If you are looking for the best high-end AV receivers in 2021, then you're in luck.
I'll try to help you narrow down your options by looking at my top 5 choices. You may not agree on the order, but I hope you'll find my selection useful.
All of these receivers offer some of the best engineering, features and performance that money can buy.
Cheaper AV receivers can be a great place to begin if you are on a budget. And there are several price ranges to choose from - with an increasing set of features and build-quality.
But, if you want a top-end AV receiver, then you are going to have to make a more significant investment.
The good news is you will be buying a high-quality home theater receiver that should last for years to come.
So, if I were looking to buy a high-end AV receiver, which models would I be looking at? Let's find out.
|Image||Model||HDMI In / Out||Power (W/Ch)||Dolby Atmos|
|Arcam AVR30 7.2-Ch AV Receiver||7/3 (eARC)||120||5.2.2 (Support for 9.2.6)||Check Price|
|Marantz SR8015 11.2-Ch AV Receiver||7+1/3 (eARC)||140||7.2.4 / 9.2.2 (Support for 7.2.6 / 9.2.4)||Check Price|
|Denon AVR-X8500H 13.2-Ch AV Receiver||7+1/3 (ARC)||150||7.2.6 / 9.2.4||Check Price|
|Yamaha RX-A3080 AVENTAGE 9.2-Ch AV Receiver||7/3 (ARC)||150||5.2.4 / 7.2.2 (Support for 7.2.4)||Check Price|
|Anthem MRX 1120 11.2-Ch AV Receiver||7+1/2 (ARC)||140||5.2.4 / 7.2.4||More Details|
If you're interested in getting an AV receiver that works for both movies and music, then an Arcam receiver should be on your radar. Arcam is a British company that has been producing high-end audio products since 1976.
This receiver is part of the Arcam HAD (High Definition Audio) range. In the early years, Arcam released their top-end products under the FMJ (Full Metal Jacket) banner.
However, in recent years they have introduced the HDA series of amplifiers and players. These are now considered to be their top-performing products.
The AVR30 is the top model in the HDA range of integrated AV receivers. Although, they do also have the AVR40, which is a preamplifier i.e. it doesn’t have any built-in amplification.
The Arcam AVR30 is a 7.2-channel AV receiver with Class G amplification.
Class G amplification is one of the main differences between this receiver and the competition.
Most AV receivers use Class AB amplification. This is a cost-effective way to make a relatively efficient amplifier that sounds good - without costing too much to build.
A Class G amplifier is much more complex and expensive to produce. However, it is also a very efficient way of driving your speakers and provides very low levels of distortion.
This means it is perfect for providing high-end audiophile sound.
If you want to learn more about Class G amplification, Arcam has a simple guide to Class G amps here.
The high cost of building an amplifier this way is one reason why the AVR30 ‘only’ has 7-channels of built-in amplification.
Yes, many of the other AV receivers here will be able to power more speakers out-of-the-box – but they don’t offer Class G amplification. So, you need to decide what is more important to you.
With all this technology, there is always a balance that you need to find between features and cost.
But, even though there are only 7-channels in this receiver, it doesn’t mean that you can’t run a big Dolby Atmos speaker layout in your room.
The Arcam AVR30 has 16 pre-out channels (17 with the second subwoofer out) that you can connect to external power amps. This means that you can use this AV receiver to run a 9.2.6 surround sound speaker system.
That’s not too bad at all!
In most cases, you would probably use the built-in Class G channels to run your basic 5.1/7.1 speaker layout. Then add external amplifiers to add the extra height channels – to a maximum of 8 more speakers.
Of course, if you only wanted to use the built-in class G channels – without buying more power amplifiers - then you can set up a very nice 5.2.2 Dolby Atmos or DTS:X system.
Four of the pre-outs can also be used for connecting extra active subwoofers – up to four in total.
The AVR30 provides 120 watts per channel (8 Ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.02% THD, 2 Channels Driven) which should be more than enough for any home theater room.
We have full support for all the latest 4K UHD video requirements. So 4K/60p with HDMI 2.0b ports and HDCP 2.2. HDR pass-through is present for HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision and HLG.
Just bear in mind that the HDMI boards aren’t HDMI 2.1. Therefore you won’t be able to run an 8K/60p or 4K/120p video source unless Arcam offers an upgrade in the future.
However, this will mainly be of interest to gamers with the latest consoles. If that is you, then another brand might be a better choice.
