Owning a home theatre system is something rather common these days. However, owning an excellent one is something completely different and the main reason for that are mediocre AV (audio/video) receivers that are just not up to the task.
Luckily, this problem can be easily handled and all that is needed is to follow some simple guidelines, and one of the best AV receivers will quickly become an integral part of your home theatre system, and let you experience your favorite movies and music in the best possible way.
How to choose the best AV receiver
As already mentioned, finding the best AV receiver shouldn’t be too hard to manage. You just need to pay attention to certain details, and before you know it, you will comfortably lie on your sofa and enjoy the latest blockbusters.
4K is today’s mainstream and as that, it would be rather… unwise to choose a device that doesn’t support it. This also includes support for HDR and Dolby Vision that are an integral part of the modern 4K experience. Therefore, don’t let these characteristics slip away and be sure that they are included in the package.
One of the most important aspects of any AV receiver is definitely its audio performance. Unfortunately, that is not something that can be seen in the specifications sheet or calculated. This characteristic demands for a trained ear that can notice subtle differences.
In other words, if you have a dedicated audiophile among your friends or family, it would be advisable to consult them about your choice, or even better take them with you to the store and let them hear the sound quality of the chosen device. If not, you can always count on our observation or read about it on forums and see other people’s experience with a certain device.
Regardless of how many inputs or outputs your device has, the number is never enough. For that reason, choose the receiver with as many as possible and pay special attention to the number of HDMIs that present the most common way of connection these days. Be sure that there are at least four HDMI inputs, and one or two outputs and save yourself from future trouble.
Music streaming capability
Have in mind that your receiver’s music streaming capability doesn’t include only the common Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Ethernet networking, but also the more advanced connection features such as AirPlay and Chromecast that have become today’s standard as well. Maybe you don’t use them right now; however, be aware that things are changing fast and that there is a huge chance that you or some of your family members will need them soon. Therefore, play it safe.
8 Best AV Receivers
Yamaha RX-V685 AV Receiver
An Excellent Feature-Rich AV Receiver
If you are looking for an AV receiver with tons of features and great audio and video performance, Yamaha RX-V685 is the device for you. However, have in mind that this device isn’t among the most affordable ones, but will surely deliver excellent value and everything you would expect from the best AV receiver.
There is support for various streaming services such as Pandora, Deezer, Napster or Spotify, excellent connectivity that includes Wi-Fi, Ethernet networking, Bluetooth and AirPlay 2, and Amazon Alexa voice control support.
Yamaha RX-V685 works with 60fps 4K videos, it supports HDR, Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision and DTS: x, and comes with plenty of input/output options (USB port, two HDMI outputs with HDCP 2.2 support, 3.5mm input, two coaxial inputs, component video inputs, three RCA (AUX) outputs, etc.). Furthermore, this device supports various file formats (MP3, WMA, MPEG-4 AAC, FLAC, etc.), it offers YPAO – Reflected Sound Control Optimization and can work in various configurations, such as 7.2 channel surround sound and even wireless 5.1 configuration thanks to the MusicCast Surround capability.
Yamaha RX-V685 offers great three-dimensional sound, with excellent dynamics and overall presents a high-quality option for any music and video enthusiast.
- Excellent sound quality
- Non-intuitive interface
Denon AVR-S950H Receiver
A Top-Class AV Receiver that Will Satisfy Any Audiophile
Denon AVR-S950H Receiver is a high-quality AV receiver with a level of performance and list of features that will satisfy even the most demanding audiophiles and movie fans.
This device delivers a well-balanced sound and offers support for streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify and SiriusXM. Moreover, it comes with good connectivity thanks to its built-in Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Ethernet networking and support for Apple AirPlay 2, and exceptional compatibility that allows it to play MP3, AAC, WAV, FLAC, ALAC, DSD and many other file types.
Denon AVR-S950H Receiver comes with a two-year warranty and is equipped with USB connection, two HDMI outputs (with HDCP 2.3 and eARC support), component video, composite video, two optical and one coaxial input connection and much more. This receiver can play 60fps 4K videos, it offers 4K upscaling and support for 3D, HDR 10 and Dolby Atmos, as well as HLG and DTS:X and many more.
