Making your own multimedia center, in the commodity of your home, is something many of you are seeking. However, what if you have a limited budget, but still want to create a mesmerizing audio-video experience in the center of your home. In that case, your only option is to buy more budget-friendly components, and the focal point of such a system should definitely be the best AV receiver under $500 that will make your entertainment center worth envying.
Of course, in order to find something like that, you need to do proper research or listen to somebody’s advice, which will definitely help save some valuable time and find the perfect fit for your system, all in one. In such occasions, the best option is definitely a product guide like this one that will bring all the necessary information in front of you, and let you easily decide for the best match.
Therefore, don’t waste your time, hop on to business, read the lines below carefully and find the best AV receiver under $500 in no time.
How to Choose the Best AV Receiver under $500
When choosing the best AV receiver, you must focus on several main characteristics that include the following:
One of the main aspects of today’s AV receivers is definitely their streaming capabilities. Even if you are not a fan of Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, or similar services, you will sooner or later need some of them. Therefore, better be safe than sorry and get yourself a device you can use in the long run.
In terms of connectivity, you should not only worry about the most common Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connection but more modern connection types as well, such as AirPlay, Chromecast, etc., that will make streaming and pairing of the devices much more comfortable.
Be sure that the desired AV receiver supports 4K reproduction, HDR, HLG, Dolby Atmos and similar mainstream functions.
Don’t forget about the HDMI ports, their number, as well as their compatibility. If they don’t support at least HDCP2.2 standard, better look for something else.
Also, look at what other types of inputs and outputs this device has and choose the one with the biggest variety of them. Look if there are MusicCast, AccuEQ and SONOS functions that aren’t essential, but can make the system setup much easier and give you more flexibility and usability, and therefore, a much better overall value for the money.
Best AV Receivers under $500
Solid Entry Level Receiver from Yamaha
If you want to break the monotony and spend a few hundred bucks on an entry level receiver from a reputable company, the YAMAHA RX-V4A with MusicCast would make for the sensible option. The thing about Yamaha is that they excel in launching “best bang for the buck” products, and their latest V4A with MusicCast is proof of that.
This model comes with all the advanced features one’s home-cinema would ever need in the current year: for example, you’ll benefit from unrivaled sound quality courtesy of Cinema DSP 3D and High Slew Rate Amplifier features, as well as things like Multiple HDMI inputs, HDR10+, eARC, 4K/120Hz, not to mention future support for 8K.
To put it simply, this receiver is built for both movie watching and hardcore gaming, while its awesome design will definitely turn a few heads, that provided you allow house guests into your man-cave. Truth be told, the design is one of the fortes of this receiver, and build quality is very good, as expected from a Yamaha product.
Moreover, Yamaha’s in-house made Cinema DSP 3D system offers seventeen DSP programs for a plethora of soundscapes, and all eight HDMI outputs are 8K ready and support 4K/60Hz.
Also, you’ll get support for all advanced audio formats, including HLG, HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HDR10+, while the ALLM and QFT features, VRR and 4K/120Hz are everything about preventing lagging and frame tearing, delivering a hassle free and buttery smooth gaming experience.
Finally, the receiver has an option for wireless rear speakers, and if you add into the mix MusicCast compatibility, that works with Google Assistant, smartphones or Amazon Alexa Voice, you’ll end up with unparalleled flexibility and versatility for music all around your home.
- Dolby® and DTS® surround
- Cinema DSP 3D
- High slew rate amplifier
- 80 watts/channel @8 ohms
- 4K/8K features
- Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
- Streaming ready
- No Dolby Atmos
Greatness At An Affordable Price
If you’re looking for a dirt-cheap AV receiver with 4K ultra-HD and Dolby Atmos, look no further: enter Onkyo TX-SR494, a sub-$400 (2019) model, with Bluetooth, USB and Pandora streaming. Okay, maybe Pandora is not quite as good as Spotify in the current year, but whatever: for this kind of money, it’s not the features that matter the most, but audio quality, right?
In this regard, the Onkyo TX-SR494 really performs on par with more expensive gear. Just to give you a taste, this AV receiver comes with DTS:X and Dolby Atmos, as we already told you in the preamble, which translates into a supercharged movie-viewing experience via immersive sound.
In real life, this means you’ll get object-based audio, which is further mixed in 3D space and the sound is played through any speaker, thus localizing effects, tracking the action and moving around you. From this point of view, the Onkyo TX-SR494 is second to none, as the Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X work in tandem with native 3D audio playback, which ends up in Cinemax-like dimensionality.
Okay, you’ll also require some kick-ass speakers to get the most of your receiver, but you got the point.