But, if you are only into music and movies, this is unlikely to have much impact on you anytime soon.
|Dolby Atmos||5.2.2 (Support for 9.2.6)|
|HDMI In / Out||7/3 (eARC)|
|Speaker Impedance (Ohms)||8 recommended|
|Network / Wireless||Ethernet / Wi-Fi / Bluetooth / Airplay 2 / Chromecast|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||17-1/16 x 6-3/4 x 16-3/4 in | 433 x 171 x 425 mm|
Talking of HDMI, there are 7 HDMI connections on the rear and 3 outputs.
The main output supports the newer Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) - which can be useful for sending high-resolution 3D audio from your TV apps to the receiver.
A useful upgrade on the older FMJ AV receivers is the addition of more network and wireless connection options.
As well as an Ethernet connection found on the older receivers, the AVR30 adds support for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplay 2 and Chromecast.
However, all Arcam products should be viewed as sound quality first, fancy features second. Everything is geared towards a high-end audiophile product. Anything that might compromise this is not present.
Another feature that might make the AVR30 a good choice for you is also – surprise, surprise – aimed at getting the best sound in your room.
Arcam AV receivers come equipped with Dirac Live room correction and a calibration microphone. You will also need to download the Dirac Live software and install it on your laptop or PC.
It is a more complex process than the room correction supplied with most AV receivers. But it will do a fantastic job of balancing the sound in your room. No pain, no gain!
Dirac Live is widely accepted by many to be the best room correction technology around. It does an exceptional job of producing a balanced and immersive surround sound experience.
Just be aware, you will need an Internet connection for this to work. The readings are sent online to the Dirac servers to make the complex calculations and number-crunching.
Of course, you don't have to use Dirac Live. You can make manual measurements and adjustments yourself. But, if you've gone to the expense of buying one of these beauties, then I think you'd be mad not to take advantage of this excellent technology.
If you are new to the Arcam brand, you might find this overview of the company interesting:
If you want an AV receiver that works well for music and movies, then a Marantz AV amplifier should be on your list.
Marantz is a manufacturer with a rich history of hi-fi products. So, you can be sure that their AV receivers will receive the same attention to detail.
The SR range of Marantz receivers is their top-end models. And the SR8015 is the flagship receiver.
So, if you are interested in buying a Marantz receiver, it doesn't get any better than this.
The Marantz SR8015 is an 11.2-channel AV receiver with discrete power amplifiers on each channel. This means that you can install a full object-based surround sound speaker layout of 7.2.4 without adding any further amplification – or 9.2.2 if you wish.
But that’s not all. This model also has processing for a 7.2.6 or 9.2.4 speaker system. To make this work, you will need to buy a 2-channel power amplifier for the extra two channels.
You can connect the extra amplifier via the pre-out connections on the back.
In fact, there is a complete set of 13.2 pre-outs on the back if you want to power all your speakers from external power amps.
This unit also has an Auro-3D decoder built-in. This is rare to find in many AV receivers and so is a bonus if you are interested in Auro-3D surround sound.
If you don’t want to install height speakers in your room. The SR8015 also supports Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization Technology and DTS Virtual:X listening modes.
These can create an effect that is like having height speakers installed. Not quite as good as the real thing, but worth trying out if you don’t want to install extra speakers.
There is the same number of HDMI ports as the previous model of this AV receiver. So, you get 8 HDMI inputs (1 at the front) and 3 outputs. Which is about as many as you get on any receiver these days.
There is also support for eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel). This is especially useful as more streaming video apps and soundbars begin to offer higher resolution audio.
Therefore, eARC will allow you to pass Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio streams from your TV and back into the receiver.
One of the main new features in this year’s release is support for 8K video.
HDMI 2.1 support is slowly appearing in new AV receivers. This means that this receiver will pass-through 8K/60p and 4K/120p video through to your TV.
|Dolby Atmos||7.2.4 / 9.2.2 (Support for 7.2.6 / 9.2.4)|
|HDMI In / Out||7+1/3 (eARC)|
|Speaker Impedance (Ohms)||4-16|
|Network / Wireless||Ethernet / Wi-Fi / Bluetooth / Airplay 2 / HEOS / Spotify Connect / Amazon Alexa / Google Assistant / Apple Siri / Josh.ai|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||17.3 x 7.3 x 18.1 in | 440 x 185 x 460 mm (w/o antenna)|
It also allows support for the new gaming and media features such as Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), Quick Media Switching (QMS) and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR).
