The Best AV Receiver

Votes 161 161
Rating 4.7 4.7

How to Navigate in the World of Audio Receivers: Honest Reviews

Do you often decide against going to a concert or a movie premiere because of bad weather or those popcorn-munching chatterboxes? In this case, you will benefit from buying the best AV receiver in order to build your own home theater right in your house! This way nothing will distract you from enjoying comfort and privacy, as well as awesome sound and video experience.

When it comes to all multimedia equipment in your house, one device definitely stands out from the rest. If you imagine, those appliances resemble parts of a human body and connections act as nerves that transfer signals. In this network, AV receiver is undoubtedly the brain that processes data and otherwise functions as an essential hub. A good home theater receiver will make the most of your speaker set, TV, and other hardware, offering the best possible experience for your senses. However, the abundance of available models and brands may easily confuse a motivated enthusiast in search of an appropriate AV receiver.

This rating presents both new and already well-known models from the AV receiver reviews. We analyzed the smashing hi-tech brand-new devices, as well as the older models that are still the number one choice for their functionality. If your 5-year-old home theater receiver manages you speaker set well and can read the commands from your smartphone, there is no need for spending another 1000 for buying a newer one. Having the same acoustic system, you might not feel any sound improvement but will definitely spend your day connecting each block to the new receiver. Still, if your soul of a movie fan requires a new, deeper hint of sound, then upgrading the whole system is inevitable. Let’s start off in the search for the best AV receiver for your needs!

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The Best AV Receiver Reviews

Each model represented below has won its place in the rating due to its great quality of service making it the best home receiver in its category. The home theater receiver reviews are represented in nomination blocks reflecting the price, implemented technologies, and the functionality of your best AV receiver.

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Best AV Receiver under 200

Our pick
Sony STRDH190
The best receiver under $200
The STR-DH190 brings together your vinyl and digital music. The perfect match for the PS-HX500 or PS-LX310BT turntables, you can switch effortlessly between analog and digital with simple BLUETOOTH® connectivity and connect to all your equipment.
Read our full review of best receivers under $200

Sony STRDH190 - the best av receiver under 200

Sony STRDH190

This sturdy device belongs to the budget tier; yet, it features many of the options offered in much more expensive models. Labeling the inputs via the remote is a nice option allowing reaching the TV or speakers within seconds. The Bluetooth connection with a phone or laptop is established in a wink and doesn’t halt during the playback. Goes well with the iTunes library, as well as Android-based apps.

The receiver maintains good balance when transmitting the audio. The sound flows freely, highs are clean and not pitchy. The midrange is spacious enough to provide a decent level of detail and “character” the music has. Bass isn’t boomy (the neighbors will be grateful), but reaches out deep and goes steadily. It is accurate and non-demanding while enveloping with vibration. With the standard frequency range, this receiver provides quite a packed soundstage while being somewhat dull in dynamics. Overall, the sound is dense and crisp, making this model the best receiver under 200.

This receiver has standard sensitivity defining the maximum volume. The highs tend to wane with the volume wind up or go screechy; meanwhile, the middle volume level is the optimal one for music listening. The mid-to-low range is quite narrow; so, it is a bit cumbersome to pick just the right volume level in that area.

Setup is simple and friendly to a non-techie mind. The speaker’s connection is intuitive, while there are additional RCA ports for plugging other devices (a CD/DVD player or a cassette tape deck pair seamlessly through 3.5mm input). The speaker ports have nice sturdy clamps that accept the speaker cables with ease and hold them tight in a position. This receiver has a phono input and can be used to transmit the vinyl playback as well. The ground cable should be fixed well to the post, in order to avoid characteristic buzzing distortion. The receiver handles the analog sound well, relaying the warmth and juiciness of the vinyl-bound audio.

Another level-up feature is an HDMI port (2.2 version). It serves for hi-fi audio and picture transmission within most of the modern formats. The receiver pairs well with the most TV types, including the smart ones, and works out the signal well providing a nice crisp picture and real-time frame motion. There is no TV turn on/ off integration, like in other models of the same class.

The unit has a good FM transmitter that is simple to tune and use. It is a bit slow in searching the stations, and the integrated FM antenna isn’t too powerful. However, paired with additional antenna device, it provides a good clear transmission and detailed audio. The receiver offers three preset fields to be activated from the remote control, and the stations scrolling can also be done via the integrated knob.

  • The receiver can still play loudly for a small room even at a moderate level of sound.
  • The integrated phono amp increases versatility and nulls the need for a record player preamp.
  • Comprehensive connections layout, large knobs for better control.
  • Bluetooth-streamed sound isn’t as crisp and detailed as default one.
  • No built-in AM tuner.

Pioneer VSX-532

Pioneer VSX-532

The classic box design of this receiver with identical knobs and small writing line on the LCD panel suggests something not too modern and adjustable. The slim AV receiver has similar remote housing plenty of tiny buttons. Still, the buttons are labeled clearly and grouped function-wise.

Adjustment is a key feature of this model and could make it the best budget receiver, if only it offered full equalization tweaking, not just the preset modes.

The integrated Pioneer-powered automatic calibration system is very flexible. It scans the hooked up acoustic equipment and measures the distance and response, compensating the flaws in the room acoustics, non-matching speaker size, etc. The sound comes balanced. The calibration system is quite flexible letting the user pre-arrange the speaker settings like size and distance, and also establish the volume level for each piece of gear. There is an option to indicate some of the equipment is missing, so the frequencies are distributed correctly among the present ones.

The audio setup foresees choosing the preferred sound mode among the variety of the offered ones. While tweaking the equalizer settings is limited (only standard bass / midrange / treble adjustment), the preset modes present several interesting settings (like baroque music, for example). Still, it takes time to browse through all the sound fields and define the ones fitting the user’s needs the best. The manual explains all the stages of the setup explicitly and simply, providing a detailed description for each operation and setting. The unit produces mellow warm sound, close to neutral and featuring a good amount of detail. It integrates the phase control technology of the Pioneer own design. This technology compensates the delay in frequencies’ distribution caused by the low-pass filter, making the sound full and natural. The highs might seem a bit too bright for the expert; yet, a high detailing and solid clearly outlined midline. The soundstage is deep and rich, with sonic nuances clearly traceable. Bass isn’t overly boomy, while quite accurate and concentrated. With a powerful professional sub, however, it can create a dynamic spacious sound with deep rhythmic patterns. Overall, the volume is plenty in this model; while not blowing out the windows, it enables the complete surround sound effect.

This receiver supports 4K / HDR content. Still, it isn’t present; so, the manual adjustment is required. All the HDMI inputs must be set at 4:4:4, which can be performed via the remote (finding HDMI options in Home menu and manually changing the inputs). This HDR receiver works out the 4K/HDR content efficiently letting to choose the enhanced options on the connected gear like a gaming console or enable a higher resolution on a TV.

This model features a good Bluetooth transmission. It connects in an instance and plays both audio and video in good quality and without lag even in 30 feet distance.

Pioneer VSX-532 PROS:
  • Multiple inputs for connecting various gear.
  • Calibration tuning provides new detail and sound clarity.
  • Preset stereo mode enables great DVD or sports watching.
Pioneer VSX-532 CONS:
  • Multiple instructions might seem overwhelming for a beginner user.
  • No backlight for the remote.

