For every impressive home theater system, there’s a workhorse receiver at the helm. The best receivers will brilliantly reimagine your A/V equipment, delivering mighty sound to your speakers and breathtaking visuals to your TV.
If you’re interested in gaming, watching videos, or listening to music, you probably already have some concept of what an A/V receiver is. Although we consider the Marantz SR8015 the best all-around receiver on the market, there are many contenders depending on your goal. With a lifetime of experience in the electronics community reviewing TVs, amplifiers, A/V receivers, and more, we’ve put together a current list of the best A/V receivers you can find. You may also want to stop by our guide on how to read A/V receiver specs.
The best well-rounded A/V receiver
- Excellent features for music as well as movies
- Supports up to 11.2 surround sound
- May be too much for those looking for something simpler
Why you should buy this: It's got plenty for home cinema, but its audio capabilities are just as compelling a reason to go with it.
Who it's for: Those who want to make sure music sounds as good as any movie or show does.
Why we picked the Marantz SR8015:
This is a pricey option, but Marantz made sure to improve upon past A/V receivers by covering otherwise empty bases from prior models. The SR8015 is equipped with an array of A/V technologies to make it fit in any home theater environment. Starting with all things audio, it's got Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, DTS:X Pro, IMAX Enhanced, Auro 3D, plus the ability to connect a turntable for some vinyl playback or to stream from the likes of Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, AirPlay 2, among others. You also get access to Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri, plus the ability to do multiroom setups through HEOS.
It's compatible with hi-res audio files and lossless formats that go up to 24-bit/192 kHz, and you can stream them to the receiver from a USB or network storage drive. The 11.2 channel system can run in 7.2.4 or 9.2.2 configurations when using all the channels. You can also keep some free-to-play music in different zones, where you get up to two extra. There are 140 watts of output per channel, so Marantz built the SR8015 to handle just about any speaker arrangement you have in mind. The Audyssey MultEQ XT32 support only helps the cause further with its room-correction technology to compensate for acoustics inside.
On the video front, the SR8015 is no less capable. It brings in 8K video at 60Hz (including upscaling) to go with 4K/120Hz, HDR (HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, Dynamic HDR, Dolby Vision), and HDMI-eARC that lets you pass full resolution surround sound from your TV through to the receiver. There are 8 HDMI inputs, plus 3 outputs, including useful add-ons like a Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) to accommodate gamers who need them.
There's a lot to work with here because Marantz left little to chance, and that bodes well for how long this receiver may last in the years to come.
The best budget A/V receiver
- Affordable without giving up important features
- Pure Direct audio enhancement mode
- Limited number of HDMI ports
Why you should buy this: It fits easily within most people's budgets, yet the Sony STR-DH590 still provides nearly every feature found on much more expensive receivers.
Who it's for: Those who want a full-fledged home theater system without spending thousands.
Why we picked the Sony STR-DH590:
When it comes to A/V receivers, reducing your budget invariably means reducing the number of features. The key is to preserve as many of the features that most people value. The Sony STR-DH590 manages to do this in a stellar fashion by supporting all of the latest audio and video formats, including 4K and HDR (HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision). It also comes with its own acoustic calibration circuitry, which takes the guesswork out of setting up your speakers to the right levels.
For utmost audio fidelity, the DH590 is equipped with Sony's Pure Direct mode for the cleanest sound the receiver has to offer. It does so by disabling the 590's front display panel, eliminating unnecessary component noise from escaping into the mix of whatever content you're consuming. Keep in mind that engaging Pure Direct also bypasses several of the receiver's internal equalizers. It's a great feature for listening to music through analog sources, but if you're a fan of big cinema sound, it's probably something we'd leave alone when watching a movie.
Although the DH590 has Bluetooth for direct music streaming from a compatible smartphone or tablet, the receiver isn't internet-connected, so you won't be able to stream music without a Bluetooth device. That being said, Sony's high-res audio support kicks in when you're beaming tunes to the receiver, which adds a little more belly and top-end to your sound.
In terms of main source connections, the Sony STR-DH590 only has four HDMI inputs. While you won't be powering any rock concerts, it's more than enough receiver for a very satisfying home theater experience.
The best all-rounder for digital and vinyl heads
- Excellent array of up-to-date features
- Phono input
- Only supports up to 7.2 surround sound
Why you should buy this: It has a dizzying array of modern features like Dolby Atmos, 4K, HDR, and streaming services, plus a rare phono input for turntable types.
Who it's for: Those who want the latest and greatest A/V receiver features, plus an easy way to kick it old-school with vinyl for when the mood strikes you.
Why we picked the Denon AVR-X1700H:
There is no lack of capable models to choose from when it comes to midrange A/V receivers. But when you start to ask which of those models can support a turntable without the use of a pre-amp? Well, it's a much shorter list. Chief among them is the Denon AVR-X1700H, a modern 7.2 home theater receiver that also packs a phono input, which simplifies your setup considerably.
