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The Best AV Receivers Under $500 [2022]

Best AV Receivers Under $500 - the rear connections of an AV receiver

Updated:

An excellent home theater receiver doesn't need to cost a fortune. You should check out the best AV receivers under 500 dollars if you are on a tight budget.

You’ve come to the right place if you are looking for the best AV receivers under $500 in 2022.

AV receivers can indeed be expensive, and 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 excellent home theater sound for much less.

You might not need all the features that a top AV receiver offers for a start, so there’s no point paying for something you don’t need.

Take away some of the extras, and you can get a great home theater receiver for a very reasonable price.

All the manufacturers release a series of AV receivers at different price points, and this article will highlight some of the top models around the $500 mark.

These receivers are all under $500 for the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP).

Just remember, the price of AV receivers at all price points can vary at different times of the year, so it’s always worth shopping around.

Hopefully, this will help you search for the best budget receiver.

Check out the AV receiver buying guide for detailed descriptions of all the different features.

Top 5 AV Receivers Under $500 Comparison Table

Image Model HDMI In/Out Power (W/Ch) Dolby Atmos
Denon AVR-S660H 5.2-Ch AV Receiver
Denon AVR-S660H 5.2-Ch AV Receiver 6/1 (eARC) 75 None Check Price
Yamaha RX-V4A 5.2-Ch AV Receiver
Yamaha RX-V4A 5.2-Ch AV Receiver 4/1 (eARC) 80 None Check Price
Sony STR-DH790 7.2-Ch AV Receiver
Sony STR-DH790 7.2-Ch AV Receiver 4/1 (ARC) 145 5.2.2 Check Price
Onkyo TX-NR595 7.2-Ch AV Receiver
Onkyo TX-NR595 7.2-Ch AV Receiver 6/2 (ARC) 80 5.2.2 Check Price
Pioneer Elite VSX-LX104 7.2-Ch AV Receiver
Pioneer VSX-LX104 7.2-Ch AV Receiver 6/2 (ARC) 80 5.2.2 Check Price

1. Denon AVR-S660H 5.2-Ch AV Receiver

If you are looking for an AV receiver, a Denon should always be on your ‘possible’ list. Denon has a long history of making quality audio products, and its AV receiver range is no exception.

The AVR-660H is the entry-level of the current AVR-S range of receivers. These models are aimed at those on a lower budget, but that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice valuable features.

They come with many features that any AV receiver should have in today’s market.

Denon AVR-S660H 5.2-Ch AV Receiver
Denon AVR-S660H 5.2-Ch AV Receiver
Image Credit: Denon

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  • Full 8K/60p and 4K/120p support
  • High-resolution HD audio formats – Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio
  • HDR10+, HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision pass-through
  • Support for high-resolution audio: 24-bit/192-kHz ALAC, FLAC and WAV plus DSD 2.8MHz and 5.6MHz
  • HDMI eARC support
  • Audyssey MultEQ room correction with the Audyssey MultEQ Editor app
  • HEOS multi-room speaker technology built-in
  • Wide range of voice control options – Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple AirPlay 2

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  • No Dolby Atmos support
  • No zone 2 connections

Denon AVR-S660H Highlights

The Denon AVR-S660H is a 5.2-channel AV receiver that supports the latest 8K video technology.

This means people with a modern game console can play the latest releases with 8K/60p and 4K/120p support.

Of course, if you have a 4K TV and want to watch 4K content, you will also be OK with this device. There is full support for 4K/60p video and all the current HDR standards – HDR10+, HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision.

The HDCP 2.3 standard is also available on all ports, which could be helpful for future-proofing your purchase.

There are 6 HDMI inputs on the rear of the receiver – three of which are suitable for connecting to an 8K HDMI 2.1 device.

You will also find a front USB port for adding content from a USB stick.

The AVR-660H is rated at 75 watts per channel (8 Ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.08% THD, 2 Channels Driven). This is typical for this price range, and you will need to spend extra on a better model to get more power than this.

But, this will be plenty of power for the majority of people.

