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10 Best AV Receivers + Buying Guide [2022]

Best AV Receivers: Front view of a receiver

Updated:

Choosing the best AV receivers is confusing. What features do you need, and which are the best models? Discover some of the best from budget to high-end.

You’re right. There are too many home theater receivers to choose from!

And why does it have to be so complicated?

If you are looking for the best AV receivers in 2022, it can really make your head spin.

All you want to do is listen to some lovely surround sound when watching a movie – but you need to take a degree in jargon to understand what you need to buy.

After reading this article, you will understand the technical minefield of the home theater receiver. You never know, you may even enjoy it!

First, you will learn the basics of AV receivers in a detailed buying guide on the essential features.

Next, you will find a few suggestions in different categories that you might want to consider.

And finally, there are some frequently asked questions for common issues.

If you find yourself getting lost in the sea of acronyms (hard to avoid, unfortunately), you can find many simple explanations in the home theater glossary.

Top 10 AV Receivers Comparison Table

Image Model HDMI In/Out Power (W/Ch) Dolby Atmos
Yamaha RX-V4A 5.2-Ch AV Receiver
Yamaha RX-V4A 5.2-Ch AV Receiver 4/1 (eARC) 80 None Check Price
Denon AVR-S660H 5.2-Ch AV Receiver
Denon AVR-S660H 5.2-Ch AV Receiver 6/1 (eARC) 75 None Check Price
Marantz NR1711 7.2-Ch AV Receiver
Marantz NR1711 7.2-Ch AV Receiver 6/1 (eARC) 50 5.2.2 Check Price
Denon AVR-X2700H 7.2-Ch AV Receiver
Denon AVR-X2700H 7.2-Ch AV Receiver 6/2 (eARC) 95 5.2.2 Check Price
Marantz SR5015 7.2-Ch AV Receiver
Marantz SR5015 7.2-Ch AV Receiver 6/2 (eARC) 100 5.2.2 Check Price
Denon AVR-X4700H 9.2-Ch AV Receiver
Denon AVR-X4700H 9.2-Ch AV Receiver 7+1/3 (eARC) 125 5.2.4 / 7.2.2 (Support for 7.2.4) Check Price
Denon AVR-X6700H 11.2-Ch AV Receiver
Denon AVR-X6700H 11.2-Ch AV Receiver 7+1/3 (eARC) 140 7.2.4 / 9.2.2 (Support for 7.2.6) Check Price
Arcam AVR10 7.2-Ch AV Receiver
Arcam AVR10 7.2-Ch AV Receiver 7/2 (eARC) 80 5.2.2 (Support for 7.2.4) Check Price
Arcam AVR30 7.2-Ch AV Receiver
Arcam AVR30 7.2-Ch AV Receiver 7/3 (eARC) 120 5.2.2 (Support for 9.2.6) Check Price
Denon AVR-X8500HA 13.2-Ch AV Receiver
Denon AVR-X8500HA 13.2-Ch AV Receiver 7+1/3 (eARC) 150 7.2.6 / 9.2.4 Check Price

What Is an AV Receiver and What Does It Do?

An AV receiver acts as a central hub in a home theater system. It is the ‘brain’ of your whole setup.

  • It makes connecting and selecting various playback devices easy – Blu-ray players, games consoles, video cameras, CD players – even content from your mobile devices.
  • It is a multichannel amplifier that powers your surround sound speaker system.
  • It sends the picture to your TV or projector.

Connecting all these devices into one unit makes setting up and operating multiple audio-visual sources more straightforward.

Do You Need an AV Receiver for Surround Sound?

There are other ways, but it’s probably the best way.

An AV receiver will decode a surround sound soundtrack from DVD, Blu-ray or cable TV box and then send the audio to your surround sound speakers. All in a single box.

You have the flexibility to add more devices with different connection types and to easily change your speakers if you want to upgrade.

Alternative options are:

You should choose the best option that suits your situation, but an AV receiver has plenty of advantages over these other options.

What Are the Advantages of an AV Receiver?

So, why should you consider buying an AV receiver if you want to set up surround sound in your room? The main benefits of an AV receiver are:

  • Available at various prices – from budget models to high-end audiophile brands.
  • They work with a range of speakers and subwoofers.
  • You can keep your speakers and upgrade your receiver later.
  • You can keep your receiver and upgrade your speakers later.
  • Easy to install a wide range of speaker layouts – from 2.0 to 7.2 to 9.2.4. Plus, you can change the configuration later and add more speakers – or remove some.
  • They come with many types of input connections. Very flexible to add and remove external devices.

The main takeaway is that a receiver gives you more flexibility than most alternatives.

How Do You Choose an AV Receiver?

These are some of the things you want to consider before buying an AV receiver:

  1. Price: AV receivers vary from budget to high-end models. You can quickly narrow your choices if you set a limit for your maximum price.
  2. Channels: how many surround speakers do you want? The minimum is a 5.1 system, up to 13.2 or larger Atmos speaker layouts. Or you could set up a 2.1 or 3.1 system if you don’t want surround sound.
  3. Connections: which external devices do you want to connect to your receiver? Make sure it has all the right connections for everything you need.
  4. Features: which features do you need? 4K or 8K support? Dolby Atmos? HDR support? Zone playback in different rooms? Determine what you want, and then find a model that ticks all the boxes so you don’t pay extra for features you don’t need.
  5. Network Connections: do you want an ethernet connection for streaming internet radio and local network streaming? Or do you need Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity?
  6. Power: how loud do you want the sound in your room? Power output makes less difference than you might think. But, if you like it loud and want to drive your speakers harder, then you will want more power.
  7. Speakers: will it drive your speakers properly? AV receivers support a wide range of speakers, and you will probably be fine. However, consider the maximum power and impedance of your speakers. If you don’t have speakers yet, check these specifications before buying.

Let’s look at some of these options in a bit more detail.

AV Receiver Buying Guide

Each manufacturer of AV receivers has many different models, making it a real headache to decide which one to buy.

However, you should realize that all brands release a series of surround sound receivers at different price points.

So while you may see several receivers with different model numbers, they are probably very similar – they are just part of the same series with a few extra features as the price rises.

To clarify things, here are some of the main differences you will encounter.

How Many Channels Does Your Receiver Need?

AV receivers support different surround sound speaker layouts, so you need to buy a receiver that allows for the speaker configuration you want.

One channel will power one speaker.

A stereo amplifier will have two channels to power two speakers – left and right.

But, an AV receiver supports surround sound, so it has more channels to power additional speakers.

The standard surround sound speaker layout is 5.1. This means three speakers at the front – center, front left and front right – plus two rear surround speakers on the left and right.

Like this:

5.1 Surround Sound System
5.1 surround sound system

The .1 refers to a subwoofer, a speaker designed to play very low bass frequencies. This can add fantastic weight and rumble to a movie soundtrack – and really annoy the neighbors!

The following table summarizes the typical surround sound speaker layouts:

Surround Sound Speaker Layout Table
Common surround sound speaker layouts

The configuration you choose may depend on how much you want to spend.

After all, more speakers = more moneys

Or, maybe the size and shape of your room will dictate ths type of surround speaker layout you can have.

