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The Best AV Receiver Under $500 in 2018

If you are looking for the best AV receiver under $500 in 2018, then you’ve come to the right place. It’s true, AV receivers can be expensive. The high-end models with every new feature under-the-sun certainly don’t come cheap. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get great home theater sound for much less.

For a start, you might not need all the features that a top AV receiver offers. There’s no point paying for something you don’t need. Take away some of the extras and you can get a fantastic home theater receiver for a very reasonable price.

All the manufacturers release a series of AV receivers at different price points. Here I will pick some of my favorites. Hopefully, this will help in your search for the best AVR under $500.

Top 5 AV Receivers Under $500 Comparison Table

Image Model HDMI In / Out Power Dolby Atmos
Onkyo TX-NR575 7.2-Ch AV Receiver 6 / 1 80 W/Ch 5.2.2 Check Price
Yamaha RX-V485 5.1-Ch AV Receiver 4 / 1 80 W/Ch None Check Price
Denon AVR-S740H 7.2-Ch AV Receiver 5+1/ 1 75 W/Ch 5.2.2 Check Price
Sony STR-DH790 7.2-Ch AV Receiver 4 / 1 145 W/Ch 5.2.2 Check Price
Pioneer VSX-LX103 7.2-Ch AV Receiver 6 / 1 80 W/Ch 5.2.2 Check Price

1. Onkyo TX-NR575 7.2-Ch AV Receiver

Best AV Receiver Under $500 - Onkyo TX-NR575 AV Receiver

Onkyo has a great reputation for producing quality AV receivers, and this model continues that tradition.

This 7.2 channel 4K AV receiver supports all the latest requirements for handling 4K/60p video. HDR10, Dolby Vision, BT.2020 and HDCP 2.2 are all present, so you should have no problems playing the latest 4K content on your TV.

With 6 HDMI inputs and 1 output, it should be suitable for most homes when it comes to connecting all your devices to the receiver.

Although it doesn’t have the THX certification of the more expensive models, it still should sound great in your room. With 80 watts of power (8 ohms, 20 Hz - 20 kHz, 0.08% THD, 2ch driven), it should provide plenty of volume. It also comes with Onkyo's Dynamic Audio Amplification technology. This aims to provide noise-free dynamic control of your speakers.

ONKYO TX-NR575 AV Receiver Specifications
Dimensions (W x H x D) Weight (lbs) Power (W) Speaker Impedance (Ohms)
17-1/8" x 6-13/16" x 14-7/8" | 435 × 173.5 × 378 mm 20.7 80* 4-16
Network / Wireless? Channels Dolby Atmos? HDMI In/Out
Ethernet / WiFi / AirPlay / Bluetooth / Chromecast / DTS Play-Fi / FireConnect 7.2 5.2.2 6 / 1
* 8 Ohms, 20 Hz–20 kHz, 0.08% THD, 2 Channels Driven, FTC

This receiver also supports DTS:X and Dolby Atmos object-enabled audio. Dolby Atmos speaker setups of 5.2.2 are allowed.

A whole host of network connection options are available. Ethernet, dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth, Chromecast and AirPlay. This allows access to services such as Spotify®, TIDAL, DEEZER and Pandora®. All controlled by the Onkyo controller app.

There is also a powered zone 2 output, which means you can send audio to speakers in another room without installing an extra amplifier.

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2. Yamaha RX-V485 5.1-Ch AV Receiver

Yamaha RX-V485 5.1-Ch AV Receiver

I’ve mentioned elsewhere that Yamaha is among my favorite sounding amplifiers. Although this model doesn’t make the top of the list here, it’s certainly a worthy contender and should be an option for you to consider.

It only provides support for a 5.1 surround sound system, but if that is all you want then that won’t be an issue.

I always like to stress that you should consider only paying for the features that you need. It's often the way to get the best bang for your buck. So, if you only want 5.1 sound, do you need an AV receiver that supports 7.1? 

To make the point again, this receiver also doesn't support Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. If you don't want this then, who cares? Maybe keep things simple and buy a product that is designed for your needs?

If you want Dolby Atmos, then one of the other receivers on this page might be the one for you. Or, check out the next model up in this series - the Yamaha RX-V585. This does support Dolby Atmos and 7.1 surround sound.

The RX-V485 has a respectable 80 watts of power (8 ohms, 20 Hz - 20 kHz, 0.09% THD, 2ch driven) and will be suitable for many people unless you have a pretty large room to fill with sound.

Along with an Ethernet connection, you can connect via WiFi, Bluetooth, AirPlay and Spotify Connect. This model also has a built-in Compressed Music Enhancer for Bluetooth. This aims to provide the best possible sound quality when streaming to the receiver.