In other words, if you are looking for the best high-end AV receiver, Denon AVR-S950H is pretty much it. There are audio optimization and automated room calibration, support for HEOS, multi-room audio and 7. 2 channel stereo, ability to play various file types and exceptional connectivity. Basically, everything you may need is there.
- Good connectivity
- Decent sound quality
- Exceptional compatibility
- No Chromecast support
Tremendous Power in a Minimalistic Package
If you are looking for the best AV receiver under 1000$ that will deliver premium-quality sound and numerous configuration options, Pioneer VSX-LX503 is the device for you.
With this receiver, you are getting strong bass and exceptionally clear sound that will please any audiophile. Moreover, you are getting a possibility to create a 9.2 channel configuration, or even 11.2 with the help of the external amplifier and enjoy your favorite tunes to the max.
Pioneer VSX-LX503 offers decent connectivity that involves seven HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs (all of them support HDCP 2.2), two composite video inputs, five stereo audio inputs, Ethernet and Bluetooth connection, one component video input, two USB ports, etc.
However, although it may seem as much, the fact is that many other devices such as, for instance, Denon AVR-X3400H, offer much more connectivity and cost less. In other words, a little bit more input/output options are something that would be expected from this type of device.
Nevertheless, if you want sheer quality in any other aspect, Pioneer VSX-LX503 is the device to choose. There is a 60fps 4K playing capability, support for HDR, HLG, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and much more. Also, this receiver supports various streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify and Deezer, it has a built-in Chromecast and offers many advanced features, such as MCACC (Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration System) and FlareConnect.
All in all, if you want to make the best home theatre system in your home, Pioneer VSX-LX503 should definitely be a part of it.
- Excellent sound quality
- A decent set of features
- Support for 11 channels
- Intuitive interface
- A limited number of connectivity options
One of the Best AV Receivers You Can Find
There are not that many devices that can match Denon AVR-X3600H AV receiver’s performance and features. This device has surpassed its predecessor AVR-X3500H by far and showed that, although AVR-X3500H was an award-winning device and one of the best AV receivers ever built, there is still a large room for improvements.
Denon AVR-X3600H is an amazing device that basically has it all. There is exceptional connectivity that involves eight HDMI outputs and three HDMI inputs (all HDCP 2.3 compatible), three composite and two-component video connections, USB ports, six analog audio inputs, two optical and coaxial digital and much more.
Whatever you need is there: support for Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision, DTS:X and DTS Virtual:X, ability to play 60fps 4K HDR10 videos, support for Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri and 9.2 Channel audio. Denon AVR-X3600H also provides Apple AirPlay 2 support, has a built-in Bluetooth and offers good streaming compatibility and allows you to use it for Spotify, Amazon Music or Tidal.
Altogether, Denon AVR-X3600H is a device with almost no flaws, with excellent sound dynamics and plenty of features that only demand for a nice set of home theater speakers in order to provide a one in a lifetime experience.
- Numerous advanced features
- Exceptional power
- Great performance
- HEOS support
A Great Performance and Sound Experience at an Affordable Price
AV receivers don’t have to be insanely expensive in order to be good and provide a great user experience. Sometimes, manufacturers make high-quality stuff at more affordable prices, and Onkyo TX-NR595 is exactly that sort of device. It offers plenty of features, good connectivity, and more importantly, a good quality sound and image.
Onkyo TX-NR595 offers excellent networking and comes equipped with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and LAN connection and has a built-in Chromecast, DTS Play-Fi and AirPlay 2. Moreover, it is fitted with six input and two output HDMI ports (fully HDCP 2.3 compatible), one optical, coaxial and USB port and even a phono input. There is also an internet radio feature, as well as support for streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify, Tidal and Deezer.
Furthermore, this device is capable of playing 60fps 4K HDR10 videos, it offers 4K upscaling feature and comes with support for Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision, DTS:X and variety of file types that involve: FLAC, WAV, Apple Lossless, WMA, MP3, DSD, AIFF, AAC, LPCM, etc.
All in all, this receiver offers a great collection of features and excellent compatibility in one place. Therefore, if you are looking for the best AV receiver for under $500, Onkyo TX-NR595 should definitely be among your top picks.