It is worth remembering that, at present, it is only the new game consoles that will output these video formats. So, unless you have these consoles, you won’t benefit from HDMI 2.1 support too much.
I should also point out that there is just a single 8K HDMI input. So, if you have more than one new game console, you might need to connect one directly to your TV.
All the other HDMI ports support 4K/60p and HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision and HLG. The receiver can also upscale 1080p and 4K video to 8K for output to your TV if required.
As you would expect from a high-end Marantz product, this receiver is built using their famous HDAM technology. The Marantz Hyper-Dynamic Amplifier Modules have been developed over many years in their hi-fi products.
Designed to provide a detailed and dynamic sound, you can be sure this receiver will work well for both movie soundtracks and music mixes.
There is plenty of power under the hood. With a rating of 140 watts per channel (8 Ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.05% THD, 2 Channels Driven), you will have no problems driving even the most power-hungry of speakers.
There are plenty of ways to connect this amplifier for internet and network content.
For those who like using an old-fashioned cable (me!), you have an Ethernet port. But you can also connect via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplay 2, Spotify Connect and more.
The popular voice-control technologies of Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Siri are also supported.
This unit also has built-in HEOS wireless multi-room audio support.
Add any HEOS-compatible speakers, and you can enjoy wireless audio in every room in your house. No need to buy a separate wireless multi-room system.
Automatic room correction is handled by the excellent Audyssey MultEQ XT32 system. I have always found this to give fantastic results when it comes to cleaning up and balancing the sound in your room.
Denon is always a brand you should consider when looking for a new AV receiver. They really do hit the mark at a range of prices – both budget and high-end.
However, when it comes to their flagship offering, there a few receivers which match this beast.
It does come at a hefty price, but if you want a receiver which has the lot, then this beauty could be the one for you.
The first feature that takes the eye on the Denon AVR-X8500H is the remarkable 13.2 channels. If you really want to take advantage of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, then you can have a 7.2.6 or 9.2.4 surround sound speaker system.
All built-in - no further amplification required. That's impressive.
In addition to Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, you can add Auro-3D support via a firmware update.
This receiver is also one of the first models to support IMAX enhanced. This new type of content is due to be released in the coming months and will play back in all its glory on supported hardware – like this one.
IMAX Enhanced technology offers optimized pictures for HDR screens, improved aspect ratio control on large displays and customized surround soundtracks similar to Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
The AVR-8500H has 7 HDMI inputs on the rear, one on the front and a useful 3 HDMI outputs.
The 3 outputs really do give you control with sending content to different zones in your home. For example, it will allow for separate connections to a main TV screen and projector. And, you can still send different video content to another screen elsewhere.
You also have plenty of options for routing audio into zones 2 and 3.
If you need the flexibility of sending some – or all – channels to an external power amp, then you will have no problems with this model. There are a full set of 13.2 pre-outs.
As you would expect with a new unit, all your current 4K and HDR technologies are supported on every HDMI interface. HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG are present along with 4K UHD 60Hz video, 4:4:4 Pure Color sub-sampling and HDCP 2.2.
|Dolby Atmos||7.2.6 / 9.2.4|
|HDMI In / Out||7+1/3 (ARC)|
|Speaker Impedance (Ohms)||4-16|
|Network / Wireless||Ethernet / Wi-Fi / AirPlay 2 / Spotify Connect / Bluetooth / HEOS / Amazon Alexa / DLNA Certified|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||17-1/8 x 7-3/4 x 17-1/4 in | 434 x 195 x 482 mm (w/o antenna)|
In my opinion, one of the best benefits of a Denon receiver is the presence of Audyssey automatic room acoustic correction technology.
I have always found the Audyssey system does a great job at correcting and balancing the sound in your room. This unit comes with the top-end Audyssey MultEQ XT32 version.
Even if you're an audio geek, who loves playing around with microphones, audio software, EQ and the like (OK, you got me, I'm talking about myself here!) - the Audyssey software always does an excellent job in half the time – and with much less fuss.
Pretty much all network and wireless connection types that you would need are covered in this unit.
From Ethernet to wireless to Bluetooth. You can make use of Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect and voice-controlled technology like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Siri.
Denon's HEOS wireless multi-room technology is present as expected. HEOS allows for control of wireless speakers around your house. This can either be controlled via the HEOS app or Amazon Alexa.
