Best tv receiver

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Are you looking for the best AV receiver for the money? You've come to the right place. I've tested some of the most popular options from the major brands in the $ to $ range, and the connectivity, performance levels and feature sets are impressively high. From Dolby Atmos to voice control to Wi-Fi music streaming -- and high-quality audio -- these modern home cinema receivers offer everything a home theater enthusiast needs. 

There's one thing to take into consideration, however, particularly if you're a gamer. Until fairly recently, 8K-compatible receivers have had issues displaying video from certain types of gaming consoles and PCs. So, there's one brand in particular you should be wary of in the short term. However, if you don't care about using the Xbox Series X or simply can't wait, these are the best models available right now.

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Which receiver should I buy?

If you can live without the latest features -- HDMI , 8K, VRR -- then the Onkyo TX-NRis the receiver to get. The Onkyo is an excellent performer and offers easy setup, excellent usability, solid looks and useful features, including the best streaming suite. The TX-NR retails for more than $, but it is regularly on sale for under that. Even at its regular price of $ the TX-NR is a great deal. Be aware that it's about to be replaced by a new model, but it will cost a whole $ more.

Until the 4K/Hz bug reared its head -- more on that shortly -- the Yamaha RX-V6A was my favorite receiver of the last 12 months. It offers striking looks and the performance chops to match. On the other hand, the Sony STR-DN may be getting super old at this point but it still offers 4K HDR throughput, streaming capabilities and top-notch sound. (Note: It is currently marked as being discontinued on many shopping sites, but Sony has confirmed to CNET that it remains a current model.)

Why should I wait?

I would advise caution on buying a Yamaha receiver in particular right now, especially if future-proofing is something you're interested in. You see, all of the newest, 8K-compatible receivers were susceptible to a bug preventing them from displaying variable refresh rate video, and from the Xbox Series X in particular. While Denon, Marantz and Yamaha announced fixes for existing models, if you buy a Yamaha RX-V6A right now it could mean sending your new receiver in to get a mainboard replaced. Yamaha says new compliant receivers won't be available on shelves until fall.

Meanwhile Sound United, which produces Denon and Marantz receivers, says any models sold after April should be 4K/Hz compliant. The spokesperson said that if customers are unsure whether their model is compliant or not they should contact their dealer or customer support. Older, noncompliant models are able to be rectified with a free adapter, but the company advises these dongles are now out of stock for the next five months. 

Competitor Onkyo released its $ TX-NR in mid-July , and while I found it could pass 4K/Hz I believe it's not as recommendable as the older, more capable TX-NR for the same money.

But is 4K/Hz support even a big deal? There are a small handful of games that you can put into this mode -- Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and so on -- but the advantages of 4K/Hz over 60Hz are minimal as far as we've seen so far. Future games and even video sources may make the differences clearer, and that's why you'd want a receiver that's fully compatible.

If you do buy an older receiver, don't care about the Xbox Series X, or don't want to send your 8K model to the shop, you can always hook a fancy new console directly to the TV, then use eARC to get audio to the receiver. Despite the mess AV receiver manufacturers find themselves in right now, there is one thing the following models have in common: great performance.

Best receiver overall

Onkyo TX-NR

Sarah Tew/CNET


The Onkyo TX-NR is the best AV home theater receiver for those looking for a budget-ish option. This receiver was released in with a wealth of connectivity that supports multiple audio formats and gives a big, bold sound. It isn't the direct replacement to my favorite receiver of , the TX-NR, but this step-up AV receiver model offers a number of improvements, including a bump in power (80 to watts) and a front-mounted HDMI port, in addition to the six HDMI inputs on the back. This video and audio receiver offers streaming protocols, including built-in Chromecast, DTS Play-Fi, Spotify Connect, AirPlay and Bluetooth. If you can find the TX-NR under $, that's great, but if you can't it's still worth the extra coin.

Note the newer $ TX-NR has the 4K/Hz and 8K compatibility which the NR lacks.

Read our Onkyo TX-NR review.

Best design

Yamaha RX-V6A

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

This Yamaha AV receiver is the best 8K receiver we've tested, but it's a pity about the lack of 4K/Hz support right now. It's worth waiting for the newer versions to come out in the fall with VRR and Xbox Series X and PS5 compatibility. Video compatibility aside, the Yamaha RX-V6A offers a fresh look at AV receiver design with futuristic edges while also maximizing sound quality. The RX-V6A could make you forget about ever visiting a cinema again, and it's no slouch with music, either. This Yamaha receiver offers Wi-Fi connectivity, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth and Yamaha's MusicCast system for streaming from your devices. Just wait a month or two till the updated models go on sale.

Read our YAMAHA RX-V6A review.

Best for gamers, music fans

Denon AVR-SH

Sound United

One of only two mainstream designs released in , Denon's AVR-SH may not be as glittering and shiny as the Yamaha RX-V6A, but it still offers excellent sound quality. The receiver is laid-back, blends well with forward-sounding speakers and replays music beautifully. It has almost everything you need, including 8K video, voice control via both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant speakers, Dolby Atmos, and Apple AirPlay 2. While 's excellent AVR-SH is still available, if the price for the ' is around $ you might as well pay a bit more for the bump in features and power the S offers.

Be aware that versions of the Denon AVR-SH bought before April are affected by the 4K/Hz bug and owners should sign up for one of the free dongles. 

Read our Denon AVR-SH review.

Best for Android users (Update: Out of stock)


Sarah Tew/CNET

The Sony STR-DN earned our Editors' Choice Award back in , and despite being pretty long in the tooth it's still an excellent AV receiver package. Sound quality isn't quite as strong as those of the Denon and Onkyo, but they're all very close. If you want a receiver that offers ease of use and integrates both AirPlay (but not AirPlay 2) and Google Chromecast built-in wireless streaming, this is a great option. It even uses virtual speaker relocation technology to optimize sound in the room where you set it up. Don't pay full price, though -- it has been on sale in the past for between $ and $

Read our Sony STR-DN review.

What to look for in a $ish receiver

AV receivers are notoriously complex, with reams of features and confusing technical specifications. (For example, what's "ultra HD"?) But what are the things that really matter when buying a new model? I'm going to sum up the most important ones right here.

4K HDR compatibility

You want to make sure your new receiver can keep up with the latest TVs and video gear. Standards do change all the time, but the bare minimum right now is support for HDR and Dolby Vision, at least HDMI version  or better. All of these models support 4K and HDR video. 8K is coming, slowly, but most recorded content is still going to be in p or even SD for many, many years. If future-proofing is a concern for you, the Yamaha RX-V6A and Denon AVR-SH offer 8K and HDMI compatibility as well. 


As many HDMI inputs as you can afford

With most TVs and set-top boxes supporting HDMI, you should buy a receiver that has as many of these HDMI input ports and outputs as possible. Front-mounted HDMI ports are kind of like an appendix -- unneeded, because most users don't hot-plug HDMI devices -- making the number of rear inputs what's most important. (How else are you going to connect your Blu-ray player, Nintendo Switch, soundbar and all your other devices?) The Sony and Onkyo in this roundup both have six rear-mounted HDMI ports while the Denon and Yamaha go one better with seven. If you want to connect two different displays -- a TV and a projector for example -- all but the Yamaha offer a second HDMI output. You should also be sure you have an extra HDMI cable or two on hand -- these things are like the second sock of a pair in that you can never find them when you need them.

You don't really need Dolby Atmos 'height' speakers

Most receivers in the $and-above price range include Dolby Atmos capability and DTS:X, but the effect they have on your home theater movie-watching can be subtle, or in most movies nonexistent. In other words, don't worry about missing out on these formats if you don't install an extra height speaker or two. Mounting your rear surround speakers high on the wall will get you halfway there in terms of quality, immersive sound.

Wi-Fi music streaming

Most midrange receivers have onboard Wi-Fi network connectivity for wireless music streaming through your speaker system. There are plenty of standards for wireless streaming services, but the most universal are Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay 1 and 2, and Google Chromecast built in. If you're looking to build a multiroom system with a variety of AV systems and speakers with wireless connectivity, these are the three flavors to aim for. The Onkyo and Sony are the only two devices that support all three. The Denon receiver model lacks wireless streaming via Chromecast, but ups the ante to AirPlay 2 and the proprietary HEOS system. Yamaha has its own MusicCast in the meantime.


Best AV Receiver Build Your Home Theater Setup the Right Way

The latest and greatest 4K TVs may be doing wonders for picture quality, but they also tend to be moving toward ever thinner designs. While those new designs make for slicker entertainment setups and also make the TVs easier to move, that thin nature tends not to lend itself to great acoustics. So, when it comes to building a top-notch entertainment center, you can go ahead and let the TV shine, but you should let an AV receiver manage the rest.

An AV receiver will sit at the heart of your entire setup, connecting every device for complete control and ease of use. Many TVs and soundbars try to do that now by offering several input ports, but a good AV receiver has far more going on. In addition to the many ports they offer for channeling video streams to your TV, they also have the power and control you need to set up a truly immersive, surround sound array. Many newer AV receivers also support advanced connectivity features with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth available. As we've picked out only the best AV receivers, you'll find all those features and plenty more here.

TL;DR – These are the Best AV Receivers:

1. Yamaha RX-V4A channel AV Receiver

Best AV Receiver

Yamaha RX-V4A channel AV Receiver
Yamaha RX-V4A channel AV Receiver

Channels:Power Output: 80W/ch @ 8 Ohms ● Ports: 4 x HDMI In, 1 x HDMI Out, 2 x Digital audio (1 x Optical input, 1 x Coaxial input) ● HDR Support: HDR10+, HDR10 ● Connected Features: AirPlay 2, Amazon Alexa-compatible, Google Assistant, Siri ● Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ethernet ● Size: " x " x " ● Weight: pounds

There are perhaps more important things for your gaming experience than Dolby Atmos, and the Yamaha RX-V4A has them. This AV receiver is ready to deliver a thumpy experience with its channel surround sound, and you can take advantage of DTS:X and Dolby Digital audio to make your games more acoustically immersive.

But, looking past audio, the Yamaha RX-V4A is ready for what's coming in gaming. That's thanks to its inclusion of four HDMI inputs and an HDMI output. That means it can support 4K/60Hz video coming in and going out, and a firmware update will push that to 8K/60Hz or 4K/Hz. In addition to that high bar of quality, this receiver supports gaming features such as variable refresh rate and Auto Low Latency Mode.