- Good connectivity
- Plenty of features
- Solid performance
- It doesn’t support Napster or SiriusXM
A Basic AV Receiver that Can Handle Every Challenge
If you are a more budget-oriented user, without too many interests for advanced features, Sony STRDH590 might be your best choice.
This receiver brings the minimalistic design that is in compliance with its nature that doesn’t bring anything revolutionary. However, it offers very good audio and exceptional video experience. Its sound is precise and clean, while thanks to 60fps 4K video compatibility and support for HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision, its provided image is of the highest quality.
Unfortunately, Sony STRDH590 provides only Bluetooth 4.2 networking and lacks Wi-Fi and Ethernet connection, as well as Chromecast and AirPlay. Also, its USB port allows only powering of mobile devices and can’t be used for media playback, as it is the case with its main rivals Denon’s AVR-S540BT and Yamaha’s RX-V385.
Nevertheless, its great performance, enhanced with a solid connectivity (four HDMI inputs and one HDMI output with HDCP 2.2 support, one coaxial and one optical digital audio input, four stereo audio ins, etc.) and ease of setup makes this device one of the best AV receivers available and a great entry-level AV 5.1-channel receiver.
- Easy setup
- It lacks AirPlay and Chromecast
- It doesn’t support streaming services
- USB port lacks the support for media playback
Onkyo TX-RZ830 A/V Receiver
A Streaming Masterpiece
Onkyo TX-RZ830 is an AV receiver that combines excellent connectivity with great streaming capabilities and as a result, provides one of a kind user experience.
With this AV receiver, you are getting support for 60fps 4K videos, as well as HDR10, Dolby Vision, DTS: X, Dolby Atmos and HLG. Also, thanks to its great connectivity (there are Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Ethernet connection, along with AirPlay, Chromecast, and Flareconnect feature that allows for multi-room playback and streaming) you will be able to enjoy Tidal, Amazon Music, Pandora, Deezer, or TuneIn, as well as stream from your iPhone or Android-based devices.
Onkyo TX-RZ830 is 9.2 AV receiver that comes with a pre-out for every 11.2 channel and offers is eARC compatibility, as well as support for Google Assistant and SONOS. However, for the last one, you will have to purchase an additional device in order to get the full functionality.
Moreover, this device is equipped with six HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs (all HDCP 2.2 compliant), along with two composite video inputs, two component video inputs, two optical and one coaxial input, and many more.
More importantly, Onkyo TX-RZ830 provides a clean sound and great overall performance that rightfully places it among the best AV receivers on the market right now.
- SONOS support
- Numerous streaming options
- You need an additional device for SONOS integration
Marantz NR1510 UHD AV Receiver
An AV Receiver Designed for Small Spaces
If you have a small living room or multimedia room that requires for a solid, but more basic AV receiver with decent connectivity, Marantz NR1510 UHD AV Receiver is the thing for you.
This is a compact, ultra-slim 5.2 channels receiver that offers good sound balance, as well as few handy features such as Audyssey MultEQ sound calibration and voice control and support for Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Josh. Moreover, this receiver allows for 60fps 4K video playing and provides support for Dolby TrueHD, DTS HD Master Audio and High-Resolution Audio, but lacks the support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
Marantz NR1510 is fitted with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 and Ethernet connection and comes with full AirPlay 2 functionality, along with full HEOS support that gives you the opportunity to create the real multi-room AV system.
Because of NR1510 dedication to more budget-oriented users, some of the more advanced functionalities such as the HDMI upscaling had to be eliminated. However, that didn’t affect its number of outputs and inputs that include: six HDMI inputs and one HDMI output (it supports eARC) that are all compliant with HDCP 2.3 standard, one USB port, three analog inputs, three composite inputs and one output, etc.
All in all, Marantz NR1510 AV receiver has a lot to offer, as long as you are willing to accept its limitations such as the lack of certain features, but more importantly, the ability to provide only 50W of power per channel, which is one of the main reasons why its usage should be limited to small spaces.
- A High-quality audio performance
- It lacks Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support
- No HDMI upscaling
- A bit pricey
If you are ready to boost your home theater experience, we are sure that you’ll find your future companion among these lines. Just review the features and focus on what you actually need – and then just lie back and enjoy your next movie!