way I connect outdoor and indoor speakers.
  • Sound and image quality is improved by Ultra Low Jitter PLL lowers jitter from digital sources – it is worth your attention while choosing the one.

Cons of Yamaha RX-V485:

  • It was a disappointment for me to discover that it was possible to play from a Bluetooth source but it was impossible to connect and listen through BT headphones.

Sony STRDN1080 – a receiver with a Google Home support

Sony STRDN1080

For those who as I’m keen on all gadgets being connected and work together – a receiver with Google Home is right up your street. I’ve noticed as DCAC EX calibration has been improved, so now it analyses the exact speaker package configuration and after that makes musical test tones.

Pros of Sony STRDN1080:

  • It’s Sony's first receiver to fully use DTS:X that is compatible with the newest formats, so no worries that something won’t be adjusted.
  • It has the second Wi-Fi antenna, now it’s possible to connect a dual-band Wi-Fi for Airplay, DLNA, and Chromecast.

Cons of Sony STRDN1080:

  • I’ve noticed that only 4 out of 6 HDMI connections react to the remote.
  • The UI is so super slow, it takes 5 seconds to get Home after pressing the button.

Marantz NR1608 — a proper AV entertainer

Marantz NR1608

The initial Audyssey speaker level setup works great; the Wi-Fi online firmware update goes perfectly. However, Alexa has flows; mainly, it doesn’t work but I’ve tried. I’m concerned only about the HDMI CEC that works on the shutdown but don’t on the startup. NR1608 is a proper AV entertainer with a fetching form factor. It can impress with action movies but has an inherent stereophony that plays nice with High-Res audio too. 5.1.2 Atmos is more effective in smaller listening areas.

Pros of Marantz NR1608:

  • A Harmony remote performs steadily and correctly; in case you take the cable TV remote, through the cable box and TV, it connects to external speakers.
  • I guess it is a function of the HDMI/ARC input/output on my TV that flawlessly works - turning off the TV on one of the remotes, switches off the power of this receiver.

Cons of Marantz NR1608:

  • The model lacks a second HDMI output. I would like to hook it up to some wireless headphones. I send a common analog L/R audio to my headphones because it only has that secondary monitoring output option.
  • If you use component input you are limited to the low definition input for HDMI output. The scalar for sure can support incoming component out to HDMI and it has to be some kind of HDCP compliance junk.

Marantz NR1609 − small but powerful

Marantz NR1609

New slim version, Marantz NR1609, is smaller in a half the height of traditional AV receivers. Also, it works better with Alexa.

Denon AVR-X2300W — an easily controlled receiver

Denon AVR-X2300W

I’ve used a new control app (the Android version) for this receiver, which works perfectly but once, it got stuck in Spotify Connect when I was controlling it on our desktop computer, rather than go to Media Player mode. It was strange, I still haven’t understood the reason. However, the multiroom capability is great, I have already gotten used to different factioning sources in two rooms simultaneously.

Pros of Denon AVR-X2300W:

  • A dual subwoofer output gives incomparable bass depth; two subwoofers placed in different locations gives accurate bass anywhere in any spot in the room.
  • The biggest upgrade, I think, is bass frequencies that sound more agile and dipper in comparison to previous models of this series.

Cons of Denon AVR-X2300W:

  • It’s strange but a receiver at such a price cannot support four height channels.
  • It has eight HDMI inputs but note that there isn’t a digital coax.

Denon AVRX2500 − ready to help you

Denon AVRX2500

An upgraded Denon AVRX2500 model has got multiple HDCP2.2 inputs – now it’s more connectable and Alexa control – eases a life. Atmos Sound is great but despite Component /Composite inputs, this can’t be converted to HDMI. A built-in HEOS multi-room music system is utterly easy to adjust to the home network without any adaptors due to the connection with dual-band Wi-Fi; it ensures to full even a huge house with multi-room music.

Onkyo TX-RZ810 — a perfectly controlled receiver

Onkyo TX-RZ810

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 delay. 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 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 suits perfectly.

Pros of Onkyo TX-RZ810:

  • I’m amused by the option to connect Wi-Fi and Pandora when the TV doesn’t work.

