If you want to make a cinema out of your living room that you do not have to pay, you should pick up one of the best AV receivers.
Why? Because even with the best TV, if you're stuck with the bad speakers that are often built into TV's, you have to be content with a sub-par audio experience. Do yourself, and your favorite movies and games, a pleasure – buy an AV receiver instead.
If you are looking for the best AV receiver, it is crucial to determine how many and which ports you need. Trust us, nobody wants to continuously move 15 cables to use your PS4.
This is crucial because the best AV receivers are in fact the central base on which all your entertainment devices must connect and communicate. Even if you have a mass of devices, it means that the transition between devices will always be seamless – no matter what you try to play, watch or listen to, you'll always get a great entertainment experience.
If you have already jumped on the 4K bandwagon, you need to look for a receiver with a wealth of HDCP 2.2-compatible HDMI ports. And if you really want to become high-tech and want to invest in multi-room streaming, think about which wireless speaker system is right for you: Chromecast, Heos or even Yamaha MusicCast. Even if you do not immediately plan to use this technology, what is the damage to making your entertainment setup future-proof?
Dolby Atmos is the great app for many people. This 3D audio system has become the gold standard in immersive audio. It may be available on soundbars, but only an AV receiver offers true overhead Dolby Atmos audio. You only have to decide whether you want a system with seven or nine channels. (That said, you do not need Dolby Atmos at all, in which case a standard 5.1 sound system will fulfill your wishes for surround sound.)
So, if you're choosing a new AV receiver, you've come to the right place, so let's explore the best AV receivers you can buy today.
Best AV receivers under $ 699
A budget receiver with excellent functions and performance
Power (claimed): 9 x 100W per channel Dolby Atmos: Yes HDMI: 7-in, 2-out | AV inputs: 2 x composite; 2 x digital audio Weight: 27.6 lbs. (12.5 kg)
Numerous entrances and exits
Good wireless support
Easy to use
Requires more streaming support
Gone are the days when buying a surround sound supporting receiver with multiple HDMI ports meant spending an arm and a leg. Nowadays you can get a great receiver with support for a surround-sound installation of less than $ 500 / £ 600. For example, the Onkyo TX-NR676.
It is not the only receiver in its price range with a large number of functions or a plethora of entries, but there are some extensive packages that are just as easy to assemble, set up and use as Onkyo & # 39; s.
In terms of expected sound performance Onkyo has long offered great sound quality, and this receiver is no different. The receiver supports DTS: X and Dolby Atmos, which gives the sound a much more immersive atmosphere.
We discovered that the receiver generally sounded great at all volumes. At low volumes there was still much clarity and detail, while higher volumes produced little distortion, which was nice to hear. Extremely tuned ears may miss one little detail in the high-end on louder volumes, although the receiver is still well above its price range when it comes to sound quality.
If you are looking for a great A / V receiver and have a maximum budget of $ 400 / £ 600, the Onkyo TX-NR676 is the best choice.
Read the full review: Onkyo TX-NR676
An innovative, affordable Dolby Atmos AV receiver with lots of cool tricks
Power (claimed): 7 x 165W in 6 ohms Dolby Atmos: Yes (5.1.2) HDMI: 6-in, 2-out | AV inputs: 3 x composite; 2 x digital audio Dimensions: 430 (b) x 156 (h) x 331 (d) mm Weight: 9.7kg
Dynamic movie performance
Virtual surround speaker technology
Frustrating user interface
Tough cosmetic design
It may be too late for the party, but the debut Dolby Atmos AV receiver from Sony offers a cool functionality. Although it is apparently a seven-channel design (meaning it can be performed in a 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos configuration), there are also two phantom rears that create a seven-channel pseudo-surround soundstage. The receiver can even physically move the physical position of your speakers to create a better sonic balance.
The build quality is proportional to the price tag. This is not a heavyweight and the fascia seems too choosy, but the hairline finish is a premium touch. Connectivity is good. We get six HDMI inputs, all with HDCP 2.2 enabled. There are also two HDMI outputs for combi TV and projector use. There are also two analog AV inputs, plus a pair of stereo phonos and two digital audio inputs.