Best AV Receiver under 300

Our pick
Yamaha RX-V683BL
The best receiver under $300
This 7.2-Channel 4K Ultra HD network AV receiver Features Dolby Atmos and DTS: x object based surround sound. Download the free Music Cast controller app on your smart device to make access your music library and streaming music services easy.
Read our full review of best receivers under $300

Yamaha RX-V683BL - the best av receiver under 300

Yamaha RX-V683BL

This compact AV receiver is a typical Yamaha product. It features sturdy build and steady operation, while the interface is simple and logical. The bulky remote and receiver’s front panel remind about old-time models; yet, are quite functional and easy to operate. The unit supports Multiroom connection, allowing to set up to nine acoustic zones through the MusicCast system.

While this unit isn’t just plug-n-play, the manual and comprehensive on-screen menu layout are there to help. The back panel is crowded by various inputs; still, it’s a matter of a few minutes to wire the components. The connection ports are grouped and marked by color, supported by the clear inscription. The optimal connection for transmitting Ultra HD / 4K content is ARC HDMI. However, for non-ARC TVs, there is an assortment of HDMI ports (three having HDCP 2.2. protection) to connect. In this case, the optical input must be used for TV audio transmission.

The Yamaha RX-V683BL offers several tuning options while simplifying the setup with the YPAO starting system. The latter scans the acoustic set automatically identifying the speaker size, layout, optimal frequency level. At the same time, the user can intervene at each stage and change the crossover or other parameters to his or her liking. YPAO offers three preset operation modes (Flat, Front, and Natural) that go perfect with 5.1.2 and 7.1 setups. Each setting brings its own accent (e.g. more spacious and present sound in a Flat mode) and can be changed or disabled at any moment.

The unit produces transparent clean sound flowing freely and confidently at each frequency level. It has accentuated and somewhat bright highs, which are typical for Yamaha; however, staying rich and concentrated. The midrange might seem a bit shallow to an expert (in a stereo setup, compared to similar stereo receiver reviews). However, it produces good detailing and clear steady mainline. The bass is full and has creeping vibes effect working perfectly in surround sound compositions. The bass response is accurate, with zero interference. Still, it isn’t something to shake the walls with, even in the optional Extra Bass mode. The latter, however, brings depth and expansion to the sound and is perfect for chamber music and rock concert listening.

In 7.1 setup, the receiver produces enveloping immersive surround sound. The distribution of frequencies between the channels is precise, and the audio flows natural and dynamic. The enhanced setups (Atmos or DTS:X) create a dense sound area preserving the clarity and detail. The receiver supports 17 DSP programs offering the sound modes for various activities. The DSP mode can be assigned to particular input and activated with a single remote button.

Summing up, this is a fully functional entry-level model with reliable build and operation. Its affordable price makes its the best receiver under 300 on the list.

Yamaha RX-V683BL PROS:
  • Diverse wireless options and fast no-lag streaming from any device.
  • Simple intuitive setup accessible to non-techie mind; automatic setup options.
  • The voice command interface can be used with the Alexa device.
Yamaha RX-V683BL CONS:
  • Diversity of modes and functions might become overkill for many home systems.
  • Multiroom functionality is limited for additional zones.

Onkyo TX-NR575

Onkyo TX-NR575

This powerful multi functional AV receiver combines the top build quality of Onkyo with high versatility. It brings as much as 170 Watt per channel and features a minimal harmonic distortion level of 0.08%. The receiver falls within the budget line, however, it has all the features much more expensive models boast of. Among others, there is a steady high-quality 4K transmission from any source and rich detailed picture in HDR format.

The back panel might cause dizziness for a beginner. Lots of inputs and outputs, all crowded and having inexpressive inscriptions. The good thing is that separate types of connection are marked clearly (coaxial and optical inputs, subwoofer ports). All the connections are labeled; so, there is no much pondering over what to plug where. However, trying other setups might be a bit complicated.

This unit supports various speaker setups and sounds confident in 5.2.2, 5.1 or 7.2 acoustic systems. Its flexible crossover mixes the frequencies precisely, bringing up a character of each composition or unveiling a sound effect in all its depth.

When playing the Blu-Ray content, the receiver engages all the True HD potential, making the audio spacious and unfolding. The high definition results in the diversity of live details, both from the front line and background. In the surround sound set, the Onkyo creates powerful dynamic sound rushing into the ears and filling the room completely. The music is flowing and clear, while the dialogues are sharp and dramatic.

The receiver works out the sound flawlessly at each frequency level. Highs are pinpoint precise and yet not shrieky. The midrange is bulky, vast in range, all the instruments and voices are pictured with precision. Bass is enveloping and warm, with all the vibes in place. The receiver creates a rich soundstage, filled with nuance, yet transparent at each fixed moment. The sound distribution in the surround mode is optimal and accurate in any setup, with a noticeable preference to subwoofer load. The lows have much weight and character and dynamically fuse with the sub-lows for the surging bass effect.

The receiver supports the “gapeless” technology serving for the holistic impression of the sound in different modes (stereo, surround). It is especially true for the playback of the classical music compositions. The stereo sound is marked by the utmost accuracy and detailed picturing of each note.

The Onkyo TX-NR575 can manage other zones through separate outputs and a DAC network, enabling the no-lag quality playback in all zones. The functionality is less versatile in the second zone; still, the sound quality stays intact. There are many streaming options including a solid Bluetooth transmission and Chromecast wireless. The latter is accessed easily through the apps like Tidal (tap on a dedicated icon) and starts playing within seconds. As to FireConnect technology, it works well, streaming the audio and video in high resolution. However, it is intended for the matching acoustic gear like Onkyo or Pioneer one.

Onkyo TX-NR575 PROS:
  • Powerful clean sound throughout the whole volume range.
  • 6-Ohm and 8-Ohm impedance support allows pairing to different speaker types.
  • Minimalistic comprehensive design of the receiver panel and remote.
Onkyo TX-NR575 CONS:
  • Not user-friendly cable connections (tight location).
  • HDMI CEC tends to activate all the connected gear automatically.

Sony STR-DH790

Sony STR-DH790

This basic 7.2 receiver is a good choice for a starting home theater or an amateur media system. It has the necessary set of functions to play the popular surround formats like DTS:X and Dolby Atmos, and pass through the 4K / HDR content. The minimalist design is user-friendly. The unit delivers high-quality audio and video through most of the popular speaker setups.

Tuning the receiver is easy due to the comprehensive manual (available on Sony website) and intuitive if a bit crowded remote. Equalizing the channels is a no-brainer even for people not accustomed to technical settings. At the same time, the integrated calibration system might become a failure for certain sets. Depending on the room configuration and distance, it might mix up the speaker parameters and tweak the subwoofer output at the lowest dB level. In the rooms with the non-ideal acoustics (which are most rooms in the house), the system often mixes up the distance between speakers tuning them incorrectly.

However, with the proper manual calibration (placing the mike in the usual sitting location, changing each speaker / crossover, regulating the sound distribution and volume), this DTS-X receiver makes any 5.2 set shine. Three processors included deliver the fast decoding of the hi-fi sound signal and enable confident no-lag surround sound. The built-in amplifier has a special glass epoxy board and provides enhanced power, stabilized with the special vibration-free design. This supports the pristine audio with high detailing and accurate frequency distribution. The instrument lines are outlined sharply and bring a lot of nuances. The audio flows lively, with the impactful and dynamic lows and spacious, if somewhat bright highs. The treble is very clean and sharp; sometimes, however, with a digital aftertaste. The visit card of this receiver is a packed transparent soundstage that unfolds dynamically and naturally. Each tiny sound is traceable and gets volume, while the background is solid and palpable.