Yamaha RX-V485 AV Receiver Specifications
Dimensions (W x H x D) Weight (lbs) Power (W) Speaker Impedance (Ohms)
17 1/8” x 6 3/8" x 12 7/8” | 435 x 161 x 327 mm (w/o antenna) 17.2 80* 6-8
Network / Wireless? Channels Dolby Atmos? HDMI In/Out
Wi-Fi / AirPlay / Bluetooth / Spotify Connect / MusicCast 5.1 None 4 / 1
* 8 Ohms, 20 Hz–20 kHz, 0.09% THD, 2 Channels Driven

There are 4 HDMI inputs and 1 output, plus full support for 4K Ultra HD video. HDR 10, Dolby Vision and HLG are supported. Ideal if your equipment supports this technology – and future-proofing if it doesn’t yet.

Much like Denon, Yamaha has its own multi-room wireless streaming system called MusicCast. With this system, you can add wireless speakers in up to 9 more rooms. All of which can be controlled via the app. Of course, this AV receiver has full MusicCast support and can be the central hub to the whole eco-system.

But, that's not all. Yamaha now has two new MusicCast speakers - the MusicCast 20 and the MusicCast 50. The beauty of these is that you can connect these to this AV receiver and use them as you surround speakers in a 5.1 system. This is called MusicCast Surround.

Up to now, it's not been easy to get wireless surround speakers. But, if this is something you want, then a Yamaha MusicCast receiver might be what you are looking for.

Here is an official Yamaha video which highlights the main features of the RX-V 85 series of AV receivers:

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3. Denon AVR-S740H 7.2-Ch AV Receiver

Denon AVR-S740H 7.2-Ch AV Receiver

Denon feature in the main list of the best AV receivers in 2018. Yet, they prove they can compete at all price points with this mid-range receiver.

It has 7.2 channel support and a whole host of network connections types. Ethernet, WiFi, AirPlay, Spotify Connect and Bluetooth are all available for streaming all types of media across on your home network and from the internet.

It also supports the Denon HEOS technology which allows for wireless multi-room speaker setups. All of which can be controlled by the free HEOS app - or Amazon Alexa voice control.

Supported music streaming services include Pandora, Sirius XM and Amazon Music. As well as iHeart Radio, Deezer, Napster, TIDAL and Soundcloud.

There is full support for all the important 4K UHD technologies. Therefore the AVR-S740H will pass-through HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG - along with support for BT.2020, Wide Color Gamut and 4:4:4 Pure Color sub-sampling.

If you're not sure what this means, don't worry too much. It just means that you shouldn't have any trouble playing 4K video through this device.

Denon AVR-S740H AV Receiver Specifications
Dimensions (W x H x D) Weight (lbs) Power (W) Speaker Impedance (Ohms)
17 1/8" x 6" x 13 3/8" | 434 x 151 x 339 mm (w/o antenna) 19 75* 4-16
Network / Wireless? Channels Dolby Atmos? HDMI In/Out
Ethernet / WiFi / AirPlay / Spotify Connect / Bluetooth / HEOS 7.2 5.2.2 5+1 / 1
* 8 Ohms, 20 Hz–20 kHz, 0.08% THD, 2 Channels Driven

There are a few other features which make it stand out from the pack. Unusually for a cheaper AV receiver, this model will drive speakers with an impedance as low as 4-ohms.

It also provides an Eco Mode which can adjust the maximum available power depending on the volume level. Just be aware that you should turn this mode off if you want to play at high volumes.

Dolby Atmos audio is supported with a 5.1.2 speaker layout - or 5.2.2 if you have a second subwoofer. You can also play a DTS:X soundtrack with your standard surround sound speakers - or enable DTS Virtual:X on any soundtrack type.

This amp provides 75 watts of power (8 ohms, 20 Hz - 20 kHz, 0.08% THD, 2ch driven), which should be fine for most people.

There are 6 HDCP 2.2 HDMI inputs, 5 on the rear and one on the front - and 1 HDMI output. This will be plenty of connections for most. There are also two assignable optical audio inputs and one coaxial input.

Assignable means you can tell the receiver to use a different audio input for a particular video input. For example, an optical input for the audio on HDMI input 3. You might want to do this if your DVD player doesn't send audio over HDMI.

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4. Sony STR-DH790 7.2-Ch AV Receiver

Sony STR-DH790 AV Receiver

Sony doesn't have the number of AV receivers that some other brands offer. But they often make it count when they release one.

If you are looking for a home theater receiver under $500 then this one might fit the bill.

It has full 4K video pass-through support and has all the specifications required to play 4K video through your home theater system. If you have a TV that has HDR then it supports HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision pass-through.

This model powers 7.2 speaker channels and has support for DTS:X and Dolby Atmos (5.1.2 speaker layout).