The AVR connects via Ethernet or Wi-Fi and Bluetooth with NFC for fast pairing, plus Airplay. The AVR also has built-in Chromecast. That is already the most important wireless boxes checked.
The set-up is aided by the latest version of Sony's Auto Calibration software, which now features a 31-band graphic EQ and a stereo calibration microphone that adjusts phase, distance and level.
Usability is average. The receiver relies heavily on his UI, which is nice, but sometimes a little frustrating.
The performance is excellent for the price. The STR-DN1080 may not be particularly warm, but it is exciting. Films benefit from seamless panning and pronounced dynamics. Output power is noted at 7 x 165W in 6 ohms. The biggest surprise is the effectiveness of the ghost rows, which really help to fill in the back edge. This sonic deception places the STR-DN1080 somewhere above a standard 5.1.2 design, but under a real nine-channel amplifier.
In general, this is an innovative, exciting AV Dolby Atmos receiver. Think of it as a great home cinema offer.
This sleek Dolby Atmos receiver can hit loud and loud when needed
Power (claimed): 7 x 50W in 8 ohms Dolby Atmos: Yes (5.1.2) HDMI: 7-in-1 out AV inputs: 6 x digital audio (2 x optical and 4 x coaxial) three stereo phono inputs, 3.5 mm stereo mini-plug, six stereo phono inputs | Dimensions: 440 (b) x 376 (d) x 105 (h) mm Weight: 8.3kg
Easy to place on size
Generous list of functions
No volume sample
Single HDMI output
The latest update to the popular slimline NR line, Marantz & # 39; s Dolby Atmos-compatible NR1607, bundles a whole range of functions into a low profile frame.
Choose from a 5.1.2 Atmos configuration or 7.1 flatbed surround. Wireless connectivity comes via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or AirPlay.
All seven HDMI inputs on the rear support 4K with HDCP 2.2. However, there is only one HDMI output. This is accompanied by two digital audio inputs (one coaxial, one digital) plus three AV analog inputs. On the front panel there is another HDMI input and USB with iOS Digital Direct.
Automatic room correction is provided by Audyssey via a supplied microphone. It does a reasonable job by the receiver to the listening room EQen.
The 50W p / c power may be modest, but this little box can hit loud and loud when it's needed. The subtle, immersive 3D audio from Atmos is also well-processed here; audio panning around and above the head is very fascinating.
The receiver is more than self-confident with two-channel sources, although it lacks the sparkle of some of the more expensive rivals. Although the capacity is sufficiently good for smaller rooms, larger theater spaces can be a challenge. Tilt past 80 on the volume meter and the middle range dries out.
In general, the NR1607 can be considered as a powerful slim Dolby Atmos receiver. HDMI connectivity is leading in the classroom and our only grumble is the solitary output, which could limit options if you want to use both a screen and a projector.
Best AV receivers under $ 1,000
Yamaha RX-A860 AV receiver
Smooth and very powerful – and it is also MusicCast compatible
Power (claimed): 7 x 100W at 8 ohms Dolby Atmos: Yes (5.1.2) HDMI: 8-in-2 out AV inputs: 3 x composite; 2 x digital audio Dimensions: 435 (b) x 171 (h) x 382 (d) mm Weight: 10.5 kg
Great all-rounder with movies and music
Works with MusicCast wireless speakers
Only three HDMI supports 4K with HDCP 2.2
User interface is everywhere
Yamaha's RX-A860 is nothing if not versatile. It is a seven-channel design and supports Dolby Atmos in a 5.1.2 format and classic 7.1, as well as 5.1 with front presence speakers powered by Yamaha's own Cinema DSP processing. Virtual speaker creation is available to help fill the back channel if your speaker layout is 5.1.2, although this is not as effective as the Sony STR-DN1080 offer. There is also a weird Virtual Cinema Front mode, where rear speakers are placed in the front of the listening room, but we do not recommend this.
The cosmetic design, with its partly mirrored façade, is modernistic, while a fascia flap hides front-facing HDMI, USB and analog AV inputs. At the rear there are seven HDMI inputs, plus two outputs, but only three support 4K HDCP 2.2 sources, which is a bit average given the price.
