The Best Home Theater Receivers of 2020
Last updated on February 3, 2020
Today’s top AV receivers (aka Audio/Video or Home Theater Receivers) represent the most technical / feature-rich / hard-to-understand components in our stores, so it’s no surprise that 4 out of every 5 questions we get are typically about AV receivers. Like “what is 4K switching and do I really need it?” Or “can an AV Receiver operate two TVs at once while playing different music in every room?” To the more challenging “what the heck is DTS:X and HDCP 2.2 support, and do I really need to know?”
For easy-to-understand answers (starting with “what are AV Receivers and what do they do?) we recommend hitting our easy-to-read “AV Receivers Buying Guide.” But if you’re in a hurry and just want to know which of the newest AV receivers are best, you’re already on the right page. Below, our experts list the best of the best by category, so you can get the best for you, your situation, and your budget.
One last note going in: Though we list and compare key features for each receiver, all contain the bare essentials: support for 4K, HDR, and current HDMI standards. We also don’t cover all features (some have over 100!). That way, we can keep everything bite-size. But if you’re an audiophile and want the complete story, we do link to each receiver’s full spec sheet.
Ready? Let’s do this.
Best AV Receivers featured in this roundup: 1. Best Budget AV Receiver: Sony STR-DH590 2. Best Wireless AV Receiver: Denon HEOS AVR-X2600H 3. Best 7-Channel AV Receiver: Yamaha RX-A1080 4. Best 9-Channel AV Receiver: Yamaha RX-A3080 5. Best 11-Channel AV Receiver for a Single Room: Marantz SR8012 6. Best 13.2-Channel AV Receiver: Denon AVR-X8500H 7. Best AV Receiver for Sonos: Integra DRX-3.3 8. Best Surround Sound AV Receiver: NAD T758V3
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Regular Price: $799.00
Save: $150.00 (19%)
Regular Price: $2,199.95
Save: $200.00 (9%)
Regular Price: $1,299.95
Save: $100.00 (8%)
Why it won
At only $278, the STR-DH590 from Sony covers all the essentials for building a 5.1 theater setup. The STR-DH590’s five independent channels can easily accommodate five speakers (left, right, center, and two rear), plus two subwoofers. And with multiple inputs, 4K HDR passthrough, and Dolby Vision support, the STR-DH590 has everything you need to enter into theater-level quality surround sound.
for music, hi-res audio support offers better-than CD sound, and
built-in Bluetooth allows you to easily play all of your favorite songs
from your smartphone or tablet.
- Digital Theater Auto Calibration — a way to make sure the STR-DH590 is perfectly calibrated for whatever room you put it in, by calculating the distance between listening positions and speakers, and adjusting sound pressure levels (and crossover positions) for optimal performance.
- Set up to 30 of your favorite FM stations with quick-access presets.
Dimensions: 14" x 5.25" x 11.75" (W x H x D) | Weight: 15 lbs | Warranty: 2 years | Number of Channels: 5.2 | Watts: 145 per channel | Wireless Connectivity: Bluetooth
Reg. Price: $279.99
Why it won
In our humble yet expert opinion, the Heos platform inside Denon’s AVR-X2600H 7.2-Channel receiver beats all others when it comes to wireless streaming. Go with another brand, and you’ll need to spend another $300 (minimum) on an ancillary streaming device from someone like Bluesound, Sonos, etc. – that may, or may not, be as good as what’s already inside Denon’s AVR-X2600H. Translated: this is a no-brainer.
Further, like most things Denon, the AVR-X2600H is smart, powerful and multi-talented. (Head to our product page for all the specs, and plan on 30 minutes’ worth of reading.) With Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and AirPlay 2 onboard, plus Heos multi-room streaming, you can stream pretty much anything from pretty much anywhere. Denon also built-in Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri – so like everything else, playing a different song in every room, or the same song in every room, is simply a matter of asking.
And home theater? With its 7.2 channels, the 150-watt per channel AVR-X2600H is a dream machine… and will flood your room with dynamic, spine-tingling, floor-rattling surround-sound. You’ll even hear sounds and effects hovering around and above you thanks to Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization Technology. Plus 4K upscaling, Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG, 4:4:4 color resolution, and more. For us, Denon’s AVR-X2600H sits at the intersection of rising price vs. diminishing return – making it a perfect equilibrium of value.
Dimensions: 17.1" x 6.6" x 13.3" (W x H x D) | Weight: 20.7 lbs | Warranty: 3 years | Number of Channels: 7.2 | Watts: 150 per channel | Wireless Connectivity: Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Reg. Price: $799.00
Why it won
All things being equal, Yamaha’s RX-A1080 would seem, on paper, built more for movies than music. (Yamaha’s MusicCast Surround + Dolby Atmos is a pretty spectacular combination.) But this is Yamaha, and Yamaha’s mission has been – and always will be – great-sounding music. We love it.
The RXA1080 throws in MusicCast Surround, Yamaha's own wireless platform (like Denon's HEOS). And last year, Yamaha announced MusicCast Surround to bring wireless convenience to home theater surround sound. It also comes with a new feature called Surround: AI.
