The Best Home Theater Receivers of 2021
Last updated on February 11, 2021
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.
Here Are Our Picks for the AV Receivers of 2021:
- The Best Budget AV Receiver: Sony STR-DH590
- The Best Wireless Streaming AV Receiver: Denon HEOS AVR-X2700H
- The Best 7-Channel AV Receiver: Yamaha RX-V6
- The Best Dolby Atmos AV Receiver: Yamaha RX-A2
- The Best 11-Channel AV Receiver for a Single Room: Marantz SR8015
- The Best 13.2-Channel AV Receiver: Denon AVR-X8500H
- The Best Surround Sound AV Receiver: NAD T 758 V3i
- The Best AV Receiver Under $3000: NAD T778
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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: $278
#2. The Best Wireless Streaming AV Receiver: Denon AVR-X2700H 7.2-Channel 8K Ultra HD AV Receiver with 3D Audio and HEOS Built-In
Why it won
The Denon AVR-X2700 is ready for the present and the future. This 7.2-channel gem offers 95 watts/channel (8 ohms, two channels driven) with full support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, and it can even simulate height channels with Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization and DTS Virtual:X. And Denon is famous for its discrete amplification that can safely drive low-impedance speakers.
The AVR-X2700's video capabilities are no less impressive. One of the HDMI inputs accepts up to 8K/60 Hz video and passes it through to the HDMI outputs, and the receiver can even upscale lower resolutions to 8K. It also supports all HDR formats, including HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, and HLG. And the gaming experience is greatly improved with Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), and Quick Frame Transport (QFT).
If you're into wireless streaming, the AVR-X2700 has you covered in spades with built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Denon's own HEOS multi-room streaming is joined by Apple AirPlay 2, and the receiver works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, making you the master of your audio/video domain.
Dimensions: 7.1" x 9.3" x 13.4" (W x H x D) | Weight: 21 lbs | Warranty: 3 years | Number of Channels: 7.2 | Watts: 95 per channel | Wireless Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Reg. Price: $849.00
#3. The Best 7-Channel AV Receiver: Yamaha RX-V6 7.2-Channel AV Receiver with 8K HDMI and MusicCast
Why it won
Yamaha is often at the top of the list for recommended home theater receivers, and the RX-V6 is no exception. This receiver offers 100 watts per channel (8 ohms, two channels driven), and decodes Dolby Atmos and DTS:X 3D sound (Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization will be added in a future firmware update).
Video-wise, the RX-V6 supports up to 4K/120 and 8K/60 (with a future firmware update) with HDCP 2.3 and eARC. Other advanced video features that especially benefit gamers include Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), Quick Frame Transport (QFT), and Quick Media Switching (QMS).
Wireless streaming is fully implemented with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, which supports Apple's AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, and voice control as well as Yamaha's own MusicCast multi-room audio system. Many streaming services are available, including Pandora, Amazon Music, Sirius XM, Tidal, Deezer, Napster, and more.
Dimensions: 17.13" x 9.63" x 14.88" (W x H x D) | Weight: 21.6 lbs | Warranty: 2 years | Number of Channels: 7.2 | Watts: 100 | Wireless Connectivity: Wi-Fi, MusicCast, Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect
Reg. Price: $599.95
#4. The Best Dolby Atmos AV Receiver: Yamaha RX-A2A Aventage 7.2-Channel AV Receiver with 8K HDMI and MusicCast
Why it won
The newest model in Yamaha's flagship Aventage line is the RX-A2A, a 7.2-channel beauty that offers 100 watts per channel (8 ohms, two channels driven). It can accept and decode Dolby Atmos and DST:X immersive 3D audio signals, and it offers Yamaha's proprietary Cinema DSP 3D soundfield technology for an even more immersive experience. A future firmware update will add Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization as well.
On the video front, the RX-A2A provides 4K/120 and 8K/60 passthrough, and it fully supports Dolby Vision, HLG, HDR10, and HDR10+ (in a future firmware update). Gamers will appreciate Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), Quick Frame Transport (QFT), and Quick Media Switching (QMS), the last one coming in a future update.
When it comes to wireless connectivity, the RX-A2A offers Bluetooth and Wi-Fi as well as AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect, and you can stream directly from many different online providers. Yamaha's MusicCast system lets you easily set up a multi-room audio system and add wireless surround speakers. If you're a fan of voice control, you have Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple Siri at your beck and call.
