Best AV Receiver

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AV receivers (alternately, A/V receivers) act as an electronic gateway or organizer for your home entertainment system, and consolidate the function of multiple devices into a single box. Modern AV receivers offer several HDMI inputs and an ARC-capable output, with higher-end units featuring advanced video processing as well. Better AV receivers offer superior sound quality, which can immerse viewers in the "atmosphere" that movie directors intended. The best AV receivers below offer excellent options for expanding your home audio or theater system, and we’ve also provided an AV Receiver buyer's guide below for your review.

Best AV Receiver Overall:

With multiple HDMI inputs and support for all the latest HD audio codecs including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, these mid-range receivers are ideal for watching Blu-ray movies and any other HD material. All of our selections are more than capable of delivering performance that will satisfy the needs of all but the most demanding buyers. Our picks also need to be easy to set up and use, while offering a good balance of features such as internet-based content streaming and overall value for money.

Sony STR-DN1080 7.2 Channel Surround Sound AV Receiver

We've selected Sony A/V receivers as our best overall pick for several years straight, and the STR-DN1080 carries the flag yet again. The right combination of performance, features, connectivity, and pricing means the STR-DN1080 earns our recommendation as the best A/V receiver overall. Read Full Review

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    Sony STR-DN1080 7.2 Channel Surround Sound AV Receiver

    Yamaha RX-V685 7.2-Channel AV Receiver

    The Yamaha RX-V685 is an outstanding performer that emphasizes sound quality and enthusiast-level flexibility. It's more expensive than our other recommendations, but comes with unique features that can't otherwise be found in this price range. Read Full Review

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      Yamaha RX-V685 7.2-Channel AV Receiver

      Denon AVR-S750H 7.2 Channel AV Receiver

      The AVR-S750H primarily consists of minor updates to its predecessor, making it a good way to future-proof your outfit. Beyond the updates, Denon's hardware has been proven both in terms of quality and reliability. Between its wired and wireless flexibility, superb sound quality, user-friendly setup, and reasonable price, the AVR-S750H is a great way to add a reliable A/V receiver to your system that will serve you well for years. Read Full Review

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        Denon AVR-S750H 7.2 Channel AV Receiver

        Best Budget AV Receiver:

        If you've ever considered adding an AV receiver to your home theater setup, you've seen first-hand that prices for these devices can inflate in a hurry. Whether you're a first time home theater enthusiast looking to expand or are simply constrained by space or budget, an entry-level AV receiver may be the best fit. These budget-friendly AV receivers are typically 5.1- or 5.2-channel units with emphasis on everyday performance over features. You won't see network connectivity or multi-room operation here, but the trade-off is robust, reliable performance that won't break the bank.

        Sony STRDH590 5.2 Channel AV Receiver

        Sony's entry-level STR-DH590 receiver is an easy recommendation for the best budget A/V receiver. Whereas most A/V receivers carry hefty price tags and tend to intimidate newcomers with frustrating complexity, the STR-DH590 bucks the trend by offering refreshing simplicity, great sound quality, and a highly affordable price tag. Read Full Review

        Sony STRDH590 5.2 Channel AV Receiver
         

        AV Receiver Buyer's Guide

        Despite major improvements in sound bars and other simple home audio solutions, an AV receiver and a good set of speakers are needed for true high-quality surround sound. An AV receiver combines an HDMI switch and an amplifier into one device, allowing you to connect a variety of components. It serves as the central hub of the home theater system, performing all the audio and video switching, as well as providing power to your speakers.

        With so many features and technologies now included on AV receivers, it can be difficult to sort out what’s best for you. By breaking down your needs step-by-step, it becomes much simpler to narrow down your choices to a select few.

        First, be honest with yourself about the intended use for your AV receiver within your home theater setup. While it's definitely a great experience to crank the volume and make your speakers shake the room, it's not always practical to do so. Take note of the space where you intend to place your home theater system. If you have a smaller area to work with, you might not need to spend as much on an extra powerful unit.

        You’ll also want to make a list of your devices, writing down the amount of AV connections they require - including potential devices that you may add on in the future. Most of today's AV receivers are heavily biased towards HDMI connectivity; conversely, analog connectivity is getting increasingly sparse.

        AV receivers are often pricey propositions, so you'll want to plan accordingly. When planning your budget, be sure to include the costs for speakers - after all, they're not cheap, either. Any receiver you consider should be able to easily accommodate all of your devices, speakers, and subwoofers that you want to connect.

        Finally, consider the features you want. Most features are marketing hype, but some options might actually be beneficial for your setup. If your speaker setup supports it, a receiver that offers Dolby Atmos or DTS:X compatibility can really open up the sound stage. Likewise, some receivers are compatible with Apple AirPlay or Google Chromecast, which make them immensely useful for multi-tasking.

        AV Receiver Types

        High End
        Ultimately, the differences between most AV receivers come down to price. However, high end receivers tend to put more focus on quality and overall performance – sound quality and clarity. AV receivers are essentially all-in-one amplifiers at the end of the day, and the high-end ones are equipped with more powerful amplifiers, better noise isolation, and more attention to detail in order to preserve audio fidelity.