Denon AVR-S660H Specifications
Channels 5.2
Dolby Atmos None
HDMI In / Out 6 (3x 8K)/1 (eARC)
Zones None
Pre Out / Line Out Subwoofer (x2)
Power (W)* 75
Speaker Impedance (Ohms) 4 – 16
UHD / HDR Support 8K/60p & 4K/120p, HDCP 2.3 / HDR10+, HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG
Network / Wireless Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (Send & Receive), Airplay 2, HEOS
Voice Control Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri (via AirPlay 2), Josh.ai
Auto Room Calibration Audyssey MultEQ
Selected Audio Decoders Dolby Digital, DD+, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS 96/24, DTS Express, DTS-HD HR Audio, DTS-HD Master Audio, DSD (2.8/5.6MHz), LPCM (Up to 192/24 7.1ch)
Selected Sound Modes: Post Decoding Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS Neo:6
Dimensions (W x H x D) 17.1 x 6 x 13.4 in | 434 x 151 x 341 mm (w/o antenna)
Weight (lbs/Kg) 17.2 / 7.8
* 8 Ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.08% THD, 2 Channels Driven

You don’t get support for Dolby Atmos in this AV receiver because it doesn’t have enough channels to power the overhead speakers.

If you want Dolby Atmos, you might want to check out the Denon AVR-S760H, the next model up in the range. This adds an extra two channels for installing the additional Atmos speakers.

If you like voice-controlled technology, you will be pleased to hear that you can control this unit with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

Apple AirPlay 2 is also available for streaming content from your Apple devices – and voice control too.

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are also built-in if you want to connect using these technologies. The bottom line is there is an abundance of connection choices.

If you want multi-room audio around your home, you also can use the Denon HEOS system.

Top Wireless Smart Speaker
Denon Home 150 Compact Wireless Smart Speaker
What Is It: A portable wireless smart speaker that works with the HEOS system found on Denon and Marantz AV receivers.
Pros:
  • Excellent multi-room audio option
  • Connects to Denon or Marantz receivers - or works standalone
  • HEOS Built-in, Alexa Built-in, AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth
  • Stream audio from Amazon Music, Apple Music, TIDAL and more
  • Larger 250 and 350 speakers are also available
BUY AT AMAZON FIND THE BEST PRICE

HEOS speakers can be installed in rooms throughout your house, and you can use the HEOS app to control which content goes where.

Another plus of buying a Denon receiver is that it comes with Audyssey speaker calibration, one of the best automatic room optimization tools available.

You only get the basic Audyssey MultEQ version, but that will still do an excellent job balancing the sound in your room and ensuring a great immersive experience when movie viewing.

2. Yamaha RX-V4A 5.2-Ch AV Receiver

Yamaha makes a wide range of AV receivers at every price point. When buying a Yamaha AV receiver, your main problem will probably be deciding which model to go for!

The RX-V series of AV receivers are the budget models in the Yamaha range. However, these receivers are good if you need a reliable budget device from a reputable brand.

Yamaha is among the best-sounding amplifiers, and their top-of-the-range RX-A8A AVENTAGE model features in the list of the best high-end AV receivers in 2022.

This receiver, the RX-V4A, is the long-awaited successor to the top-rated 2018 models.

So, apart from the sleek new look with curved front corners, what are the significant changes in the latest release?

Yamaha RX-V4A 5.2-Ch AV Receiver
Yamaha RX-V4A 5.2-Ch AV Receiver
Image Credit: Yamaha

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  • Solid and reliable brand with a great reputation for AV receivers
  • Great value
  • 8K/60p and 4K/120p video with HDMI 2.1 support
  • HDR10+, HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG (HDCP 2.3)
  • MusicCast support with MusicCast Surround and Multi-Room
  • Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple AirPlay 2
  • Bluetooth input and output. Stream music to the receiver – or send audio from the receiver to connected Bluetooth headphones.
  • No waste of resources on extras, just a focus on the basic features that everyone needs

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  • No Dolby Atmos support
  • A limited number of HDMI inputs

Yamaha RX-V4A Highlights

The Yamaha RX-V4A AV receiver is a 5.2-channel amplifier, which means there is an extra subwoofer output over the previous version.

It’s a small change, but it is certainly a useful addition if you are planning to connect a second subwoofer in your room.

Aside from that, this receiver is a basic 5-channel receiver with no support for Dolby Atmos. However, a simple 5.1 surround sound system is all many people want.