IGN Deals' Picks: The Best 4K TV Deals

2. Onkyo TX–NR

Best Entry-level AV Receiver

Onkyo TX–NR

Channels:Power Output: 80W/ch @ 8 Ohms ● Ports: 4 x HDMI In, 2 x HDMI Out, 4 x Analog Audio in, 2 x Digital in (1 x Coaxial, 1 x Optical) ● HDR Support: Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+ HLG ● Connectivity: USB, Bluetooth ● Size: " x " x " ● Weight: pounds

Most home theater setups won’t need the ultimate AV receiver. The Onkyo TX-NR will likely do the job for most, and it comes with modern upgrades that make it a great fit even for a bit more advanced setups.

You’ll get support for a channel surround sound setup or you can jazz it up with a setup with Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. The receiver also features the latest HDMI standard with four inputs and two outputs, letting you set it up with 4K/Hz and 8K TVs. You’ll be able to enjoy the full resolution and get HDR pass-through as well. Whether you’re after a home theater, a gaming setup, or something that can do both, the Onkyo TX-NR is up to the task.

3. Denon AVR-XH channel AV Receiver

Best Midrange AV Receiver

Denon AVR-XH channel AV Receiver
Denon AVR-XH channel AV Receiver

Channels:Power Output: W/ch @ 8 Ohms ● Ports: 7 x HDMI In, 3 x HDMI Out, 3 x Composite In, 1 x Composite Out, 2 x Component In, 1 x Component Out, 1 x USB Audio, 4 x Digital Audio (2 x Optical, 2 x Coaxial) ● HDR Support: Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HDR10, HLG, Dynamic HDR, BT ● Connected Features: AirPlay 2, Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM ● Connectivity: Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth ● Size: ” x ” x ” ● Weight: pounds

The most premium AV receivers have support for some really over-the-top setups. If that’s not what you’re trying to put together in your living room, then you can forget those and settle in with a more modest option. The Denon AVR-XH fits nicely in the middle of the pack.

This AV receiver still has the connections it needs to support key features right now, including 8K video at 60Hz or 4K at Hz, so you can build a TV gaming setup around this receiver. It can even support VRR. HDR will continue to work for video sent through the Denon ACR-XH, including Dolby Vision and HDR10+ content. With seven HDMI inputs, you’ll be able to get a ton of video sources connected to your TV. You’ll also be able to get a ton of speakers connected, as the AVR-XH supports channel surround sound alongside Dolby Atmos and DTS Virtual:X.

4. Anthem MRX channel AV Receiver

Best for Audio Lovers with a Bigger Room

Anthem MRX channel AV Receiver
Anthem MRX channel AV Receiver

Channels:Power Output: W/ch @ 8 Ohms (5 channels), 60W/ch @ 8 Ohms (2 channels) ● Ports: 7 x HDMI In, 2 x HDMI Out, 5 x Digital Audio (4 x Optical, 2 x Coaxial), 5 x analogue RCA ● HDR Support: Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG ● Connected Features: AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast, Spotify, Roon ● Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ethernet ● Weight: 19 pounds

In an ideal world, you might have a simple room with very little to affect the acoustics, but reality is hardly ever ideal. So, if you've got a big room that leaves you trying to tweak the sound in, the Anthem MRX AV receiver can be a big help. This channel receiver is highly flexible in how you use it, letting you reassign amp channels to power surround speakers or bi-amplify speakers that need more juice. With your speakers arranged and powered how you want, you can then use Anthem Room Correction software to measure and adjust the audio to perfection. And, once they're set, you can enjoy features like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

The Anthem MRX also supports 4K60Hz HDR video signals through its seven HDMI b ports. It features two HDMI out ports as well as a port dedicated to eARC so your TV can send surround sound audio back to the receiver. The Anthem MRX is also prepared for a future where you might need even more from your HDMI ports. The HDMI board is designed for easy user upgradability, so you'll be able to swap it out for a new board in the future if 8K video starts calling your name.

5. Marantz NR channel AV Receiver

Best Slim AV Receiver

Marantz NR channel AV Receiver
Marantz NR channel AV Receiver

Channels:Power Output: 50W/ch @ 8 Ohms ● Ports: 6 x HDMI In, 1 x HDMI Out, 3 x Analogue input, 2 x Component in, 1 x Component out, 3 x Composite in, 1 x Composite out, 2 x Digital Audio (1 x Optical, 1 x Coaxial) ● HDR Support: Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HDR10, Dynamic HDR, HLG, BT ● Connected Features: AirPlay 2, Amazon Alexa-compatible, Google Assistant, HEOS ● Connectivity: Dual Band (5GHz/GHz) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ethernet ● Size: " x " x " ● Weight: pounds

Marantz takes it know-how in audio performance and packs it all into a slim AV receiver with the Marantz NR This compact receiver can slip into tight quarters thanks to its constrained proportions – it's just inches tall. You won't miss out on much in terms of performance by going small, though. It offers up seven poweramps to support a channel setup. You also get the option of sticking with a channel setup in one room so that you can use the same receiver to offer stereo audio to a second zone.

In terms of video capabilities, the Marantz NR is built for the latest features. It has just a single HDMI output, but it's capable of 8K/60Hz or 4K/Hz video signals, and there's a corresponding HDMI input for pass-through. The other HDMI ports may not accept an 8K input, but the Marantz receiver can upscale video from those ports to 8K. The Marantz NR won't leave you wanting for HDR support either.

6. Marantz SR channel AV Receiver

Best AV Receiver for Audiophiles

Marantz SR channel AV Receiver
Marantz SR channel AV Receiver

Channels:Power Output: W/ch @ 8 Ohms ● Ports: 8 x HDMI In (7 rear, 1 front), 3 x HDMI Out (2 rear, 1 front), 4 x Digital Audio (2 x Optical, 2 x Coaxial), 7 x Analogue Audio (7 in) ● HDR Support: Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HDR10, HLG, BT, Dynamic HDR ● Connected Features: AirPlay 2, Amazon Alexa-compatible, Google Assistant, Siri, ● Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ethernet ● Size: " x " x " ● Weight: pounds

If audio comes first and gaming comes second, then you should check out the Marantz SR This receiver comes at a high price, but it has what you need for a healthy dose of gaming as well as some serious audio chops. The Marantz SR is capable of pumping out some serious sound with W/ch at 8 ohms, and it can drive 11 channels as well as two subs. That'll make for some compelling surround sound aided along by a host of audio enhancement from Dolby and DTS, including Dolby Atmos, Dolby True HD, DTS:X Pro, and DTS HD Master.

When it comes to video, the Marantz SR can still keep up. It supports up to 8K/60Hz video or 4K/Hz, and it can upscale content to 8K from any of its HDMI inputs. It also supports a wide range of HDR formats. And, while you're gaming, you can make the most of variable refresh rate and Auto Low Latency Mode support.

7. Denon AVR-A

Best for if you want everything

Denon AVR-A

Channels:Power Output: W/ch @ 8 Ohms ● Ports: 8 x HDMI In (1 x HDMI ), 3 x HDMI Out (2 x HDMI ), 4 x Digital Audio (2 x Optical, 2 x Coaxial), 1 x Phono Input ● HDR Support: Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HDR10, Dynamic HDR, HLG ● Connected Features: AirPlay 2, Amazon Alexa-compatible, Google Assistant, Siri, HEOS ● Connectivity: Dual Band (5GHz/GHz) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth + EDR ● Size: x x " ● Weight: pounds

Stereo? Not for you. channel surround sound? Close, but no cigar. OK, how about channels? We're getting closer, but for the cinephile/audiophile/gamer who wants it all, the Denon AVR-A is the receiver to get. This special edition marks years in the audio business for Denon, and this receiver means business. It offers channels for audio output, letting you build out some serious surround sound to take advantage of the receiver's extensive support for high-fidelity audio and premium surround formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

Beyond sound, the Denon AVR-A also supports the latest for video. This receiver features eight HDMI inputs and three HDMI outputs. Sprinkled in that selection are a number of HDMI ports that can support 4K/Hz or 8K/60Hz video as well as premium gaming features like Auto Low Latency Mode, Variable Refresh Rate, and Quick Frame Transfer. You'll also be able to pair that smooth and sharp video feed with a wide selection of HDR formats so you don't miss a thing.

8. Denon AVR-XH channel AV Receiver

Best 8K Receiver

Denon AVR-XH channel AV Receiver
Denon AVR-XH channel AV Receiver

Channels: Power Output: W/ch @ 8 Ohms ● Ports: 8 x HDMI In, 3 x HDMI Out, 4 x Composite In, 2 x Composite Out, 2 x Component In, 1 x Component Out, 6 x Analogue In, 1 x Phono in, 4 x Digital Audio (2 x Optical, 2 x Coaxial), 2 x Multi-room out (analogue), 1 x USB ● HDR Support: Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HDR10, Dynamic HDR, HLG, BT ● Connected Features: AirPlay 2, HEOS, Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, Josh.AI ● Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ethernet ● Size: " x " x " ● Weight: 32 pounds

If you want to go all in on your video quality, you won't want to miss out on the option of 8K or 4K/Hz that's available on the Denon AVR-XH receiver. Thanks to the latest HDMI spec, you can can run video and video games right through this receiver for the highest quality or a marriage of quality and smooth visuals, and you'll still get to see that content with HDR and Pure Color sub sampling. The Denon AVR-XH supports pretty much the full stack of HDR formats available as well, with premium versions like Dolby Vision and HDR10+ as well as the new Dynamic HDR and the broadcast standard HLG.

This receiver is no slouch when it comes to audio either. It's got a ton of power, and it can split that out to an channel surround setup. You can also split up speakers to set up multiple rooms. You also get some of the best surround sound enhancements from DTS:X, DTS Virtual:X, and DTS: X Pro to Dolby Atmos and Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization Technology.

9. Onkyo TX-RZ50

Best Adaptive AV Receiver

Onkyo TX-RZ50

Channels:Power Output: W/ch @ 8 Ohms ● Ports: 7 x HDMI In, 2 x HDMI Out, 6 x Analog Audio in, 1 x Component In, 2 x Composite in, 1 x Phono in, 2 x Digital in (1 x Coaxial, 1 x Optical) ● HDR Support: Dolby Vision, HDR10+ HLG ● Connectivity: USB, Bluetooth ● Size: " x " x " ● Weight: pounds

Setting up your home entertainment system can be incredibly complicated, especially as you try to wire up a complex surround sound arrangement and get everything sounding just right. The Onkyo TX-RZ50 is a powerful AV receiver that can adapt to your setup and simplify the process of getting everything sounding just right.

You can build out a channel surround sound setup with the Onkyo TX-RZ You can also opt for Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. If you want theater-quality sound, this receiver is THX Certified Select, offering “the same reference volume level of a commercial theater” in a room with your seating about 12 feet from your TV. Dirac Live will help you easily calibrate your sound system to match your room’s acoustics with an included microphone as well. And, as this is a high-end system, you’ll also get HDMI to support the latest 4K/Hz and 8K TVs.