Go to the surround sound speaker layouts guide to learn more about 2.0 vs 2.1 and 5.1 vs 7.1.

Can You Use 5.1 Speakers with a 7.1 Receiver?

Many AV receivers now come with a minimum of 7.1 channels.

If you only want 5.1, that’s fine; you can still buy a 7.1 AV receiver and just not connect the extra two channels.

Or, you could use those extra two channels to power a set of stereo speakers in another room. If you want this feature, look for a receiver that supports multiple zones.

But, if you only need 5.1 audio, you may save money by buying a receiver with only 5.1 channels.

Although these days, only a few budget models will be 5.1, so you may not have a choice.

What are Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D Receivers?

A recent development is Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio, known as object-based soundtracks, which place sound effects using a combination of height, front/back and left/right speakers.

To fully use this type of audio, you need to install two or more height speakers in your room – and the number you can install depends on how many speaker channels the receiver has.

As a rule, the more expensive models will allow for more speakers.

The beginner’s guide to Dolby Atmos has more detail if you are new to this audio format.

Dolby Atmos Overhead and Upfiring Speakers

For Dolby Atmos, you will need to add a minimum of two height or upfiring speakers to your 5.1 or 7.1 setup – up to a maximum of 64!

The Dolby Atmos speaker configuration with two extra height speakers is written as 5.1.2 – or 7.1.2 for the seven-channel version – with the additional speakers listed at the end of the 5.1/7.1.

Therefore, if you have four Atmos speakers, you call it a 5.1.4 or 7.1.4 layout.

And a system with four height speakers and two subwoofers will be 5.2.4 – or 7.2.4.

You get the idea.

These height speakers can be at the front, middle, or rear of the room, and you tell the receiver where they are located when you set them up.

Klipsch RP-500SA Dolby Atmos Surround Sound Speakers
Klipsch RP-500SA Dolby Atmos surround sound speakers
Image Credit: Klipsch

Dolby suggests that the extra speakers for Dolby Atmos should be in-ceiling speakers – or special Atmos elevation speakers – also known as upfiring speakers.

An example of an upfiring speaker is the Klipsch RP-500SA Dolby speaker pictured above.

These speakers are easier to install as you just place them on top of your existing floor-standing or bookshelf speakers.

But, you don’t have to buy dedicated Atmos speakers.

Many people just use standard direct-firing speakers for the height effects and say they prefer the sound that way.

Check out the best home theater speakers for surround sound to understand the different speaker types.

DTS:X Speaker Configurations

DTS:X processing supports up to 32 different speaker locations from 5.1 and up – so you don’t even need additional overhead or upfiring speakers.

However, you won’t get the fun of the sound from above in a 5.1 layout – so height speakers will be best for making the most of DTS:X.

Aside from that, the rules for speaker location are pretty much the same as Dolby Atmos.

Auro-3D Speaker Layouts

There is another option when it comes to 3D surround sound, and that is Auro-3D. Some of the top-end models provide this as an optional add-on.

Developed by Auro Technologies, Auro-3D builds on a standard 5.1 or 7.1 sound system and adds a height and overhead layer.

The basic setup is a 9.1 speaker configuration with more overhead speakers at the front and rear, and there is also a 10.1 version that adds a single ‘Voice of God’ speaker directly above the listening position.

If you really don’t have enough speakers at this point, there are further options for 11.1 and 13.1 layouts!

What Connections Does Your Receiver Need?

One of the best/most scary things about an AV receiver is the sheer number of connections on the back.

Rear View Of a Home Theater Receiver

Initially, this may just make it look like something you might find on the console of a spaceship, but the advantage is you can easily connect a wide range of devices to your home theater system.

However, the number and type of connections will vary between models.

When choosing a model to buy, it is essential to consider all the different devices you will add to your setup – and what type of connections they require.

One of the most important connections is HDMI, and you will have a few of these as inputs – and one or more outputs.

Most modern AV equipment uses HDMI to send the picture and sound – all down the same wire.

Therefore, if you look at the number of HDMI inputs on the AV receiver, this will determine how many input devices you can connect.

5 HDMI inputs & 1 HDMI output on the rear of an AV receiver
5 HDMI inputs & 1 HDMI output on the rear of an AV receiver

For an AV receiver, it is usually written as 5/1 – meaning there are 5 HDMI inputs and 1 HDMI output.

Therefore, you can connect five external devices to the receiver via HDMI – and send the output to a single TV or projector.

So, you must consider how many devices you might need to connect and ensure the receiver you buy has enough.

Sometimes, you may see the HDMI input connections written as 6+1, meaning there are 6 HDMI inputs on the back of the unit and one on the front – which can be helpful for quickly adding a device into your system temporarily.

As for HDMI outputs, most people only require one – for their TV or projector.

However, some models offer two (or more), which can be helpful if you want to simultaneously send the picture to another display or projector – or different content to another zone.

Besides HDMI connections, you should consider all the other devices you may want to connect:

  • Games console?
  • Video camera?
  • CD player?
  • Cable TV box?

And what outputs they have:

  • Component video?
  • S-Video?
  • Composite video?
  • Optical audio?
  • Coaxial digital audio?
  • Stereo analog audio?

Does the receiver offer all the connection types you need?

And, maybe you should allow for a couple of extra inputs for future purchases?

Budget receivers will have fewer connections, and more expensive models will have more options than you probably need. But, it can sometimes be better safe than sorry.

You might find this video useful to familiarize yourself with the rear of an AV receiver:

YouTube video

What Is a Network AV Receiver?

Another feature you might want to look out for is network connectivity.

A network AV receiver will have an ethernet connection allowing you to connect it to your home network.

This can allow various Internet-based features like streaming online music and radio services, such as Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music and Napster.

You may also be able to stream your own music collection over the network using DLNA.

Ethernet connection on an AV receiver
Ethernet connection on an AV receiver

While most modern receivers will have ethernet ports, the best home theater receivers will also connect via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Chromecast or AirPlay.

With these, you can stream content from your network – or send video and music to your system via a mobile device.

You will need to decide which connection types are best for your existing equipment – and purchase the receiver that ticks most boxes.

AV Amplifiers with Multi-Room Wireless Speakers

You may also wish to connect wirelessly to external speakers around your home, and many newer receivers have their own multi-room wireless speaker systems.

For example, Denon and Marantz use the HEOS wireless system – and Yamaha has their MusicCast system:

Yamaha MusicCast 20 Wireless Speaker
Yamaha MusicCast 20 wireless speaker
Image Credit: Yamaha

If you want to do this, go with a brand that provides multi-room wireless speakers as an extension to the AV receiver.

This can be an excellent alternative to the more established wireless multi-room speaker systems such as Sonos or Bose.

But, if you already have Sonos speakers, some receivers support Sonos Connect allowing you to connect directly to your existing network.

If this sounds useful, ensure the receiver you buy has the correct network connectivity.

How Much Power Should Your Receiver Have?

Many models of AV amplifiers will show the power rating of the device.

On a basic level, this indicates how loud you can have it in the room, but there is more to it than that.

As a rule, the more expensive models will have more power per channel.

But there are many reasons they cost more – such as build quality and better components – and these are often more important than having a bit more power per channel.

Comparing the Power Output of Different Receivers

Comparing the power ratings of two different AV receivers can be difficult.

