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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
New slim version, Marantz NR1609, is smaller in a 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.