The Future for AV Receivers

Honestly, the AVR market hasn’t made many leaps forward in the past few years. Most significantly has been the addition of pass-through for 4K and HDR signals and an improvement to upconverting. But on the horizon is HDMI and HDCP (which we're starting to see adopted). Maybe because of that you’re thinking of waiting for the new (possible) crop of AVRs to be announced and released.

The question is then, what will HDMI get you? Most importantly will be a significant increase in throughput, from 18 Gbps with to 48 Gbps with That will allow 4K signals at Hz (something we’ve only had possible with DisplayPort previously), or 8K at 60Hz. But hold up just a second. It will also require something that’s sending that signal and a display to accept it. So while having an AVR with HDMI will be very important, we’re still a little ways away from it being necessary. And if there’s one truth in technology, it’s that there’s always another big thing coming around the corner.

Mark Knapp is a regular contributor to IGN and an irregular Tweeter on Twitter @Techn0Mark

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The best AV receivers in

The best AV receivers are heavy hitters in the world of Hi-Fi audio, and just like many of the best turntables, they’ve been getting modernized. That means compatibility with tech like Dolby Atmos and DTS: X, while high-end connectivity like HDMI eARC and 8K capability can be yours as well.

And that’s not to mention the sheer power. Sure, the best soundbars are great for TVs, but if you want the absolute best possible audio from a dedicated sound system? It’s got to be one of the best AV receivers. Keep reading to find out more about our favorite models, all of which we’ve tested in full.

Remember, not all AV receivers are created equal, so it’s worth paying close attention to the specs. Seven channel models will support a speaker configuration of  (that’s a standard surround layout with two additional height/up-firing speakers), while step-up models with nine channels of amplification and can be used for either with four Dolby height speakers () or surround with two height channels (). Once you’re ready to choose, read on to find out the best AV receivers you can buy today.

What are the best AV receivers?

If you want a peerless performer for music and movies, then Denon’s AVR-XH is our top choice. This 9-channel monster is a fantastically powerful performer, able to effortlessly engulf with rich, layered audio. 

Of course, not everyone needs apocalyptic amplification. Enter the Marantz NR, our favorite slimline model. This 7-channel Dolby Atmos receiver is designed for smaller rooms, but doesn’t compromise on functionality. 

Finally, if you’re after a great performing AVR that won’t break the bank, then our top value option remains Sony’s venerable 7-channel STR-DN This Dolby Atmos classic doesn’t even require you to have a full complement of speakers. Clever psycho acoustic processing does a remarkable job creating virtual rears.

Check out all of our top picks for the best AV receivers below.

The best AV receivers you can buy right now

1. Denon AVR-XH

The best of the best AV receivers


Dolby Atmos/DTS: X support: Yes

Features: Heos multiroom compatible; Amazon Alexa/Google Assistant/Siri voice ; Bluetooth; USB; AirPlay 2

Power output (claimed): 7 x W

HDMI: 6 x in, 2 x out

Reasons to buy

+Superb value for money+Dynamic, cinematic performer

Reasons to avoid

-Only one HDMI input

Denon’s AVR-XH provides an affordable jumping on point for the brand’s X-series AV receivers. The price tag hints at budget components, but in a smaller viewing room (rather than a cavernous theater), it defies expectations.

With a punchy delivery, it has no problem with action-orientated soundtracks, and it’s nuanced enough to portray subtle ambiance too. Power output is rated at W for multichannel, which seems a little generous. A seven channel model, it’ll support a channel configuration or conventional surround (depending on how you’ve set up your loudspeakers). There’s also 8K support, albeit via a single HDMI input.

2. Marantz NR

The best AV receiver with a low profile


Dolby Atmos/DTS: X support: Yes

Features: Heos multiroom compatible; Amazon Alexa/Google Assistant ; Bluetooth; USB; AirPlay 2

Power output (claimed): 7 x 50W

HDMI: 6 x in, 1 x out

Reasons to buy

+Lifestyle friendly design+Well-balanced, musical sound

Reasons to avoid

-Only one 8K HDMI input-Single HDMI output

Marantz hasn’t changed the look of its half-height lifestyle NR AVR range for the best part of a decade, but we’re good with that because beneath the hood, there’s been constant evolution. This latest iteration is right up there with heavier hitters: you can run a Atmos setup with a uniform 50W delivered across all 7 channels.

There are six HDMI inputs, one labelled 8K, which supports 4K/fps and 8K 60Hz. There’s only one HDMI output though, but the feature niceties include HEOS multiroom and AirPlay 2.  If you don’t have a full multiroom speaker setup you can also use Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization and DTS:X Virtual to roughly emulate a 3D listening experience.

3. Denon AVR-XH

The best 9-channel AV receiver


Dolby Atmos/DTS: X support: Yes

Features: Heos multiroom compatible; Amazon Alexa/Google Assistant ; Bluetooth; USB; AirPlay 2

Power output (claimed): 9 x W

HDMI: 8 x in, 3 x out

Reasons to buy

+Barnstorming cinematic performance+Comprehensive connections+Capable across entire frequency range

Reasons to avoid

-Suffers from HDMI bug

A sonic tour de force, the XH is a jaw-dropping AV receiver with a class leading specification for movies and gaming. HDMI provision covers eight inputs, one of which is designated 8K. Generously, there are three outputs, with eARC support.  

Advanced Audyssey calibration is on hand to make the receiver sound great in pretty much any listening room, and once optimised the results are stunning. The XH is fantastically dynamic, able to cope with dramatic transients like a boss. Bass is tight and there’s a superbly articulate upper-midrange. Unfortunately it does suffer from an HDMI bug when connected to the Xbox Series X, but you can order a device which fixes it. More on this below.

4. Yamaha Aventage RX-A

The best AV receiver with Surround AI


Dolby Atmos/DTS: X support: Yes

Features: Surround AI post processing, Apple Airplay, Amazon Alexa voice control

Power output (claimed): 9 x W

HDMI: 7 x in, 3 x out

Reasons to buy

+Surround AI post processing+Sounds positively epic

Reasons to avoid

-No 8K/4K fps support-Will be replaced soon

The RX-A is coming to the end of the road, with new Yamaha Aventage models lining up to replace it, but if you move fast you could pick up a bargain — this is a very tasty AV receiver indeed. But then it should be: Yamaha’s been an AV innovator since the early days of analogue Pro-Logic, and it continues to set the pace here with Surround AI.

Surround AI saves the bother of having to juggle Yamaha’s Cinema DSP modes (presets like Spectacle, Sci-Fi, Adventure, Music Video and Video Game), because it makes the appropriate post processing choices for you. Amazingly, it works rather well, and despite the RX-A having a 9-channel design it can process 11 channels () if you add additional amplification. 

5. Sony STR-DN

The classic AV receiver remains one of the best


Dolby Atmos/DTS: X support: Yes

Features: Chromecast built-in, Bluetooth with NFC, virtual surround processing

Power output (claimed): 7 x W

HDMI: 6 x in, 2 x out

Reasons to buy

+Brilliant budget option+Strong low end+Psycho-acoustic processing

Reasons to avoid

-No HDMI support

This brilliant budget Sony AV receiver is a perennial favourite, ideal for home theatre fans that want barnstorming performance without the price. A 7-channel design, it supports a Dolby Atmos speaker layout, however it cleverly also employs psycho-acoustic processing to add phantom rears, thereby creating a pseudochannel surround listening experience.

It has another cool talent: if you can’t place speakers in their ideal position, crafty audio D.C.A.C. EX processing will virtually relocate the speakers you have. And it works, if imprecisely. In any case the STR-DN is an entertaining performer, with agile sonic steerage and a sucker-punch LFE (low-frequency effects) channel that relishes big, explosive effects. There’s no 8K or 4K high frame rate support, but if If you can live with this limitation, it remains a fabulous buy.

6. Pioneer Elite VSX-LX

This high-value AV receiver is a bargain for movie fans


Dolby Atmos/DTS: X support: Yes

Features: Chromecast built-in, Apple Airplay 2, Reflex Optimizer

Power output (claimed): 9 x W

HDMI: 7 x in, 2 x out

Reasons to buy

+Generous amplification for the price+Customisable sound presets

Reasons to avoid

-No 8K/4K fps HDMI support-Limited number of digital inputs

The VSX-LX is a 9-channel Dolby Atmos AV receiver, suitable for speaker configurations of or HDMI provision covers 7 inputs (one on the front facia), with two outputs. There’s Dolby Vision but no 8K support. Digital audio inputs are limited to one coaxial and one optical. 

Pioneer AVRs have a characteristically crisp delivery, which can sound overly analytical, but we like its character. There’s also a Reflex Optimizer function to fine tune up-firing Dolby Atmos speakers. On top of that, this receiver has built-in Chromecast and Google Assistant support, plus Apple Airplay 2 and support for DTS Play-Fi. In terms of bang for buck, then, it’s hard to argue with this glossy Pioneer.

7. Marantz SR

This stylish home theatre hero has a musical pedigree


Dolby Atmos/DTS: X support: Yes

Features: HEOS compatible; Amazon Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant support; IMAX Enhanced

Power output (claimed): 9 x W

HDMI: 7 x in, 3x out

Reasons to buy

+Hugely precise cinema sound+Excellent two-channel performance

Reasons to avoid

-Only one 8K/4K fps input

There’s something enduringly elegant about Marantz’s AV component design. The curved fascia with small porthole display speaks of legacy and old-school musicality. But don’t let that fool you, this AV receiver is also a movie beast on the cutting edge. Its audio performance is sublime, with effortless control of the soundstage. Never feeling under pressure, sonic placement is always precise.

A 9 channel model, it can be configured for There’s also Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization and Virtual DTS: X, plus IMAX Enhanced certification, which means it’ll automatically change bass management handling for deeper bass when it recognises flagged content. The receiver has a single 8K-capable HDMI input, while smart support covers Alexa and Google Assistant, as well as AirPlay 2.

8. Arcam AVR30

The best AV receiver for true home theater connoisseurs


Dolby Atmos/DTS: X support: Yes

Features: Apple Airplay, Amazon Alexa voice control

Power output (claimed): 9 x W

HDMI: 7 x in, 3 x out

Reasons to buy

+Wonderfully, rich and energetic sound+Dirac Live room calibration

Reasons to avoid

-No 8K/4K fps support-Usability is a little basic

Arcam is often cited as the connoisseur’s choice when it comes to home theatre. In addition to the usual list of immersive codecs, this high performing receiver comes with both Auro-3D compatibility and IMAX Enhanced certification. And, while the AVR30 is a 7-channel receiver, there’s processing headroom for 16 channels if you’re prepared to stack up extra amplification.