There are different ways of measuring the power output of an amplifier, so you must be sure you are comparing like with like.

The bigger number isn’t always better and doesn’t mean anything unless you compare power numbers rated using the same measurements.

The standard variables are:

  • the number of channels being driven – e.g., 2 channels
  • the frequency of the test signal – e.g., 20Hz-20kHz
  • the impedance of the speaker being driven – e.g., 6 ohms
  • the recorded level of distortion (Total Harmonic Distortion). Less than 1% is acceptable – e.g., 0.06% THD

While you will see different specifications, a good one to look for is a power rating given for 8 ohms, 20Hz-20kHz with 2 channels driven – and a THD of less than 1%.

This standard rating will give a good ballpark performance for day-to-day use.

However, some manufacturers don’t provide this measurement.

Amplifier power specifications

The best rating would be when all the surround channels are driven simultaneously – not just two – because this is what happens when you watch a surround sound movie.

But very few brands give these numbers.

A cynic might say this is because they like to use tests that make the power output appear higher!

However, using just the front two speakers is still helpful because these are driven hardest during everyday use, providing a valuable real-world reflection of regular use.

AV Receiver Power vs. Volume

Finally, a higher power rating doesn’t mean that an amplifier will be significantly louder than one with a lower rating.

And, many people won’t need the extra volume anyway.

Doubling the power only increases the sound level by 3dB; to the human ear, 10dB is ‘twice as loud.’

So, increasing the power from 50 to 100 watts isn’t going to make that much difference to how loud everything is.

It will be louder, and 3 dB is a noticeable difference, but it’s not as much as you might think.

Check out understanding amplifier and receiver power ratings for more detail on this.

Final point.

More power doesn’t mean it will necessarily sound better.

  • It may give you a more controlled bottom end.
  • It should handle the loud bits better – especially in movies.
  • It might give a cleaner sound.
  • It might make your speakers sound better as you can drive them harder.

But, the difference might not be as significant as the numbers suggest.

Any improvement in sound quality will be more to do with the build quality of the receiver – rather than the ‘power.’

How Much Power Do You Really Need?

There isn’t a right or wrong answer, and much will depend on the size of your room and how loud you like it when watching a movie.

The bottom line is that most people don’t need to worry too much.

Typical users won’t run their AV receivers even close to maximum volume, so they won’t use all the available power.

Generally, AV receiver power ratings will range from around 50 to 150 watts (8 Ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, less than 1% THD, 2 Channels Driven).

And, 50 to 100 watts will be plenty for most rooms and speakers.

However, buying an amplifier with more power is no problem if you want. Just make sure your speakers can handle the extra power if you plan to turn it up loud for long periods.

120-150 watts should mean you’ll never need to worry about this again.

Do you regularly turn the volume control over 75% and near the maximum?

In that case, you might benefit from a receiver with more power because it’s not a great idea to constantly run an amplifier near its limits.

But if you have speakers that are harder to drive, then more power should help them sound better – or you could buy more efficient speakers.

Will Your Speakers Work With This Receiver?

The specifications of your speakers should give a guideline power range that they can handle.

You will have plenty of wiggle room, so you are unlikely to have issues unless you take things to extremes.

Speakers also have an impedance rating which the amplifier should support.

Most amps and speakers designed for home use will work fine together, and you probably don’t need to worry, but if you have some exotic speakers, you might want to check this.

If you don’t know anything about this, here’s a guide to matching amplifiers and speakers.

What Are AV Receiver Listening Modes and Surround Sound Formats?

There are several different surround sound audio formats on a DVD or Blu-ray disc; you learned about Dolby Atmos and DTS:X earlier.

However, LPCM, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio (and many more) are also common in home theater.

Blu-ray Audio Codecs
Blu-ray Video and Audio Codecs

Some may be supported by your AV receiver, and some may not, but if you need something specific, you might want to check if the receiver supports it.

Receivers also have several listening modes that can alter how you hear the sound on your speaker system.

Most brands have similar options. But, again, if you’re looking for something specific, you should check that a receiver has what you want.

Some of the most useful audio options are Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X.

These upmixing modes fully use your 5.2.2 or 5.2.4 speaker system and overhead speakers.

Usually, if you play stereo or 5.1 soundtracks, your height speakers aren’t used at all. However, an upmixing sound mode creates a virtual mix that places some audio into your height speakers.

It’s not quite as good as the real thing – but it can be effective – and many people use these for all standard sound formats.

Plus, you get more use from those extra speakers you spent all that time and money installing in your room.

If you don’t have height or elevation speakers, you can still use Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X. For example, you can use them to upmix stereo soundtracks to your 5.1 speakers.

Again, many will enable these for all standard stereo TV transmissions, although others prefer to leave stereo soundtracks in stereo.

Try both and see which you like best.

Often though, people will draw the line at music. For many, stereo music should only play on the front two speakers, as nature intended!

However, feel free to go wild and spread that stereo music around your room. You rascal.

Learn more about surround sound formats and AV receiver listening modes.

What Are AV Receiver Zones?

Many receivers will have additional zone connections to allow you to send video and/or audio into different areas – or zones.

A zone can be anything you like – another location in the same room, a different room or even outside in your yard.

There may be a single zone 2, or the higher-end receivers often have zones 3 and 4 too.

A zone 2 output is often a line out, which must be connected to another amplifier. Like in the picture below:

Zone 2 line out on the rear of an AV receiver
Zone 2 line out on the rear of an AV receiver

But other receivers have powered channels for the second zone – which connects directly to another set of speakers without needing a separate amplifier.

In some models, you can watch one thing in the main room and something different in another zone – whereas cheaper receivers will only allow you to watch the same thing in two distinct zones.

In some receivers, zones will be audio-only, so it varies greatly.

First, decide what you want to do, and then find a receiver that does it.

Which AV Receiver Series Is Right for You?

Most AV receiver manufacturers have a range of products at different price points.

They will have a premium series with high-end components and all the latest features.

They will also have a mid-range and budget range set of receivers, which can still give great value for money and fantastic quality.

The quickest way to identify a suitable series for you is to start with the price.

Setting your maximum budget will narrow down the ones you can buy, then just find the models with all the features you need.

As a rule, you do get what you pay for with AV receivers. The more you spend, the higher-quality sound and better features you will get.

However, be sensible. If you have cheap speakers, you probably won’t hear a big difference in sound quality even if you buy a high-end receiver.

How Do You Buy A Cheap AV Receiver?

Many AV receiver manufacturers will bring out a new model each year, and most years, the changes are incremental rather than adding new ‘must-have’ features.

So if last year’s model is still in stock, you can often grab a bargain.

If the receiver has all the features you need, you may not need to pay a premium for the latest model.

This can be one of the best ways to buy a high-end receiver at mid-range prices – or a mid-range at budget prices.

Although, the stock levels of these older receivers can be limited, and the retailers may run out of stock if you wait too long.

Another way of grabbing a bargain is to purchase a second-hand older model.

Many enthusiasts like to purchase the latest release every year, so their old receiver will usually be available for a reasonable price.

This can be a great way to buy a high-end receiver that is usually out of your price range.

An excellent place to find these bargains is on eBay – for example, you can search the AV receiver listings.

