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The Best Home Theater Receivers of 2019

Last updated on April 22, 2019 

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.

1. The best budget AV receiver.

Sony STR-DH590 5.2-channel receiver

Key features:

  • Reg. Price: $278 - View Current Price
  • 5.2 channels / 145 watts per channel
  • HDR pass-through (HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision compatible) 
  • Bluetooth
  • Hi-Res Audio and DSD
  • 4 HDMI inputs / 1 HDMI output 
  • Minimum Impedance: 6Ω

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.

As 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.

What else?

• 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.

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Reg. price: $278

2. The best wireless streaming AV receiver.

Denon HEOS AVR-X2400H 7.2-channel receiver

Key features:

  • Reg. Price: $849 - View Current Price
  • 7.2 channels / 95 watts per channel
  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X Capable
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HEOS
  • 8 HDMI inputs, 2 HDMI output
  • Minimum impedance: 8Ω

Why it won:

Denon, established in 1910, is one of the oldest audio companies in the world. “HEOS” is what Denon calls their own wireless multi-room audio platform, which includes a number of speakers and sound bars, as well as receivers.

The AVR-X2400H is a full-featured AV receiver with HEOS inside – and between the easy-to-use HEOS app + Amazon Alexa voice control +  support for AirPlay, as well as today’s popular streaming services (Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn, etc.), streaming music sounds great and doesn’t get much easier. But for a limited time only, it does get better: the you can get the AVR-X2400H for only $399 (that’s $450 less than the regular price).

More highlights:

• Denon makes set-up easy, the AVR-X2400H automatically calibrates ideal settings for whatever room you put it in with its built-in Audyssey MultEQ XT room acoustic measurement system.

• With HEOS + Amazon Alexa voice control, you can play any song in any room, change channels, skip tracks, raise or lower the volume, and so on – all by simply asking.

• An ideal AV receiver for a whole-house wireless, multi-room, sound network – and as future-proofed as any receiver we’ve seen.

• Enjoy 7.2 home theater sound in one room, while streaming music in another.

• Continue to build your system into the future with Denon’s complete line of HEOS products.

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Reg. price: $849

3. The best 7-channel AV receiver.

Yamaha RX-A1080 AVENTAGE 7.2-channel receiver

Key features:

  • Reg. Price: $1,299.95 - View Current Price
  • 7.2 channels / 110 Watts per channel
  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X Capable
  • Wi-Fi, MusicCast, Bluetooth, AirPlay
  • 7 HDMI inputs, 3 HDMI outputs
  • Minimum Impedance: 4Ω

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 specs on Yamaha’s RX-A1080 are almost identical to Denon’s AVR-X1500H (our “best wireless" pick above), with two exceptions: the RXA1080 throws in a bit more power, and it comes with something totally new: MusicCast Surround. In 2016, Yamaha introduced their own wireless platform, “MusicCast,” Yamaha’s equivalent to HEOS. 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.

What else?

• 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.

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Reg. price: $1,299.95

4. The best 9-channel AV receiver.

Sony STR-ZA5000ES 9.2-channel receiver

Key features:

  • Reg. Price: $2,799.99 - View Current Price
  • 9.2 channels / 130 Watts per channel
  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X Capable
  • 6 HDMI inputs, 2 HDMI outputs
  • Minimum Impedance: 4Ω

Why it won:

With all 9 channels in play (7.2.2 or 9.2) and a good movie onboard, the STR-ZA5000ES sounds like a top-of-the-line surround sound theater. And music – classical, jazz, rock, hip-hop – has a big, kick-ass, “I’m on stage” realism to it. Bottom line: Sony brings it, big time… and if you don’t mind the wireless workaround (you won’t, or you can leave that to your installer), you really can’t do better. Save for maybe the Yamaha above, hence the tie.

In the land of 9 channel receivers, Yamaha’s RX-A3080 and Sony’s STR-ZA5000ES = Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer. To wit: two very similar products with almost identical resumes and qualifications, both at the top of their game, save for one very major difference: the Sony STR-ZA5000ES is not wireless. Meaning, no Wi-Fi, no Bluetooth, no AirPlay, no Amazon Alexa. So why did it make our list?

The STR-ZA5000ES makes our list because it’s Sony’s flagship receiver, and in every other respect, it’s a beast. (A 38-pound beast.) And Sony does provide a workaround for the wireless issue: an 8-port ethernet hub – with 2 power-over Ethernet ports – that can connect with any and all wireless devices on the network. According to Sony, the STR-ZA5000ES was conceived and built for “the specific needs of custom integrators and their most demanding applications and installations.” Translated: this is a serious AV receiver purposely made for serious home theaters, that’s still capable of wireless connectivity via access to your home network –  minus any potential wireless headaches.

What else?

• Can be easily integrated into expanded home automation, including multi-zone audio, lighting and shades, security, appliances, and almost anything else you can imagine. Control4® Certified and featuring Crestron Connected™, AMX Beacon, Savant, URC and RTI support.

• In-ceiling speaker mode. Great idea here: the STR-ZA5000ES can relocate front and center dialog so it comes from the screen (to better coincide with the picture). So actor dialog on screen doesn’t come from above or behind.

• USB port and Ihiji cloud connectivity, which allows you to monitor your system (and make sure the kids aren't watching anything they shouldn't).