For more advanced remote control capability this receiver allows IP control - for hardware like Control4 automation devices. Plus, it has an RS-232C serial port for connection to a range of alternative control systems. This receiver supports the major remote control brands like Crestron, AMX and Savant.
The 'Denon 2016 AVR Remote' app also allows full control of your Denon hardware from your mobile device. It works pretty well in my experience, but it could be time for an update with a slicker interface.
One thing to consider is that you will need some serious space to install this monster. It has a depth of 482mm and weighs in at just over 51 lbs. Not for the faint-hearted.
If you want a high-end Yamaha AV receiver, then look no further than the RX-A3080. Yamaha is one of my favorite receiver manufacturers who make excellent AV receivers at all price points.
This model is the highlight of the AVENTAGE range of receivers. These are designed by Yamaha's engineers for the highest levels of audio performance. It also has the cheapest list price for all the receivers on this page. Which, given its features, makes it a bargain.
The Yamaha RX-A3080 is a 9.2-channel receiver with full support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. As well as the standard surround sound layouts of 5.1 and 7.1, this unit can deliver Dolby Atmos with a speaker layout of 5.2.4 or 7.2.2.
In fact, this receiver also has processing which supports a 7.2.4 speaker layout. However, this requires an additional 2-channel power amplifier to drive the extra speakers.
DTS Neural:X and Dolby Surround modes are present if you want to upmix stereo, 5.1 or 7.1 soundtracks to your 5.2.4/7.2.2 speaker system.
This receiver has plenty of power if you need it. An impressive 150 watts per channel (8 ohms, 20 Hz - 20 kHz, 0.06% THD, 2ch driven), should be more than enough horse-power.
With a stylish aluminum panel to hide the front connections, this beast weighs in a nearly 40lbs. It's a seriously hefty unit. Mind your back when you take it out of the box!
There are 7 HDMI inputs and 3 outputs which should be plenty for most set-ups. All support the requirements for 4K/60p Ultra HD passthrough - HDCP 2.2, HDR10, Dolby Vision, Hybrid Log-Gamma and BT.2020.
The 3 HDMI outputs can either send the same video content to each location - or you can send two different sources.
As you would expect, there is a whole host of other input types. From component and composite video to optical and coaxial digital audio - plus much more besides.
One interesting feature is the addition of XLR balanced audio inputs. This allows for receiving signals from professional audio hardware - or any device with XLR audio outputs.
There is also another stereo pair of XLR audio outputs. These are pre-outs for the front left/right speakers that can be used for connecting a balanced signal into a power amplifier.
As you would expect for a high-end unit like this, there is a full set of pre-outs for every channel if you wish.
|Dolby Atmos||5.2.4 / 7.2.2 (Processing for 7.2.4)|
|HDMI In / Out||7/3 (ARC)|
|Speaker Impedance (Ohms)||4-8|
|Network / Wireless||Ethernet / Wi-Fi / Bluetooth / MusicCast Surround + Multi-Room / AirPlay / Spotify Connect / Amazon Alexa|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||17-1/8 x 7-1/2 x 18-5/8 in | 435 x 192 x 474 mm (w/o antenna)|
This unit has 384kHz/32-bit DACs for all the main 7 channels. This is in the shape of the top class ESS SABRE PRO Premier DAC™ ES9026PRO. All the components in this receiver are designed for top-quality sound reproduction.
If you want to get into wireless audio around your home, then you're in luck too. With support for Yamaha's MusicCast system, use the app to wirelessly stream music around your home. You can have MusicCast speakers in up to 9 rooms around the house.
You will also find support for MusicCast Surround. This might be the solution you are looking for if you really want wireless surround speakers.
It's not been an easy task to get wireless surrounds with a standard AV receiver - until now!
You will need to buy either the MusicCast 20 or MusicCast 50 wireless speakers. These can then be configured as your surround speakers in a 5.1 setup.
Another new innovation with this model is Yamaha's Surround:AI™ technology. This is an interesting new feature that will adapt the sound in your speakers depending on the scene that is on screen.
The aim to give you the best sound in your room, regardless of the type of audio. So, a scene with loud sound effects and music will be optimized differently to one with quiet dialogue and ambient sound.
All this happens in real-time.
If you are really looking for the best money can buy, you may be interested to know that there is another Yamaha model above this one in the line-up. However, it isn’t an integrated amplifier.
The Yamaha CX-A5200 is an 11.2 channel AV preamplifier. This means it has everything a normal AV receiver does, except an amplifier to power your speakers. You would connect all your devices here and use it to raise/lower the volume.