Or, try the classified sections in the various forums for home theater fans, such as AV Forums Classifieds and AVS Forum marketplace.

The main downside is that you should be careful of people selling old equipment that is faulty – or doesn’t exist.

However, the places mentioned here are reputable and have systems to protect buyers. Just check out the seller as best you can before parting with your money.

Which Are the Best AV Receiver Brands?

Who makes the best AV receiver?

There are many to choose from, and there are several great AV receiver brands that you might want to consider.

As this site primarily aims at users with less experience, most of the recommended brands provide a good mix of budget to mid-range models.

However, there are also a couple of high-end favorites for experienced audiophiles to enjoy.

Here is a quick summary of the most popular AV receivers brands – each offering both budget and high-end models for various budgets and needs.

Denon

Denon is a Japanese electronics company formed in the early 1900s. They began producing hi-fi audio components in 1971 and specialize in home theater and wireless audio products.

Denon has three primary ranges of AV receivers:

  • AVR-A Series: flagship products released to celebrate their 110th anniversary.
  • AVR-X Series: caters to the top-end of the market, with high-quality products at different prices.
  • AVR-S Series: has more modest prices but still provides excellent value for money and plenty of features.

If you want to compare the latest models’ features, look at the guides to the Denon AVR-X and AVR-A AV receivers and Denon AVR-S receivers.

Marantz

Marantz was initially founded in New York in the 1950s when the founder produced his first audio product – a preamp.

After many years of success in the hi-fi audio market, the company was sold to Marantz Japan in 2001, and they are now a sister company to Denon.

Marantz has a smaller range of AV receivers than some of its competitors but is well-regarded.

  • SR Series: a range of surround AV receivers.
  • NR Series: a range of network AV receivers with internet-based features.

In the guide to Marantz AV receivers, you can see a list of all the latest models and compare their most valuable features.

Onkyo

Onkyo is a Japanese company specializing in audio products and home theater equipment and has been producing consumer electronics since 1946.

Their range includes hi-fi components, personal audio technology and various speaker systems.

Onkyo had significant financial problems in 2021 and filed for bankruptcy in May 2022.

Fortunately, they were purchased by a joint venture between Sharp and Premium Audio Company (which owns Klipsch and Jamo, amongst others), who will continue to develop and sell under the Onkyo brand name.

Onkyo has been producing popular AV receivers for many years, and their range of receivers includes:

  • RZ Series: premium range. Providing superior audio performance for music and movies.
  • NR Series: mid-range. Network AV receivers.
  • SR Series: value range. Surround AV receivers.

While comparing the different models in a range can be difficult, check out the following guides that list the main features of the current models – Onkyo RZ Series AV Receivers and Onkyo NR & SR Series AV Receivers.

Pioneer

Based in Tokyo, Japan, Pioneer have a long history of producing popular AV products. Although they stopped making televisions in 2009, they still produce many products for the home AV market.

In 2014, Pioneer sold their home AV business to Onkyo, so they are now sister companies. However, Pioneer still releases products under its own brand name.

Pioneer’s premium range of AV receivers is labeled the Elite Series, high-end products aimed at audiophiles and sound purists.

Within this range, Pioneer release receivers at two different price points:

  • Elite SC Series: this is top-of-the-range.
  • Elite VSX Series: network AV receivers at a slightly lower price point.
  • VSX Series: not part of the Elite series. Slightly fewer features and aimed at the lower end of the market.

It’s slightly confusing, but the Elite VSX models are labeled VSX-LXxxx, and the non-Elite VSX models are labeled VSX-xxx (without the LX).

Check out the guide to the Pioneer Elite and VSX AV receivers to see the difference between all their models.

Sony

Sony is one of the most well-known home electronics brands in the world. This Japanese company produces many popular products in the home AV market among its many business areas.

Sony doesn’t release models as regularly as some companies, but they are a solid choice – especially for fans of the Sony brand.

They offer three primary ranges of AV receivers:

  • Z Series: top-of-the-range for the custom installation market.
  • STR-DN Series: network receivers aimed at a more mainstream audience.
  • STR-DH Series: value range of AV receivers.

This guide to Sony AV receivers details all the recent models’ features and should make it easier to find what you need.

Yamaha

Yamaha is a Japanese company producing a wide range of products for over 100 years.

They have a strong reputation in various markets, none more than in musical instruments and professional audio and audio-visual technology.

Yamaha produces some of the best surround sound receivers and has a range of models to suit all needs and budgets.

  • AVENTAGE Series: premium range. Studio-grade sound and superb video performance.
  • RX-V Series: mid-range. Engineered to sound great and offer a range of home theater features.
  • RX-S Series: mid-range. Slim and compact AV receivers.
  • TSR Series: mid-range. High-end audio converters and top audio performance

You might find that it’s a bit confusing to understand which models are available – and the differences between them all. You’re not alone.

Therefore, check out the guides to the following:

Other Brands to Consider

There are plenty of other brands that make AV receivers – too many to include here.

If you want to investigate other manufacturers, you could look at Arcam, Anthem, NAD, Rotel and Integra AV receivers.

Some of these are included in the recommended models below.

Which Are the Best AV Receivers to Buy?

OK, you’ve now reached the heart of the matter.

You now understand many of the things you need to consider, but there are still dozens of AV receivers to choose from. Where do you start?

To make things easier, here is a list of popular categories for AV receivers – some by price and some by features.

Hopefully, this will help you quickly narrow down the best receiver for your setup.

The models in the price categories are based on the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) – however, be aware that the prices of AV receivers can vary.

You rarely see prices higher than the MSRP – but often below. However, with the recent pandemic and supply chain problems, prices and stock availability have been all over the place.

But, you can sometimes pick up a bargain when a receiver in a higher price band gets reduced – often at holiday times or when a newer model is available.

So, you might want to check out the price of a model in a higher bracket – you might get a pleasant surprise.

At the end of each section, there are a few more suggestions in that category. It’s always good to have a few more options to make the right choice for yourself.

The right choice might be based on price, features, or build quality – or maybe it’s a brand you’ve used before and like.

Only you know which is the most important thing for your setup.

Best 5.1 AV Receiver

It’s usually best to select an AV receiver by your budget – rather than channels.

This is because you can buy both high-quality, expensive models and cheaper, budget models – all with a similar number of channels.

However, if you are sure you only want 5.1 surround sound, you may get more bang for your buck with a simple 5-channel model.

There aren’t many receivers that are only 5-channels these days.

Remember, you can always buy a 7-channel receiver (or higher) and just connect 5-channels.

A pure 5-channel receiver these days will usually be a budget model. So most people interested in a simple 5.1 receiver will be looking at a receiver at the lower end of the market.

The Yamaha RX-V4A is an excellent choice for the best 5.1 AV receiver.

Whether you are looking for a budget or high-end model – Yamaha is always a good choice for an AV receiver.

The Yamaha RX-V4A has two subwoofer output connections.

If, like most people, you just use one subwoofer, just ignore the second connection – but it’s always handy to have a dual output if you want a second sub in your room.

This model has all the basics that you would want in an entry-level AV receiver.

It provides:

  • Good sound.
  • Plenty of network and wireless connection types.
  • Full support for most audio formats – including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.