Surround: AI is an artificially-intelligent feature that does something entirely new… it adjusts audio levels, channel by channel, according to the scene on screen. In its memory, Surround: AI contains hundreds of movie scenes to draw on, so it knows the difference between a big "Mission Impossible" chase scene and two star-crossed lovers on a beach. The end result is awesome: Suddenly, dialog in loud environments (two bad guys in a noisy diner) is much easier to hear. And, overall, everything just sounds bigger and more satisfying.
- The RX-A1080 can also stream several hi-res music formats from a thumb drive or via your computer over Wi-Fi.
- Seems Alexa is everywhere, and Yamaha’s got her, too. Voice control makes streaming wireless music throughout the house as easy as it gets.
- Inputs include component and composite video ports, optical and coaxial digital audio inputs, analog stereo inputs, plus a phono input just for turntables.
- YPAO Sound Optimization is Yamaha’s process for easy setting-up. Like most other receivers on our list, the RX-A1080 will analyze your room and adjust itself accordingly for optimal sound… whether you live in a phone booth or the Taj Mahal.
- We didn’t include a “best-looking” category on our list, but had we, the RX-A1080 is a definite contender.
Dimensions: 17.13" x 7.13" x 17.25" (W x H x D) | Weight: 32.8 lbs | Warranty: 2 years | Number of Channels: 7.2 | Watts: 110 per channel | Wireless Connectivity: Wi-Fi, MusicCast, Bluetooth, AirPlay
Reg. Price: $1,299.95
Why it won
Though Yamaha’s rep is for beautiful music, the company’s new, top-of-the-line, 9.2 channel, RX-A3080 Receiver was built with home theater in mind – and in that respect, it’s an over-achiever. (Peek inside and you just may find a kitchen sink – they put everything inside. Check out the mile-long spec list on our product page.) With 165 watts under the hood, the 40-pound RX-A3080 is powerful. Every one of it’s 9.2 channels is clear, crisp and accurate thanks to a built-in AI that optimizes sound in real-time. MusicCast, considered by many the industry’s best wireless, multi-room streaming technology, makes streaming to multiple speakers – easy. (And Yamaha’s MusicCast app is fabulous.) Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are built-in, and Amazon Alexa stands ready to take orders.
The HDMI eARC is
also a favorite among those looking for an AV receiver that’s equally good at
home theater and music, and hearing is believing. Big Star Wars-like movies
sound as good or better than anything you’ll hear in today’s new digital
cinemas – and albums long revered by audio engineers (e.g.: Bowe’s Aladdin
Sane, Jellyfish, Sinatra’s 1966 “It Might As Well Be Spring”) sound
spectacular. As for video, the RX-A3080 does it all, including 4k Ultra HG
pass-through (at 60P) and up-scaling. A soon-to-come update will include HDMI
eARC for the highest possible audio quality. Good stuff.
If you’re putting together a new home theater, we highly recommend using all of the RX-A3080’s 9.2 channels, including the two for subwoofers and two for Dolby Atmos. (No guts, no glory.) And P.S. – on the low-tech side, the RX-A3080 comes with an AM/FM tuner, which is rare these days.
Dimensions: 17.13" x 17.5" x 18.63" (W x H x D) | Weight: 39.9 lbs | Warranty: 2 years | Number of Channels: 9.2 | Watts: 230 per channel | Wireless Connectivity: Wi-Fi, MusicCast, Bluetooth, AirPlay
Reg. Price: $2,199.95
Why it won
It won because it sounds great. Big movie effects are outrageous, thanks to the SR8012’s explosive power. Live concerts are indistinguishable from the actual live performance – with respect to sonic integrity and dB levels. Conversely, the SR8012 handles delicate music passages with absolute precision. Good stuff.
If receivers were movie stars, the Marantz SR8012 might be Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: big, powerful, multi-talented, great performer, does everything – never quits. The SR8012 is the brainchild of over 300 highly talented audio engineers from some very high-falutin audio companies (Marantz, Denon, Polk, Definitive Technology, and Boston Acoustics) who, after merging, now work together under the banner “Sound United” – the parent company.
Suffice it to say, the Marantz SR8012 does it all and combines Amazon Alexa voice control with HEOS for oh-so-easy wireless connectivity. And though you can do almost anything with 11 channels, we recommend two things: 1) a 7.2.4 setup, meaning 7 speakers (1 center, 1 left forward and 1 right forward, 2 rear and 2 sides) + 2 subwoofers and 4 Dolby Atmos overhead, and 2) get good speakers. Anything less, and the SR8012 might tear them to shreds.
- Amazon Alexa voice control + Denon HEOS multi-room and streaming technology.
- High-end build quality for the ultimate in audio performance, which is the result of: single board-per-channel amplifier design, a centrally mounted, oversized toroidal transformer, and copper-plated chassis.
- Audyssey MultEQ XT32 automatic room acoustic correction.
- High-resolution audio playback.