Cons of Onkyo TX-RZ810:

  • It happens that the direct input with no equalization button doesn’t work with the phono input and I can’t figure out how to fix it. In contrast, Phono input and work well.
  • Setup process is easy, although it didn’t save it twice.
  • I’ve also experienced an issue with the ARC HDMI - it used to switch to TV input after about 5 seconds of watching it.

Onkyo TX-RZ830 − perfect for music streaming

Onkyo TX-RZ830

A new Onkyo TX-RZ830 model has a plethora of music streaming options as the 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 an access to networked files and various music streaming services.

Denon AVRX1500 — the perfect sounding and picture

Denon AVRX1500

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 TV and a projector in one room and playback different content on a second zone screen due to three HDMI outputs. The sound is crisp and clear as you expect to have in more pricey models. Also, it doesn’t have any voice latency or lagging issue.

Pros of Denon AVRX1500:

  • AVR-X1500 improves the quality of poor video resolution from any analog or digital source to 4K.
  • I hooked up this receiver to Alexa and use HEOS app, so it saves my time.

Cons of Denon AVRX1500:

  • I don’t have any critique about video quality but a remote control is made out of cheap, flimsy material, it could look more presentable at such a price.

Yamaha RX-A770BL — a receiver with the breathtaking sound

Yamaha RX-A770BL

The setup process to my 7.1 surround speaker system was very quick. I used the YPAO to adjust it. Also, I connect it to apple airplay through Wi-Fi. I love the app, it’s so easy to use it and don’t look for a remote! Due to Zone 2 capability, I’ve connected a 5.1 channel system and an extra pair of speakers for another area.

Pros of Yamaha RX-A770BL:

  • It doesn’t overheat while long working hours. Regardless of this fact I’ve installed it on an open shelf to prolong its life and prevent temperature rising.
  • The sound is super strong, I use a Klipsch Reference sounds system, and I’ve bi-amped the receiver to my R-28F towers and they are performing greatly together. I wish I could adjust 7-channel, but my place isn’t apt for the extra speakers.

Cons of Yamaha RX-A770BL:

  • The sound is sharp, but the switching delays are irritating.
  • Its sizing is massive, so notice it before choosing a place for it because firstly, I forgot about finding a place with sufficient clearance for cooling.

Yamaha AVENTAGE RX-A780 − excellent sound perfomance

Yamaha AVENTAGE RX-A780

New Yamaha AVENTAGE RX-A780 has a sleek elegant design with its aluminum front panel and silky volume knobs. This shield guaranties maximum sonic performance in different environments. Apart outward elegance it is a reasonable candidate for the title of the best av receiver under 500. The whole AVENTAGE series have achieved the highest sound performance that is possible. In addition, it’s an outstanding new feature is that it’s shielded from external noise and electronic radiation generated by dimmer switches or video monitors.

Pioneer SC-LX501 — a powerful and clean distortion-free delivery

Pioneer SC-LX501

It’s a great pleasure to have a 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 it takes a bit longer than some systems. The levels and speaker distances used to be perfectly determined; however, be ready to check and manually adjust the results. Also, at the end, it could be necessary to check in the Audio Adjust part of the main System Setup menu. The deeper ‘Dolby’ menu is presented as well as ‘Loudness Management’. It differs from Dolby Volume, perhaps it’s a sort of a dialogue adjustment for Dolby TrueHD. We’d at least start with this turned off.

Pros of Pioneer SC-LX501:

  • Pioneer has finally decreased the amount of keys on its remote. A bit more was done via the on-screen interface; the main speakers were 4-ohm models with decent sound quality.

Cons of Pioneer SC-LX501:

  • Voices are crisp and distinct, but they lack some nuances to feel human-like. The amp isn’t quite revealing every last depth from the sounding. Presumably, the 10% is a total harmonic distortion - a noticeable figure but still better than other receivers offer.
  • The Pioneer’s calibration is one of the most exhaustive I’ve ever come across, I killed at least 15 minutes. Finally, it appeared to be quite accurate.