Dimensions: 17.13" x 9.63" x 14.63" (W x H x D) | Weight: 22.5 lbs | Warranty: 2 years | Number of Channels: 7.2 | Watts: 100 | Wireless Connectivity: Wi-Fi, MusicCast, Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect
Reg. Price: $799.95
Why it won
If you're looking for the big gun of home theater receivers, you found it in the Marantz SR8015. This behemoth sports 11 channels of amplification with a whopping 140 watts per channel (8 ohms, two channels driven). Of course, it fully supports Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and DTS:X Pro 3D audio as well as the lesser-known Auro 3D, and it offers Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization and DTS Virtual:X if you don't happen to have height speakers.
On the video side, the SR8015 has all the bells and whistles, including 8K/60 and 4K/120 passthrough and upscaling on all eight HDMI inputs as well as support for all the HDR formats (HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, HLG). For all you gamers out there, it also supports Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), and Quick Frame Transport (QFT).
As you might expect in a flagship receiver, the SR8015 has full Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities with support for AirPlay 2, a variety of online streaming apps, Marantz' HEOS multi-room wireless networking, and voice control using Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri, and Josh.ai.
It even offers IMAX Enhanced technology from DTS. This advanced feature works with IMAX Enhanced displays and content to deliver out-of-this-world images, sound, scale, and clarity. You have to see and hear it to believe it!
Dimensions: 17.3" x 9.8" x 18.1" (W x H x D) | Weight: 38.4 lbs | Warranty: 3 years | Number of Channels: 11.2 | Watts: 140 per channel | Wireless Connectivity: AirPlay 2, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, HEOS
Reg. Price: $3,199.00
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: Wi-Fi, HEOS, Bluetooth, AirPlay
Reg. Price: $3,999.00
#7. The Best Surround Sound AV Receiver: NAD Electronics T 758 V3i Home Theater AV Receiver with Dolby Atmos and AirPlay 2 Integration
Why it won
NAD is famous for prioritizing quality over frills, and the T 758 V3i is a perfect example. It offers seven channels of amplification with a real-world rating of 70 watts/channel (8 ohms, all channels driven). It accepts and decodes Dolby Atmos signals for emphasis is on audio quality, with Modular Design Construction (MDC) that allows future hardware upgrades. It also supports high-resolution audio formats such as MQA (Master Quality Authenticated).
The video path is pure and simple, with support for resolutions up to UHD/4K at 60 frames per second and high dynamic range. In addition, analog sources are converted to HDMI for simple "one-cable" connection to the display. This receiver leaves video processing where it belongs—in the display.
Integrated Wi-Fi allows you to stream audio from local sources using AirPlay 2 and various online streaming providers, and it also supports Apple Siri voice control. Even better, the T 758 V3i includes NAD's BluOS multi-room streaming technology. If your philosophy is "music first," this receiver has your name on it!
Dimensions: 17.13" x 6.81" x 15.69" (W x H x D) | Weight: 33.9 lbs | Warranty: 2 years | Number of Channels: 7.2 | Watts: 70 per channel | Wireless Connectivity: AirPlay 2, Wi-Fi
Reg. Price: $1,499.00
Why it won
Like the T758, NAD puts quality ahead of bells and whistles with the T 778. This receiver offers nine channels of amplification with an honest 85 watts per channel (8 ohms, all channels driven), with two additional preamp outputs for an extra pair of overhead speakers that need a separate power amp. That's a total of 7.2.4 channels for Dolby Atmos, and those channels are efficient and distortion-free thanks to NAD's Hybrid Digital amplifier technology.
The no-nonsense video circuitry provides UHD/4K passthrough with support for high dynamic range, including Dolby Vision. In addition, a full-color touchscreen on the front panel offers improved ergonomics for user-friendly operation. You can use the touchscreen to configure up to five custom presets with speaker-level and tone-control settings for different types of program material.
AD's Modular Design Construction (MDC) allows for future hardware upgrades, making the T 778 virtually futureproof. And with full support for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, including BluOS high-resolution multi-room streaming, you can enjoy top-quality music from a wide variety of online sources wirelessly throughout your home. This powerhouse will deliver superb audio and video for many years to come.
Dimensions: 17.19" x 5.56" x 16.93" (W x H x D) | Weight: 26.7 lbs | Warranty: 2 years | Number of Channels: 7.2 | Watts: 85 per channel | Wireless Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Ethernet
Reg. Price: $2,999.00
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.