Don't let its vinyl-friendly jacks fool you: This receiver is blistering with high-tech features including support for three 4K/120 HDMI 2.1 inputs, Dolby Atmos and Atmos Heigh Virtualization, DTS Virtual:X, and upscaling up to 8K resolution. It also includes compatibility with HEOS connections, AirPlay 2, Alexa voice commands, Bluetooth, and onboard Wi-Fi.
The Denon AVR-X1700H also offers multi-room audio for more complicated setups, supports both ARC and eARC for simplified connections, and offers digital audio and composite video ports, as well as two line-level subwoofer outputs for adding extra rumble. At 80 watts per channel, the audio is quite powerful, and room calibration is top-notch, too. This is an excellent pick if you want phono support without giving anything up, are looking for a more affordable upgrade to HDMI 2.1, or want the latest format support for your media.
Yamaha Aventage RX-A2A
Best receiver for format support
- Excellent format and file support
- Vibration dampening
- A bit more focused on audio than video
Why you should buy this: It hits the sweet spot with abundant audio and video options, plus high-tech modes for movie optimization.
Who it's for: Those who want total control over their A/V environment.
Why we picked the Yamaha Aventage RX-A2A:
The 7.2 Aventage RX-A2A is more than capable as a powerhouse video system. Naturally, it has support for all of the latest A/V technologies: 4K, HDR (HDR10, HLG, HDR10+, etc.), Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and HDCP 2.3. It's also ready for HDMI-eARC and is compatible with hi-res audio files up to 32-bit/192 kHz.
HDMI 2.1 is also supported if you like to stay on the cutting edge of A/V support for your entertainment system, and future updates will add support for things like 8K and the latest formats. Inside, you'll find features like a high slew rate amplifier for more accurate audio response and low distortion, as well as advanced modes for movie optimization. Outside, the design includes an A.R.T. (Anti-Resonance Technology) wedge to help dampen nearby vibration and improve audio quality further. MusicCast features with wireless 5.1 surround sound support also help if you like to play music on the system as well.
Don't worry about a lack of connections, either. The Yamaha Aventage RX-A2A includes seven HDMI input options to handle any devices you may want to set up. There's even compatibility with Alexa and Google Assistant when you can't find the remote.
Yamaha Aventage RX-A2A
Anthem MRX 1140
Best high-end A/V receiver
- Excellent 15.2 audio support
- Full suite of A/V support and optimization
- Easy setup with the Anthem Room Correction software
- May be too expensive for some
Why you should buy this: It offers fantastic sound and every feature you could want.
Who it's for: Anyone who places a premium on top-notch sound for their music, and those who need 15.2 surround sound.
Why we picked the Anthem MRX 1140:
Anthem is a well-known name among those who demand top-tier sound quality in their A/V receivers, and the 15.2-channel MRX 1140 is the top dog of the company’s offerings. The MRX 1140 packs a massive Toroidal power supply, offering a claimed 140-watts of continuous power per channel at 8 ohms, from channels 1 to 5, and a still-impressive 60-watts per channel in the remaining channels, also at 8 ohms. In short, it's a beast.
It features support for both Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, DTS: X Pro, and DTS Virtual:X object-based surround sound, in either 7.1.4 or 5.1.4 configurations, depending on whether you want to leave channels free for a second zone for another room in your home. And that's just for starters.
The MRX 1140 has done away with DTS Play-Fi for multiroom connectivity, in exchange for Chromecast, AirPlay 2, and Bluetooth for the task. Spotify Connect and Roon are on the way soo, too. This is bolstered by built-in support for a number of popular music-streaming services, including Spotify, Tidal, Amazon Prime Music, Pandora, SiriusXM, and internet radio. For those who value fidelity over convenience, hi-res audio support is included as well and makes good use of the receiver’s 32-bit/768 kHz differential-output digital-to-analog converters (DACs).
When it comes to video, the MRX 1140 naturally offers support for 4K and high dynamic range (HDR) content in both HDR10 and Dolby Vision formats, as well as HG (Hybrid Log-Gamma). A total of eight HDMI inputs are included, all of which support HDMI 2.0a (for the aforementioned 4K/HDR device connections) and HDCP 2.2. There are also two HDMI and three digital audio outputs, plus support for ARC and eARC. Finally, the Anthem MRX 1120 makes setup a snap via Anthem Room Correction software, which is one of the best room-calibration systems out there. The company even includes a high-quality mic and stand for measuring your room’s acoustic properties right in the box.
Anthem MRX 1140
Best A/V receiver for 8K
- Ready for future content
- Gamer-friendly modes
- Not everyone is interested in preparing for 8K yet
Why you should buy this: You want a titan of a home theater brain, combining power, performance, and longevity.