It’s always wise to only pay for the features you need, and it is often the way to get the best bang for your buck. Unless, of course, you want to future-proof your purchase.

So, if you only want 5.1 surround sound, do you need an AV receiver that supports 7.1? Or Dolby Atmos?

However, if you think that Dolby Atmos is something you might want in the future, you should consider some of the other models on this page that do have this feature.

The RX-V4A has a respectable 80 watts of power at 8 ohms, 20 Hz – 20 kHz, 0.06% THD, 2ch driven. This will be suitable for most people unless you have a large room to fill with sound.

This year’s model also has a new High Slew Rate Amplifier circuit, allowing for more precise high-resolution audio reproduction.

It is another example of Yamaha concentrating on improving the most important features – rather than just adding a load of extras that many people won’t use.

With a Yamaha AV receiver, you are getting a well-made device with that excellent Yamaha sound quality. Yamaha tends to target quality over quantity when it comes to features.

Talking of new features brings us to one of the main improvements.

The Yamaha RX-V4A now supports 8K/120p and 4K/60p in all four HDMI inputs.

The HDMI ports all offer the new HDMI 2.1 features such as VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode), QMS (Quick Media Switching) and QFT (Quick Frame Transport).

Now, there’s a new bunch of acronyms to get excited about!

Yamaha RX-V4A AV Receiver Features
Channels 5.2
Dolby Atmos None
HDMI In / Out 4/1 (eARC)
Zones Zone B (2-ch audio – powered)
Pre Out / Line Out Subwoofer (x2)
Power (W)* 80
Speaker Impedance (Ohms) 8 and higher
UHD / HDR Support 8K/60p & 4K/120p, 4:4:4, HDCP2.3 / HDR10+, HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG
Network / Wireless Ethernet / Wi-Fi / Bluetooth / MusicCast Surround + Multi-Room / AirPlay 2 / Spotify Connect
Voice Control Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri (via Airplay 2)
Auto Room Calibration YPAO
Selected Audio Decoders Dolby Digital, DD+, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS-ES (Matrix6.1 & Discrete6.1), DTS 96/24, DTS-HD HR Audio, DTS-HD Master Audio, DSD (up to 11.2 MHz), LPCM (Up to 7.1ch)
Selected Sound Modes: Post Decoding Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS Neo:6
Dimensions (W x H x D) 17-1/8 x 6-3/4 x 14-7/8 in | 435 x 171 x 379 mm (w/o antenna)
Weight (lbs) 19.4
* 8 Ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.06% THD, 2 Channels Driven ** 4K/120Hz, 8K/60Hz, HDR10+, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization, VRR, ALLM, QMS and QFT available via firmware update late 2020

Bear in mind that the new HDMI 2.1 features are of more interest to gamers who have one of the new game consoles.

As well as support for 8K video, there is pass-through for HDR10+, HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG – which should cover all of your needs until the boffins come up with another version of HDR!

Also new to this model is eARC support. This means that you can send high-resolution audio from your TV back down the HDMI cable and into your speaker system.

Along with an Ethernet connection, you can also connect via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect.

The Bluetooth in this receiver is unusual in that it also supports connecting to Bluetooth headphones.

You will find that many AV amps only support sending content to the amplifier via Bluetooth – but not from the receiver to headphones or Bluetooth speakers.

This model also has a built-in Compressed Music Enhancer, which aims to provide the best possible sound quality when streaming compressed music files to the receiver – like MP3s, for example.

Another helpful feature is support for wireless music streaming in your home.

Yamaha has its own multi-room wireless speaker system called MusicCast. You can add MusicCast 20 or MusicCast 50 wireless speakers in every room with this system.

Top Yamaha Smart Speaker
Yamaha MusicCast 50 Wireless Speaker
What Is It: A smart wireless speaker for streaming music - which also works with the Yamaha MusicCast system.
Pros:
  • You can use two of these as wireless home theater speakers with a compatible Yamaha AV receiver
  • Works with Alexa
  • Connects via Wi-Fi, AirPlay, Spotify Connect or Bluetooth
BUY AT AMAZON FIND THE BEST PRICE

All the multi-room speakers can be controlled via the MusicCast app, which allows complete remote control of the receiver’s operation and settings – and controls music playback in each room.

But that’s not all. The RX-V4A also supports MusicCast Surround.