However, you would connect the 11.2-channel pre-outs on the rear to a power amplifier for driving your speakers.
Don’t go down this path unless you are prepared to buy a power amplifier for your speakers. The matching Yamaha power amplifier is the Yamaha MX-A5200.
Anthem is a Canadian company that has been making high-quality audio products for 20+ years. While well-known among people who immerse themselves in the world of audio technology, for the casual consumer, they are possibly less familiar.
Anthem doesn't have a long list of AV receivers to choose from. But, when they release one, you should always sit up and take notice. The MRX series has three models in the range. The one highlighted here, the MRX 1120, is at the top of the pile.
If you are looking for a single unit that can support a large 7.2.4 immersive audio speaker system, this ticks that box.
With full support for Dolby Atmos, Dolby Surround, DTS:X and DTS Neural:X – this unit will make full use of your complete speaker system.
The upmixing modes of Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X are particularly effective in extending standard 5.1 soundtracks into your height speakers.
That's not all. Anthem also provides their own AnthemLogic listening modes which also do a similar job. It's unusual for an AV receiver manufacturer to provide its own listening modes.
Try them all and see which you prefer.
There is plenty of power to be had here. You will have no problem driving your speakers nice and hard with this unit.
It is rated in a slightly different way to other receivers I've seen. Channels 1-5 are rated at 140 watts per channel (8 Ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.01% THD, 2 Channels Driven).
While the rest of the channels are rated at 60 watts per channel (8 Ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.01% THD, 2 Channels Driven).
It's all perfectly logical though. Your main 5 speakers are the ones that do most of the work. The extra surround and height speakers less so.
You might notice when looking at all the features on offer here, there are fewer 'bells and whistles' than you find on other brands.
I have no problem with that. It tells me that Anthem is more interested in getting the basics exactly right – more than trying to cram in every little new feature under the sun.
The sound quality of this machine is right up there with the best. A powerful and dynamic performer when it comes to movies. And, equally good at reproducing stereo music.
If you still run a separate stereo amplifier for listening to music, then you may not need it anymore if you buy this receiver.
You can be sure that you have full support for the latest 4K UHD video standards - 4K/60p video, HDCP 2.2, HDMI 2.0a and all the latest HDR technologies.
|Dolby Atmos||5.2.4 / 7.2.4|
|HDMI In / Out||7+1/2 (ARC)|
|Speaker Impedance (Ohms)||4 and higher|
|Network / Wireless||Ethernet / Wi-Fi / Spotify Connect / DTS Play-Fi|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||17-1/4 x 6-1/2 x 14-3/4 in | 439 x 165 x 375 mm|
There are 7 HDMI ports of the rear – plenty for most people. There is also another HDMI connection on the front, which is a nice touch which I like to see. You might not need it much – but it's can be really handy from time-to-time.
Another standout feature of the MRX 1120 is the automatic room correction.
Anthem has developed its own system called… (drum roll please) … Anthem Room Correction (ARC).
It must have taken them ages to come up with that name!
The good news is, this is up there with the best of them. The general opinion I've seen is that it is on a par with the highly respected Dirac Live system that Arcam use (among others).
You can't get much more of a recommendation than that.
It's like Dirac Live in that you need to install the software on your laptop and connect the supplied microphone to make the measurements.
In fact, each ARC-ready component comes with everything you need to get it all working. Software, microphone, tripod – even all the required cables. You just need to supply the laptop.
It does a fantastic job of measuring your room and balancing out the frequency response. It's a great way to get an immersive surround sound experience in your room.
If you are in the market for a new AV receiver, then you won’t go wrong by choosing any one of these fantastic models. There are times when it is practical, or necessary, to lower your budget and choose a device in a lower price bracket.
However, if you are fortunate to not have these considerations, then you may as well look at the best there is on the market.
These are some of the best high-end AV receivers in 2021. They are the flagship models from each manufacturer - Arcam, Yamaha, Anthem, Denon and Marantz.
There are other top brands available, but you’ve got to narrow down your choice somewhere down the line. We all have our favorites, and these are some of mine. Hopefully, you will find one here that fits exactly what you are looking for.
If you're still not sure, and want to look at some models in different price brackets, then check out my overview of the best AV receivers in 2021.
Take your time to consider what exactly you need in a new AV receiver, and you should find something here that ticks all the boxes.
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.