The receiver supports 4K and HDR streaming through the eARC technology. It provides vast opportunities for gaming, movie watching, etc. in the HDR format, with live buoyant colors and high 4K resolution. It also allows for quick quality streaming of hi-res formats like Dolby True HD or multi-channel LPCM. For that, upgrading the cables to the newest HDMI format is obligatory. The unit has good compatibility and is easy to pair with all types of VCR, gaming consoles, turntable, etc. However, it isn’t rich with options. For example, there is no HDMI CEC to enable automatic system activation through any component.

Another bonus feature of this sturdy entry level receiver is the special engineering design of the heat sink that makes for the efficient heat dissipation. The receiver doesn’t get hot even after several hours of the high load (e.g. intensive gaming in 4K / HDR format with surround sound set involved).

The receiver has a simple design, with large swift knobs and not too very responsive remote. The on-screen menu doesn’t help much, having unclear transitions and limited options. Another thing to consider is the sole playback of the FM channel. Once it’s turned on, the HDMI ports are automatically disabled.

Sony STR-DH790 PROS:
  • Plenty of power for any speaker set for home listening.
  • The speaker levels can be adjusted through the amp button on display.
  • The S-FORCE PRO technology enhances the surround sound providing for impactful audio from the front channels.
Sony STR-DH790 CONS:
  • No banana plugs for most of the connections.
  • No Dolby Digital Plus support.

Yamaha R-N303BL

Yamaha R-N303BL

This receiver offers a good value for the minimal price and has many options included. Its standard design conceals sturdy build and steady reliable work. The unit provides good power of 100W per channel, which is more than enough for most home stereo systems. It works within the standard frequency range of minimal 40 Hz reaching up to 20 KHz and featuring very low harmonic distortion (no more than 0.2%).

This model doesn’t support surround sound and as thus, isn’t the best option for a home theater. However, it might serve well as the stereo hub. It conveys the sound with preciseness, giving a flat response throughout the supported frequency range. With a turntable or a CD player connected, it provides accurate warm sound with pleasant fluid dynamics. The midrange is informative and dense, each instrument or vocal line being as if accurately packed within the general flow. Treble features just the right amount of airiness making the complex vocal parties sound realistic and dynamic. Lows are decent but not actually boomy, and there is no option for the bass enhancement since the receiver doesn’t have a subwoofer output. Still, for most of the stereo applications, it has enough power and depth.

The FM transmitter provides an authentic clean audio signal with mono and stereo options. The signal-to-noise ratio makes 65 dB; so, there is room to wind up the volume at the favorite tune playing on the radio.

For its bottom-low price, this AV receiver has a lot of connectivity options, most of which work solidly. Bluetooth connects in no time and transmits the music without interruption, lag or lip sync issue. It’s easy to stream Hi-Fi sound through a variety of apps including Pandora and Spotify. No Google Play Music might become a con for some users, just as the absence of an Apple Music app.

The receiver can be controlled via the voice command if Alexa gear is connected. Though the interface is a limited one, all the main functions like turn on / off, volume and playback control are present.

Another handy feature is the MusicCast app. Once connected, it allows full HD streaming through the dedicated services or directly from the smartphone or a tablet. It also features some basic control functions like switching the power on and off.

Typical for Yamaha, this model has a comprehensive interface, which, however, requires some time to get used to. The front panel has tuning controls and an input switch, which is a considerable help at setting the system up. The remote might seem a mess from the first view; yet, it turns out quite comfortable, once all the main buttons are learned.

Yamaha R-N303BL PROS:
  • Austere yet practical connection ports array allows hooking up any type of the stereo equipment including the cassette player and a turntable.
  • Dynamic lively playback of FM / AM transmission through the MusicCast.
  • Optical TV input enables clear and vivid video transmission in HD format.
Yamaha R-N303BL CONS:
  • Might turn hot at a constant high load.
  • The front panel is somewhat dim, and most buttons are tiny.

Best AV Receiver under 500

Our pick
Yamaha RX-V485BL
The best receiver under $500
Progressively tech. This 5. 1-Channel AV receiver offers Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and the latest streaming technologies.
Read our full review of best receivers under $500

Yamaha RX-V485BL - the best av receiver under 500

Yamaha RX-V485BL

This sturdy middle-class performer is a go-to receiver for anyone new to the surrounding world, and will definitely be of interest to those who are in it already. The receiver has many useful features and supports the most recent sound and video formats while staying in the middle when it goes about power and wow effect.

Hooking up the RX-V485BL isn’t difficult and doesn’t take much time. While the banana plugs would be of help, wiring the speakers with pin clamps is also easy. The back panel doesn’t have many connections, and the ones present are grouped and labeled smartly. There are only four HDMI inputs (and one ARC out for Ultra HD pass-through); yet, all of them are HDCP 2.2 protected and can handle HD format.

The lack of physical connection might well be compensated by the developed MusicCast system. The dedicated app lets tune the compatible gear and control it, tweak the performance and create new effects. The outstanding feature is the ability to enhance the acoustic set (5.1 set by default) with the wireless rear surround speakers. Pairing them through the app is a two-minute deal, while the surround effect is boosted considerably. The audio integrates with other speakers smoothly, becomes more present and dynamic while staying highly precise and detailed.

MusicCast also works as a control program for the Zone 2. While the interface doesn’t allow full speaker equalization and system calibration, the simple and handy playback control makes it easy to manage the zones and switch between them through an app.

The sound of this receiver is typical for Yamaha pattern. It has definition, dynamic surge, somewhat abrupt transitions. Lows are rock solid and rhythmic, sending out the vibes. Highs are a bit thin on end, while closer to the middle range the sound unveils new detail and character. The soundstage is full of motion and improvisation.

The Yamaha RX-V85BL is capable of a confident performance at high volume, but it won’t shake the walls. The sound is transparent and distortion-free throughout the most changeable dynamic sound patterns and complex effects. The receiver boosts 80W at two channels emitting clear distortion-free sound. THD is below 0,1% and is preserved as such throughout the volume range. The crystal clear dialog makes another benefit of the authentic performance of this receiver. No matter how much effects and lines are in the background, the dialog stays sharply outlined.

The design of this model correlates with the way it performs. It is solid and elegant, with a note of panache. Front panel buttons are tiny, while the LED panel is well-sized and informative. The remote has just the necessary buttons smartly organized and accessible. The receiver definitely has its own perky style, supported by the solid operation. All that makes it the best receiver under 500 among competitors.

Yamaha RX-V485BL PROS:
  • Full manual setup of the system takes less than 30 minutes due to comprehensive and intuitive menu and controls.
  • Audio processing options are many, there is a separate sound mode for each situation.
  • Enhanced Bluetooth (.2020) ensures solid no-lag connection.
Yamaha RX-V485BL CONS:
  • Errors occur at Net Radio playback.
  • Bluetooth can be used for streaming content only, no additional gear hook up.