Pioneer VSX-LX503 − an elite receiver

Pioneer VSX-LX503

New Pioneer VSX-LX503 is twice expensive than SC-LX501; it includes built-in Chromecast, FlareConnect wireless multiroom audio streaming, and a host of room correction and phase correction tools as part of its Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration System. This new Elite VSX-LX503 can become absolutely 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. VSX-LX503 boasts a 120W, 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 and the sound work perfectly balanced! This receiver handles all of HDMI inputs without a question. Dolby Vision from the Apple TV 4K works flawlessly. Switching between inputs is not a problem and goes perfectly quick as well as the work of the HDMI outputs (one to a 4K TV and the other to a 4K projector).

Marantz M-CR611 — the clear sound with the easy setup

Marantz M-CR611

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 – it is refined and edgy with plenty of scales. No part of the frequency range feels too prominent or overlooked.

Pros of Marantz M-CR611:

  • A quick download of the new Marantz Hi-Fi Remote app for iOS (it is also, presented for Android) offers me all that information on my phone and I don’t need to look for a remote each time.

Cons of Marantz M-CR611:

  • I’ve tested the FM radio; I had to physically unplug the power to regain control of the internet radio source. It froze frequently and could be sable only with a manual control.

Denon AVRS930H — a complete set of next-generation audio and video features

Denon AVRS930H

This model is equipped with low impedance drive capability that gives 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 2 of the amplifier channels dedicated to driving separate stereo speakers in the bedroom.

For control freaks as I am, you can also, download the Audyssey MultEQ Editor app which allows you to adjust settings for detailed tuning and customize the sound specifically to problems in 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 cinema.

Pros of Denon AVRS930H:

  • 4 Quick Select function buttons are placed on the front panel facilitates quick choice from several sources and the system remembers this choice of audio settings for each one.
  • I am used to controlling this everything by the HEOS app for streaming random songs or whole albums from the phone, USB stick, or computers and NAS drives on the home network.

Cons of Denon AVRS930H:

  • I was surprised that Alexa control works only with HEOS, thus I can't change inputs; volume control also doesn’t work as was claimed by Denon.
  • I've managed to somewhat bypass this with 'All Zone Stereo', but it has to be manually turned on and off every time I use this source.
  • The app doesn’t malfunction, but a remote is awful. I wish it wasn’t included at all; it only spoils the impression of the receiver kit. It stopped working like a few days.

Denon AVRS940H − a smart receiver

Denon AVRS940H

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 a previous model. In order to start controlling the AVR-S940H with your TV remote, you should simply switch “HDMI Control” on in the receiver, then set “Smart Menu” on. The Smart Menu home screen will provide you quick access to the source and surround mode selections, the AVR's setup menu and four Smart Selects. Moreover, it has a powered Zone 2 for a same or different source.

Onkyo TX-RZ720 — the sounding with deep basses

Onkyo TX-RZ720

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 Deadlock connections. In addition, it drives the Polk RTi3A and the subwoofer nicely and with a great crossover match.

Pros of Onkyo TX-RZ720:

  • Dolby Atmos is phenomenal and so is DTS X. I did the firmware update; Google Play and all streaming services work flawlessly now.

Cons of Onkyo TX-RZ720:

  • It isn’t so easy to activate Zone 2 with this Onkyo model; there are still some limitations to its performance; the setup process is tangled.
  • It doesn't have 2.1 stereo setting but after the Direct setting, the sub has turned off. Also, the Bluetooth connectivity has stopped and I couldn't reconnect it, even after repairing the device until it has been power cycled.

Onkyo TX-RZ730 − truly reliable receiver

Onkyo TX-RZ730

With the built-in Google Assistant - a recent addition, I’m used to controlling music on the new TX-RZ730 model by voice. Streaming music and controlling playback is possible with Chromecast, enabled apps from iOS (as well as it could be done from Android) Mac, or Chromebook.

All figures in a table

For clearer comparison, I’ve put all data of the best receivers under 500 with the full name of the model and its characteristics in a comparison chart you can compare your top choices more detailed. Pick up the most appealing models for you and oppose them by quantitative parameters only.

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