With this, you can pair two MusicCast 20 or MusicCast 50 speakers to this AV receiver and use them as your surround speakers in a 5.1 system.

Up to now, it’s not been easy to get rear wireless speakers for surround sound systems.

But, if this is something you want, then a Yamaha MusicCast receiver might be what you are looking for.

If you are new to surround sound, here is a good video from Yamaha that explains some of the basics:

YouTube video

3. Sony STR-DH790 7.2-Ch 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.

This receiver is the top model in the mid-range DH series. If you want a higher specification, you need to look at the DN or ZA models.

However, if $500 is your budget limit, then this model from Sony might be a perfect fit for you.

Sony STR-DH790 7.2-Ch AV Receiver
Sony STR-DH790 7.2-Ch AV Receiver
Image Credit: Sony

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  • 4K/60p with HDR10 / Dolby Vision / HLG pass-through
  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support
  • Smaller than the other receivers here – useful for those with a lack of space
  • Digital Cinema Auto Calibration with Automatic Phase Matching
  • Bluetooth streaming with Bluetooth Standby to switch on the receiver from your phone

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  • No zone options to play content in another room

Sony STR-DH790 Highlights

The Sony STR-DH790 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 with HDR, it supports HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision pass-through.

This model powers 7.2 speaker channels and supports DTS:X and Dolby Atmos with a 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 where your main home theater chair is – 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, which is an essential calibration for providing the best sound in your room.

Sony STR-DH790 AV Receiver Features
Channels 7.2
Dolby Atmos 5.2.2
HDMI In / Out 4/1 (ARC)
Zones None
Pre Out Subwoofer (x2)
Power (W)* 145
Speaker Impedance (Ohms) 6 – 16
UHD / HDR Support 4K/60p, HDCP 2.2 / HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG
Network / Wireless Bluetooth
Auto Room Calibration Advanced DCAC / Automatic Phase Matching
Selected Audio Decoders Dolby Digital, DD+, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos, DTS, DTS-ES (Matrix6.1 / Discrete6.1), DTS 96/24, DTS-HD HR Audio, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS:X, DTS Express, DSD, LPCM (Up to 192/24 7.1ch)
Selected Sound Modes: Post Decoding Dolby Surround, DTS Neural:X
Dimensions (W x H x D) 17 x 5-1/4 x 11-3/4 in | 430 x 133 x 297 mm (inc. projecting parts/controls)
Weight (lbs) 16.4
* 6 Ohms, 1 kHz, 0.09% THD, Per Channel

Unfortunately, Sony doesn’t release power specifications in the ideal format – 8 ohms, 20 Hz – 20 kHz, 2-ch driven – making it difficult to compare like-with-like with the other receivers on this page.

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 as powerful as the numbers suggest.

If you want to compare the power to the other AV receivers on this page, 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 is similar in a real-world scenario.

Sony should provide some better real-world ratings for their receivers so that consumers can make an informed choice.

It has 4 HDMI inputs and 1 output for connecting your devices.

This is slightly less than some of the other receivers here, but it may not be a problem in your setup – however, it’s always something worth considering before you buy.

This model also has 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.

Many people like and trust the Sony brand. If you fall into this category, this Sony AV receiver might offer all you need.

4. Onkyo TX-NR595 7.2-Ch AV Receiver

For several years, Onkyo has been a popular brand in the AV receiver market, and they always provide good value products packed full of the latest features.

This AV receiver is the entry-level model in the NR series – which sits in the middle of the Onkyo range. The high-end RZ-series are above this – with the budget SR models below.

If you love the Onkyo brand and are looking for a receiver in this price range, this receiver might be perfect for you.

Onkyo TX-NR595 7.2-Ch AV Receiver
Onkyo TX-NR595 7.2-Ch AV Receiver
Image Credit: Onkyo

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  • 6 HDMI Inputs & 2 Outputs – more than most at this price range
  • DTS-Neural:X and Dolby Surround
  • DTS Virtual:X and Dolby Height Virtualization Technology
  • Independently powered zone 2 channels for stereo audio in another room
  • AccuEQ w/ AccuReflex room calibration
  • Onkyo Controller app for device remote control and sound sharing
  • Works with Google Assistant and Sonos

Thumbs Down

  • Chromecast has been removed in the 2019 model. No problem if you don’t want this. Be aware if you do.