Connectivity includes Ethernet and Wi-Fi, plus Bluetooth and Airplay. Like many Yamaha AV components, the receiver MusicCast is switched on. This means that it can be used in Yamaha's own wireless ecosystem, which also includes small wireless speakers for sound bars and music systems.
Yamaha YPAO room calibration is provided for installation using the supplied microphone. It works perfectly. However, the user interface is a bit uncoordinated, with windows that pop up here and there.
Sonically, this receiver is smooth and powerful. Attractive TV program & # 39; s and blockbuster movies both benefit from an easy fast delivery. Even when driving hard, there is no sense of need. The RX-A860 remains cool. The recipient is also sweet with music.
Yamaha has always been a proponent of new DSP sound fields, and here we get an assortment of post-processing flavors. Movies can be viewed with the Spectacle, Sci-Fi, Adventure, Music Video or Video Game envelopes. Music has even more. Try them if you are bored.
In general, the RX-A860 is a careful thumb up. In terms of performance there is a lot to be found, but the limited availability of 4K-compatible HDMI inputs can hamper system upgrades.
- This product is only available in the US and the UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: view a good alternative in the Denon HEOS AVR
Denon HEOS AVR
This multiroom receiver is a clear, lively listening sound
Power (claimed): 5 x 50W in 8 ohms Dolby Atmos: No HDMI: 4-in-1-out | AV inputs: 2 x digital audio (1 x optical and 1 x coaxial), 3.5 mm stereo mini connection, stereo phono Dimensions: 434 (b) x 90 (h) x 277 (d) mm Weight: 6kg
Compatible with wireless HEOS multiroom speakers
Not compatible with Dolby Atmos
Nice for movies, music not so much
It does not happen often that we see something completely different in the world of AV receivers, but this HEOS model certainly qualifies. To begin with, it looks fundamentally different from the herd. There is no display on the front panel. The connectivity of the back has also been reduced. With a length of only 90 mm, it is refreshingly compact.
The build quality is excellent. Only a volume button on the extruded aluminum dashboard gives away the AVR game.
There are four HDMI inputs and a single output, all with support for HDCP 2.2. There are only two digital audio inputs (coaxial and optical), plus analog stereo, 3.5 mm mini jack, lone USB and Ethernet LAN. Wireless connectivity includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
Perhaps surprisingly, this is a 5.1-channel design and does not support Dolby Atmos. The core of the receiver's attraction is the wireless speaker integration from HEOS. Although there are provisions for wired rear speakers, the system is designed to work with wireless HEOS series. In most systems, only the L / C / R is attached at the front. It can also work with a special wireless HEOS subwoofer.
While a remote control is included, it is a standard zapper. There is also no screen display. Set up and operate via a HEOS app.
For our audition we worked with the AVR with a pair of HEOS 1 & # 39; s on the back and the wireless HEOS subwoofer. With grouped speakers, the package becomes a working 5.1 system. No further calibration is required.
The HEOS AVR may not be a powerhouse, but it is a bright, lively listening experience. The receiver delivers multichannel movie soundtracks with pleasure. It's crisp and exciting, especially when there's enough going on around the soundscape (try it with Edge or Tomorrow Blu-ray, and then bend while the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack solves chaos in every corner).
However, this is not a particularly musical AVR. Pop and rock are fun enough, but throw a little something classic or jazzy and the spatial delineation becomes a bit mushy.
The use of wireless rears can cause some problems. Although latency is not a problem, we were aware of occasional low-level pops and fizzes.
As an ambitious adaptation of the classic home cinema receiver, we assess this first HEOS AVR as a qualified success. The cosmetics are admirable and for wireless HEOS multiroom users, wireless interactivity is a blessing. The use of an app for monitoring seems perfectly logical, the only problem is if your streaming audio sources are also managed via an app and have to be juggled outside the HEOS app. This may not be the future of AV receivers, but it is a refreshing reconsideration anyway.
- This product is only available in the US and the UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: view a good alternative in the Marantz NR1607
- Looking for a great movie to put your sound system to the test? View our list with the best sci-fi movies.