Onkyo TX-NR787

Onkyo TX-NR787

This representative of the middle-class good receivers provides multiple opportunities for home theater use. It can mix up different setups (from 5.2.4 to 5.2.2 plus fully powered Zone 2) and deliver the constant high performance at the top load.

With 5.2.4 setup getting all the components wired up might take time; however, having banana plugs at hand facilitates the task a lot. The back panel of this receiver has multiple ports tightly packed; so, one must be attentive to make sure the speakers and other gear are connected properly. Still, once it is through, the Onkyo is ready-to-go and produce the sound.

The tuning part of the setup can be performed manually or via the Onkyo-powered AccuEq calibration system. The latter had been enhanced with an AccuReflex addition that compensates the distance difference for the Atmos upward-firing speakers. The system tweaks the components well both with the traditional setup (5.1 or 5.1.2) and with less accustomed one (e.g. 5.2.4). There is no lag or crossover failures, each channel blends with others into rich concentrated audio.

The unit produces a highly dynamic, punchy sound unfolding in the field of the glass-clear velvety soundstage. It can output up to 220W per channel producing forceful dynamic sound. In 100W per channel mode, the receiver emits less impactful surge; yet, the soundstage is drafted with more tint and detail, and the mids and lows are warmer. Treble doesn’t wane with the volume increase and stays full and strong up to the pitch limit, reflecting well the vocal timbre specifics. The surround sound depth and richness of effect depend on the setup; however, with the minimal 5.1 set the enveloping audio seems to be going from everywhere while suddenly bringing the middle line right in your face. With more sophisticated acoustic systems (like 5.2.4), the smart audio distribution makes the sound yet more expansive and penetrating.

The back panel of this model is packed with the connection ports of different type and number. There are seven HDMI inputs (with HDCP 2.2 protocol enabled) and one output, passing through the native 4K / HDR content and the most recent sound formats like DTS Neural:X and Dolby Atmos. The receiver also has a USB input that works well for streaming from the tablet or upgrading the system.

The receiver supports a variety of streaming apps including Spotify, Pandora, Tidal and provides fast reliable wireless connection via Bluetooth. Being Sonos-powered, the unit can receive free updates for the firmware and integrate all the Onkyo components into the integrated system with a single control.

Onkyo TX-NR787 PROS:
  • Smart and intuitive on-screen menu reflects all setup stages and informs of the errors occurred.
  • Solid HDMI connection ensures no handshake issues, even with 4K playback via the gaming console.
  • Vast frequency response from 10 Hz to 100 KHz highlights the subtlest nuance of the audio playback.
Onkyo TX-NR787 CONS:
  • No channel separation for subwoofer outputs (one signal for both subs).
  • Front panel HDMI port doesn’t fit for 4K transmission.

Sony STRDN1080

Sony STRDN1080

The receiver offers all the options the modern high-end performer is expected to have while falling within the middle-class price tier. The key notions about it are solidity and technology, while it might be less flexible than some of its competitors in terms of the manual sound tweaking and compatibility.

The default setup for this receiver is 7.2 channels. However, it can handle less developed setups and even enhance them. The integrated Phantom Surround technology allows experiencing the enveloping coming-from-all-sides surround sound with the 5-channel acoustic set, adding two virtual surround “speakers”.

This receiver has its own inimitable character traced in the way the sound is worked out. The solid flat background helps it manage all types of the audio effect in real time, accentuating every detail and outlining clearly each sound line. Each sound effect is represented in the array of the associated tones, while the character of each voice and instrument is preserved and made noticeable.

The unit maintains the dynamic character throughout the whole playback and the most complex sound improvisations. The audio comes punchy, each tone unfolds into the line of its own, and has its own place in the soundstage. The latter is vast, open, and moving, revealing yet other layers of the audio effects.

The receiver handles Atmos and DTS:X quite efficiently, creating the full presence effect. However, dissipating the sound for height channels sometimes results in less punchy mainline than with non-Atmos setups. The bass loses its driving impact while staying solid and deep.

In both stereo and surround playback modes, the frequency distribution is accurate and precise. Depending on the actual system used, the detailing might vary; yet, the depth and strong footage of each frequency range is preserved. Lows are deep and confident, the midrange is vast, detailed, and melodic. Highs reach just below the shrieking point staying crystal clear and informative.

The receiver powers up to 1155W with 165W output for each channel. While the sound is rock-solid and driving, it might lack a powerful surge of the high-end models. This model also works at 6-Ohm impedance, which narrows the choice of the compatible acoustic gear.

The connectivity is diverse, with all necessary ports and apps in place. All the HDMI ports in this HDCP 2.2 receiver allow 4K / HDR and Hi-Res audio pass through. There are coaxial and optical inputs, sub outs, Zone 2 connection ports. All the connections are grouped and labeled comprehensively; wiring the system takes less than 30 minutes.

Setup options include D.C.A.C. system, adjusting the components’ performance with regard to their specs and location. Tweaking the components manually might become an issue for the beginners, due to the considerable number of settings involved.

The receiver’s design is classic, with minimal controls and narrow yet well visible LED panel. The remote has a rectangular shape and good ergonomics. It features all the necessary buttons to shift between the sound modes, control the playback, and manage the sources.

Sony STRDN1080 PROS:
  • The integrated calibration mike technology is precise and accurate in scanning and adjusting the speaker levels.
  • Quality no-lag streaming through all the wireless options.
  • Each tier of the UI has a comprehensive label of its function.
Sony STRDN1080 CONS:
  • Activating Zone 2 set automatically switches off the 7.2 setup.
  • Slow response of the on-screen menu.

Best AV Receiver under 1000

Our pick
Denon AVRX4400H
The best receiver under $1000
9.2 channel network AV Receiver with 11.2 channel processing capability, built-in Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and AirPlay. 8 x HDMI inputs and triple outputs. DDSC-HD discrete audio circuitry with AL32 Multi Channel Processing. Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and optional Auro 3D .
Read our full review of receivers under $1000

Denon AVRX4400H - the best av receiver under 1000

Denon AVRX4400H

This 9.2 channel AV receiver manages the ultra definition content (both audio and video) masterfully and has plenty of power to fill completely the three zones connected. The diverse connectivity options allow hooking up numerous components through the high-pass ports, making this unit the best home theater receiver in its class.

The receiver supports the most recent audio modes (DTS:X, Dolby Atmos) and has built-in Auro-3D tech. It powers up to nine channels and allows various setups based on five or seven main speakers. The processing capability admits 11.2 configuration; still, it must be admitted that it doesn’t boost the surround much, while noticeably decreasing the impact of the main stereo line.

The unit provides 125W output for each channel at 8-Ohm impedance and very low harmonic distortion (0.05%). It delivers a forceful dynamic sound with high definition and detailed drawing of each sound effect.

The visit card of this AV receiver is the balanced character of the sound. The compositions in both music and movies are holistic and well-organized, each detail having its own spot within the large detailed soundstage. The overall character of the sound tends to a digital type, there are metallic tones heard at the high frequencies, that, however, blend seamlessly with the general audio flow. Each vocal and instrument line is concentrated and easily recognizable, while the effects feature a ton of the tiniest details. The bottom-low bass fills the room immediately transforming it into a throbbing.

Setting up and controlling the Denon is easy. There is a setup wizard that escorts through the whole process supplying the pictures and clear instructions. The Audyssey technology (that can be conducted through the additional app like MultEQ) calibrates the system efficiently, accurately setting the levels. The HEOS integration brings flexibility and smart control over the whole system from a single app. Besides, it can integrate with the DLNA servers, enlarging the compatibility field of the receiver.

