If you think you've seen a similar-looking Sony receiver recommended here before, that's because the STR-DN1080 replaces our previous top pick, the STR-DN1050. Once again, Sony's top offering carries the just-right combination of features and performance, balanced by a reasonable price and widespread availability.
Outwardly, the STR-DN1080 looks entirely familiar. The cabinet is slightly smaller than before, but not much has changed with the front panel. The volume and input selector knobs taking up the right side, joined by a row of slim buttons that underline the LCD. As always, it's an understated look that doesn't draw undue attention to itself, while giving off a quietly premium air. The rear panel is more of the same; all of the ports are laid out in a logical manner and labeled clearly. Out back, there are 6 HDMI inputs and a pair of HDMI outputs for multi-room flexibility. As expected in 2019, analog connectivity is at a bare minimum, with two composite video inputs (joined by a single composite video output) and 4 individually marked RCA audio inputs. Each of the speaker terminals is compatible with banana plugs, including the dedicated set for the zone 2 output terminals.
As with its predecessors, wireless connectivity is a particular strong suit. The STR-DN1080 can connect to your home network via Ethernet or Wi-Fi, depending on your setup and proximity to networking equipment. Both Apple AirPlay and Google Chromecast are natively supported, and the STR-DN1080 goes one step further by offering Google Home connectivity to wirelessly control any other Sony audio product in your setup. Beyond that, there's the tried-and-true Bluetooth connection for easy playback with smartphones and tablets.
We've always been impressed with how Sony receivers sound, and the STR-DN1080 continues that trend. One of the biggest new additions to the STR-DN1080 is Dolby Atmos support, adding separate height channels to the sound stage. The built-in automatic speaker calibration system can adjust to include height channels, and is capable of tailoring the sound stage to your particular setup by compensating for imperfect speaker placement. Overall, the STR-DN1080 provides reliable output with accurate sound, though we've seen feedback from more critical users regarding an overly "cool" or "impersonal" sound with treble-heavy speakers. We feel that the STR-DN1080 is more than suitable for home theater usage, and holds its own with music playback as well.
The STR-DN1080 is Sony's top A/V receiver offering (not counting the custom installation line), and represents the best combination of features and performance. It's equipped with plenty of digital connectivity for most homes, and the Google Chromecast/Home/Assistant compatibitily makes it a great choice to integrate within a smart home as well. Between its solid construction and Sony's reputation for reliability, the STR-DN1080 earns our recommendation as the best A/V receiver overall.
Where most A/V receivers do their best to be all things to all people, Yamaha takes a different approach when building their units. As you would expect from a company that was created to produce musical instruments, Yamaha's upscale A/V receivers tend to focus on sound quality and flexibility around equipment that audio enthusiasts prize.
A/V receivers tend to carry a similar look due to their required equipment and functionality, but the RX-V685 manages to stand out with an instantly identifiable design. The front face carries an almost two-tone appearance, with the glossy top section dominated by the display and function buttons. The bottom section houses the important controls, with a prominent volume knob and input control buttons. It takes a minute to decipher each button, but the advantage is that there are no shared functions between them - each button performs a designated task.
The RX-V685 veers from its competition when it comes to connectivity, though the array of ports is relatively similar. It strikes us as somewhat odd that Yamaha would only include 5 HDMI inputs on the RX-V685 when most of its rivals offer 6 to 8, but those 5 inputs should cover the needs of the vast majority of home theater systems regardless. A pair of HDMI outputs is offered (HDMI 1 supports ARC) for multiple display options. Surprisingly, the RX-V685 includes a single component video input in addition to the composite video input - a rarity in today's increasingly HDMI-centric world. A dedicated phono input makes this receiver a great choice for turntable enthusiasts, and other analog audio components can be connected via the 2 stereo RCA inputs. There's also plenty of flexibility with speaker outputs - the RX-V685 can drive 7 channels in its standard arrangement, and two of the four rear channels can be diverted for height speakers (think Dolby Atmos) or to drive speakers in a different room. Two subwoofer pre-outs are included, and the front channel enjoys its own set of pre-outs if your system includes separately powered stereo speakers.
One of the characteristics that define Yamaha products is their audio performance, and the RX-V685 does not disappoint. Not only does this receiver pack plenty of power, it's clear that Yamaha's expertise in delivering a truer, lifelike sound is baked into this unit by default. The RX-V685 is most likely to appeal to picky audiophiles who are limited by space or budget, but anyone can enjoy how this receiver performs when paired with a decent set of speakers. Yamaha's YPAO acoustic calibration is present, and receives a notable upgrade via its R.S.C. technology that can compensate for reflections in the room. The RX-V685 is well-suited for home theater use and stereo listening alike, and the front-channel pre-outs are a deliberate nod towards enthusiasts who prefer to use a dedicated amplifier for critical listening instead.