This model is also one of the first to support 8K/60p and 4K/120p video. All the HDMI inputs support 8K – and there is full pass-through support for 8K from player to screen.

Please note the new HDMI 2.1 features – such as 4K/120p, VRR, ALLM and QMS, will not be available until they are enabled in a future firmware update.

The RX-V4A supports all the current versions of HDR – HDR10+, HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG.

It can be voice-controlled via Amazon Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant – and also supports Yamaha’s MusicCast wireless speaker system.

With MusicCast Multi-Room, you can control wireless speakers in rooms around your home.

And with MusicCast Surround, you can purchase either the MusicCast 20 or MusicCast 50 speakers and add these as wireless surrounds in a 5.1 system.

Perfect for those who are fed up with running those pesky speaker cables around your room.

Yamaha RX-V4A 5.2-Ch AV Receiver

Best 5.1 AV Receiver: Yamaha RX-V4A 5.2-Ch AV Receiver
Image Credit: Yamaha
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, HDCP 2.3 / HDR10+, HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG
Network / Wireless Ethernet / Wi-Fi / Bluetooth / MusicCast Surround + Multi-Room / AirPlay 2 / Spotify Connect / Amazon Alexa / Google Assistant / Apple Siri
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

Best 9.2 AV Receiver

Looking for a particular number of channels is more beneficial when getting to receivers with more than 5-channels.

This is because there aren’t that many AV receivers with this many channels – and you may have your mind set on a specific setup.

A 9.2-channel system can be ideal if you want to create a 3D Dolby Atmos surround sound layout – and with a 9-channel receiver, you can have a 5.2.4 speaker layout.

This is one of the best ways to experience Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

5.2.2 is good, but 5.2.4 is better as you experience the overhead effects from front to back.

The Denon AVR-X4700H is an excellent option if you are looking for the best 9.2-channel AV receiver.

Denon is always a contender in any category. They make fantastic receivers that excel at movie audio and work well for music.

This model supports the latest video formats, so you can pass through 8K at 60Hz and 4K at 120Hz.

Plus, there is support for all the latest HDMI 2.1 features such as VRR, QMS and ALLM. Don’t you love all those acronyms?

As well as built-in amplification for a 5.2.4 or 7.2.2 speaker layout – there is support for a 7.2.4 system if you add an external 2-channel power amplifier.

That should be enough speakers to keep you happy for a while.

The Audyssey MultEQ XT32 auto room configuration available on this receiver is one of the best, and you can get a tight and balanced sound in any room when you run the Audyssey setup routine.

It is especially good at cleaning up the low frequencies, so they don’t overpower the room.

Denon AVR-X4700H 9.2-Ch AV Receiver

Best 9.2 AV Receiver: Denon AVR-X4700H 9.2-Ch AV Receiver
Image Credit: Denon
Denon AVR-X4700H AV Receiver Features
Channels 9.2
Dolby Atmos 5.2.4 / 7.2.2 (Support for 7.2.4)
HDMI In / Out 7+1 (1x 8K)/3 (eARC)
Zones Zone 2 (HDMI + Component + Composite & 2-ch audio – powered or line out) / Zone 3 (2-ch audio – powered or line out)
Pre Out / Line Out 11.2-Ch / Zone 2 & Zone 3 (2-Ch)
Power (W)* 125
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, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri, Josh.ai
Auto Room Calibration Audyssey MultEQ XT32
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 7.1ch), Auro-3D
Selected Sound Modes: Post Decoding Dolby Surround, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization Technology, DTS Neural:X, DTS Virtual:X, IMAX Enhanced
Dimensions (W x H x D) 17.1 x 6.6 x 15.3 in | 434 x 167 x 389 mm (w/o antenna)
Weight (lbs) 30.2
* 8 Ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.05% THD, 2 Channels Driven

Best 11.2 AV Receiver

An AV receiver with 11-channels is perfect for a complete Dolby Atmos surround sound system.

You have all the built-in channels to install a 7.2.4 speaker system – an impressive layout that will make you feel part of the action.

AV receivers with this number of channels aren’t that common; however, a few are available.

Whichever way you go, you can’t go wrong with any of these monster receivers.

The Denon AVR-X67000H is a fantastic receiver with great sound and many features – so definitely a good option in this category.

If audiophile sound quality is essential to you, then the Anthem MRX 1140 might be better – however, the MSRP is quite a bit more than the Denon.

And, anyway, Denon receivers sound great. So this model will be excellent for movies and music for most people.

As always, you must find the right balance between cost and features for your needs.

This Denon receiver supports 7.2.4 or 9.2.2 speaker layouts with full support for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, IMAX Enhanced and Auro-3D.

There is also support for a 7.2.6 configuration if you add an external power amplifier. And, if you have been waiting for an AV receiver with pass-through support for 8K video resolutions, then you are in luck.

All the other HDMI inputs allow for a maximum of 4K – but the receiver can upscale any of these to 8K if you wish.

You can install a multi-room wireless speaker system if you buy one or more HEOS-enabled wireless speakers. These can be placed throughout your home and are controlled by the free HEOS app.

Denon AVR-X6700H 11.2-Ch AV Receiver

Best 11.2 AV Receiver: Denon AVR-X6700H 11.2-Ch AV Receiver
Image Credit: Denon
Denon AVR-X6700H AV Receiver Features
Channels 11.2
Dolby Atmos 7.2.4 / 9.2.2 (Support for 7.2.6)
HDMI In / Out 7+1 (1x 8K)/3 (eARC)
Zones Zone 2 (HDMI + Component + Composite & 2-ch audio – powered or line out) / Zone 3 (2-ch audio – powered or line out)
Pre Out / Line Out 13.2-Ch / Zone 2 & Zone 3 (2-Ch)
Power (W)* 140
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, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri, Josh.ai
Auto Room Calibration Audyssey MultEQ XT32
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 7.1ch), Auro-3D
Selected Sound Modes: Post Decoding Dolby Surround, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization Technology, DTS:X Pro, DTS Neural:X, DTS Virtual:X, IMAX Enhanced
Dimensions (W x H x D) 17.1 x 6.6 x 15.3 in | 434 x 167 x 389 mm (w/o antenna)
Weight (lbs) 32
* 8 Ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.05% THD, 2 Channels Driven

Best 13.2 AV Receiver

If you want an AV receiver with 13.2-channels, there’s currently only one brand to look at – Denon.

Denon led the way in 2018 by including 13 channels in their AVR-X8500H AV receiver. Since then, they have released two more versions; the 110th-anniversary AVR-A110 in 2020 and the AVR-X8500HA in 2021.

As the name suggests, the AVR-X8500HA is an updated version released in 2018.

The two receivers are basically the same, except for a few notable extras, including support for 8K video. The main upgrades on the AVR-X8500HA are:

  • a single HDMI input supporting 8K/60AB and 4K/120AB
  • the addition of HDR10+/dynamic HDR
  • upscaling from 1080p and 4K to 8K
  • Pass-through support for VRR, QMS and QFT
  • HDCP 2.3

There are also some other features included that weren’t available on the AVR-X8500 – DTS:X Pro, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization and front wide speaker support on Dolby Surround – but these can now be added to the older AVR-X8500H with a firmware update.