Calibration is best in class, thanks to Dirac Live, which does a first class job of optimising the AVR’s output to suit your listening room. Less exceptional is the lack of compatibility; Arcam is offering a complete board swap later this year, but that’s a prohibitively expensive fix. Still, What the AVR30 lacks in mod cons, it makes up for in performance, proving capable of instantaneous highs, and solid plunging lows. Wireless support covers Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, with Google Chromecast and Apple AirPlay 2 talents too.

How to choose the best AV receivers


Finding the best AV receiver isn’t just about HDMI inputs. Sure we like plenty of inputs, but the number of outputs are important too, particularly if you plan on running both a flatscreen and a projector in the same room.

Resolution and frame rate support

Do you need 8K or High Frame Rate HDMIs? If your AV receiver is unlikely to have a games console connected then the answer is no. In which case there’s some great deals to be had on AVRs with regular HDMI inputs.

Surround sound

Dolby Atmos compatibility is a given (and by default that means you’ll get DTS:X too), but how many channels do you need? Given the option, 9 channels always trump 7, because it opens up more speaker options ( or )

Don’t have a full Dolby Atmos home theatre loudspeaker set up? Look for a model that offers height virtualisation technology, so you can enjoy an immersive audio experience even when you don’t have a full set of physical speakers

Power output

Power isn’t just about roof-raising volume - Even if you’re not lucky enough to have a dedicated movie room, a model with big amplification makes sense. A high power output means an AVR can deliver dynamic transients, and pressure load a space without clipping or strain. 

8K AV receivers HMDI bug explained

While 8K, or more likely 4K at fps from a next-gen games console, is a compelling reason to upgrade your dusty old AV receiver, there’s an elephant-sized HDMI bug in the room we need to address.

The first generation receivers with 8K HDMI input/s you can buy right now are known to suffer a compatibility issue that means some new 8K/4K source devices that offer a 4K/fps or 8K video resolution output (we’re looking at you Xbox Series X) do not always pass the video signal through to the display.

This has left the likes of Denon, Marantz and Yamaha scrambling to find a solution. Consequently, this summer, Denon is supplying buyers of affected Denon and Marantz AV receivers an HDMI adapter box free of charge. The SPK sits between your console and AV receiver, and corrects the HDMI data allowing it to pass. Inelegant perhaps, but effective.

An alternate workaround for owners of affected AVRs is to connect their console directly to their 4K/fps capable TV, and then route audio back to the AVR using the eARC HDMI connection.

Alternatively, gamers can just output from their console at 4K/60fps resolution (effectively the default premium display option anyway) and all will be fine and dandy.

Then again, you could hang fire and wait for new models. Yamaha says its upcoming RX-A8A, RX-A6A and RX-A4A receivers use a next generation HDMI board which isn’t so afflicted.

  • Denon has announced plans to offer a free HDMI adapter kit to owners of the AVR-XH to address the 4K Hz pass-through issue. You can read more here.

May 17,

If you’re trying to get as close as possible to re-creating a genuine movie-theater experience at home, there's just no replacement for a good AV receiver. Think of it as the traffic cop of your audio-video system, routing video from your sources to your display and sending audio to your speakers. Some AV receivers do much more than that—for a price. Which AV receiver is right for you depends on your needs, so we offer multiple recommendations for different situations.

The Yamaha RX-V6A sounds amazing for the price and is absolutely feature-packed. It offers seven channels of speaker amplification and Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding, plus the ability to set up two overhead audio channels for even more immersive sound. You get seven HDMI inputs, three of which are HDMI compatible (although there are some caveats, which we’ll dig into below). You can stream music wirelessly via Bluetooth and AirPlay 2, as well as Yamaha’s own MusicCast multiroom wireless streaming platform. MusicCast also lets you add wireless surround-sound speakers and a wireless sub to cut down on cable clutter, although doing so negates one of the RX-V6A’s most compelling features: It has surprisingly good room correction for a receiver in its price range, which in our tests gave it a clear sonic advantage over similarly priced competitors. The RX-V6A also benefits from a sleek aesthetic that you’ll definitely appreciate if you install your AV receiver in an open-air cabinet or other visible location.

The Denon AVR-SH delivers everything that most home-cinema fans want and need, but it lacks some of the latest features that may be important for gamers and 8K TV owners. This receiver has seven channels of speaker amplification with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding, plus full-featured streaming support including Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, and Heos (Denon’s own multiroom wireless streaming platform). Its six HDMI inputs support many of the most compelling features of the HDMI standard, including eARC (for better audio from your TV) and automatic low-latency mode (which allows devices to automatically detect and switch into the best mode for gaming). But it lacks support for other gaming-friendly HDMI features like variable refresh rate and the ability to pass 4K video at Hz. What we like most about the AVR-SH are the little touches—such as the simple, clear on-screen menus and the automatic naming of HDMI sources—that make it easy to install and use, so anyone can get great performance out of it, even if they’ve never used a receiver before.

For the movie lover willing to pay more to get a higher-quality, more immersive home theater experience, we recommend the Denon AVR-XH. This receiver sounds better than the under-$1, models we tested, thanks in large part to its more advanced Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction. The channel AVR-XH includes two additional amp channels that you can use to power more height channels or a pair of speakers in a separate audio zone. It also features more HDMI inputs—eight in total—but only one is fully HDMI compliant. This receiver offers some HDMI features that the Yamaha RX-V6A currently lacks (though again there are caveats that we’ll discuss below). It also has an improved user interface with sharper graphics, as well as better multiroom capabilities to send AV signals around your house. But it does represent a big step up in price over our other picks.

If you want to assemble a basic channel surround-sound system—or you already have a channel system and need to upgrade to a receiver that supports 4K and high dynamic range (HDR) video—the Denon AVR-SBT is a good option for around $ Like the AVR-SH, this receiver is easy to set up and use, and it performs well. It has five HDMI inputs, more than other receivers in its price category, but it can stream music only over Bluetooth, not Wi-Fi platforms like AirPlay 2 and Heos.

Everything we recommend

Why you should trust us

Dennis Burger has been reviewing AV equipment for going on two decades now for publications ranging from Robb Report Home Entertainment to Home Theater magazine and Over the years, he has auditioned more receivers, preamps, and amplifiers than he cares to count, and in recent years he has devoted an inordinate amount of time to learning about and testing room-correction systems of all varieties.

Some of this guide is based on the work of Wirecutter senior staff writer Chris Heinonen, who has spent hundreds of hours over the past few years testing AV receivers for previous versions of this guide.

Who this is for

Today’s soundbars offer a level of audio performance that would have been unimaginable 10 years ago, but they still have limitations in performance and flexibility. For those who want to get closest to the movie-theater experience at home, who have multiple sources to connect, and who want more flexibility in speaker selection and setup, an AV receiver is the way to go.

If your current AV receiver works with all your AV components and has all the features you desire, you don’t really need to upgrade, as you likely wouldn’t hear improved sound quality with a newer model unless you were to upgrade to one with better room correction.

An AV receiver is the core of most home theater systems. It combines source switching, audio (and sometimes video) processing, speaker amplification, and volume control in one box. Plug your source components—your media streamer, gaming console, cable or satellite receiver, and disc player—into its inputs, then connect its outputs to your display and speakers, and an AV receiver will direct all of the AV signals to the right places and in the right formats.

An AV receiver can also serve as a music hub for your home, since many can connect to your home network and stream audio around the house via platforms such as AirPlay 2, Chromecast, or proprietary systems, like Denon’s Heos and Yamaha’s MusicCast, that are designed to compete with the likes of Sonos. Many receivers include built-in music streaming services such as Pandora, Sirius XM, Spotify Connect, and Tidal, along with the ability to connect directly to internet radio stations and local DLNA media servers. And for those who prefer a more traditional approach, some receivers allow you to distribute audio sources (and sometimes video, too) to a second zone via wired connections.

If your current AV receiver works with all your AV components and has all the features you desire, you don’t really need to upgrade, as you likely wouldn’t hear improved sound quality with a newer model unless you were to upgrade to one with better room correction. But if you’ve recently purchased a new 4K HDR TV and 4K HDR source devices, an older AV receiver may lack the ability to pass through those higher-quality signals (a really old receiver may lack HDMI connections altogether). All of our current recommendations support 4K HDR displays and sources.

Many new AV receivers also support Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, newer sound formats designed to add an overhead element to the typical ear-level surround sound available for decades. To enjoy Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound to its fullest, you need to add height speakers or buy special Atmos-enabled speakers (you can read more about that topic in our guide to the best surround-sound speaker system), and you need an AV receiver that can decode these formats and provide power to more speakers.

Best surround-sound speakers

How to shop for an AV receiver

AV receivers run the price gamut from a couple hundred dollars to well into four-figure territory. Our focus here is on receivers that strike a good balance of performance, features, and value, so all of our picks are priced below $1, The serious audio or home theater enthusiast may choose to spend more money to get more power (which may be important if your speakers are difficult to drive), more amplified channels, more setup and customization options, and better build quality.

Because our goal was to recommend different receivers for different needs, we didn’t set a lot of minimum spec requirements to limit what models we considered. But there are certain key specs that you should consider when you begin your receiver search:

How many channels of speaker amplification do you need?

A basic home theater configuration requires a channel receiver to power two front speakers, a center-channel speaker, and two surround speakers. The “5” in this case refers to the number of amplified channels, and the “.1” stands for the subwoofer, which usually has its own amplifier built in so your receiver won’t need to provide it with power. Many mid- and higher-priced receivers are labeled as “.2” instead of “.1,” which means they have two subwoofer outputs that you may or may not be able to set up and adjust independently.

Most receivers priced around $ or less are channel designs. Moving up to a channel receiver gives you the option to add an extra pair of surround speakers, power a second audio zone, or build a basic Dolby Atmos/DTS:X system—provided the receiver has Atmos and DTS:X decoding (most newer channel models do). Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks include overhead or “height” effects to make the audio experience even more immersive. The more height speakers you add, the more convincing the effect—but that requires more amp channels, which leads to a more expensive AV receiver.

With Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, the channel counting gets a little more complicated. You might, for example, see designations like “” or “” The first numeral here refers to the number of conventional ear-level speakers, the second refers to the number of subwoofer outputs, and the third refers to the number of overhead channels. Since the subwoofer is typically self-powered, to figure out how many amplified channels a receiver has, or how many you need, you simply add the first and third numeral. So, a channel receiver has seven amplified channels and might also be referred to as a channel receiver.

How many sources do you plan to connect?