This multi-zone receiver has analog outputs for the additional zones; thus, powering them up directly. In this way, up to three fully functional zones can be set up and managed through HEOS.

The connection ports allow hooking up the gear via the optical and coaxial cables, HDMI, RS connection. The main speaker ports are distributed and labeled clearly, while the hook up for the additional zones might take time. The wireless options are the basic ones (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplay, Remote APP); still, the streaming and controls are flawless, without lag or “handshake” issues. There is an option of using Alexa for the voice control; however, the functionality is limited and the actual usage is a bit cumbersome.

The pack of smart features, flexibility of setup and usage, and the powerful bulky sound - all vote for this model as the best receiver under 1000 on our list.

Denon AVRX4400H PROS:
  • The receiver allows playing premium video and audio content through eARC, which makes it future proof.
  • Automatic sound modes selection depending on the content played (can be disabled).
  • Eco Mode adjustment feature helps to save the power at moderate and low load.
Denon AVRX4400H CONS:
  • The HDMI CEC feature isn’t worked out thoroughly and tends to sudden switching on and off.
  • No Bluetooth output (e.g. for headphones).

Onkyo TX-NR686

Onkyo TX-NR686

This receiver is typical of the market share it falls within. It has an impressive list of features and is managed smoothly. Its good power output and developed sound modes bring it a deserved place among the top rated receivers under 1000.

The unit supports 7.2 configuration, powering the main channels with seven dedicated amps. This leads to the impressive 210W per channel in the 4-Ohm speaker set, with the audio boosting technology implemented.

While such enhanced amplification definitely adds to the depth and penetrating effect of the bass, it doesn’t result in a powerful impact many of the similarly priced receivers have. The frequency distribution is precise. The sound doesn’t hover at the edges; yet, it flows steadily throughout the range. There is no waning accentuated signal at the edges, but the confident solid flow against the flat background. The highs come as clearly drafted and detailed, as the lows and midrange, and there is plenty of detail for each effect and each audio line. The bass runs deep and keeps its steady creeping motion simultaneously filling all the space. It is the point where all the power the Onkyo is capable of, reveals itself through the immersing bottom-low bass vibes. The receiver keeps the timing actual; there are no issues even with the complex multi-instrumental playback with numerous effect. Overall, the sound is very well balanced, and the performance is crisp at all levels.

A single concern over the performance of this receiver is a lack of the dynamic punch, typical for other models in the market. While listening to the stereo or surround playback, there is always a culmination expectation, as one of a thump, — and it doesn’t come true. The Onkyo plays lively and delivers all the sound there is to ask for. Yet, its too “cautious” dynamics scores down in the terms of the sound “character”.

The receiver is relatively easy to set up. It has plenty of inputs (eight HDMI ones, with HDCP 2.2 protection) and outputs to connect most of the gear used in the home theater systems. The integrated calibration tech does a good job setting the levels for the optimal playback. However, for non-standard setups like 5.2.2, the manual adjustment can enhance the performance through the accurate measurement.

The built-in controller allows sending the digital and analog data to Zone 2 creating a separate Hi-Fi system. The built-in DTS Play-Fi tech engages multiple sources and components, creating the multi-room system for direct streaming. It is easily manageable through the dedicated Onkyo app on a smartphone or tablet.

The receiver has a sturdy build and a classy design typical for Onkyo devices. It is unobtrusive yet elegant and features a wide LED panel well seen in any environment. The remote is minimalist but functional, featuring the comprehensive navigation buttons and the shortcuts for the inputs and sound modes.

Onkyo TX-NR686 PROS:
  • The Phase Locked Loop mechanism eliminates the least distortion enabling the crystal clean performance.
  • The Pure Direct mode enables straightforward highly detailed playback of the stereo sound.
  • The receiver combines the DTS:X and Atmos technologies for creating the inimitable three-dimensional playback.
Onkyo TX-NR686 CONS:
  • Integrated Chromecast works for audio streaming only.
  • Getting the 4K content played properly requires fiddling with cables / connections / menu.

Denon AVRX3400H

Denon AVRX3400H

Being designed as a 7.2 channel receiver with the thoroughly developed audio processor, this bulky AV receiver handles the home theater and stereo system equally well. While it might lack some specific features like a dedicated phono input, its set of options and the high-quality transmission makes it a reliable and future proof home media hub.

For setting up the AVRX3400H, it is advisable to shell out an hour or so. The receiver is equipped with the comprehensive setup guide. However, the number of settings to be considered and tuned is quite big. For the rooms with little furniture and standard speakers location, the integrated Audyssey technology is a good solution. It conducts the measurement and lines up the speaker levels precisely, sometimes tending to bring a bit more bass than needed. Still, there is always a possibility to adjust the system manually.

Having seven powerful amps, the receiver is able to support the 5.2.1 acoustic set with two height speakers included for creating the 3D sound. Used for movie watching, this configuration produces steady and comfortably flowing mids and highs, without excess. At the same time, the tonal balance and audio resolution stay top-notch, with each tiny detail being woven into a concentrated mainine. The voices and environment sounds are reproduced naturally, the 3D effect enhances the presence and brings a holistic experience. In a stereo mode, the receiver enables high detailing and the punchy effect of the sound. It manages the highs efficiently, not letting them turn shriek but unfolding all the modulations within the open soundstage. Mids are solid and rich, and so is the bass. However, the most remarkable is the perfect balance of the playback preserved during every single moment. The masterful timing and efficient dynamics handling is a visit card of this agile receiver, making it versatile and enjoyable in all modes.

The receiver has a standard frequency response of 20 Hz up to 20 kHz and low harmonic distortion (less than 0.1%). It boosts the channels with 105 W at 8 Ohm impedance delivering confident and forceful sound. There are several various sound modes (especially for the surround sound), each having a recognizable sound print.

The unit integrates into the HEOS system and can work as a hub for multiple zones. It provides a reliable streaming interface and developed control over the system. For physical connection, there are eight HDMI inputs and three outputs fit for transmitting Hi-Res audio and video content. Bluetooth works flawlessly and can well be used for 4K / HDR movies streaming, without compromising the quality of both sound and picture.

The receiver box has a stylish modern design with the well-developed LED panel and comprehensive controls. The build is sturdy and reliable. The remote has many buttons and looks like a TV remote back from the 1990s. However, it is functional and brings access to the sources and playback settings immediately.

Denon AVRX3400H PROS:
  • The receiver allows fiddling with the setting for each component and balances the output.
  • The Eco meter demonstrates the consumption in real time (through the on-screen menu).
  • Front HDMI input is fully Ultra HD compatible.
Denon AVRX3400H CONS:
  • On-screen menu pops up in full at volume adjustment.
  • Very limited Alexa functionality.

Best AV Receiver under 2000

Our pick
Pioneer SC-LX801
The best receiver under $2000
The Elite SC-LX801 featuring 9.2-Ch class D3 amplifier is fully-equipped for the latest multi-dimensional surround sound formats, DTS:x and Dolby Atmos, featuring the reflex optimizer for Dolby enabled speakers. With Ultra HD (4K/60p/4:4:4) upscaling/pass-through and HDR/BT.2020 standards ready, images are ever more impressive.
Read our full review of receivers under $2000

Pioneer SC-LX801 - the best av receiver under 2000

Pioneer SC-LX801

This upper class wireless AV receiver has everything to serve as the home media system for stereo, movies, and gaming. It can receive the data through streaming channels and send it out via Wi-Fi, DLNA protocol and DTS Play-Fi. The sharp preciseness and crisp sound stay the imminent features not intimidated or blurred in any way during the transmission.