Best AV recivers of more than $ 1,000
Excellent performance in every respect
Power (claimed): 9 x 200W in 6 Ohms Dolby Atmos: Yes (7.1.2) | HDMI: 8-in 3-out | AV inputs: 4 x composite; 4 x digital audio (2 x optical and 2 x coaxial) Dimensions: 434 (b) x 389 (d) x 167 (h) mm Weight: 13.5kg
Powerhouse movie performance
Nine channels for reinforcement
Overkill if you do not work with kick-ass speakers
If you want an uncompromising Atmos experience, an upgrade to a nine-channel AV receiver is worthwhile. With this big Denon you can choose 5.1.4 or 7.1.2 – and that makes a big difference for the overall performance. There is actually processing for eleven channels if you want to add extra gain.
But there is more than just enveloping sound for this beast. The H suffix indicates that it is also compatible with HEOS multiroom. It can play or route content from and to other components connected to HEOS. Turn a CD on your Blu-ray deck and you can let Party Zone play the music through both your cinema system and all connected HEOS speakers.
The build quality is great. The receiver has a copper-plated chassis with monoblock construction. There are seven HDMI inputs behind, plus one at the front. All support 4K HDCP 2.2 sources. There are also three HDMI outputs.
There is also a bunch of other inputs, including four digital audio inputs (split between digital optical and coaxial), six analog stereo pairs, and phono (MM) turntable support. You can also stream via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
The power is enormous, at 9 x 200w in 6 Ohm. This does not mean that you have to go super sound, more that it can effortlessly gouge without tension or distortion.
The user interface is smooth, with high-resolution images that guide you through the set-up routine. Automatic calibration takes place via Audyssey.
The performance of the Denon is excellent in every respect. It does a great job with multichannel Dolby Atmos soundtracks, both explosive and atmospheric, and is not a faint when it comes to music. Under the hood are SHARC DSP processors of the fourth gene. Spatial imagery and transient attack is excellent.
In general, we judge this leading Denon as a superstar of home theaters. It is heavy and very powerful. But there is dexterity behind the main role. In short, it is a fantastic home theater artist.
- This product is only available in the USA at the time of writing. British and Australian readers: view a good alternative in the Denon HEOS AVR
Arcam FMJ AV850
Arcam's best sounding AV receiver so far, but it has an economical specification
Power (claimed): 7 x 100W at 8 ohms Dolby Atmos: Yes (5.1.2) HDMI: 7-in 3-out | AV inputs: 6 x digital audio (2 x optical and 4 x coaxial) three stereo phono inputs, 3.5 mm stereo mini-plug, six stereo phono inputs | Dimensions: 433 (b) x 425 (d) x 171 (h) mm Weight: 16.7kg
Sublime musical performance
Class leading automatic calibration system
Only seven channels for amplification
Outdated user interface
Although the Arcam AVR850 will probably not win Best Value awards – it is unabashedly expensive for a 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos design – its overarching musicality is hard to beat. This is the best sounding AV receiver from the UK audio specialist so far.
The AVR850 uses Class G power amplifiers, conservatively rated at 100W per channel.
The design is understated, with a nice matte cabinet finish and a large central volume button. It gives a scale of 16 kg to the scale.
Connectivity is good. There are seven HDMI inputs, all with support for HDCP 2.2, plus three HDMI outputs. Audio options include six analog inputs and six digital audio inputs.
The really important difference here, compared to previous Arcam home theater boxes, is delivering Dirac Live room calibration.
Without doubt the most advanced automatic calibration technology available, it does a great job to match the receiver to the listening room. Dirac tuning is not performed by the receiver with a microphone, but via a laptop. Sounds complicated? Do not worry. Buyers get the room calibrated by the dealer that delivers the receiver.
Dirac is the height of sophistication, but the user interface is pretty simple, just an empty text box. Arcam does not even try to impress here.
Yet the receiver sounds sensational, with precise imaging that gets the best out of Dolby Atmos coding. It is sleek and powerful with action scenes and wonderfully melodic with two-channel music. The job count may seem sober for the price, but when it comes to performance, your investment in kicking is refunded.
The Arcam AV850 may be expensive for a seven-channel amplifier, but tuned with Dirac is clearly a premium performer. We are willing to forgive all weaknesses.