The very best audio home theater systems go far beyond than just your typical sound bar and speakers. To truly add a touch of flare to your home theater system, consider an AV receiver.
The number of AV receivers to select from can be overpowering. Without the right experience or expertise, the average consumer doesn’t know what they’re getting themselves into. Fortunately, we’ve compiled a guide to help you navigate this issue to help you find the best high quality AV receivers.
Other audio equipment are pretty obvious and easy to understand. But what the heck is an AV receiver?
Understand that the AV receiver, in its simplest form, is simply the brain or central hub for your home theater system. Its job is to be the main switcher between all your audio and video in addition to processing. Additionally, it’s a power source to your speaker system.
Similar to the motherboard in a computer system, the AV receiver is the motherboard equivalent for audio equipment. Finding the right one is incredibly important and can have a significant impact on your audio experience.
Technology is ever-evolving, and while it’s mostly positive, it’s a double edged sword as well. Understanding your needs will save you a lot of time and money. Do you need the latest “must have” features?
Chances are, you’ll probably be very content with an older model. Jumping on the bandwagon for the latest up to date products is not worth it in the long run. Figure out your needs, and everything else will come together.
If the AV receiver is considered the motherboard equivalent for audio equipment, then the audio system you currently have now will make an impact on what type of AV receiver you buy. For the most part, AV receivers will have no issues powering most speakers in the market.
However, what you should be mindful about is the impedance compatibility. If your impedance of your speakers show that it’s 8 ohms nominal, then you’re fine. However, if this is not the case, we highly recommend you consulting someone that works in the audio department for a better opinion.
If you’ve come this far in your audiophile journey, you should have learned that this hobby doesn’t come cheap. Assuming you’ve spent a great deal of money on other audio equipment, establishing a budget to leave room for an AV receiver is equally as important.
Remember that the golden rule of a home theater system is that it’s an ongoing process. Unless you have the money to dish out, you’ll be comfortably content with upgrading your sound systems as time goes on. If you don’t need it at the moment, make room for it later.
Like many of us audiophiles, our craze for the latest features drew us to the Yamaha RX-A1050. It comes with a variety of features that includes: 4K Ultra HD video upscaling, HDCP 2.2 support, built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and more.
When we were shopping the market, having a variety of features is important. Being reasonably up to date with technology was our goal, and the Yamaha RX-A1050 delivered that. The sound quality we’ve experienced was second to none.
It also has the ability to enhance music quality so for gamers or music fanatics, this is a plus. One of the more impressive features as the reflected sound control. The RSC helps analyze the room and measures sound characteristics, which then uses that information to optimize sound calibration for the best audio experience.
This is the third Yamaha receiver we’ve had in the last 10 years and was an impressive upgrade over our old receiver. It is pricy but it is one of the best AV receivers under 1000 dollars that did extremely well for its intended purpose and had more ups than downs.
We did have a setback with the Yamaha RX-A1050 and although we couldn’t pinpoint the issue, it wasn’t a deal breaker. We had some connectivity issues with some of our other audio equipment. Although Yamaha is known to be very versatile with other products, this experience was a minor let down.
We believe it was a compatibility issue so we weren’t completely sour about the experience. We still highly recommend the Yamaha RX-A1050 with confidence for anyone looking for the best high quality av receivers.
We trust Yamaha and we’ve always placed our trust in their products. The Yamaha RX-A1050 deserves 4.5 stars out of 5.
Onkyo stunned us with their Onkyo TX-RZ720 Rz Series as it was a true testament to their Japanese heritage. Onkyo translates to sound harmony and the Onkyo TX-RZ720 Rz Series certainly delivered a harmonious experience.
If there’s anything that the Onkyo TX-RZ720 Rz Series lacks, features is not one of them. The Onkyo TX-RZ720 Rz Series contains a variety of features that is sure to please any consumer, including: Built-in Chromecast, ability to stream all DTS Play-Fi wireless protocol devices, and more. You can also play internet radio as well as stream Pandora or Tidal.