The receiver is designed to handle the 7.2.2 and 5.2.4 setups within the Dolby Atmos mode. In this configuration, the unit creates a dense, responsive, and spacious soundstage serving as a background for the thoroughly drafted main audio line. Typical for Pioneer, the tiniest sound effect is brought on the surface and presented in full. The enhanced DSP brings the utmost clarity and weight to the environment sound effects, while the height channels (two or four, depending on the actual configuration) uncover the vertical dimension, unfolding the soundstage yet further.

The receiver produces bouncing dynamic sound and perfect timing of the performance. The frequencies blend seamlessly preserving the character of the general flow. Highs are super clear and just at the edge of going “digital”; yet, staying natural and diverse with detail. Rock solid punchy bass penetrates the room pulsating with rhythm. Midrange tends to expand to the higher frequencies while being completely free of brightness. Even in the most dynamic scenes, the crossover works efficiently, ensuring the detailed representation and energetic audio motion.

The SC-LX801 model supports the Sonos integration system and can be managed through a single app available for Android and iOs. Getting it ready to play is a no-brainer task, as the MCACC PRO tech enables the automatic calibration. The system is estimated for distance, speaker type, and capacity, phase difference through the usage of the built-in mike. The result is a balanced coherent performance with the full presence effect.

The unit has developed network functionality and is efficient both for online and offline streaming. The most popular audio codecs are supported including high-quality FLAC format (24 bit) and DSD. Wireless connectivity is presented by potent Wi-fi and Bluetooth able to transmit a considerable load of data. The built-in FireConnect technology creates the versatile multi-room system able to recognize and manage different types of acoustic gear. Another attractive feature is the built-in Chromecast providing for the quality audio streaming from a smartphone or a tablet.

Pioneer SC-LX801 PROS:
  • Quick and comprehensive setup wizard, with clear instructions.
  • The Sound Retriever tech allows playing the compressed audio files with most detail preserved.
  • The user interface, front panel controls, and remote control are logical and simple to use.
Pioneer SC-LX801 CONS:
  • The LED panel indicates the mode and type of signal only at the beginning of the playback.
  • No option for renaming the inputs.

Onkyo TX-RZ1100

Onkyo TX-RZ1100

This 9.2 receiver has an array of functions imminent with the high-end models. It has plenty of inputs and outputs for transmitting the most recent audio and video formats (though some outdated connections like S-video aren’t to be found on it anymore), numerous wireless techs built-in, a smart calibrating system. However, the most remarkable thing putting it at the top selection of the best receivers under 2000, is its professional sound handling and balanced performance.

The receiver outlines the difference between the sound modes accurately, and the Enhanced bass mode does sound more present and heavier than regular stereo or surround modes. The Onkyo keeps playing the concentrated, juicy well-balanced audio. It provides a top-high definition at the most complex instrumental compositions while overwhelming the listener with the precision and mass of detail represented. The highs are very accurate and diverse, with smooth transitions. The mids might seem a bit airy in surround modes, which is compensated by the heavy creeping lows. The bass is powerful and straightforward and stands out in the background of the rich deep soundstage and sharply imprinted textures. It reaches bottom-low; yet, stays completely discernible impressing with the deep grunting rhythm and full presence in the room.

The sound dynamic is lively and joyful, even at the complex demanding tracks with changeable patterns. The transitions are open and the main line is punchy and bouncing.

The receiver produces plenty of power (up to 200W per channel) and brings the vast volume range. The default volume in the surround mode can literally shake the house, so vibrant and potent the boosted bass is.

This model allows tweaking almost any tiniest detail about its performance. However, in rooms with good acoustics, the integrated AccuEQ calibration system does the job pretty well. Though it evaluates the response from one listening point only, its leveling of the surround 9.2 set hits the spot. The acoustic set creates the three-dimensional Atmos sound, with lifelike environment effects.

The receiver adjusting isn’t difficult. The sturdy speaker connectors provide for the reliable transmission, while eight HDMI ports certified to transmit the newest AV formats allows pairing all the gear simultaneously.

The 4K and Ultra HD content is transmitted full-rate, no lag traced. The streaming options include Chromecast and numerous supported Web services like Pandora and Spotify. The developed Airplay interface and smooth playback let nominating this model as the best Airplay receiver on the list.

Onkyo TX-RZ1100 PROS:
  • AccuReflex enables phase tweaking for better blending effect.
  • Powered connections and pre-outs for Zone 2 and 3 enable the Hi-Res content playback in all the zones.
  • Implemented VLSC technology ensures a flat background and outstanding detailing.
Onkyo TX-RZ1100 CONS:
  • For the 11.1 setup, the external stereo amp is needed.
  • Too many apps for multi room setup and control.

Best High End AV Receiver (over 2000)

Our pick
Pioneer SC-LX901
The best High End AV Receiver
The Elite® SC–LX901 featuring 11.2–ch Class D3 amplifier is fully–equipped for the latest multi–dimensional surround sound formats, DTS:X™ and Dolby Atmos®, featuring the Reflex Optimizer for Dolby enabled speakers.

Pioneer SC-LX901 - the best high end av receiver

Pioneer SC-LX901

This costly AV receiver offers a variety of hi-tech functions and their impeccable implementation. It features 11 integrated amps, metal isolation, and premium components artfully engineered to avoid contact with other parts and depressing the high-frequency deviations. However, the main test for the AV receiver is the actual performance at the considerable load — in this case, it is a complex 4K movie with multiple sound sets and textures.

The first thing to notice about the audio of this receiver is silence. Complete black background, dense and impenetrable, creating a perfect stage for the upcoming sound. The latter appears suddenly and swirls around in full-presence of the Atmos mode. Highs are completely transparent yet distinct and solid, without rolling away or getting exaggerated. Mids unfold the detail and the general character of the playback. They have a touch of warmth reminding strongly of the analog sound playback. Bass is voluminous, grunty, and dynamic. It surges and hits when propelled to the forefront, and keeps the mesmerizing rhythmic pace when laying out the foundation to other frequency lines. The bass is powerful yet concentrated, there is no blurs or gaps even at the highly dynamic scenes.

Dynamics is another strong point of this receiver. Its design features separated amplifier blocks, aiming for distortionless, and pristine sound. The sensitive crossover blends the audio efficiently, providing a highly dynamic and lively sound. The unit supports different 11-channel configurations, among which the most interesting one is 7.2.4 set. It provides an overwhelming overhead presence effect while keeping the midline flowing freely and naturally, with a lot of weight and inimitable character.

This solid HDMI receiver features the audio compression restoring technology that allows adding detail and effect to the sound files of the smaller resolution format. It also upscales the video content transmitted via HDMI, up to 4K resolution. The native 4K / HDR videos are handled with ease both through the physical and wireless connection.

During the setup of this model, lots of settings and their impact on the overall performance must be taken into account. Another solution is using the MCACC PRO calibration tech. It measures the distance, power, equalization of each speaker, as well as compensates the phase difference between the components.