Your receiver needs to be able to connect all the HDMI source devices you have, which could include a cable box or DVR, a Blu-ray player, a gaming console, and a media streamer. Five HDMI ports is probably the right number for most people, as it gives you inputs for every source you’re likely to use in your home theater, with the option to add one or two more. You should also consider how many non-HDMI-equipped sources you want to connect and make sure the receiver has enough digital or analog inputs to accept them. If you have a turntable that lacks a phono preamp, you may want a receiver with a phono input.

How to connect a turntable

Which HDMI features do you need?

HDMI is the newest version of the digital connection that all current video-based components use. The connector remains the same, but version adds many new features, including support for 8K resolution by way of an increase in the maximum bandwidth from 18 Gbps to 48 Gbps (though all of the currently available HDMI –equipped receivers max out at 40 Gbps). Other noteworthy enhancements include automatic low-latency mode (which allows devices to automatically detect and switch to the best mode for gaming), eARC (which allows for higher-quality lossless audio over the HDMI Audio Return Channel instead of only compressed formats), variable refresh rate, and quick media switching.

An AV receiver can list features of the HDMI specification even if it supports only one or two of them, which certainly creates confusion for shoppers. Many current AV receivers and TVs support eARC, some support automatic low-latency mode, and some support variable refresh rate. But only a few of the newest receivers support the higher bandwidth necessary for 4K Hz gaming and 8K video. Make sure to read the fine print (or our discussions below) to pick a receiver that supports the HDMI features you need.

What type of streaming audio support do you want?

Even folks with extensive physical music collections likely stream much of their music from the internet, so a receiver needs some way of supporting streaming audio apps like Pandora and Spotify. With a budget receiver priced under $, you’re likely to get only Bluetooth support. As you move up in price, you can expect the ability to connect to a home network (check for a wired or wireless network connection, if you have a preference) and support for services like Pandora and Spotify built in (so you don’t have to cast the audio from your phone), as well as support for streaming protocols such as Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast. If you already own Wi-Fi speakers that use a certain platform (such as AirPlay), you may want to look for a receiver that features the same streaming technology so that all the devices will work well together.

What level of room correction are you willing to pay for?

Room-correction systems make the biggest impact on how a receiver sounds to most listeners. People rarely have perfect listening rooms, and speakers (especially subwoofers) often end up in spots where they are unobtrusive instead of where they sound the best. Room correction helps to improve the overall sound quality by using microphones and built-in software to estimate how your room and speaker placement are distorting the sound and to attempt to compensate for those distortions. Lots of receivers offer basic room correction, but when you invest in a more advanced room-correction technology such as Audyssey MultEQ XT32 or Dirac (both of which are proprietary systems that can appear in various brands of AV receivers), you get the ability to customize the type of corrections and account for multiple subwoofers, and these systems do a better job of tuning the sound without making it seem dull or overly processed.

In the price ranges we tested, we were unable to tell most receivers apart in blind testing when their room correction was not enabled. We found that the type of room correction in use had the biggest impact on sound quality, providing big benefits for some receivers and only smaller improvements for others.

How we tested

When testing each receiver, we considered its sonic performance and its ease of setup and everyday use. We performed blind A/B testing between receivers using an ABX test box from Audio by Van Alstine, which let us instantly switch between two different receivers to determine which one sounded better, with and without room correction enabled.

In previous tests, Chris Heinonen used KEF Reference In-Wall THX speakers and a subwoofer from Power Sound Audio for the majority of his testing. In our latest round of testing, Dennis Burger relied primarily on a CG3 speaker system from RSL Speakers and connected every receiver to a Vizio P-Series TV, a Sony PlayStation 4, a Roku Ultra, an Amazon Fire TV, and an Oppo Ultra HD Blu-ray player to see how easy it was to set up the system—including the Audio Return Channel (ARC) function—and switch between sources.

A great future-proof receiver: Yamaha RX-V6A

The Yamaha RX-V6A, our pick for the best AV receiver.

Who it’s for: If you want a great all-purpose channel receiver that won't feel outdated in a couple of years but is still priced well below $1,, we recommend the Yamaha RX-V6A. It has enough inputs for all of your source devices—from your streaming video player to your turntable—and it’s easy enough to set up and operate. Even if you have only a channel speaker system right now, it’s nice to have the two extra amp channels to add height speakers or a second audio zone down the road. The RX-V6A is a great choice if you’re thinking of buying a 4K TV that supports 4K video at Hz along with a source that can generate such video signals, such as the PlayStation 5—since it has (or will soon have) the HDMI features that gamers need.

Why it’s great: The Yamaha RX-V6A is an excellent performer that should serve most people’s movie and music needs right now, and we expect Yamaha to add a few key features via firmware update very soon (maybe by the time you’re reading this) that will appeal to gamers. It has plenty of inputs, including a phono input to connect a turntable, and it has seven channels of amplification, with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding to add overhead sound effects. In addition, it’s loaded with all the music streaming platforms and services you’re likely to subscribe to, and it sounds great thanks to a room-correction feature—multi-point measurements—that we just don’t expect to see on a $ AV receiver.

During our blind listening tests, we found that we were unable to tell most of these receivers apart when their room correction was disabled. The quality of the room correction had the biggest impact on the sound, and the RX-V6A’s YPAO (Yamaha Parametric room Acoustic Optimizer) room-correction system helped it deliver better results than what we heard from anything else near its price. After we ran the room correction, the RX-V6A’s sound was more open, more detailed, and more dynamic than that of anything else under $1,, which really makes a difference when you’re listening to music.

What distinguishes the RX-V6A’s room correction is the ability to place the included microphone in multiple positions while you’re taking your measurements. This gives the YPAO system a more comprehensive snapshot of your room’s acoustics, allowing it to correct the problems affecting all (or at least most) of the seating positions in your home theater or media room without overly deadening the sound—an issue that affects most room-correction systems in this price range and virtually all of the systems that rely on only one measurement position. YPAO is not quite as advanced as the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 technology built into the more expensive Denon AVR-XH, though, with less-refined delivery of the very deepest bass notes, those below 30 Hz. But if you’re buying a cheap subwoofer to connect to a $ AV receiver, the subwoofer is unlikely to generate bass that deep anyway (our budget subwoofer pick, the Dayton Audio SUB, is a rare exception).

Streaming-music aficionados will appreciate that the RX-V6A supports Bluetooth and AirPlay 2, with built-in Amazon Music, Deezer, Napster, Pandora, SiriusXM, Spotify Connect, Tidal, and more. It also supports Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri voice control, and it features Yamaha’s proprietary MusicCast system, a multiroom wireless music ecosystem similar to Denon’s Heos and standalone systems like Sonos.

The MusicCast technology allows you to wirelessly connect your surround speakers and subwoofer, but it has some limitations. You need to use Yamaha’s own MusicCast 20 or MusicCast 50 wireless speakers as rear speakers and its MusicCast SUB for bass. Wireless front speakers aren’t supported, so you still need to connect a left, right, and center speaker with speaker cables, as well as overhead speakers if you’re configuring an Atmos/DTS:X system. There are also some other limitations that we’ll detail in the next section.

The back of the Yamaha RX-V6A AV receiver, showing the various ports.

As for physical connectivity, the RX-V6A is rather generous in its HDMI connections but pretty sparse on the analog side of things. It sports four stereo RCA inputs, one of them an MM phono input to connect a turntable, and that’s it as far as support for analog source devices. It has no composite or component video inputs to connect older video sources. You get seven HDMI inputs, and all of them support 4K HDR (including Dolby Vision and Hybrid Log Gamma). Three of them boast some level of HDMI compliance, and the HDMI output supports eARC. Most of the HDMI features—such as quick media switching, quick frame transport, variable refresh rate, automatic low-latency mode, and the ability to pass uncompressed 4K Hz video—were still dormant when we reviewed the RX-V6A, but Yamaha says these features will be added in a spring or summer firmware update. More advanced features such as 8K video passthrough should come later, possibly this fall.

Finally, we simply love the way the RX-V6A looks. This may not be a big concern for most AV receiver shoppers, but the sleek aesthetic of this Yamaha receiver sets it apart from most of its competition, regardless of price, which you’re likely to appreciate if you install your home theater gear on an open-air shelf or tabletop.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The RX-V6A’s HDMI chipset has an incompatibility issue with the Xbox Series X that prevents it from passing through 4K Hz video signals correctly. This appears to be a problem with all of the brand-new “8K-compatible” receivers, not just Yamaha’s. If the Xbox Series X is your next-generation gaming console of choice, just know that you’ll have to route a 4K Hz HDMI signal directly to your TV and rely on eARC to deliver the audio signal to your receiver. But if you’re a PlayStation 5 owner or a PC gamer, you should be able to route 4K Hz signals as soon as the RX-V6A’s next major firmware update is released, likely before June

You need to download Yamaha’s mobile app (available for iOS and Android devices) to access the sort of intuitive setup wizard that Denon builds into its receivers, or you can work your way through the less-intuitive on-screen menus of the RX-V6A. Setup is still fairly straightforward overall, and the RX-V6A’s menus are pretty easy to figure out. But they could be better.

The remote control of the Yamaha RX-V6A.

One thing that makes the setup process only fairly straightforward instead of completely straightforward is the fact that the RX-V6A’s remote is sparse and not very responsive. We found ourselves frequently aiming the remote at the receiver, pressing a button, thinking the receiver didn’t receive the command, and pressing it again, only to cancel out the command we sent to begin with. The remote also lacks backlighting, so it’s hard to use in the dark beyond simple commands like volume control. If you use a universal remote to control your whole entertainment system, this will be less of a concern.

Our biggest frustration is that adding wireless surround-sound speakers to the RX-V6A disables the ability to use the YPAO room-correction system’s multi-point measurement capabilities, which is one of this receiver’s most significant selling points. Measuring your room from only one seating position results in noticeably less-refined room correction and more inconsistent performance from seat to seat. Also, for high-resolution audio fans: You cannot play DSD audio files when using wireless surrounds, nor does the receiver decode audio from SACD or DVD-Audio discs sent via HDMI.

A great choice for non-gamers: Denon AVR-SH

The front of the Denon AVR-SH AV receiver.

Who it’s for: If you’re not interested in the newest generation of video game consoles (and thus don’t need all the new HDMI features) and you simply want a great channel receiver that supports all the 4K video formats used in movies and TV shows, the Denon AVR-SH is our recommendation. You might want only a channel configuration now, but it’s good to have the option to set up a basic Dolby Atmos/DTS:X system in the future. We also recommend the AVR-SH for those who are new to AV receivers and need one that’s easy to set up and use.