The one major downside to the RX-V685 is its price - at $550 at the time of writing, it's one of the most expensive A/V receivers we're recommending, and pricier than its direct rivals. Then again, the RX-V685 comes with several enthusiast-centric features that are otherwise not available in this price range. Between its top sound quality and unique options to connect specialty equipment, the Yamaha RX-V685 is worth the reach if your priorities place sound quality and performance over having the most inputs or general affordability.
Denon has been a reliable presence in the A/V receiver market for decades, and plenty of their receivers have been featured on our pages. The AVR-S750H is the latest revision of Denon's 'goldilocks' receiver - outstanding audio quality and plenty of features balanced out by a palatable price tag. For this year, Denon kept the basic formula carried over from previous models, and added a sprinkling of technology updates to keep up with ever-evolving digital standards.
The AVR-S750H looks very much like its direct predecessor, the AVR-S740H. Even when placed side by side, the two units share the same overall design - right down to identical button placements. The AVR-S750H remains one of the few A/V receivers to retain a convenient front-mounted HDMI port, and the emphasis on easy access continues with the redundant input select buttons if you would prefer not to use the selector knob instead. Even the rear panel remains unchanged - you'll find 5 more HDMI inputs and a single HDMI output. Look closely, however; you'll see that the HDMI ports are now compatible with HDCP 2.3, and the output now supports eARC. They're ultimately subtle differences, but go a long way towards future-proofing your equipment. Analog video connectivity has been pared down to a mere 2 composite video inputs and one composite video output - anything requiring component video plugs will need to go through a converter. One nice surprise is the inclusion of a phono input, which remains unchanged from the AVR-S740H. Overall connectivity is competitive for the class, and should fit the vast majority of home theater systems.
While the design may not have changed much, the AVR-S750H is thoroughly modern when it comes to smart home integration. Denon's own HEOS streaming software is built in, and there's plenty of support for HEOS-enabled devices. Beyond the in-house support, the receiver can link with Alexa or Google Assistant for hands-free operation. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are also present; the former has been updated to enable Bluetooth playback to a connected device (as opposed to receive-only) such as a headset. Apple AirPlay is supported as well, and works with multi-room setups.
The 2019 AVR-S750H sounds similar to the AVR-S740H, which is to say natural, lifelike, and not overly processed. The two rear channels can be reassigned to support a true Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 setup; if those speakers are used in a 7-channel setup instead, the AVR-S750H now supports Height Virtualization Technology to create a similar effect without requiring additional speakers. Rather than bring things in-house, Denon continues to utilize Audyssey's MultEQ calibration suite; this setup works especially well if you're unable to physically move some of your speakers, as it can compensate for response times to create a truer soundstage.
The AVR-S750H is - just like the models it replaces - a solid midrange A/V receiver with a well thought-out design and excellent performance. There's plenty of room for accommodating most home theater systems, and the intuitive controls and up-to-date compatibility make the AVR-S750H a great option for just about anyone. Better still, it's reasonably priced considering its capabilities, and Denon's immense retailer network means finding the AVR-S750H online or in stores is never a problem.
Building a home theater setup from scratch is always a pricey proposition, and the cost alone will turn newcomers away in favor of a sound bar. Sony offers an enticing solution to this issue with the STR-DH590, a solid 5.2-channel A/V receiver that focuses solely on quality and performance without tacking on price-bloating features.
The STR-DH590 looks much like the rest of Sony's A/V receiver lineup. The front panel is sleek and unobtrusive, relying on a simple display and a pair of large knobs to control the volume and input selection. Out back, there's a total of 4 HDMI inputs and a single HDMI output with full ARC support. There's no analog video connectivity here, so older video game consoles and DVD players will need to be hooked up directly to the TV instead. The front left and right channel speakers can be wired via banana plugs, but the center and rear surround channels are relegated to spring clips only - disappointing, but not entirely surprising given the budget-friendly price. On the other hand, the STR-DH590 is equipped with two subwoofer pre-outs, allowing the use of a pair of powered subwoofers without having to daisy-chain them instead. One feature Sony opted to include is Bluetooth audio, making it easier to pair a phone or tablet for music playback without messing with wires.
The main draw of the STR-DH590 lies with its performance. The STR-DH590 packs enough power to drive just about any speaker setup; even with just a pair of front channels, the Virtual Front Surround feature utilizes sound processing to create a surround-like sound stage. Despite being an entry-level model, Sony includes an auto calibration tool that can compensate for imperfect speaker placement and extract the most performance out of the whole setup. With a $250 price tag (often lower when on sale), the STR-DH590 leaves breathing space in your budget to build the rest of your system.