If you don’t need the extra features of the AVR-X8500HA, you may get a bargain if you can find the older 2018 model in stock. And there is also an 8K upgrade available for the AVR-X8500H.

Either way, all of the Denon 13-channel AV receivers are great receivers, and you can’t go wrong if you have the money to buy one.

Remember, some receivers with fewer channels have processing for larger Dolby Atmos layouts. This means you can use the pre-out connections on the rear to install additional power amplifiers.

However, the advantage of a beast like this, is you don’t need to pony up for power amplifiers. It’s all built-in.

Denon AVR-X8500HA 13.2-Ch AV Receiver

Best 13.2 AV Receiver: Denon AVR-X8500HA 13.2-Ch AV Receiver
Image Credit: Denon
Denon AVR-X8500HA Specifications
Channels 13.2
Dolby Atmos 7.2.6 / 9.2.4
HDMI In / Out 7+1 (1x 8K)/3 (eARC)
Zones Zone 2 (HDMI + Component + Composite & 2-ch audio – powered or line out) / Zone 3 (Component + Composite & 2-ch audio – powered or line out)
Pre Out / Line Out 13.2-Ch / Zone 2 & Zone 3 (2-Ch)
Power (W)* 150
Speaker Impedance (Ohms) 4 – 16
UHD / HDR Support 8K/60p & 4K/120p, HDCP2.3 / HDR10+, HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG
Network / Wireless Ethernet / Wi-Fi / Bluetooth / Airplay 2 + Siri / HEOS / Amazon Alexa / Google Assistant
Auto Room Calibration Audyssey MultEQ XT32
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 7.1ch), Auro-3D
Selected Sound Modes: Post Decoding Dolby Surround, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization Technology, DTS:X Pro, DTS Neural:X, DTS Virtual:X, IMAX Enhanced
Dimensions (W x H x D) 17.1 x 7.7 x 19 in | 434 x 195 x 482 mm (w/o antenna)
Weight (lbs/Kg) 52 / 23.6
* 8 Ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.05% THD, 2 Channels Driven

Best Small AV Receiver

Some of you may want an AV receiver but might not be so thrilled about the size of some models.

They can certainly take up some space in your room.

However, some brands have a range of slim receivers, which can be much easier to install and won’t look too unattractive.

Small AV receivers usually have less power and features than a standard-size model, although that doesn’t mean they can’t power an excellent surround sound system.

The Marantz NR1711 is a 7.2-channel receiver that can perform with the best of them – an ideal option if you are looking for the best slim AV receiver.

It’s rated at 50 watts. So, less than the larger models listed here, but still enough to drive most small to medium-sized speakers in a standard room.

It has plenty of connections for a compact device and even comes with the excellent Audyssey MultEQ room correction system.

The major update in the latest model is the introduction of 8K support, meaning you can connect your new game console and experience video at 8K/60Hz or 4K/120Hz.

This amplifier also supports pass-through for HDR10+.

Marantz NR1711 7.2-Ch AV Receiver

Best Small AV Receiver: Marantz NR1711 7.2-Ch AV Receiver
Image Credit: Marantz
Marantz NR1711 AV Receiver Features
Channels 7.2
Dolby Atmos 5.2.2
HDMI In / Out 6/1 (eARC)
Zones Zone 2 (2-ch audio – powered or line out)
Pre Out / Line Out Front L+R + Subwoofer (x2) / Zone 2 (2-Ch)
Power (W)* 50
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 / Airplay 2 / HEOS / Spotify Connect / Amazon Alexa / Google Assistant / Apple Siri / Josh.ai
Auto Room Calibration Audyssey MultEQ
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 (2-ch – 5.1-ch, 2.8 MHz), LPCM (Up to 192/24 7.1ch)
Selected Sound Modes: Post Decoding Dolby Surround, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization Technology, DTS Neural:X, DTS Virtual:X
Dimensions (W x H x D) 17.3 x 4.1 x 14.9 in | 440 x 105 x 378 mm (w/o antenna)
Weight (lbs) 18.3
* 8 Ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.08% THD, 2 Channels Driven

Top Receiver Under $500

You don’t need to spend a fortune if you just want to experience surround sound in your room.

A no-frills AV receiver with some reasonable speakers will sound way better than using the speakers on your TV, and you can always upgrade later if you want a model with more features.

Therefore, a budget AV receiver under $500 can be the ideal way to start.

The number of features you get in an AV receiver around the $500 mark these days is quite surprising, but you will have to accept some compromises here and there.

Most of these models are 5-channel receivers, which means you get surround sound, but not 3D Dolby Atmos sound.

If you want Dolby Atmos, the Sony STR-DH790 receiver in this category has 7-channels and Dolby Atmos support – or you will need to spend a little more to go up a level or look for an older receiver that is on offer.

The Denon AVR-S660H is an excellent choice if you want a great value receiver from a reputable brand.

It has 5-channels for surround sound and two outputs for connecting dual subwoofers.

There are six HDMI inputs for your external devices, three of which support HDMI 2.1 and 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz video pass-through.

Denon is an excellent option if you want a receiver with great sound and cutting-edge features.

Audyssey MultEQ room correction is a bonus and one of the better solutions for getting the best sound in your room.

If you want an even cheaper option, you should look at the Denon AVR-S570BT, Sony STR-DH590 or Pioneer VSX-534 – which are each brand’s entry-level model.

Denon AVR-S660H 5.2-Ch AV Receiver

Best AV Receiver Under $500: Denon AVR-S660H 5.2-Ch AV Receiver
Image Credit: Denon
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 / Amazon Alexa / Google Assistant / Apple Siri
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 Related article: Best AV Receiver Under $500

Top Receiver Under $1000

You start to get high-quality AV receivers at this price point – not the best, but pretty darn good.

You should expect a great sound that will do justice to any first-rate speakers you own.

You can expect to get a little more for your money in terms of performance, and you might need to go to this level to get more connections, power or channels.

Some of these models will also give you more options for sending content to different zones in your house. So, if this is important, think about what you want to do and then check out which model offers those options.

When you get to this level, the improvements aren’t just about features; you also get better build quality and components.

One of the most critical components of an AV receiver is the power supply – because a better power supply is a significant factor that helps increase sound quality.

This is what you are paying extra for.

The Denon AVR-X2700H 7.2-Ch AV receiver is a standout option for the money.

It is a great all-rounder with 7-channels of amplification and plenty of inputs, and it is also one of the first receivers to support 8K resolutions.

One of the HDMI inputs allows for 8K/60p and 4K/120p resolutions – although, as mentioned previously, this will mainly be of interest to those with the latest game consoles.

The Denon brand is often a good choice as they often hit the mark when considering the price, sound quality and features.

The cheapest receivers in this category are the Onkyo TX-NR5100, Yamaha RX-V6A and the Denon AVR-X1700H – so check these out if you want to save money.

All the suggested models in the price range have 7.2-channels, so there is nothing to separate them in that respect.

If you want more power, the Onkyo TX-NR6100, Yamaha RX-V6A and Yamaha RX-A2A AVENTAGE have the highest power output.

The Onkyo TX-NR6100 probably has the most all-around features if you want the most bang for your buck.