        Midrange
        Midrange AV receivers are the most common type you're likely to encounter, whether you're shopping online or at a local store. These AV receivers tend to offer an appealing combination of performance, connectivity, and value for the money. This means solid sound quality and flexibility with inputs; more recently, manufacturers have been including Wi-Fi connectivity and compatibility with various wireless streaming standards such as Apple AirPlay, Google Chromecast, and even the "Works with Sonos" label in some cases.

        Budget
        Budget AV receivers are the most affordable way to enter the world of home theater audio. Many of these units are an exercise in function over frills, but the trade-off is a simpler interface that is more welcoming for newer users. Notably absent are features such as network connectivity and multiple sound processing programs. A budget receiver tends to offer fewer inputs and amplified channels compared to pricier options, but all of the basic functionality remains.

        5.1 Recievers
        5.1 receivers are the most affordable AV receivers on sale today - see Budget, above. These units can power a front left, front right, center, surround left, and surround right speaker, and feature a subwoofer pre-out (or two, in some cases, making them a 5.2-channel model) that can be used to add a powered subwoofer for extra bass.

        Features

        Connectivity
        HDMI connectivity is your primary consideration, but also take into account any non-HDMI devices you have. This allows you to determine what types of inputs and connections as well as how many you’ll need. Connections such as digital audio (coaxial and optical digital audio inputs for audio-only components) or a phono preamp for turntables might be necessary to create your ideal system.

        HDMI
        Since most of your home theater components will use HDMI, the amount of connections you’ll need depends on how many devices are going to be hooked up. It’s best to pick an AV receiver with at least one or two more inputs than actually needed. Since AV receivers are typically an investment which last for several years, this allows you to cover your immediate needs while leaving room for future expansion.

        Wireless
        Many of today's AV receivers have wireless connectivity for WiFi, Bluetooth, and AirPlay built in. These features may be worth the additional cost if you have devices that would make this capability especially convenient to have. Depending on the device, wireless connectivity will allow you to do things like stream music apps from your phone or tablet.

        Sound Quality
        Between brand-name offerings, you won't find a bad-sounding receiver on the market today. As such, sound quality is a relatively minor aspect to worry about when looking for a new AV receiver. Although some people prefer the sound characteristics of one brand over another, chances are the audible differences from model to model are too subtle for most individuals to notice. AV receivers from established brands such as Yamaha, Onkyo, Denon, Pioneer, and Sony will all have excellent sound quality.

        Additional Features

        Audio Channels
        Unless you have a full 7-speaker surround setup, going for 7.1 or even 9.2 channels typically isn’t worth the added expense over 5.1. Of course, there's always the exception of specialized setups. Many 7.1-channel receivers can redirect two channels to create dedicated "height" channels in order to fully support Dolby Atmos or DTS:X audio. Another benefit of 7.1 receivers is the ability to set up second-zone audio, which means using the two extra channels to power a second set of speakers.

        Automatic Speaker Calibration
        Automatic Speaker Calibration requires users to place a special microphone throughout the planned home theater soundstage, which then picks up individual frequencies emitted by each speaker. Afterwards, the AV receiver will do its best to determine the ideal calibration setup with the gathered information.

        Receiver Wattage
        Since power ratings aren’t standardized, the wattage of the AV receiver isn’t that important for typical home theaters. The general rule is you need less wattage for a smaller space and more for a larger one. Fortunately, most popular AV receivers are perfectly adequate for an average-sized home theater.

        Leave a Question or Comment
        19 comments
        • hkumar hkumar

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        Posted on 5/6/2013 5:38 am | Reply
        • hkumar hkumar

        great products like Audio video receiver, as well as very high configuration. I want to use these, for my personal use.

        Posted on 5/6/2013 5:32 am | Reply
        • DADEO DADEO

        Could you comment on the Onkyo HDMI problems. Do you think they have been fixed and would you still recommend Onkyo? I am very hesitant to pull the trigger on the purchase of the Onkyo I am considering. (TXNR 616)

        Posted on 4/8/2013 8:37 am | Reply
        • MoveMore MoveMore

        Hi thanks for the detailed reviews I am trying to decide between the Onkyo TX-NR609 Receiver and Denon AVR-1912 Receiver and am wondering 2 things does owning the Apple TV solve the Airplay to Iphone/Ipad problem for the Onkyo model? also I am wondering how recent your review is and if there are updated versions for 2012 for the Denon and Onkyo.Thanks for your time

        Posted on 4/15/2012 10:44 am | Reply

        Both the Onkyo TX-NR609 and Denon AVR-1912 are excellent AV receivers. The Onkyo features THX certification, and the Denon has built-in AirPlay. If you already have an Apple TV, there's no need to consider an AV receiver for built-in AirPlay. The Apple TV can take care of that function just as well, since it's equipped with its own WiFi connection.The 2012 models have started hitting the shelves, so the leftover 2011 models are now being sold with heavy discounts. If you want to save yourself some cash, go ahead and pick up either the Onkyo or the Denon. If you're set on buying a 2012 model, stay tuned - we'll have reviews of those up soon.