Onkyo TX-NR595 Highlights

The Onkyo TX-NR595 7.2 channel AV receiver supports all the latest requirements for handling 4K/60p video – HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG, BT.2020 and HDCP 2.2 – so you should have no problems playing the latest 4K content on your TV.

This receiver has 6 HDMI inputs and 2 outputs, which is more than most in this price band, so this could be a deciding factor for you.

You should always check that an AV receiver has enough connections for your needs.

In fact, the TX-NR595 has one more output than the 2018 model – which was the Onkyo TX-NR585. The extra HDMI output could be a useful feature if you want to send content to another room in your home.

This receiver doesn’t have the THX certification of the more expensive Onkyo models, but it should still give a good sound in your room if you pair it with a decent set of speakers.

If you want the THX certification, then you should check out the next model up – the Onkyo TX-NR696.

You will get plenty of volume with 80 watts of power (8 ohms, 20 Hz – 20 kHz, 0.08% THD, 2ch driven), and it also supports speakers with impedance as low as 4-ohms – unusual in this price range.

This model also comes with Onkyo’s Dynamic Audio Amplification technology, which aims to provide noise-free dynamic control of your speakers.

The TX-NR595 also supports DTS:X and Dolby Atmos object-enabled audio soundtracks.

With the built-in amplification on this model, you can install an immersive surround sound layout up to 5.2.2, with two height or elevation speakers.

You can also take advantage of the two main upmixing formats – Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X if you have height speakers.

These modes will expand standard 5.1 and 7.1 mixes so that you hear audio from your extra elevation speakers.

New for this model are DTS Virtual:X and Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization, which is for those without height speakers.

The idea is that these sound modes will create the effect of hearing sound from above – even when you only have a standard 5.1/7.1 speaker layout.

It doesn’t sound as good as the real thing, but it can give a more open feel to the soundtrack.

Onkyo TX-NR595 AV Receiver Features
Channels 7.2
Dolby Atmos 5.2.2
HDMI In / Out 6/2 (ARC)
Zones Zone 2 (HDMI & 2-ch audio – powered) / Zone B (2-ch audio)
Pre Out / Line Out Subwoofer (x2) / Zone B (2-ch)
Power (W)* 80
Speaker Impedance (Ohms) 4 – 16
UHD / HDR Support 4K/60p, HDCP 2.2 / HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG
Network / Wireless Ethernet / Wi-Fi / AirPlay 2 / Bluetooth / Chromecast / DTS Play-Fi / FlareConnect / Sonos Connect / Google Assistant
Auto Room Calibration AccuEQ w/ AccuReflex
Selected Audio Decoders Dolby Digital, DD+, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos, DTS, DTS-ES (Matrix6.1 & Discrete6.1), DTS 96/24, DTS Express, DTS-HD HR Audio, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS:X, DSD, LPCM (Up to 192/24)
Selected Sound Modes: Post Decoding Dolby Surround, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization Technology, DTS Neural:X, DTS Virtual:X
Dimensions (W x H x D) 17-1/8 x 6-13/16 x 14-15/16 in (435 x 173.5 x 379.5 mm)
Weight (lbs) 20.7
* 8 Ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.08% THD, 2 Channels Driven, FTC

A whole host of network connectivity options are available, which is not surprising as Onkyo is always keen to pack its receivers with features.

Ethernet, dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are present, which allow access to services such as Spotify®, Amazon Music, TIDAL, DEEZER and Pandora® – all managed by the Onkyo controller app.

You also have AirPlay 2 and Sonos Connect support if you are already invested in these technologies.

Just be aware that Onkyo appears to have removed Chromecast support from this year’s model. For that, you will need the next model up, which is the TX-NR696.

This highlights that you always need to double-check the features of an AV receiver before buying. There are so many options that it is easy to miss something you want.

DTS Play-Fi and FlareConnect technology are present on this receiver for multi-room wireless audio. You just need to buy compatible speakers, and you will be good to go.

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

This is a nice extra feature that some models at this price point don’t have. In fact, what is unique to this model is that the powered zone 2 channels are in addition to the 7 surround sound channels.