Who's it for: Early adopters of cutting-edge home theater, especially 8K enthusiasts.
Why we picked the Denon AVR-X4700H:
Often, the cost of buying into the next generation of home theater can be rather steep, as this receiver's $1,700 price tag makes abundantly clear. But when you consider all the things the Denon AVR-X4700H can do for the gear you own now, as well as the upgrades you may make in the future — particularly, 8K TVs and compatible 8K devices — it starts to show its long-term value.
The AVR-X4700 is a modest upgrade from the previous AVR-X3700NH in that Denon packed more power at 125 watts per channel compared to the 105 watts its predecessor pumped out. In the video corner, the AVR-X4700 maintains support for 8K/60Hz, 4K/120Hz, Dolby Vision, HDR10+ (Dynamic HDR, HLG). That also includes the 8K upscaling that you can apply to your existing 4K Blu-rays and subscriptions to Netflix in UHD. With 8 HDMI inputs and 3 outputs, you won't have to worry about buying a selector for additional devices. We also love how Denon gave a nod to the gaming world by giving current and next-gen gamer features like Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Quick Frame Transport (QFT), and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM).
In the audio corner, the X4700 has kept everything intact that we'd expect from a higher-tier receiver. We're talking Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, DTS: Virtual X, and other highly dimensional codecs, like new Auro 3D support as a three-dimensional audio alternative to Dolby Atmos. You can set up 5.2.4 or 7.2.2 traditional Atmos arrangements or opt for simulated height channels with the Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization feature. You can also do similar setups using Auro 3D if you prefer that route.
Music enthusiasts will feel right at home with the X4700's suite of digital music support from services like Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, Soundcloud, and more. There's also Denon HEOS support if you've got multiple zones of Denon gear in your home. Control and share all your music right from your phone, or teach the HEOS skill to your Echo speaker for immersive Alexa controls. The X3700 also supports Google Assistant, Apple Siri, and Josh.ai.
Best mid-range A/V model
- Great support for current standards and voice assistants
- Gamer-friendly optimization
- Good features for mid-range price
- No 8K support
- Wattage is low compared to high-end picks
Why you should buy this: It's a mid-range model that packs in all the latest features you'll want for entertainment.
Who's it for: Gamers and movie-watchers who want to assure an optimized experience without emptying their entire wallets.
Why we picked the Onkyo TX-NR5100:
Those who want support for the latest features and standards while still staying at mid-range prices will find a lot to love about this Onkyo model, which is also a great pick for gamers or those looking for an upgrade to their movie experience. This seven-channel receiver offers 80 watts per channel into 8 ohms at 0.08% THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) with two channels driven. Connections include four HDMI 2.1 ports in and two out (with HDCP 2.3 support), optical, coaxial, stereo RCA ports, USB ports, and dual subwoofer RCA ports, plus a headphone jack when gaming sessions need to stay quiet.
When we dig into more supported standards, this Onkyo model gets even more impressive: It's compatible with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X processing, Sonos Port, AirPlay 2, Bluetooth, Chromecast, Alexa, and Google Assistant. There's built-in Wi-Fi and compatibility with ARC/eARC, too. HDR10+, Dolby Vision, and HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) are also all supported, making this receiver very well-rounded for all kinds of optimization.
Like some of our other picks, the Onkyo TX-NR5100 also has a few features dedicated to gamers, including Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), and Quick Frame Transport (QFT), which can help improve frame rate performance and cut down on issues relating to lag.
Are some A/V receivers better for music than movies?
No. Most receivers do very well for movies as well as music, with performance scaling up in tandem as you move into premium models. However, music can be more revealing of sound quality and character than movie soundtracks, and those who value music listening may find one brand more sonically satisfying than another.
Do all A/V receivers support 4K? What about 8K?
All of the models we highlight support 4K and most also support HDR formats as well. These days, only particularly old receivers will lack 4K support.
While 8K is available in some form or another today, the technology is still new and rarely seen outside of some specialized broadcasts. However, as it becomes more common, we are seeing 8K support show up in more places, including several of our top receiver picks. Consider it a future-proofing option as 8K continues to appear more frequently.
Can I easily use an A/V receiver with a turntable?
As long as it has a phono input, yes. If not, you’ll need a phono preamp to boost the usually-low signal from the turntable. Preamps can be quite affordable for entry-level models.
What external devices do you need to buy to connect to your receiver?
It’s helpful to think about this in terms of inputs and outputs. What devices do you want to input audio and video, and what components do you want that audio and video delivered to? The second question is answered automatically with an A/V receiver: You’ll be outputting audio to speakers (which often come with many receiver packages) and video to a TV or similar display.