Denon AVR-X2700H 7.2-Ch AV Receiver

Best AV Receiver Under $1000: Denon AVR-X2700H 7.2-Ch AV Receiver
Image Credit: Denon
Denon AVR-X2700H AV Receiver Features
Channels 7.2
Dolby Atmos 5.2.2
HDMI In / Out 6 (1x 8K)/2 (eARC)
Zones Zone 2 (2-ch audio – powered or line out)
Pre Out / Line Out Subwoofer (x2) / Zone 2 (2-Ch)
Power (W)* 95
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, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri, Josh.ai
Auto Room Calibration Audyssey MultEQ XT
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 7.1ch)
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 x 6.6 x 13.4 in | 434 x 167 x 340 mm (w/o antenna)
Weight (lbs) 21
* 8 Ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.08% THD, 2 Channels Driven Related article: Best AV Receiver Under $1000

Top Receiver Under $1500

As the price increases, so does the quality of the AV receivers.

If you spend a little more, you really start to get to some high-end brands, and you can even buy some entry-level models from top-notch audio brands like Anthem and NAD.

The Marantz SR5015 7.2-Ch AV receiver is a solid choice from a well-regarded brand in the world of hi-fi and home theater.

With 7-channels and the famous Marantz sound, you will be getting an excellent receiver that excels at most things.

With support for 8K video, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization, this is a great all-rounder at a competitive price.

However, the 5-channel Anthem MRX 520 might be a better fit if sound quality is your primary focus.

And, if you want more channels, then the Denon AVR-X3700H 9.2-Ch AV Receiver is a better choice.

Remember, the best AV receiver is the one that ticks all the boxes for you, and different people have different needs and requirements.

Marantz SR5015 7.2-Ch AV Receiver

Best AV Receiver Under $1500: Marantz SR5015 7.2-Ch AV Receiver
Image Credit: Marantz
Marantz SR5015 AV Receiver Features
Channels 7.2
Dolby Atmos 5.2.2
HDMI In / Out 6/2 (ARC/eARC – HDMI 2.1)
Zones Zone 2 (2-ch audio – powered or line out)
Pre Out / Line Out 7.2-Ch / Zone 2 (2-Ch)
Power (W)* 100
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 / Airplay 2 / HEOS / Spotify Connect / Amazon Alexa / Google Assistant / Apple Siri / Josh.ai
Auto Room Calibration Audyssey MultEQ XT
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 (2-ch – 5.1-ch, 2.8 MHz), LPCM (Up to 192/24 7.1ch)
Selected Sound Modes: Post Decoding Dolby Surround, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization Technology, DTS Neural:X, DTS Virtual:X, IMAX Enhanced
Dimensions (W x H x D) 17.3 x 6.3 x 13.7 in | 440 x 161 x 348 mm (w/o antenna)
Weight (lbs) 22.3
* 8 Ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.08% THD, 2 Channels Driven

Top Receiver Under $2000

You are getting to some serious hardware around the $2000 mark.

If your budget extends this high, you are spoiled for choice, and you really can’t go wrong.

The Denon AVR-X4700H 9.2-Channel AV receiver should be a contender for anyone in this price range.

It’s already included as the best 9.2-channel AV receiver, so it makes sense to have it in this category too.

This Denon receiver has a single HDMI 2.1 input for 8K video for the gamers out there – and for home theater, it has pretty much all the features you will need.

If you prefer the Marantz sound, the SR6015 comes in at this price point.

And, if you are looking for audiophile sound quality, then the Anthem MRX 540 or the Arcam AVR5 might fit the bill.

These models have fewer channels than the other receivers, but you are paying for better sound quality over the number of features.

Denon AVR-X4700H 9.2-Ch AV Receiver

Best AV Receiver Under $2000: Denon AVR-X4700H 9.2-Ch AV Receiver
Image Credit: Denon
Denon AVR-X4700H AV Receiver Features
Channels 9.2
Dolby Atmos 5.2.4 / 7.2.2 (Support for 7.2.4)
HDMI In / Out 7+1 (1x 8K)/3 (eARC)
Zones Zone 2 (HDMI + Component + Composite & 2-ch audio – powered or line out) / Zone 3 (2-ch audio – powered or line out)
Pre Out / Line Out 11.2-Ch / Zone 2 & Zone 3 (2-Ch)
Power (W)* 125
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, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri, Josh.ai
Auto Room Calibration Audyssey MultEQ XT32
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 7.1ch), Auro-3D
Selected Sound Modes: Post Decoding Dolby Surround, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization Technology, DTS Neural:X, DTS Virtual:X, IMAX Enhanced
Dimensions (W x H x D) 17.1 x 6.6 x 15.3 in | 434 x 167 x 389 mm (w/o antenna)
Weight (lbs) 30.2
* 8 Ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.05% THD, 2 Channels Driven

Top Receiver Under $3000

If your budget is around $3000, you will have a hard choice because the receivers are all excellent.

The main differences at this price level are the models with more channels – like the Yamaha RX-A8A and the Denon AVR-X6700 – and the audiophile sound quality of the Anthem, Arcam and NAD models.

If you are someone who needs top-notch performance for movies and music, then Arcam, Anthem or NAD should be on your list.

However, it’s a fine line.

It doesn’t mean Marantz and Denon can’t sound great with music. They can.

But their particular strength is movie audio and features.

It may be frustrating, but in the end, these things come down to personal taste – and what you are used to listening to.

It’s not black and white, whatever some people may tell you.

If you are unsure – and sound quality is essential to you – the only way is to go and demo the amps yourself. Go and speak to your local AV store that has a listening room.

The Arcam AVR10 7.2-channel AV receiver is a top-notch option for any room.

It is right up there if you want a receiver that can sound great for music and movies. You might even be able to replace your high-end stereo amplifier if you currently use one just for music.

Although it is limited to 7-channels, the AVR10 has 11.2 pre-outs on the back. So, you can connect external power amplifiers and get an excellent 5.2.6/7.2.4 speaker layout.

Arcam has just released an updated version of this receiver with HDMI 2.1 support for 4K/120 and 8K/60 video.

If you need this, then take a look at the Arcam AVR11. However, the AVR10 will be cheaper if you don’t need support for the latest video formats.

Arcam AVR10 7.2-Ch AV Receiver

Best AV Receiver Under $3000: Arcam AVR10 7.2-Ch AV Receiver
Image Credit: Arcam
Arcam AVR10 AV Receiver Features
Channels 7.2
Dolby Atmos 5.2.2 (Support for 7.2.4)
HDMI In / Out 7/2 (eARC)
Zones None
Pre Out / Line Out 11.2-Ch / Stereo 2-Ch
Power (W)* 80
Speaker Impedance (Ohms) 8 recommended
UHD / HDR Support 4K/60p, HDCP 2.2 / HDR10+, HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG
Network / Wireless Ethernet / Wi-Fi / Bluetooth / Airplay 2 / Chromecast
Auto Room Calibration Dirac Live
Dimensions (W x H x D) 17-1/16 x 6-3/4 x 16-3/4 in | 433 x 171 x 425 mm
Weight (lbs) 36.4
* 8 Ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.02% THD, 2 Channels Driven

Top High-End AV Receiver

If you can quite believe it, you’ve still not reached the top of the tree.