- 5.2.2-ch Dolby Atmos
- DTS:X playback
- DTS Virtual:X
- 160 watts per channel
- Supports 4K/60p and HDR
- Dolby Atmos Height Virtualizer
- 4 HDMI ports
- None really at this price
Best Bang for the Buck
Next in line, we have the Denon AVR-S750H, a relatively modern 7.2 receiver, which retails currently for something like 500 bucks, give or take, and offers a ton of features and great sound for an affordable price tag. To begin with the cool stuff, the Denon AVR-S750H has 6 HDMI inputs, and all of them offer support for Apple AirPlay 2 and eARC, which means this baby is futureproof.
Okay, it was released in 2019, but anyway, it was way more expensive back then. Speaking of specs, because that’s what really counts when you’re buying a chunky black box with a large display, the AVR-S750H delivers 75W per channel @ 8 ohm, 0.08% distortion, has one output beside the aforementioned 6 4K/HDR-compatible HDMI inputs, offers Bluetooth support and both ethernet and WiFi, plus USB (mobile playback and charging), 3 digital inputs (2 optical plus 1 coaxial), phono input and 24-bit/192kHz playback plus DSD.
For half a grand, this is pretty impressive, at least in our book, but wait, there’s more: this Denon works with voice commands, i.e. it’s fully compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple Siri. What does it mean? Well, you can give your receiver voice commands, the likes of skip to next track, adjust volume, switch input and so on and so forth. Moreover, the Denon AVR-S750H comes with HEOS built-in Technology, which is great for streaming services like Spotify, Tidal, Pandora etc.
Bottom line, this Denon receiver is a great all-rounder, sounds great, has lots of features and it plays (and wins) in the “best bang for the buck” category.
- Features Dolby Atmos and DTS:X
- HDR10, Dolby Vision, 4K Passthrough
- Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
- USB and Phono inputs
- Audyssey sound calibration system
- Voice control
- Solidly built
- No Chromecast support
A Very Good Entry-level AV Receiver
A device doesn’t necessarily have to be feature-rich and packed with the latest technologies to be good. Sometimes, it is enough that it brings a good combination of factors, such as an affordable price, good quality performance and a solid overall value, which is the case with Sony STRDH590.
As you have probably realized from the past few lines, this AV receiver is no match up to high-end devices. However, that isn’t its intention in the first place. This device, with its power output of 145W at 6-ohms, is designed for value-oriented users that are seeking the essential functions and not the fancy gizmos.
In accordance with that, this receiver has only the basic features, such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master support, Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, as well as support for 3D pass-through, 24Hz 4K video and of course, HDR.
As expected, its inputs are also limited – only five HDCP 2.2 compatible HDMI ports and one coaxial audio drastically reduce its altogether usability.
Sony STRDH590 is a 5.1-channel AV receiver that delivers precise and clean sound and even better video quality, which makes it suitable for both videophiles and audiophiles.
All in all, if you are searching for a good-quality addition to your already great home theater system, you may be sure that Sony STRDH590 is the device that won’t disappoint you, and will help you save up, as well.
- Easy setup
- A Good overall value
- Small and lightweight
- No support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X
- No built-in Chromecast or AirPlay
- No upscaling feature
Versatile and Affordable 7.2 AV Receiver with Bluetooth
Our next pick is the Pioneer VSX-834, another affordable 7.2 channel AV receiver, which currently retails for way less than $500. In many ways, this is a classic no-nonsense receiver, which comes loaded with the latest technologies for your home entertainment system, and it doesn’t put a dent into your bank account.
One of the main selling points of the Pioneer VSX-834 is the MCACC feature, or multi-channel acoustic calibration system, which helps you achieve an optimized acoustic environment. There are many brands using this type of technology, but Pioneers’ MCACC is definitely one of the better ones, and it allows you to customize your AV receiver in different ways, i.e. your system will automatically compensate in response to using larger or smaller speakers, not to mention the fact that it will automatically adjust the level and distance of the sound produced in order to provide a better-equalized response.
Designs-wise, this is a rather large and heavy AV receiver, with a metallic chassis, looking pretty standard (in a good way), and featuring a classic LED display. It’s important to mention that all 4 HDMI ports support 4K, HDCP 2. 2 and wide color gamut, and we must mention support pass-through for HDR10, hlg and Dolby vision signals, so yeah, this is as future proof as it can be.
Finally, we must tell you that the receiver ships with a minimalist remote control, and fully supports Dolby Atmos, Dolby Surround, DTS:X and DTS Neural:X upmixing.
- A2DP/AVRCP profiles
- Supports all the modern video/audio formats
- Zone B Output for Wireless Headphones
- MCACC Auto Room Tuning
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Competent surround processing
- Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization
- Lacks analog-video capabilities
Now that you’ve learned what matters and what doesn’t and got some suggestions of great devices you should consider, we’re sure you are ready to find your future companion! Happy shopping!