• Gold plated speaker outputs.

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Reg. price: $2,799.99

5. The best 11-channel AV receiver for custom integration.

Integra DRX-R1.1 11.2-channel-receiver

Key features:

  • Reg. Price: $3,300 - View Current Price
  • 9.2 channels / 140 Watts per channel
  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X Capable
  • DTS Play-Fi, AirPlay, Works with Sonos
  • 8 HDMI inputs, 2 HDMI outputs
  • Minimum Impedance: 4Ω

Why it won:

With 140 watts per channel and 11 channels onboard, the DRX-R1.1 is a powerful, multi-tasking marvel of a receiver that captures every subtle moment, beautifully – including, when it comes to music, stuff you’ve never heard before in songs you love. As for movies, with all 9 channels in play including Dolby Atmos above, the DRX-R1.1 makes big blockbuster scenes way more blockbustier. Plus, the DRX-R1.1 makes it possible to watch video and listen to music at the same time — watch the big game in the family room and have the latest hits playing in the kitchen. For truly great home theater and gorgeous music, it’s hard to do better. 

We started with good, we moved on to great, and now – with 11-channels – we’re in holy mackerel territory. And Integra’s flagship DRX-R1.1 receiver represents just how holy mackerel home audio can be these days – with one minor caveat: Just like the 9-channel Sony STR-ZA5000ES above, the DRX-R1.1 is not wireless. So, no Bluetooth, no Wi-Fi, no Amazon Alexa. On the other hand, it is AirPlay compatible, and as long as you have  a hard-wired internet connection, you can still stream Pandora, Spotify, Deezer, TuneIn, and Tidal. Plus, the DRX-R1.1 is certified under the recently announced "Works with Sonos" program, which is given to products that have been approved to seamlessly connect to Sonos products. You can also group a number of Sonos devices on your network, or use each one independently.

Integra is Onkyo’s highest-end audio brand, and the DRX-R1.1 is Integra’s very best 11-channel AV receiver. And with 11 channels, you can configure the DRX-R1.1 for any size room, though clearly this is not a small bedroom AV receiver. One awesome 11-channel setup example: 1 center speaker, 1 forward left speaker and 1 forward right speaker, 2 rear speakers, 4 Dolby Atmos speakers above, 2 side speakers, and 2 woofers.

What else?

• With high-resolution digital-to-analog DACs for interpreting high-res music files, the DRX-R1.1 qualifies as an audiophile-worthy AV receiver.

• THX Select Certification means the R1.1 meets the strict sonic standards set by the company that started the surround revolution in movie houses.

• Vector Linear Shaping Circuitry (VLSC) – Integra’s exclusive VLSC technology compares the input signal to the outgoing signal and filters out pulse noise. Thus allowing the original signal to reflect the audio signal captured on the recording faithfully and accurately.

• DTS Play-Fi / multi-room audio puts you in complete control of your music and allows you to effortlessly stream from your smartphone, tablet, or PC to DTS Play-Fi speakers and devices throughout the home.

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Reg. price: $3,300

6. The best 11-channel AV receiver for a single room.

Marantz SR8012 11.2-channel receiver

Key features:

  • Reg. Price: $2,999 - View Current Price
  • 11.2 channels / 140 Watts per channel
  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X Capable
  • IMAX Enhanced
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HEOS, AirPlay
  • 8 HDMI inputs, 2 HDMI outputs, plus Zone 2 output
  • Minimum Impedance: 4Ω

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.

What else?

• 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.

• If budget's a concern, check our last year's version: Marantz's SR7012 9.2-channel AV Receiver, which is currently $1,000 off.

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Reg. price: $2,999

7. The best receiver for fully immersive surround sound.

Denon AVR-X8500H 13.2-channel receiver

Key features:

  • Reg. Price: $3,999 - View Current Price
  • 13.2 channels / 150 Watts per channel
  • IMAX Enhanced, Dolby Atmos, DTS: X
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, HEOS
  • 8 HDMI inputs, 3 HDMI outputs
  • Minimum Impedance: 4Ω

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.

What else?

• 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.

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Reg. price: $3,999

8. The best receiver for surround sound with Sonos.

Integra DRX-3.2 9.2-channel receiver

Key features:

  • Reg. Price: $1,000 - View Current Price
  • 9.2 channels / 90 Watts per channel
  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X formats up to 5.2.4 or 7.2.2 channel
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay, Works with Sonos
  • 7 HDMI inputs, 2 HDMI outputs
  • Minimum Impedance: 8Ω

Why it won:

9.2 channels (9 speakers and 2 subwoofers) + THX certification for rooms up to 2000 cubic feet = 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, with a Sonos-friendly AV receiver. Boom: that’s exactly what Integra’s DRX-3.2 is all about with its three dedicated Sonos-compatible channel modes. Receivers with the “Works with Sonos” badge have been officially certified to seamlessly connect with Sonos products. And even if you don’t have Sonos, and/or no plans to get Sonos, the DRX-3.2 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.

One small catch: Sonos integration into your existing system requires a simple firmware update. Once integrated, you can control the DRX-3.2 with your Sonos app. The DRX-3.2 will even wake up when your Sonos network is activated.

What else?

• Ability to watch video and listen to music at the same time.

• Integra Control Pro 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.

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Reg. price: $1,000

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.

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