The Onkyo TX-RZ720 Rz Series works with Wi-Fi, AirPlay, Spotify, and Bluetooth. The options between 5 GHz or 2.4 Ghz enables seamless streaming through its connectivity options. If you’re not satisfied, Bluetooth connectivity serves as a great last resort.
It would be an error to discount the Onkyo TX-RZ720 Rz Series on assumptions that the sound isn’t great. When we added this to our audio system, we were highly impressed. The amazing sound and video performance were a dream come true---we were simply too addicted.
While the Onkyo TX-RZ720 Rz Series certainly made a favorable impression on us as one of the best stereo receivers under 1000 dollars, it certainly didn’t come without issues. One of the most important factors in our purchases was convenience, and the Onkyo TX-RZ720 Rz Series doesn’t come with a remote. It’s not the end of the world but for the best audio experience, convenience is considered a normal standard.
The Onkyo TX-RZ720 Rz Series was true to its brand name---we received a harmonious experience. The AV receiver definitely deserves 4.5 stars out of 5.
The Marantz SR6010-R is softer on price in comparison with its competitors. It is perhaps the best AV receiver under 800 dollars that we’ve added most recently.
Saying that the Marantz SR6010-R is sleek is an insult. The Marantz SR6010-R is much more, it is sexy, powerful, and loud. Its polished metal design makes its competitors extremely envious and after experiencing it first hand for ourselves, we understood why.
The Marantz SR6010-R comes with many standard features that other receivers have: Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, Dolby Atmos and Dts UHD, and more. What’s most impressive is that it allows connectivity to direct external digital sources, something we’ve had issues with in other AV receivers.
We’ve never been a strong fan of Marantz but after owning this AV receiver, we’re starting to see a change of heart. It’s very comparable to higher-end receivers at a reasonable price. It had no issues connecting and powering our 7.2 surround sound speakers and delivers richer and warmer sound that’s rarely seen in other receivers.
As much as we’ve praised the Marantz SR6010-R, like many of the products we’ve owned, it does come with its own set of challenges. A common issue, we experienced Bluetooth connectivity issues. Furthermore, we were slightly disappointed when it showed connectivity issues with our Samsung TV.
None of our struggles is significant enough to make us regret our decision with the Marantz SR6010-R. We still highly recommend it because its benefits outweighs its difficulties.
Our experience tells us that the Marantz SR6010-R deserves 4 stars out of 5. Our hopes in the next model is improved Bluetooth connectivity as well as a better warranty.
Sony does it again with the Sony HAPS1/B. The Sony HAPS1/B is one of the more memorable additions to our audio system as it does a phenomenal job in playing music.
When we were in the market, we had one goal in mind and that was to find a high quality music player system. After browsing through countless expensive AV receiver reviews, we stumbled upon the Sony HAPS1/B. We can confidently say that we were not disappointed.
The Sony HAPS1/B plays a variety of music formats, including: Advanced Lossless, MP3, AAC, WMA, and more. It also comes with a 500 GB hard drive for all your music playback needs. To add the cherry on top, the Sony HAPS1/B supports Wi-Fi connectivity for wireless audio transfers.
A very nice addition to the Sony HAPS1/B is that the screen background changes color according to album art, a very artistic touch. As far as space goes, the Sony HAPS1/B scores really high. Although the weight can be noticeable, the highest quality systems we’ve come across were almost always heavier than its cheaper counterparts.
Sony is a powerhouse in the audio space, but the Sony HAPS1/B did come with some struggles. One of the most inconvenient issues we’ve struggled with is its transfer capabilities. For a high-end music device, you’d think that transferring music would be one of its strengths.
For users that have a small music library, this may not apply, but for music fanatics, this is bothersome. Transferring a large music library to the Sony HAPS1/B became very problematic, and took approximately 10 hours to do so. Without going into too much detail, the problems didn’t stop there either.
We got around this issue by transferring a small number of music files at a time. So while music transfer is an issue, it wasn’t a deal breaker. The Sony HAPS1/B is still one of the most pleasant music players we’ve used.