Dimensions: 17.3" x 7.3" x 18.1" (W x H x D) | Weight: 38.6 lbs | Warranty: 3 years | Number of Channels: 11.2 | Watts: 205 per channel | Wireless Connectivity: Wi-Fi, HEOS, Bluetooth, AirPlay
Reg. Price: $2,999.00
Why it won
We have a house rule at World Wide Stereo – we only use the word “breathtaking” once, if at all, in any one article, so here goes: If you want a truly breathtaking home theater experience, the Denon AVR-X8500H with all 13 channels (and two subwoofers) firing gets it done. (Can we get a big “amen?”)
Say what? You can do more than 11 channels? Oh yeah. And why would you want to? Any number of reasons… like maybe you’re Wes Anderson and you want an bonafide, A-list, killer home theater in your den. Or maybe you’re a grandparent and you want to see the kids more often. (This will do it.) But really, who needs a reason, beyond “13 channels = an out-of-body experience and more fun than a barrel of monkeys?” But we digress.
Above: Denon’s best – a 13.2 channel monster AV receiver (51 pounds, by the way) that does everything short of popping the popcorn. Inside, processors for handling every new video codec on the planet (including four independent SHARC DSP processors for exceptional quality across multiple channels), an advanced dual antenna transceiver system for robust streaming via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, plus AirPlay 2, HEOS, Amazon Alexa voice control, and a ton of raw power. Please note: the AVR-X8500H can handle six height channels, and if you’re going to do it right, we highly recommend using all of them.
- Advanced DSP audio processing system: four high-performance SHARC DSP processors with continuous processing capability of 10 GFLOPS for exceptional surround sound acoustics across multi-channels.
- Streaming Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, iHeartRadio, SiriusXM, and others is easy with HEOS wireless music streaming technology. Play the same music in every room, or play different music in different rooms.
- Audyssey MultEQ XT32 automatic room acoustic correction.
Dimensions: 19" x 17.1" x 7.7" (W x H x D) | Weight: 51.6 lbs | Warranty: 1 year | Number of Channels: 13.2 | Watts: 205 per channel | Wireless Connectivity: Ethernet, Wi-Fi, HEOS, Bluetooth, AirPlay
Reg. Price: $3,999.00
Why it won
At 9.2 channels (9 speakers and 2 subwoofers), the Integra DRX-3.3 is a very versatile AV receiver. (Sonos or no Sonos.) Wireless streaming via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, onboard Dolby Atmos and DTS:X surround processing, HDCP 2.2-compliance, it’s all here. Add the Integra name, and the amazing price – and you’re looking at a worthy contender in several categories.
Maybe you already have Sonos in the house, and you’re now looking to expand your system to include a real home theater and, possibly, more music in more rooms. Boom: that’s exactly what Integra’s DRX-3.3 is all about. Receivers with the “Works with Sonos” badge have been officially certified to seamlessly connect with Sonos products, allowing you to take control of your receiver through the Sonos app. And even if you don’t have Sonos, and/or no plans to get Sonos, the DRX-3.3 is still a great choice. This is a competent, fully featured AV receiver with a boatload of capability – for a lot less money than other receivers in its class.
- Integra Music Control App for iOS and Android Devices enables easy initial setup, multi-room management, and system control.
- Amazon Music, Spotify, TIDAL, TuneIn, Pandora, and Deezer on-demand services.
- Bi-directional Ethernet with IP control for home automation.
Dimensions: 17.13" x 6.88" x 14.81" (W x H x D) | Weight: 23.4 lbs | Warranty: 3 years | Number of Channels: 9.2 | Watts: 90 per channel | Wireless Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay 2
Reg. Price: $999.00
#8. The Best Surround Sound AV Receiver: NAD Electronics T 758 V3 7.1 AV Surround Sound Receiver
Why it won
Technology is changing so fast these days, it’s tough to keep up – and it’s easy to buy something that’s soon obsolete. (We’ve all been there.) With the T 758, however, NAD embraces the future with an AV receiver built to accomodate the future. And they did it with digital and audio circuits on replaceable modules, which makes upgrading the T 758 V3, easy. This isn’t just unprecedented, and smart, it’s award-winning: the NAD T 758 7.3 won the prestigious Reddot Design Award.
But this story
is about surround sound, and the T 758 V3 brings it, bigtime. HD surround sound
formats include Dolby Atmos®, DTS:X,
and DTS Master Audio, all decoded using the latest generation of high-speed
multi-core DSP. (Music lovers will appreciate high-res audio formats as well.)
NAD’s own PowerDrive amp = 110 watts per channel and will bring out the best in
any speaker combination. What’s more, the T 758 V3 processes 4K video with ease, while
maintaining vibrant HDR color, even at 60 fps. And NAD made calibrating your
surround-sound set-up a breeze. Just use the microphone included, push the
button, and the receiver will send test signals to each speaker and listening
position in your room, adjusting each along the way. So no matter where you sit
– it rocks. For
more details, hit our product page, right here.
Dimensions: 17.13" x 6.81" x 15.69" (W x H x D) | Weight: 33.9 lbs | Warranty: 2 years | Number of Channels: 7.1 | Watts: 110 per channel | Wireless Connectivity: Ethernet, Wi-Fi
Reg. Price: $1,399.00
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 5000 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 1979, 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.