The Pioneer SC-LX901 is a premium-class AV receiver with all the recent functional additions to the receiver world. Its enthralling dynamic perfectly balanced performance is matched by the sleek design and makes this model the best high end receiver on our list.

Pioneer SC-LX901 PROS:
  • Versatile connections board allows hooking up all the home theater components including outdated ones (eg. a VHS player).
  • Advanced phase control and all-channels adjustment bring the clarity of sound throughout the frequency range.
  • The physical outputs and wireless technologies enable the unit usage as an all-in multi-room hub.
Pioneer SC-LX901 CONS:
  • The USB port is concealed behind the front panel.
  • Might be overkill for entry-level home setups.

Marantz SR8012

Marantz SR8012

This expensive AV receiver offers numerous options and functions supported by the high-end components and exceptionally reliable build quality. However, the array of functions doesn’t set the device as part of the top choices in the class. It has its place here not for the money it costs but for the inimitable managing and control over the sound played, and the inability of competitors to produce the same effect.

The Marantz SR8012 has a full set of 11 preamps powering the channels at 205W each. Its versatility lets using it in different surround sound modes: 9.1.2 surround setup or 7.1.4 layout fit for creating the 3D sound effect.

The first tone of the movie or stereo music immerses into an endless unfolding diversity of the tonal color and balance. The audio comes live, palpable, and holistic. It does have a ton of details, and each tone is outlined purely against a thick delicately woven soundstage. However, the inimitable motion and development of the single sound unit are what provides the distinctive warmth of the Marantz sound. It starts with the surging attack blowing out the whole diversity of tones and nuance. Then, the sound slightly dies out and reverberates producing new edges to it. It results in the solidly balanced, weighty audio, with the constantly widening soundstage and developing effect.

The highs are sharp, attacking and exceptionally pure, staying that way during the whole playback. The balance is reached by accentuating the mids or lows in each separate moment, to create the full exquisitely drafted sound picture. Bass provides the bottom low foundation and requires powerful high-sensitive subs to reveal its full potential. The dynamics and timing are ultimately precise creating a dense boisterous sound flow.

The setup of this receiver turns out to be quite simple, once the wiring is complete (that might take time, with all the similar-looking gold-plated ports). The comprehensive assistant program provides graphical support and step-by-step guidance. The calibration system includes three hi-tech Audyssey components that evaluate the acoustic system for the frequency response difference, time response, level and distance at several positions. For most rooms, the result is the optimally balanced no-lag sound production.

The receiver matches its premium sound with the Ultra HD video pass through. The 4K / HDR content is played from various sources through different connections and brings the crisp pure colors and detailed picture. There is also the upscaling functionality letting upgrade the DVD playback to the 4K resolution.

Marantz SR8012 PROS:
  • Smart and simple Remote App for controlling the receiver from the smartphone.
  • Ten fully HDCP 2.2 protected HDMI ports allow connecting all the gear in the household.
  • Efficient handling of sources in multiple zones both through analog outputs, HDMI and wireless.
Marantz SR8012 CONS:
  • HEOS tends to cause errors and crash.
  • Old-time looking remote.

Buyers Guide

Quick navigation

How does AV Receiver Function?

The AV receiver is a hub of your stereo or home theater or any other entertainment system. It receives the signals (both video and audio) from all sources, processes them (decodes, amplifies, adjusts frequency, etc.) and sends them to the relevant system components. For the complex modes (like surround sound), it uses various decoders to split the sound into the separate soundtracks and amplify each one accordingly.

What does the Channels Number Mean?

The digits like 2.1, 5.1, etc. serve for indicating the number of speakers and subwoofers that the current receiver may handle. The first number goes for speakers and the second one (after the dot) for subwoofers. The standard surround sound systems are 5.1 and 7.1, however, many receivers on our list have the additional outputs and software for working out the additional subwoofers (5.2, 9.2 and so on). In total, the number of channels equals the sum of the two digits. That is, the 9.2 system actually handles 11 channels (9 speakers and 2 subwoofers). The number of channels in your receiver specification might well exceed the number of speakers and subs you are going to use but should not go below it (i.e., for your 5.1 speakers set you can use the 9.2 AV receiver).

The Wattage and the Sound

The power specifications of the AV receivers usually contain three lines: power consumption, power output and wattage supplied per channel. For the sound quality, the last one matters. It shows whether the receiver matches certain speakers, how loud can the speaker work and which territory it can cover. However, there is no direct proportion “power - loudness”. What most non-techie buyers should know is that the 50-100 W per channel are more than enough for an average-sized home theater room. Other factors to be considered are frequency and impedance per channel. They must match in the receiver and the speakers.

How to Place the AV Receiver in Order to Get the Best out of It?

Well, provided your cables are long enough, the physical position of the receiver does not mean much, from the technical point of view. Still, its hub function entails its placement into the center of the speakers / TV / media and other devices set. At the same time, the out-of-fashion design of some receivers make users shove them away from sight, sometimes into the cabinets. While positioning the receiver, note the proper ventilation is essential. Overheating is the common trouble in these complex electronic devices, so they should have some room to dissipate the heat. Give your receiver a “breath” ensuring there are at least two inches of the free space around the device. If you cannot place the receiver into an open well-ventilated cabinet, make sure to pair it with a powerful A/C unit or cooling system.

Is the Room Calibration Necessary?

When talking or playing music in two different rooms, one might notice the sound is not alike, though the instrument and the voice are the same. The size of the room, the material of the walls, surface texture of other objects affect the sound flow and resonance. That’s why it is recommended to perform a room calibration setting of each component of the acoustic system to achieve the optimal mode for each particular room. The modern advanced AV receivers have the function of the automatic room calibration, which is performed by means of sending the signals to each speaker separately and receiving the response via the special built-in microphone. Then, it adjusts the sound so each speaker produces it optimally. Without such a useful option, a manual calibration of receivers can be performed.

Going Beyond: Do I Need the Multi-Room Wireless Speakers?

Today, some of the AV receiver producers offer a new option of the connecting speaker sets wirelessly to a receiver. This is performed via the special software (like Heos, Music Cast, YPAO, etc.) that also allows setting up the components and operating them through the wireless connection. This option allows placing a speaker set at a distance from a receiver and using a wireless receiver for two sets - one wireless and one connected through cables.

What is HDMI?

That is the format of information transmission that allows sending over the larger bits of data, both audio and visual, as well as the control information, in the non-compressed digital form. For the visual data, it concerns the 4K content and the HDR video format. For the sound, it allows transmitting not only direct sound but the surround audio as well. The HDMI number (1.4, 2.2) means the current version of HDMI. The bigger the number is, the more data can be transmitted and the higher speed is used.

What the 4K Stands For?

It is a screen resolution that nears the 4 thousand pixels (hence the name). The actual number is different for various digital movie standards, while the most frequent one makes 3840 x 2160 (full 4K - 4096 x 3072). This resolution enables better sharpness of the graphics more vivid colours and more developed brightness balance. Most of the modern best AV receivers support this format and have special decoders that allow the content of the lower resolution to be represented on the 4K-powered devices (like modern TV sets). It implies that your actual TV size does not matter; you will have a more distinct picture as at least 3840 by 2160 pixels will be present on the screen.

Will the Upconverting and Upscaling Help?