Most receivers will share the zone 2 powered channels with the main outputs – meaning you must choose between 7.1 surround sound and 5.1 plus zone 2.

With this receiver, you don’t. That’s great.

Onkyo includes the AccuEQ and AccuReflex technologies to help get the best sound in your room. This isn’t the best room correction tool available, but it will still do a solid job of optimizing the sound in your room.

AccuEQ will measure all the speakers in your room and set suitable levels, distance and crossover frequencies, and you can then let it set EQ for the speakers – or do it manually.

AccuReflex is for those with upfiring height speakers for Dolby Atmos. It will align the phase of these speakers with the front speakers, which should help provide a clear sound in your room.

5. Pioneer VSX-LX104 7.2-Ch AV Receiver

For some reason, Pioneer AV receivers don’t seem to get as much love as some other brands. But they should, because they offer a range of excellent receivers.

Pioneer has made good quality audio-visual products for many years, and their products are certainly worth your consideration.

The Elite VSX-LX104 AV receiver comes at the bottom of the Elite VSX range. However, the Elite series is aimed at audiophiles looking for outstanding audio performance.

So, you should consider any Elite model if sound is your focus.

Pioneer Elite VSX-LX104 7.2-Ch AV Receiver
Pioneer Elite VSX-LX104 7.2-Ch AV Receiver
Image Credit: Pioneer

Thumbs Up

  • 6 in / 2 out HDMI ports – plenty for most people
  • Custom microphone for MCACC Auto Room Tuning system
  • Powered zone 2 with a dedicated DAC for playing any digital audio source
  • Can connect zone B line out to a wireless headphone transmitter
  • Bluetooth A2DP/AVRCP profiles with Wake on Play function

Thumbs Down

  • No front HDMI port for quick device connections

Pioneer Elite VSX-LX104 Highlights

The Pioneer Elite VSX-LX104 7.2-Ch AV receiver has most of the features that you would expect in a modern receiver.

With 7-channels at 80 watts per channel (8 Ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.08% THD, 2 Channels Driven, FTC), this receiver will have enough power for most home theater speakers.

If you know your speakers require more juice, you might want to look a little higher up the ladder.

If you are interested in installing a Dolby Atmos speaker setup, you can hook up a 5.1.2 system – with two height or elevation speakers.

If not, you can choose between a 5.1 and 7.1 layout.

There are also two subwoofer pre-outs for those who want to install a second subwoofer in the room. And, if you’ve got a larger space, why not?

If you do install two height speakers, you can also use the Dolby Surround or DTS Neural:X upmixing modes. These will create a pseudo-Dolby Atmos effect from a standard stereo or 5.1 surround sound mix.

These modes can be pretty effective and ensure you get full value from your height speakers.

If you don’t have any height speakers, you can still try DTS Virtual:X or the newer Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization Technology sound modes.

These will try to create the experience you get from height speakers – but on a standard 5.1 or 7.1 layout. And with a stereo mix too!

Pioneer Elite VSX-LX104 Specifications
Channels 7.2
Dolby Atmos 5.2.2
HDMI In / Out 6/2 (ARC)
Zones Zone 2 (HDMI) / Zone B (2-ch audio line out)
Pre Out / Line Out Subwoofer (x2) / Zone B (2-Ch)
Power (W)* 80
Speaker Impedance (Ohms) 4 – 16
UHD / HDR Support 4K/60p, HDCP 2.2 / HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG
Network / Wireless Ethernet / Wi-Fi / AirPlay 2 / Bluetooth / Chromecast / Spotify Connect / DTS Play-Fi / Sonos Connect
Auto Room Calibration MCACC Auto Room Tuning – Phase Control, Subwoofer EQ
Selected Audio Decoders Dolby Digital, DD+, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos, DTS, DTS-ES, DTS 96/24, DTS Express, DTS-HD HR Audio, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS:X, DSD Disc (SACD) Playback via HDMI (2.8 MHz/2-ch & 5.1-ch)
Selected Sound Modes: Post Decoding Dolby Surround, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization Technology, DTS Neural:X, DTS Virtual:X
Dimensions (W x H x D) 17-1/8 x 6-13/16 x 14-9/16 in (434 x 173 x 370 mm)
Weight (lbs) 20.7
* 8 Ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.08% THD, 2 Channels Driven FTC

The Elite VSX-LX104 offers a whole host of network and wireless connectivity.