Why it’s great: The Denon AVR-SH ticks all the necessary boxes. It has plenty of inputs, including a phono input to connect a turntable. It has seven channels of amplification, and it’s loaded with all the desirable music streaming platforms and services. But perhaps most important, the guided setup makes getting your system up and running very easy. Plus, this receiver sounds very good when you use the basic Audyssey MultEQ room correction—and it can sound great if you’re willing to put a little extra work into the room-calibration process.

Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support, along with seven channels of amplification, lets you enjoy a more immersive audio experience than you can get from a basic system. But if you can’t run surround speakers or height-channel speakers in your room, the AVR-SH also includes speaker-virtualization technology (similar to that found in many soundbars) to simulate surround sound from the front channels. And if you’re doing only a channel setup, you can use the two extra amp channels to power stereo speakers in a second audio zone.

The sonic results of the basic Audyssey MultEQ room correction aren’t quite as refined as those of the Yamaha RX-V6A’s YPAO system across the entire audible spectrum, so if you were to compare the two, you might notice that the sound isn’t as open and spacious, and that high frequencies are slightly dulled. But it does have a couple of advantages that put it on more equal footing with Yamaha’s room correction. First, it does a better job of taming the very deepest bass frequencies, which you’ll appreciate if you have a subwoofer that puts out a notable amount of bass below 30 Hz. Secondly, the AVR-SH is compatible with the MultEQ Editor app for iOS and Android devices. This $20 app greatly expands the capabilities of Audyssey MultEQ, allowing you to customize the receiver’s sound to a significant degree. It doesn’t deliver results as advanced as what you get from the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 technology built into the more expensive Denon AVR-XH, and it can’t calibrate two subwoofers individually, but if you’re willing to spend the extra money on the app and learn a bit about room acoustics, you can still achieve very good results.

The remote control of the Denon AVR-SH.

What truly distinguishes Denon’s receivers from the pack is how easy they are to get up and running. With an on-screen setup system that walks you through the entire process—from connecting speakers to setting up inputs to getting on Wi-Fi to running the room correction—almost anyone should be able to set up the AVR-SH correctly. When creating inputs, the receiver automatically grabs the name of the devices connected over HDMI, so you don’t have to remember, for example, that you hooked up the Xbox to the Cable/Sat input—it will be renamed “Xbox” for you. And the inputs you don’t use are hidden in the menu. These simple little touches make the AVR-SH one of the easiest receivers to use that we’ve ever seen.

With support for AirPlay 2, Bluetooth, Deezer, Heos (Denon’s own multiroom music platform), Pandora, Spotify Connect, TuneIn, and more, the AVR-SH lets you stream almost anything you want without needing any extra hardware. Through the free Heos app for iOS and Android, you can launch streaming services to play directly through the receiver, so you don’t need to keep your phone in range of Bluetooth or on Wi-Fi for AirPlay.

The back of the Denon AVR-SH AV receiver.

Six HDMI inputs, including a front-panel HDMI input, make it easy to run all of your devices through the AVR-SH. Though it isn’t a fully HDMI –compliant receiver, it does support features such as automatic low-latency mode for video gaming and eARC for improved audio quality from TVs. You also get digital and analog audio inputs (including an MM phono input), plus a couple of composite video inputs to connect older sources.

The AVR-SH provides other nice features, too, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility, the ability to route audio through Bluetooth headphones for nighttime listening, and a secondary audio zone that supports stereo playback of the receiver’s internal digital sources such as Spotify, as well as AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: Since the Denon AVR-SH’s HDMI inputs are not fully HDMI compliant, this receiver isn’t as future-ready as the Yamaha RX-V6A. You can’t pass a 4K Hz signal through it, and gamers don’t get support for variable refresh rate.

Although Denon’s Heos wireless system is technically capable of supporting wireless surround-sound speakers, as evidenced by the company’s Heos Bar and Heos AVR, the AVR-SH doesn’t support such connectivity.

The best sound quality under $1, Denon AVR-XH

The Denon AVR-XH AC receiver.

Who it’s for: We recommend the Denon AVR-XH channel receiver for anyone who is willing to pay more to get better room correction and thus a clear sonic upgrade. It’s also a great choice for anyone who wants to add more speakers for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

Why it’s great: The Denon AVR-XH takes everything we like about the AVR-SH and improves upon it. This model is a substantial upgrade to our previous pick in this category, the now-discontinued Denon AVR-XH, thanks to improved sonic performance and support for newer HDR video standards and other HDMI enhancements. The Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction is appreciably better than what you can find in any of our other picks, with more adjustments and the ability to calibrate two subwoofers independently. And the addition of two more amp channels allows for more speakers and improved Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersion.

The AVR-XH offers nine channels of amplification, so you could set up a system with five ear-level speakers, two independently measured subwoofers, and four overhead speakers. You can also reserve two of those channels for a separate stereo zone in another room. If you’re willing to add an outboard stereo amp, the AVR-XH has preamp outputs that allow you to expand the total speaker count to

The on-screen interface has improved graphics and easier-to-read text in comparison with its predecessor. The receiver also features seven HDMI inputs, all of which support HDMI features such as variable refresh rate, quick frame transport, and automatic low-latency mode. But only one supports 4K video at Hz or 8K video at 60 Hz.

The remote control of the Denon AVR-XH.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: The AVR-XH suffers from the same HDMI bug as the Yamaha RX-V6A and all current “8K-compatible” AV receivers do—they can’t pass a 4K Hz signal from the Xbox Series X. Denon has introduced an HDMI adapter box that solves this problem, and owners of the AVR-XH can request the free box beginning May 15, —but it does add another small piece of equipment to your gear rack. The PlayStation 5 and gaming PCs are not affected by this bug.

Although Denon’s Heos wireless system is technically capable of supporting wireless surround-sound speakers, as evidenced by the company’s Heos Bar and Heos AVR, the AVR-XH doesn’t support such connectivity.

An easy-to-use budget receiver: Denon AVR-SBT

The Denon AVR-SBT AV receiver.

Who it’s for: If you want to assemble a basic channel surround-sound system and you don’t have much (or any) experience setting one up, we recommend the Denon AVR-SBT. It’s also an affordable choice for anyone who already has a simple system in place but needs to upgrade their receiver because it can’t do 4K or HDR.

Why it’s great: Because the Denon AVR-SBT doesn’t have a lot of features, it’s particularly easy to set up, even if you don’t have much experience. On-screen prompts and a well-labeled back panel make it simple to get everything running correctly even if you’re a rookie.

The back of the AVR-SBT AV receiver.

The AVR-SBT provides fewer inputs than our other picks and has no Wi-Fi or Ethernet support, but the essentials are here. Photo: Rozette Rago

The remote control of the Denon AVR-SBT AV receiver.

The simplicity of the AVR-SBT’s remote reflects its more stripped-down feature set. Photo: Rozette Rago

This channel AV receiver supports high-quality Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks (but not the overhead capabilities of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X), and it offers five HDMI inputs that support 4K HDR pass-through (but no HDMI features), which is more than you’ll see on some comparably priced models. You also get a front-panel USB port, plus three digital inputs and a pair of analog inputs around back. The receiver has Bluetooth for streaming audio, as well as basic room correction to make everything sound good.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: This receiver lacks Wi-Fi and integrated music streaming options. As a result, you have to use Bluetooth to stream music, so your phone or other source device needs to stay close to the receiver—or you can add an inexpensive Wi-Fi streaming device. In addition, the AVR-SBT doesn’t have the Audyssey room correction that the higher-end Denon models offer, it lacks a front-panel HDMI input, and the speaker connections accept only pins and smaller-gauge bare wire, not banana plugs or thicker speaker wires.

What to look forward to

Anthem has introduced new upgrades to its popular MRX line in the form of the MRX ($1,), MRX ($2,), and MRX ($3,). All three models sport some compelling new features, including IMAX Enhanced and eARC, and they use Anthem’s own outstanding room-correction system. None will support 4K Hz or 8K signals at any refresh rate when they launch, but Anthem has designed the units to be hardware upgradable and promises a full 8K upgrade at some point down the road.

Klipsch’s parent company Voxx is now the official US distributor of the Onkyo and Pioneer brands, and Voxx is currently in the process of acquiring Onkyo Home Entertainment Corp, in partnership with Sharp. Onkyo previously announced several new models coming later in , among them four Onkyo models priced from $ to $1, and slated to ship sometime between June and August. All four support 8K video passthrough, and the two top models—the TX-NR ($) and TX-RZ50 ($1,)—will reportedly feature Dirac Live, an advanced form of room correction that allows for even greater customization and control than you can get from Audyssey’s top-of-the-line MultEQ XT

Pioneer also announced three new 8K-compatible receivers: the $1, VSX-LX in June, the $ VSX-LX in August, and the VSX-LX (release date and price unknown). The VSX-LX and VSX-LX will also support Dirac Live room correction. We don’t yet know how the sale of Onkyo Home Entertainment Corp will affect these planned releases.

The competition

Companies such as Denon and Yamaha offer a number of AV receivers at prices below, between, and above those we included in this guide. In selecting which specific models to recommend, we looked for the best mix of features, performance, and price, keeping in mind the needs of most people. But you may have specific needs that make one of the models we didn’t select a better pick for you.

For example, the new Denon AVR-SH and AVR-XH are priced between the company’s AVR-SH and AVR-XH, and both feature one fully compliant HDMI input. We’ve concluded that the AVR-SH doesn’t offer enough advantages over the AVR-SH to justify the increased price, though. And if you’re willing to step up to the AVR-XH in price, you’d be better off spending a couple hundred dollars more for the superior Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction of the AVR-XH, even if you don’t need its extra channels of amplification.

Along the same lines, the Denon AVR-SH falls between the AVR-SH and the AVR-SBT in price. It’s only a channel model, so it doesn’t give you Dolby Atmos or DTS:X support and can’t handle a second zone of audio; you also give up the front HDMI port. But it has all the networking features of the AVR-SH, so you don’t need to rely on Bluetooth for streaming audio, and it has the Audyssey MultEQ room correction. If you’re certain you’ll never need more than five channels of audio and don’t require a front-panel HDMI input, it offers performance very similar to that of the AVR-SH.

Yamaha recently introduced its Aventage RX-A2A ($). Despite its enhanced construction and other step-up features, the RX-A2A remains remarkably similar to the RX-V6A in features, channel count, power ratings, and other aspects—and as a result, the $cheaper RX-V6A is simply a better value. The company also offers the RX-V4A at $, but we still think it’s worthwhile to step up to the RX-V6A, not only for its increased channel count (the RX-V4A has only five amplified channels) but also for its superior room correction, since the RX-V4A lacks multi-point measurement capabilities. Finally, the Yamaha RX-V is the company’s entry-level Bluetooth-only model; the comparably priced Denon AVR-SBT is easier to set up and use.