We’ve been a loyal customer to Sony for years and still vouch for its high quality products. Despite that, we feel that the Sony HAPS1/B deserves 3.5 stars out of 5 for its shortcomings.
You get what you pay for certainly applies to the Pioneer Elite SC-87. While this AV receiver isn’t the best AV receiver under 1000 dollars, the hefty price tag certainly justifies its superb quality and build.
At first glance, you’ll notice that the Pioneer Elite SC-87 comes well built with a brushed metal finish. We assure you that its sound quality is just as superior as its beautiful looks.
The Pioneer Elite SC-87 is top notch when it comes to 4K ultra HD compatibility. The number of ports and functionalities it has on the back tells you that it is designed for the purpose of catering to audiophiles. The Pioneer Elite SC-87 is designed for serious sound: 140 watts x 9 channels, 810 watts of multi-channel simultaneous drive, and more.
It comes prebuilt with a variety of software that brings sound to your fingertips: Pandora, Roku, Spotify, and more. It also comes with a control app that turns your iPhone, iPad, or Android device into a powerful, wireless remote that gives you total control.
It sports a variety of connectivity options, such as Bluetooth, HDMI, USB, and more. Although it is slightly heavy at around 38 pounds, heavy isn’t necessarily bad.
One complaint we had for the Pioneer Elite SC-87 was that it didn’t have TV pass-through. For a high quality receiver such as this, we expected more for the high price it commands.
Overall, we were very pleased with the Pioneer Elite SC-87. It satisfied our audiophile cravings and delivers high quality performance that is comparable with other competitors.
Overall, we were very pleased with the Pioneer Elite SC-87. However, for the price and expectations, we decided that 3.5 stars out of 5 was reasonable.
Nearing the end of our list is the Denon AVR-X3200W. It is one of the few AV receivers we have that allows full 4K ultra HD compatibility.
Like many of its competitors, the Denon AVR-X3200W comes with standard connectivity: Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. However, what stands out about this AV receiver in particular is its IP control capability. This unique feature turned our stereo system into a wireless hub and gave us the ultimate convenience experience.
We easily paired the Denon AVR-X3200W with our other audio equipment for an incredible immersive experience. We were worried with compatibility issues but those worries were quickly put to rest. The Denon AVR-X3200W is able to connect to a large number of devices in a seamless way, more than most AV receivers can handle.
One thing to be wary about is that customer support is not very good. We had some issues with the receiver and customer support could use some improvement. Their warranty could use some improvement as well.
We had an exceptional experience with the Denon AVR-X3200W and feel that it deserves 4.5 stars out of 5.
It’s only fitting that the last AV receiver we review comes from a harmonious experience with none other than the Onkyo TX-NR636. Like the other Onkyo products we’ve owned, we only have good things to say about the Onkyo TX-NR636.
First and foremost, the Onkyo TX-NR636 is a great AV receiver for those that play games. We’re avid gamers ourselves and we were incredibly pleased with the experience the Onkyo TX-NR636 has delivered.
The Onkyo TX-NR636 is able to integrate high quality surround sound to any home theater system. It is able to play 4K/60 Hz games and takes movies to the next levels. The Onkyo TX-NR636 comes as a powerhouse with its 32-bit processing engines that delivers twice the power of standard processing engines.
Bluetooth connectivity with Wi-Fi options allow wireless app streams for any music stored on your devices. The Onkyo TX-NR636 is a power player for music and video games alike.
If there was one suggestion we’d like to address, it would definitely be the HDMI. It didn’t do very well in this department and lacked compatibility with a number of our devices. HDMI is very important to us and the absence of a fully functioning HDMI port definitely disappointed us.
We’ve had a lot of memories with the Onkyo TX-NR636, and our pleasant experiences allow us to give this 4 stars out of 5. If their HDMI is improved in their next model, 4.5 stars is very likely.
If you are on a tight budget, consider the best AV receiver under 500 bucks. You might find an affordable AV gem there!
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