You will need to invest some serious money to buy one of these beauties – but, you know, sometimes you just need to buy the best.

These AV receivers are the flagship models for each brand, and each has its strengths.

The Denon has the most channels, although the Marantz and Anthem aren’t far behind – and still offer the fantastic sound quality these brands specialize in.

The Arcam AVR30 7.2-channel AV receiver has it all regarding sound quality.

It doesn’t have the number of channels as the others do. But this is because its Class G amplification excels at providing a dynamic and detailed sound, which is expensive to engineer.

However, an impressive 15.2 pre-out connections on the back will allow you to build a 9.2.6 surround sound system – if you buy some extra power amplifiers.

It’s definitely not cheap – but it is an excellent choice for an audiophile who wants an accurate sound with low distortion.

Yes, you sacrifice some bells and whistles typical in other receivers, but the focus is on high-end sound and video quality.

If that is your priority, you will be delighted with this receiver.

If you really need this receiver with HDMI 2.1 and support for 8K/60 and 4K/120, take a look at the new Arcam AVR31 7.2-Ch AV Receiver.

If not, the AVR30 should be cheaper while it’s still available.

Arcam AVR30 7.2-Ch AV Receiver

Best High-End AV Receiver: Arcam AVR30 7.2-Ch AV Receiver
Image Credit: Arcam
Arcam AVR30 Specifications
Amplifier Type Class G
Channels 7.2
Dolby Atmos 5.2.2 (Support for 9.2.6)
HDMI In / Out 7/3 (ARC/eARC)
Zones Zone 2 (HDMI & 2-ch audio – powered or line out)
Pre Out / Line Out 15.2-Ch + Zone 2 (2-Ch) / Stereo 2-Ch
Power (W)* 120
Speaker Impedance (Ohms) 8 recommended
UHD / HDR Support 4K/60p, HDCP 2.2 / HDR10+, HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG
Network / Wireless Ethernet / Wi-Fi / Bluetooth / Airplay 2 / Chromecast
Auto Room Calibration Dirac Live
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, Auro-3D
Selected Sound Modes: Post Decoding Dolby Surround, Dolby Virtual Height, DTS Neural:X, DTS Virtual:X, IMAX Enhanced
Dimensions (W x H x D) 17-1/16 x 6-3/4 x 16-3/4 in (433 x 171 x 425 mm)
Weight (lbs/Kg) 39.9/18.1
* 8 Ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.02% THD, 2 Channels Driven Related article: Best High-End AV Receivers

Conclusion

Well, there you have it. Phew, that is a lot of information to take in.

If you are new to the field of home theater, then it can appear impossible to know where to start. Or what you should be looking out for.

Even when you do know about this stuff, it can get confusing!

However, don’t lose sight of the end goal. Having great audio in your room is a fantastic way of experiencing movies and music in your room, and you won’t regret it.

Hopefully, this guide will help you find the best AV amplifiers in 2022. Buy a good one, and it will last for years to come.

If you find all this too complicated, you can take a more straightforward path to home theater audio nirvana.

Look at the Top 10 Best Home Theater Systems + Buying Guide [2022] for more information about an all-in-one system.

With a home theater system, you get the amplifier and speakers in one package, which is more straightforward for some people.

Another alternative is to buy a soundbar system with a wireless subwoofer.

Have fun.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some quick and easy answers to common questions about AV receivers.

Does an AV Receiver Need an Amplifier?

No. An AV receiver includes an amplifier to power your speakers.

What Is the Difference Between a 7.1 and 7.2 AV Receiver?

The .1 and .2 refer to the number of subwoofer outputs. A 7.1 receiver will only allow for one subwoofer, which most people use – and a 7.2 receiver has two subwoofer connections to allow an extra sub. The main advantage of a second subwoofer is to spread the bass frequencies evenly around the room. The guide to surround sound speaker placement explains more about this.

What Is the Difference Between 5.2 and 7.2 Receivers?

A 5.2 receiver allows for five surround sound speakers and two subwoofers. The standard layout for the five surround speakers is front left, front right, center, surround left and surround right. A 7.2 receiver has seven channels for surround sound speakers and two for subwoofers. The configuration in a 7.2 speaker layout is the same as a 5.2 layout, except for two extra back left and back right surround speakers. Go to the guide to surround sound layouts to understand this more clearly.

What is an Integrated Amplifier?

An integrated amplifier has a preamplifier and a power amplifier in a single box. So an AV receiver is an integrated amplifier because you can connect input devices, alter the volume, and power your speakers in a single unit. Some more advanced audio systems will use two separate components – a dedicated preamplifier and a power amp. The preamplifier accepts multiple devices and has a volume control to vary the audio level. Then, the signal is fed to a power amp, which amplifies the audio even more and sends it to connected speakers.

What Is the Difference Between an AV Receiver and an Amplifier?

An AV receiver is an integrated amplifier with a preamplifier and a power amplifier in the same box. Why is it called a receiver and not an amplifier? Because a receiver is an integrated amplifier plus a tuner for receiving AM/FM radio signals. Technically, if the device doesn’t have a tuner, it should be called an AV amplifier. However, the term AV receiver is often used regardless.

What Is The Difference Between a Stereo Receiver and a Surround Sound Receiver?

A stereo receiver only has two channels and plays stereo audio. A surround sound receiver has five or more channels and connects to a surround sound speaker system – which is best for multichannel movie soundtracks in a home theater system. Learn more about hooking up a stereo and surround sound receiver.

Do More Expensive AV Receivers Sound Better?

The short answer is yes, more expensive AV receivers sound better. The longer answer is that more expensive AV receivers will generally have better components and build quality, providing outstanding sound quality. However, you will also need high-quality speakers, source material, and proper installation with good quality interconnects to get the full benefit. Plus, you should place it in a room that allows you to hear the improvement in sound. ‘Better sound’ is a very subjective thing. For some people, it will sound better if you just add extra bass. You don’t need an expensive receiver if you want that; just turn up your subwoofer! Audiophiles need a more balanced sound, and a costly receiver will provide high-end detail, a balanced mid-range and controlled bass.

Does an AV Receiver Improve Video Quality?

Some AV receivers have advanced video processing capabilities that can improve picture quality. However, the best performance will be limited to expensive high-end models. But, even if you don’t have a high-end receiver, most modern TVs have excellent video processing algorithms that provide a superb picture regardless of the source.

What is Upconverting in an AV Receiver?

Upconverting is where you connect a player to the receiver using one connection type and expect the receiver to output the video as a different type. For example, you might attach a DVD player using analog component video and want the receiver to send this to the TV via HDMI. You should be aware that only the more expensive receivers can upconvert different video input types to the HDMI output. If a receiver can’t upconvert, you must make a component connection directly with the display device.

What is Upscaling in an AV Receiver?

Video upscaling means receiving the video in a lower resolution and then sending it to your TV in a higher resolution. This process is performed by a video scaler. For example, your DVD player may output 576i PAL, and you want the receiver to output this as 4K UHD for your TV – but this won’t work if your receiver doesn’t support this type of upscaling. If not, you might be able to upscale on the Blu-ray or DVD player before going to the receiver.

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How to Choose the Best AV Receiver for You

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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 worked as 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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