Sony has not introduced new receivers since We previously tested the STR-DN, which is nearly three years old at this point so it’s missing key features such as AirPlay 2 support and any HDMI functionality. We were not impressed with its room correction; the automatic speaker setup wasn’t terribly accurate, and the bass in music was lacking impact and detail. We also tested the Sony STR-DH and STR-DH As with the STR-DN, the room correction in these receivers wasn’t as accurate in detecting our speakers, and Denon’s comparable models were easier to set up.

Onkyo and Pioneer have been in limbo for a couple of years, so we were hesitant to review and recommend their receivers, but both are supposed to come back this year with new models (detailed above), some of which feature the superior Dirac Live room-correction system. Our intention is to add these to our testing once they’re released in the summer and autumn of

About your guides

Dennis Burger
Chris Heinonen

Chris Heinonen is a senior staff writer reporting on TVs, projectors, and sometimes audio gear at Wirecutter. He has been covering AV since for a number of online publications and is an ISF-certified video calibrator. He used to write computer software and hopes to never do that again, and he also loves to run and test gear for running guides.


Tv receiver best

Best AV receivers which home cinema AV receiver should you buy?

Buying one of the best AV receivers of is an excellent decision if you want to transform your humble entertainment set-up into your own personal home theater system. We like to think of an AV receiver as a home entertainment hub, which will ensure you get the best possible audio and video possible from the devices you already have.

With that in mind, if you want the best entertainment experience, an AV receiver is important. Buying one of the best TVs on the market allows you to bring that huge cinema screen feel to your home, but it far too often won’t be able to deliver the audio you need to match it. What’s the answer? To get the high-end sound that truly makes the most of your 4K TV, you'll need to buy yourself an AV receiver.

But wait, what really is an AV receiver? Good question. It might sound like complex audio equipment, but an AV receiver is really just a much way to better control your AV setup. AV receivers are able to take the audio track from whatever TV show, movie, CD, or video game you're watching or listening to and then process the audio and send it through to any connected speakers you have. 

Importantly, AV receivers (which are also known as AVRs) don’t just improve sound. They are also the only way to power and speaker setups outside of a soundbar, and they can also host a wide range of ports, which allows you to keep all of your devices connected all of the time. 

This is essential, because you should think of the best AV receivers as the central hub that all of your entertainment equipment will connect to and communicate with in order to bring you the best possible experience.

Even if you have a whole host of other devices, the best AV receivers mean that the transition between them can be seamless. That means, regardless of what it is you’re trying to play, watch or listen to, you’ll always get an amazing entertainment experience to (just about) rival your nearest cinema screen.

8K AV receivers are now also entering the market too. That means if you own or you’re thinking of upgrading to an 8K TV, you might want to check out the 8K-capable AVR from Denon or Yamaha, especially for use alongside the latest gaming consoles, like the PS5 or Xbox Series X. We'll update this guide once some of these 8K models have been through our tests, too.

On a budget


This multiroom receiver is a bright, lively listen


Power output (claimed): 5 x 50W into 8 ohms

Dolby Atmos: No

HDMI: 4-in 1-out

AV inputs: 2 x digital audio (1 x optical and 1 x coaxial), mm stereo minijack, stereo phono

Dimensions: (w) x 90(h) x (d) mm

Weight: 6kg

Reasons to buy

+Revolutionary design+Compatible with wireless HEOS multi-room speakers

Reasons to avoid

-Not Dolby Atmos compatible-Fun for movies, music not so much

It’s not often we see something radically different in the world of AV receivers, but this HEOS model definitely qualifies. For starters, it looks fundamentally different to the herd. There’s no front panel display. Rear connectivity has also been stripped back. Standing just 90mm tall, it’s refreshing compact.  

Build quality is superb. Only a volume knob on the extruded aluminum fascia gives the AVR game away. 

There are four HDMI inputs, and a single output, all with HDCP support. There's just two digital audio inputs (coaxial and optical), plus analogue stereo, mm minijack, lone USB and Ethernet LAN. Wireless connectivity covers Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

Perhaps surprisingly, this is a channel design and doesn’t support Dolby Atmos. Key to the receiver’s appeal is HEOS wireless speaker integration. While there is provision for wired rear speakers, the system is designed to work with wireless HEOS rears. In most systems, only the front L/C/R will be tethered. It can also partner with a dedicated wireless HEOS subwoofer. 

While a remote is supplied, it’s a basic zapper. There’s no onscreen display either. Setup and control is done through a HEOS app. 

For our audition, we partnered the AVR with a pair of HEOS 1s at the rear, and the wireless HEOS subwoofer. With speakers grouped, the package becomes a working system. There’s no further calibration required.

The HEOS AVR may not be a powerhouse, but it’s a bright, lively listen. The receiver delivers multichannel movie soundtracks with gusto. It’s crisp and exciting, particularly when there’s plenty going on around the soundstage (try it with Edge of Tomorrow Blu-ray, then duck as the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack unloads chaos in every corner).   

This isn’t a particularly musical AVR though. Pop and rock are entertaining enough, but throw a throw it something classical or jazzy and its spatial delineation turns a bit mushy. 

Using wireless rears can invite some problems. While latency isn’t an issue, we were aware of occasional low-level pops and fizzes.

As an ambitious reworking of the classic home theater receiver, we rate this first HEOS AVR as an qualified success. The cosmetics are admirable, and for dedicated HEOS multi room users the wireless interactivity is a boon. Employing an app for control seems to make perfect sense, the only snag comes if your streaming audio sources are also app controlled and need to be juggled outside of the HEOS app. This may not be the future of AV receivers, but it’s a refreshing rethink nonetheless. 


An innovative, affordable Dolby Atmos AV receiver with plenty of cool tricks


Power output (claimed): 7 x W into 6 ohms

Dolby Atmos: Yes ()

HDMI: 6-in, 2-out

AV inputs: 3 x composite; 2 x digital audio

Dimensions: (w) x (h) x (d) mm

Weight: kg

Reasons to buy

+Dynamic movie performance+Virtual surround speaker technology

Reasons to avoid

-Frustrating user interface-No HDMI

It might be late to the party, but Sony’s debut Dolby Atmos AV receiver entertains with some cool functionality. While it’s ostensibly a seven channel design (which means it can run in a Dolby Atmos configuration) there are also two phantom rears which create a pseudo seven channel surround soundstage. The receiver can even virtually relocate the physical position of your speakers, to create a better sonic balance.   

Build quality is commensurate with its price tag. This is no heavyweight, and the fascia looks overly fussy, but the hairline finish is a premium touch. Connectivity is good. We get six HDMI inputs, all HDCP enabled. There are also two HDMI outputs, for combi TV and projector use. There are also two analogue 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 quick pairing, plus Airplay.  The AVR also boasts Chromecast Built-in. That’s all the main wireless boxes ticked.

Setup is helped along by the latest iteration of Sony’s Auto Calibration software, which now features a band graphic EQ and a stereo calibration microphone that adjusts phase, distance and level.

Usability is average. The receiver relies heavily on its UI, which is pretty but sometimes a little frustrating.  

Performance is excellent for the price. Tonally the STR-DN may not be particularly warm, but it is exciting. Movies benefit from seamless panning and pronounced dynamics. Power output is quoted at  7 x W into 6 ohms. The biggest surprise is the effectiveness of the phantom rears, which really do help fill out the rear surround stage. This sonic trickery positions the STR-DN somewhere above a standard design, but below a true nine channel amp.

Overall, this is an innovative, exciting AV Dolby Atmos receiver. Consider it a brilliant value home cinema offering.  

Mid-range AV receivers

Denon AVR-XH

Futureproof your setup with this awesome 8K AVR


Power output (claimed): 7 x 95W at 8 ohms

Dolby Atmos: Yes ()

HDMI: 6-in, 2-out

AV inputs: 3 x composite; 2 x digital audio

Dimensions: (w) x (h) x (d) mm

Weight: kg


Still not sure? We got this.

We’re not going to sugarcoat this: choosing the best possible home theater receiver for the best possible home theater or multi-room music solution is not easy. Above, we’re just scratching the surface on features and capabilities – we could write words on any ONE receiver above, and still not cover everything.

The good news? Once everything is set up, most AV receivers really are simple to operate. (Not the case 10 years ago.) And though most include a remote control with more buttons than Granny’s sewing box, most also include an intuitive, easy-to-use smart phone app that simplifies everything – right down to the very basics. (Most of our customers prefer the app.)

As always, we invite you to call or write, anytime, with any questions at all. Tell us what you’re looking for, what your budget is, a little about your room, what kind of movies and music you like, and we’ll explain your options patiently, honestly, and without pressure or ”selling.” Our one and only goal: helping you get it right while saving you some money. Our one and only motive: doing such a great job, you tell your friends, neighbors (even your cousin Ricky) about us.

One more thing:

A last word of advice: if not us, buy your new AV receiver from a trusted dealer. And the more experience and longer the track record, the better. A good dealer will take care of you in the event anything happens.

Speaking of trusted dealers

World Wide Stereo is home to some 90+ industry-leading audio/video professionals who love what they do and talking about it, too. We opened our doors in , gained a small yet die-hard following, won a slew of national awards for everything from killer car audio installations to customer service, grew the business online… and today we enjoy a faithful following of like-minded TV-watching, music-listening, gear-loving defenders of fun for the whole family. Our only rule: no one leaves unhappy. Learn more about World Wide Stereo here.


You will also be interested:

Best AV receivers brilliant home cinema amplifiers

Best AV receivers Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best home cinema amplifiers you can buy in

If you're serious about home cinema then there really is no substitute for a set of surround sound speakers powered by an AV receiver.

The home cinema amplifier is the brains and brawn of any home cinema system and will ensure your TV and films sound powerful, detailed and dynamic and truly give you that immersive experience.

The majority of AV receivers now include Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support for adding even more sound channels, with the addition of height channel speakers, or they can, of course, play vanilla surround sound. Expect HDMI inputs that can pass through 4K (and even 8K) and HDR video, with voice assistant support, Bluetooth wireless audio and Apple AirPlay extras on a fair number of models these days. 

But most of all, the best AV receivers deliver brilliant, room-filling sound. And these are our pick of them, all tried, tested and star-rated in our dedicated testing rooms.

1. Denon AVC-XH

Denon raises the bar again for what is achievable for less than a grand.