        Posted on 4/18/2012 12:36 pm. In reply to MoveMore | Reply
        • ashleyinsandiego ashleyinsandiego

        Our 2002 RCA AV Receiver may have died. or maybe reparable... not audiophiles just need decent sound for our cable tv and dvd player. Worth getting fixed or time to buy a new one?

        Posted on 6/27/2011 7:28 pm | Reply
        • lvcajun lvcajun

        I'm trying to decide on an AV receiver. I was wondering where you would place the Yamaha RX-A700 in your list of top 5 receivers.

        Posted on 4/19/2011 10:13 pm | Reply
        • sforwand sforwand

        I'm looking for an entry or mid-leverl receiver for home theater and for classical music. What'sd the best choice for a unit that has a phono input?

        Posted on 3/25/2011 9:19 am | Reply
        • bmz bmz

        The simple answer is yes; I've used Onkyo receivers with my high speakers for decades.

        Posted on 1/18/2011 7:54 am | Reply
        • jessjosh jessjosh

        I have high end equipment such as B&W 802 speakers, T + A preamp/processor, Oppo blue ray player 83 (soon to purchase Oppo 95), etc. Dealers have always told me to not buy a receiver for my high end stuff. Isn't there an AV receiver (cost does not bother me) that is suitable for my equipment. As a senior, I am getting tired of having so many components and if I can buy a great AV receiver to take their place, I will do so. Thank you.

        Posted on 12/21/2010 6:06 am | Reply
        • bluextatic bluextatic

        NAD - T-785 HD - Home Theater Receiver is one Receiver that is sure to do the job. Onkyo TX-NR 5008 is another, Denon AVR 5308 is another....shall I go on?

        Posted on 8/4/2011 10:44 pm. In reply to jessjosh | Reply

        do you rate sony recievers like the strdh810

        Posted on 7/22/2010 1:47 pm | Reply
        • bluextatic bluextatic

        Sony is ok for a small system in my opinion, but there are much better choices out there, depending on what you want to do.

        Posted on 8/4/2011 10:36 pm. In reply to Anonymous | Reply

        Excuse my simple question but can one use a 5.1 or 7.1 receiver with less than the number of speakers ? (for example, 3 speakers with either system)Thanx in advance...

        Posted on 7/1/2010 4:02 pm | Reply
        • bluextatic bluextatic

        You may use as few or many as you want or need to up to 5 speakers + sub on the 5.1 and up to 7 speakers plus sub on 7.1. Alot of people use their AV receiver for listening to stereo music. The beauty of using a surround sound receiver is that you can use a sub too, and you can play around with all of your different sound fields.

        Posted on 8/4/2011 10:33 pm. In reply to Anonymous | Reply

        Are you aware of continuing issues with Pioneer receivers of not recording stero sound and the remote control periodically not working? I have had two Pioner Receivers including the VSX abd the new SC-25 and both still have these issues. when you contact Pioneer they say they are working on fixes. They have been working on these fixes for over four months and still counting.

        Posted on 3/24/2010 11:05 am | Reply

        Just discovered this website; I will be back. The 9/1/2008 comment missed the point. No reviewers can satisfy everyone. Its unlikely every receiver, regardless of price has been reviewed in any given year. Some judgment calls have to be made. Receivers span an enormous price range. So best overall has to have some criterion. As an audiophile for 25 years with speaker cables that, in todays prices, likely would cost what the AVR-3808CI list for, my limited knowledge would agree. This is a superb piece of audio equipment. Providing readers with an alternate less expensive product with reasonable sound quality should be appreciated, not denigrated. Not everyone is prepared to spend $1,135to $1,800. After months of research and going for hands on at stores, Ive purchased a Samsung LN 52a650 HD TV. Thats two out of two Best of I agree with. This TVs video can only be described as wow. Its mentioned here because the point of both high end audio and high end video is how well they involve you in the experience of sound (likely music) and sight (likely movies).

        Posted on 1/7/2009 12:40 am | Reply
        • Mike Davey Mike Davey

        Because you are comparing a $1800 Denon to a $800 Onkyo!!! COME ON!!!!!!!!! Lets compare apples to apples. This is the first and only time I will consult your web site. It is bogus! You have lost all credibility with me! Mike

        Posted on 9/1/2008 2:45 am | Reply

        This is why they included this text before ...Best AV Receiver OverallBy JeffOur picks for best AV receiver overall aren't the absolute best money can buy, but these high-end and upper midrange models deliver excellent audio and video quality and cutting-edge features. With multiple HDMI inputs, 1080p upconversion, and support for all the latest HD audio soundtracks including Dolby HD and DTS-HD Master Audio, these 7.1 receivers are ideal for watching Blu-ray movies and other HD material. Here are the best AV receivers overall factoring in performance, features, ease of use, and value.

        Posted on 4/8/2009 3:48 am. In reply to Mike Davey | Reply