For inputs, that largely depends on what you have and what you want. You can connect consoles, Blu-ray players, laptops or PCs, set-top boxes, and a variety of other devices to a receiver. You will want to pay close attention to the ports on your devices and make sure your receiver supports the most effective way to receive A/V data, such as eARC. There’s a lot more to discuss about the different types of setups an A/V receiver can support, but this will help you get started.
What is the difference between an A/V receiver and an amplifier?
Simply put, a receiver component can receive and process an audio signal, while an amplifier component optimizes the audio signal and sends it on to the speakers. A/V receivers include both, so that’s not something you generally need to worry about. Some types of speakers do have their own amplifiers included but will need a receiver device to work.
How can you tell a good A/V receiver from a bad one?
That’s a complicated question, depending on a myriad of factors like format support, connection standards, hardware components, processing technology, and a lot more.
For some time, the rate at which features were being added made buying any A/V receiver a risky proposition if you didn’t want to be stuck with something that quickly went out of date. With 4K, HDR, HDMI, and HDCP seemingly having everything worked out for the 4K era, it’s much safer to buy a receiver now without worrying that you’ll quickly see the future pass you by. Dolby Atmos and DTS:X seem entrenched as the two major leaders in object-based surround sound
If you really want to dive in, one of the best places to start is our guide to everything you should know when buying an A/V receiver.
Is an A/V receiver good for gaming?
It can be, especially if you like gaming with surround sound for immersion. Look for support for all the latest standards before you buy, including Dolby Atmos, one of the newer HDMI standards like 2.0 or 2.1, and HDR compatibility. There are also features, like on our Denon AVR-X4700H pick, that add more benefits for gamers, like Variable Refresh Rate support and Auto Low Latency Mode. An A/V receiver isn’t required for gaming, but it’s an important addition if you want true surround sound.
How do you test?
Collectively, the A/V team at Digital Trends has been testing A/V receivers for just over 40 years. Testing takes place both in a dedicated home theater lab at our headquarters in Portland, Oregon, as well as in our individual home theater spaces. That spans a wide variety of sourcing equipment able to handle the latest standards.
Connected speakers include a rotating cast of speakers, including many Dolby Atmos-enabled models. While we routinely run any given receiver’s auto setup routine to gauge its accuracy and user experience, we ultimately perform a manual calibration using an analog SPL meter, carefully choosing crossover points for connected speakers based on in-room measured low-frequency response. Surround speaker arrangements will vary between 7.2 and 5.2.4.
Receivers are tested for ease of use, with special attention paid to how easy it is to stream music to the receiver as well as direct-stream internet radio stations. We also pay attention to how clear on-screen guides and setup instructions will be for novice users.
Sound quality tests include analysis of dynamic expression, overall power, timbre, and tonality; speaker-to-speaker transitions of sound effects; and general soundstage quality.
Is it bad to leave an A/V receiver on all the time?
It's not the best habit, but it won't do much harm. Today's A/V receivers are built to go into standby modes and use as little power as possible.
Does an A/V receiver need ventilation?
Ventilation is important to keep the receiver from overheating. For example, Denon recommends that you give its receivers at least five inches of space on the top and two inches on the sides. If the amp inside overheats, it may automatically shut off to protect itself.
How many channels should an A/V receiver have?
Since receivers can last a long time, it's a good idea to get as many channels as you can so you have the option to upgrade to more surround sound in the future. We recommend at least a 7.1-channel system, even if you don't currently use that many speakers.
4K: Higher resolution than HD (3840 X 2160). The latest standard for TVs and AV receiver models, although some are even going up to 8K these days.
Dolby Atmos: One of the two most popular object-based surround formats, Atmos adds height information so sound can seem to come from above and all around you.
DSD: Direct-Stream Digital. A hi-res audio file format alternative to .WAV, .AIFF, and others that aims to reduce distortion.
DTS:X: The other most popular object-based audio format, DTS:X can be more flexible than Dolby Atmos when it comes to where speakers are placed and how many of them there are.
HDCP 2.2: A form of copy protection, this version is required in order to play 4K content.
HDMI 2.0a: While it isn’t the newest version of HDMI, this version is the first that allows HDR signals and 4K content at up to 60 frames per second.
HDMI 2.1: HDMI 2.1 supports higher frame rates and up to 8K resolution, among other improvements, and is the latest standard for A/V connections.
HDMI eARC: eARC — or "enhanced audio return channel" — is an upgrade to the standard HDMI ARC interface. The tech was designed to allow one-cable transmission of audio and information to and from the TV to simplify home theater setups, but the eARC upgrade also adds full support for hi-res surround sound formats.
HDR: High Dynamic Range, offers better contrast and more color volume than standard dynamic range. Considered by some a bigger visual improvement than 4K resolution. Even if you want a stereo receiver, HDR is still an important perk for your image quality.
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