It comes with the ability to configure your speaker levels through the Digital Cinema Auto Calibration feature. All you need to do is place the included microphone in your seating position and it will calculate the correct levels for your room.

Included as part of this setup process is an Auto Phase Matching feature. This will ensure each speaker in your room is in phase with each other. This is an important calibration for ensuring the best sound in your room.

Sony STR-DH790 AV Receiver Specifications
Dimensions (W x H x D) Weight (lbs) Power (W) Speaker Impedance (Ohms)
17" x 5 1/4" x 11 3/4" | 430 x 133 x 297 mm 16.4 145* 6-16
Network / Wireless? Channels Dolby Atmos? HDMI In/Out
Bluetooth 7.2 5.2.2 4 / 1
* 6 Ohms, 1 kHz, 0.09% THD, All Channels Driven

Getting the right balance between the different surround sound speakers is crucial in getting the best from your system.

Unfortunately, Sony doesn't release power specifications with the tests that I like to quote - 8 ohms, 20 Hz - 20 kHz, 2ch driven. This makes it difficult to compare like-with-like.

The Sony STR-DH790 is rated at 145 watts into 6-ohm speakers (1 kHz, 0.09% THD, all channels driven). So, even though it is similar in power output to the other models listed here, it is not quite as powerful as the numbers might suggest.

If you want to compare the power to the other AV receivers here, you will need to see if the others have been rated into 6 ohms at 1 kHz for all channels.

However, at this price point, you will probably find that the power output of all these receivers isn't different enough to make much difference in a real world scenario.

It has 4 HDMI inputs and 1 output for connecting your devices. This is slightly less than some of the others, but may not be a problem in your room. It's always worth thinking about this before you buy however.

This model has slightly fewer network features but does support Bluetooth. So, you can connect your phone/tablet to the receiver using Bluetooth to play your tunes.

You can also use this connection to switch on the receiver from your handheld device.

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5. Pioneer VSX-LX103 7.2-Ch AV Receiver

Pioneer VSX-LX103 7.2-Ch AV Receiver

Next up, we have this excellent home theater receiver from Pioneer.

The remarkable thing about the receiver at this price is that it is part of the Elite Series of AV receivers. These models are engineered for the best audio performance and are aimed at the higher-end of the market.

If you want to see the top-of-range Pioneer, take a look at the top 5 best high-end AV receivers in 2018.

This is a 7.2 channel network home theater receiver with a decent 80 watts of power (8 ohms, 20 Hz - 20 kHz, 0.08% THD, 2ch driven). It has support for DTS:X and Dolby Atmos systems with a 5.2.2 configuration.

Of course, if you only have a single subwoofer, you will have a 5.1.2 system instead.

There is also support for the two upmixing modes - Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X. These will upmix standard stereo, 5.1 and 7.1 soundtracks to use your height speakers.

Pioneer VSX-LX103 AV Receiver Specifications
Dimensions (W x H x D) Weight (lbs) Power (W) Speaker Impedance (Ohms)
17 1/8" x 6 13/16" x 14-9/16" | 434 x 173 x 370 mm 20.7 80* 4-16
Network / Wireless? Channels Dolby Atmos? HDMI In/Out
Ethernet / WiFi / Bluetooth / Chromecast / DTS Play-Fi / FlareConnect / AirPlay / Spotify Connect 7.2 5.2.2 6 / 1
* 8 Ohms, 20 Hz–20 kHz, 0.08% THD, 2 Channels Driven, FTC

It has full support for 4K Ultra HD video, including pass-through for HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision. The required standards of BT.2020 and HDCP 2.2 are also present so you should be well future-proofed.

The included microphone allows for the use of the snappily-titled MCACC Auto Room Tuning. MCACC stands for Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration System in case you were wondering.

Easier to use than say, this system automatically calibrates the speakers in your room. It will compensate for different size speakers and the acoustics of your room. Providing the right audio balance and a perfect surround sound effect.

This receiver has Chromecast built-in, so you can easily stream audio from your mobile device. This is a feature not found on most AV receivers. Not only that, but you have the choice of Ethernet, WiFi and Bluetooth.

If that wasn't enough choice, you can also use the built-in DTS Play-Fi for wireless streaming to your receiver. Or, to other DTS Play-Fi compatible audio devices in your home.

It's great to see the HDMI inputs increased to 6 - with 1 HDMI output. The previous version of this receiver only had 4 inputs - which may have been a problem for some people.

You can never have too many inputs!

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Conclusion

Hopefully, I have highlighted a few great choices if you are looking for the best AV receiver under $500.

These days you can still take advantage of many of the newer technologies that are present in modern AV receivers. Not only that, but you can still get a high-quality device that will stand you in good stead for a few years to come.

That is until they think of the next new thing to tempt us with! The rascals.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of all the home theater receivers under $500, it includes many of the best and should be a good place to start.