Video support: 8K HDR

Surround formats: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, IMAX Enhanced

HDMI inputs: 7

Hi-res audio: bit/kHz & DSD

Bluetooth: Yes

Streaming services: Spotify, Tidal. Qobuz, AirPlay, YouTube

Audio channels:

Dimensions: 17 x 43 x 38cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to buy

+Wonderfully clear and detailed+Dynamic and engaging+HDMI and 8K

Reasons to avoid

-Nothing at this price

When you listen to class-leading products as often as we do, you know immediately when a new standard has been set. That said, sometimes it takes until you have a direct comparison with another superb product to comprehend just how high the bar has been lifted.

That is the case with the new 8K-ready Denon AVC-XH home cinema amplifier. While there may be a small part of us that would delight in the Japanese company messing up one of these amps – purely so we would have something different to write – the sonic improvement it has made on its predecessor is quite surprisingly marked, which is why its retained its What Hi-Fi? Award in

The energy of the performance is immediately striking. There’s greater muscle than before, but it is also even lither and better defined. It’s a combination of solid dynamic expression, which enthuses each vocal line as much as differentiating one gunshot from another, a sharper punch and greater clarity that allows you to get deeper inside the soundtrack and become more immersed.

If you have the system to match it with, the AVC-XH is another Denon effort that will happily last you many years.

Read the full review: Denon AVC-XH

2. JBL Synthesis SDR

JBL’s classy SDR is a clear cut above the AVR norm


Video support: 4K HDR

Surround formats: Dolby Atmos, Atmos Height Virtualization, DTS:X, DTS Virtual:X, Auro 3D, IMAX Enhanced

HDMI inputs: 7

High res audio: 24Bit / kHz

Bluetooth: Yes

Streaming Services: Chromecast, AirPlay 2, aptX HD Bluetooth, Roon Ready

Dimensions: x x x mm (H x W x D)

Reasons to buy

+Supremely clean, clear sound+Thrilling mix of subtlety and scale+Substantial format support

Reasons to avoid

-Only seven channels of power-HDMI upgrade will cost extra

When hunting for an AV receiver or amplifier, it can be hard not to get caught up in the battle of the tech specs and those who become too focused on comparing spec sheets may well overlook the What Hi-Fi? Award-winning JBL Synthesis SDR

While its format support is thorough, its amplification for just seven channels and current lack of HDMI  connections (all of the sockets are 18gbps HDMI s but a hardware upgrade to HDMI will be offered towards the end of ) are trumped by Denon receivers costing around a sixth of its price tag.

In terms of sound quality though, this JBL is in a whole different league, delivering music and movies with a truly rare maturity and sophistication and if we were building a high-end home cinema from scratch, it would be the first component on the shortlist.

The range of supported HDR types is exemplary, with HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision and HDR10+ all offered on the video side, and Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Auro 3D and even IMAX Enhanced for audio. There's also Dolby Height Virtualisation and DTS Virtual:X on board for those who want to simulate height effects without the use of physical ceiling or up-firing speakers.

As well as a substantial selection of physical connections, there are plenty of ways to wirelessly get your content to the SDR too with aptX HD Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast on board. It also works with Harman’s MusicLife app, which allows for streaming of music from the likes of Tidal, Deezer and Qobuz, plus tracks stored on your own network.

Read the full review: JBL Synthesis SDR

3. Denon AVC-XH

A powerful amp that was worth the wait.


Power output: W


Video support: 8K HDR

Surround formats: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, IMAX Enhanced

HDMI inputs: 8

Wi-fi: Yes

Bluetooth: Yes

Dimensions: 17 x 43 x 38cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to buy

+Impressive scale and authority+Improved detail and expression+8K support

Reasons to avoid

-Some may want to dial back bass

When hunting for an AV receiver or amplifier, it can be hard not to get caught up in the battle of the tech specs and those who become too focused on comparing spec sheets may well overlook the What Hi-Fi? Award-inning JBL Synthesis SDR

While its format support is thorough, its amplification for just seven channels and current lack of HDMI  connections (all of the sockets are 18gbps HDMI s but a hardware upgrade to HDMI will be offered towards the end of ) are trumped by Denon receivers costing around a sixth of its price tag.

In terms of sound quality though, this JBL is in a whole different league, delivering music and movies with a truly rare maturity and sophistication and if we were building a high-end home cinema from scratch, it would be the first component on the shortlist.

The range of supported HDR types is exemplary, with HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision and HDR10+ all offered on the video side, and Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Auro 3D and even IMAX Enhanced for audio. There's also Dolby Height Virtualisation and DTS Virtual:X on board for those who want to simulate height effects without the use of physical ceiling or up-firing speakers.

As well as a substantial selection of physical connections, there are plenty of ways to wirelessly get your content to the SDR too with aptX HD Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast on board. It also works with Harman’s MusicLife app, which allows for streaming of music from the likes of Tidal, Deezer and Qobuz, plus tracks stored on your own network.

Read the full review: JBL Synthesis SDR

4. Sony STR-DN

Best AV receiver in its class. A superb piece of kit for the money.


Video support: 4K HDR

Surround formats: Dolby Atmos & DTS:X

HDMI inputs: 6

Hi-res audio: bit/kHz & DSD

Bluetooth: Yes

Streaming services: Spotify, Tidal. Qobuz, AirPlay, YouTube

Audio channels:

Dimensions: 16 x 43 x 33cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to buy

+Punchy, agile and precise+Enjoyable and dynamic performance+Exhaustive features

Reasons to avoid

-A backlit remote would be nice

The fact that this was our Product of the Year for two years in a row – and picked up a fourth Award in – tells you all you need to know. This hugely talented AV receiver was best in class when we originally tested it and remains sensational value for money.

And as for the sound it makes well, let's just say you'll have to spend an awful lot more cash to get better performance. The feature-packed Sony STR-DN sounds fantastic, reaching deep into its reserves to deliver a performance packed with punch, dynamism and authority in a way we haven’t heard from home cinema amplifiers at this sort of price.

There's an incredible amount of detail from natural, expressive voices to layers of insight and depth surrounding each sound effect. Dynamically speaking, it's a fun and exciting listen, equally at home rendering tranquil, quiet moments as it is huge, wall-shuddering explosions - in a word, enthralling.

Sony has unfortunately discontinued the STR-DN and it's now almost impossible to buy a new one in the UK. It's worth considering a second-hand unit, though, and there's still decent availability in the US – for now.

Read the full review: Sony STR-DN

5. Denon AVR-XH

Another entry-level AVR belter from Denon.


Power output: W


Video support: 8K HDR

Surround formats: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, IMAX Enhanced

HDMI inputs: 7

Wi-fi: Yes

Bluetooth: Yes

Dimensions: 17 x 43 x 33cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to buy

+Superb spatial control+Excellent sense of rhythm+HDMI and 8K

Reasons to avoid

-Nothing at this price

If we had to use one word to describe the sound of this receiver, it would be ‘confident’. The AVR-XH doesn’t try too hard to impress, as a nervously underpowered budget amp might. 

It’s bigger, better and more cultured than that. It has even greater authority than last year’s model, and it never strains to exert it. The two subwoofers in our set-up growl with control whenever called upon, never once detracting from the crystal clarity of the music in the soundtrack, the voices or surround effects.

It’s an easy and effective listen. No matter how hectic the action becomes, this Denon never misses a beat. It passes the laser blasts from speaker to speaker in a wonderfully coherent manner and, no matter the scene, creates a genuine sense of place.

Read the full review: Denon AVR-XH

6. Denon AVR-XH

A former Award winner that still packs a punch.


Power output: W

Channels: 9

Video support: 4K HDR

Surround formats: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Dolby Vision

HDMI inputs: 8

Wi-fi: Yes

Bluetooth: Yes

Dimensions: 17 x 44 x 3cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to buy

+Added amplification channels+More power than its predecessor+Gains worthwhile technologies

Reasons to avoid

-Nothing at this price

Sometimes the differences between generations of Denon home cinema can appear minor. But that wasn't the case with the AVR-XH.

Rather than merely updating the Award-winning AVR-XH, Denon added two amp channels and processing power for a further pair, upgraded power supply and power transformer and extruded aluminium heatsink.

Most importantly, though, it tightened up the sound to a truly impressive degree. Its predecessor had muscle, but this amp is even more clearly defined and at full fighting fitness.

It isn’t so much the fact that this is an altogether more powerful amplifier than the Award-winning AVR-XH – already a mighty receiver in its own right – but its muscle feels leaner, and punches tend to sting more.

Truly, this is a heavyweight in every sense of the word. That's why we named it our AV receiver Product of the Year for For pound-per-performance value, it's only beaten by its successor above.

Read the full review: Denon AVR-XH

7. Yamaha RX-A2A

An AV receiver with bold sound to match its bold looks


HDR support: HDR10, Dolby Vision, HDR10+ (via future update)

Surround formats: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization

HDMI inputs: 7

High res audio: ALAC: up to 96 kHz / bit, FLAC: up to kHz / bit, WAV / AIFF: up to kHz / bit

Bluetooth: Yes (SBC / AAC)

Streaming: MusicCast, AirPlay 2

WiFi: /5GHz

Dimensions: 17 x 44 x 37cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to buy

+Agile and responsive+Spacious but focused presentation+Exciting character

Reasons to avoid

-Lacks authority-HDMI features require updates

Part of Yamaha's premium Aventage range, the RX-A2A is the beneficiary of a glossy aesthetic revamp as well as an injection of next-generation connectivity that will future proof it for the coming years.

With seven full-range channels of power, each rated at W into eight ohms in stereo conditions, plus two subwoofer outputs, the RX-A2A can handle up to speaker configurations or, if using the supported Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding, a set-up. 

Sonically it's impressive and incredibly responsive, delivering punchy transients, spacious surround sound and plenty of musical drive.

For streaming, there's Yamaha’s MusicCast app, which allows for high-res and lossless music formats including Apple Lossless (ALAC) up to 96kHz, WAV, FLAC or AIFF up to kHz as well as playback from services including Spotify and Tidal. There’s also AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth (SBC / AAC) on board and Google Assistant/Alexa compatibility for voice control, not to mention a DAB+ and FM/AM tuner.

There are several planned upgrades that Yamaha will make to the RX-A2A to get it up to full spec, but it will eventually support up to 4K at Hz (both with and without display screen compression) and 8K at 60Hz (with display screen compression) through three of its seven HDMI inputs. 

These features, along with other next-gen HDMI updates and HDR10+, will only become available thanks to a series of firmware updates beginning this Autumn. A free hardware upgrade will also be available to make it fully compatible with 4K at Hz signals from an Xbox Series X or Nvidia RTXseries graphics card. 

But the lack of these features out of the box will probably only matter if you're a hardcore gamer. For films, the RX-A2A handles 4K signals at up to 60 frames per second, which no source currently goes beyond, and supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision video formats.

Read the full review: Yamaha RX-A2A

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