It has an Ethernet connection for connecting directly to your home network, which is ideal for streaming services and playing content from across your home network.

For those who find wires a little old school, you can stream via Bluetooth, Chromecast, Spotify Connect, DTS Play-Fi, Sonos Connect and AirPlay 2.

If you don’t use those these days, you’re just not trying hard enough.

Try it. It’s fun!

This receiver supports sending content to another zone in your house. In fact, you have a few more choices than many models in this price range.

You can send video and audio content to zone 2 via HDMI – or send powered 2-channel audio to zone 2.

This can be the same audio as in the main room – or different – because it has its own dedicated DAC.

You can also connect the zone B line-outs to an amplifier in a different room.

This lets you send the same audio as the source playing in the main room, which is ideal for playing music in two places simultaneously, for example.

Of course, you could also have multi-room audio if you use Sonos Connect, Apple AirPlay 2 or DTS Play-Fi.

As you would expect these days from a modern AV receiver, there is full pass-through support for 4K UHD (60p/4:4:4/24-bit), Wide Color Gamut (BT.2020), and HDCP 2.2.

HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG are all present, so you shouldn’t have any issues with your other HDR hardware.

There are 6 HDMI inputs on the rear and 2 outputs. This is slightly more than others in this price range, and so that alone might be a good reason to buy this model.

You should always consider how many devices you want to connect before buying an AV receiver.

What To Expect From an AV Receiver Under $500?

If you buy an AV receiver at the $500 price point, you should expect to make some compromises.

Logically, you won’t get the same quality as a model that costs much more, but what is the difference between a $500 receiver and a more expensive one?

These are the main things that you will find in a budget AV receiver:

  1. Power: a budget receiver will have less power per channel to drive your speakers. This price bracket will usually be in the range of 50 to 80 watts per channel. How much difference does this make? Not much. Unless you have speakers that are difficult to drive – or you want extreme volume in your room – the power output will be satisfactory for most people.
  2. Channels: a channel is connected to each speaker in your room. If you want a large Dolby Atmos speaker system or a 7.1 layout, you will probably need to spend more money. Cheaper models will only support configurations with fewer speakers – like 5.1 or 5.2.2.
  3. Components: one area where manufacturers save money is the cost of the parts. You won’t get the high-level engineering and quality components that you get in an expensive audiophile amplifier – especially for crucial elements like the power supply. However, coupled with a good mid-range set of speakers, the sound quality will be perfectly acceptable – especially for watching movies.
  4. Connections: a cheaper receiver will have fewer inputs for connecting all your external devices. You will likely only get around four or five HDMI inputs and even fewer options like component, composite, optical and coaxial connections. However, most people only have a few HDMI devices they want to plug into their receiver, so this might not be an issue.
  5. Audio Formats: most modern receivers support the standard audio formats – even the high-resolution ones like DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD. However, you are less likely to find formats like Dolby Surround, DTS Neural:X, DTS:X Pro and IMAX Enhanced.
  6. Advanced Features: a budget AV receiver will offer the essential features that every home theater amplifier should have – but you will find fewer of the little extras that more expensive models include. This includes HDR video pass-through, zone and pre-out connections, voice control, and connectivity like Bluetooth send and receive.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you have discovered a few great choices if you are looking for the best AV receivers under 500 dollars.

These days you can still take advantage of many of the newer technologies 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 – until they think of the next new thing to tempt you with! The rascals.

These budget AV receivers are ideal for anybody setting up their first surround sound system. Or if you just want to keep the cost down.

AV receivers can be more flexible than a soundbar system and give you plenty of scope for future upgrades.

Whatever your requirements, don’t dismiss a cheaper receiver. Paired with a compact speaker system, they can offer a great bang for your buck.

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The Best AV Receivers Under $500
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About Home Cinema Guide

Paul started the Home Cinema Guide to help less-experienced users get the most out of today's audio-visual technology. He has been a sound, lighting and audio-visual engineer for around 20 years. At home, he has spent more time than is probably healthy installing, configuring, testing, de-rigging, fixing, tweaking, re-installing again (and sometimes using) various pieces of hi-fi and home cinema equipment. You can find out more here.

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