Many modern electronic devices, including AV receivers, have the indication of the “upconverting” or “upscaling” capability, which is basically the same. Upconverting is performed when the device works in the more up-to-date format than the data it is supposed to process. Upscaling includes processing the data and adjusting it to the representation on the current device. However, it cannot noticeably improve the quality of the data provided. It will have nearly the same quality, only represented in the larger scale.

How Many Connections do I Need?

The answer depends on your practical needs and the purpose you use the AV receiver for. If it is listening to the stereo music, this would require fewer connection ports. For surround sound and additional devices (like Blu-Ray player, game console, etc.) you will need more. The principal connection format used nowadays is HDMI, so pay attention to the number of those ports. There are usually about six input HDMI ports (for connecting the speakers) and 1-3 output ones (for sending data to a device like a TV). The inscription in the receiver specification will mention these numbers divided by a slash: 6/1 will mean there are six inputs and one output. If it goes like 5 1/1, then, one HDMI input is to be found on the front panel of the receiver (while other five and the output are situated on the rear of the receiver). So, apart from the designated speakers’ number (e.g., 5.1.2), you can connect your AV receiver to five or more devices (like a security camera, gaming console, additional amp, etc.).

Is Alexa Software Better than Google Home for Operating the AV Receiver?

The next-gen AV receivers are compatible with the software systems that allow controlling the receiver through voice commands. It seems very handy; yet, this system is not completely developed yet. The voice recognition might not be perfect, an accent or other articulation peculiarities might lead to the improper processing of the command. After all, it is impossible to handle when the sound level is high. So, it is advisable to have an option of the remote / smartphone control as well. If there is no built-in Alexa available, you can use this option by means of a smart speaker (e.g., a Google Home) matching your receiver.

Which is Way Over the Head: Dolby Atmos or DTS:X?

These are the most modern sound formats that deal with the three-dimensional sound including the height dimension. With Atmos, it is implied that your acoustic set is equipped with the special Atmos-powered up-firing or ceiling-installed speakers. The DTS:X is operated in regular surround sound sets. These technologies imply that the special sounds to be processed in three dimensions are included in the soundtrack.

AV Receiver Brands - Whom to Go With?

The variety of the specs and the functions of the modern best AV receivers enables the optimal choice for any user. Every reputable producer has different lines of products differing in price, compatibility, functions, and so on. The most popular AV receiver brands with the over-the-decade reputation are Denon, Yamaha, Marantz, Onkyo, Pioneer, Sony, and Harman Kardon.


Quick navigation

How do I make my reviews?

To compile the list of the optimal AV receivers for the home theater, I tried each model during the day with the different content and different acoustic sets. I considered the specifications and capabilities of each receiver. The receivers are represented in the nominations with regard to their pricing, performance, and customer satisfaction.

How to Connect the AV Receiver Properly?

Follow the next steps for any of your home theater systems:

  1. Make sure the receiver and other components are unplugged.
  2. Prepare the HDMI cables, the speaker cables (no less than 16 gauge), the RCA cable.
  3. Get to the rear panel of your receiver.
  4. Connect the additional devices (like a game console or a VHS, or Blu-Ray disc player) to the HDMI “In” port using the HDMI cable.
  5. Connect the speakers to their designated ports. Some producers include banana plugs that are very handy to connect. If there is just a wire, unscrew the plastic cap and insert the wire. Watch the colour: the red wire goes into the red connection ( ), the black one - into the black port (-). There are no exceptions from this rule.
  6. With RCA cable, connect the Subwoofer to the Pre-Out port.
  7. Connect the projector or TV to the HDMI “Out” port using the HDMI cable.
  8. Plug in the receiver, subwoofer, and other components.
  9. Turn on the receiver and TV. Set the video and sound if needed. Then, proceed to another component via the setting menu (you can use the remote control or your smartphone for that).

What is the Difference between an AV Receiver and AV Amplifier?

An AV amplifier is designed for amplification of an audio channel. It boosts the sound making it purer and more detailed, louder. An AV receiver processes video too. Thus, a receiver is a more complex object dealing with the two types of signals. Besides, an AV receiver can work out the AM/FM radio signals (and that’s where the name “receiver” comes from).

What is an Integrated Amplifier?

An integrated amplifier is a device for empowering the sound, making it louder and more precise. An Integrated amplifier consists of the preamp amp. A preamp performs the initial reception of the signal and initial sound amplification. Then, the sound is transmitted to an amplifier, which boosts it further and sends it to the speakers. Would there be no amplifier, the speakers would not be able to produce the sound properly. Any AV receiver necessarily has an integrated amplifier (and also the radio reception device, as I mentioned above).

Do I Need a Stereo Receiver or a Surround Sound Receiver?

The answer, again, lies in the field of the practical purpose. If your main goal is listening to the music, then, there is no use in spending several times more money for a more expensive model handling surround sound. If you have or plan to acquire a surround sound system set, then an AV receiver with this function is a must-have for you. Mind that dedicated stereo receivers usually produce better sound out of the Hi-Fi format, while the more advanced surround sound models can also process the older formats.

Abbreviations and Names Explained


Indicates the standard of the Ultra HD visual format. It implies higher resolution (as a 4K format), larger depth (10/12 bit) and frame rate 960-120 frames per second), wider colour palette, and the chroma subsampling up to 4:4:4, in comparison to the older Full HD format. It is accepted as the next common video standard worldwide.


An abbreviation for the commercial organization that aims to set up the same standards for the digital video worldwide, Digital Living Network Alliance. The devices meeting the standard are labeled DLNA-certified and must be mutually compatible and will be able to share the data within a network. For that, a separate DLNA service is created that is common for DLNA-connected devices like laptops, drawing tablets, smartphones, AV receivers, etc.

Dolby Vision

Video format, which is a next step after the HDR technique and features wider dynamic range and color gamut. It is considered to be a high modern standard and is used mainly by the suppliers of premium video content. It features a more detailed frame-by-frame picture both in bright and dark colors.

HDCP 2.2

Means High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection, a version of the content protection technology designed to protect data from illegal copying. In order to play the content that is coded by this protocol, all the devices involved must be compliant with it, including an AV receiver.


It stands for “High Definition Multimedia Interface Audio Return Signal” and spares you the necessity of using another cable for hearing the TV-produced audio (e.g. the video streamed through apps like Youtube, Netflix, etc.).


It is a technology than enables obtaining photorealistic pictures in the High Dynamic Range (here comes the abbreviation). This technology enables a high level of contrast preserving the details in both the dark and light parts of the picture. The colors are diverse and deeper. This results in more precise graphics. In order to play the HDR content (and there are different versions too), your AV receiver must support the currently used version.


One of the two video formats producing the HDR quality. Another is the Dolby Vision format explained earlier. In order to play this format, an AV receiver must support:

  • 4K resolution.
  • Wide color gamut (no less than 90% according to DCI-P3 standard).
  • Colour depth of 10 bit and more.

This is a popular format used in many modern TV sets. Most of the receivers reviewed in our nominations are HDR-compatible.

Comparison chart for AV receivers for home theater

Here you can pick the models described in the nominations above and compare them head to head. Thus you can analyze the specifications and study the comprehensive home theater receiver reviews, check the pros and cons and finally, go ahead with purchasing the super fit AV receiver for your home theater or your stereo system.

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