Best AV Receivers for 2023
Nothing beats a movie theater for its stunning picture and immersive sound, but it isn’t always convenient to catch the latest blockbusters on the big screen. Fortunately, with an AV receiver, you can bring a bit of the movie theater experience right to your living room. The best models offer 8K video, Dolby Atmos and Wi-Fi music streaming, but with detailed specs and hardware, shopping for one can be a bit intimidating. Fortunately, CNET is here to help, and we’ve rounded up the best AV receivers you can buy right now.
If you divide your time between watching TV and listening to music, there are several models which can do both well, including two excellent Onkyo receivers in the TX-NR6100 and TX-RZ50. The recently reviewed Sony STR-AN1000 is also a strong competitor under $1,000, though it costs slightly more than the rest.
So how do you know which is the best AV receiver for you? I’ve tested the most popular models between $500 and $2,000 to help you find the best AV receivers 2023 has to offer. One thing you should consider, though, is that some of these products could be back-ordered, so check back periodically.
Which receiver should I buy?
If you’re spending under $1,000, there are four main receivers to choose from — the Sony STR-AN1000, the Yamaha RX-V6A, the Onkyo TX-NR6100 and the Denon AVR-960H. All offer excellent performance, so the short answer about which to buy is whichever is available for the lowest price. At the moment, that is either the Denon or the Onkyo, which are both on sale for under $600 as I type this. I especially recommend the Onkyo TX-NR6100 for its combination of excellent performance and connectivity. The Onkyo offers easy setup, excellent usability, solid looks and useful features, including the best streaming suite alongside Sony. As an added plus, the Onkyo was never prone to the 4K issue that plagued early versions of the Yamaha RX-V6A.
Meanwhile, the step-up Onkyo TX-RZ50 is an excellent receiver if you’re looking for the next level of features and a performance bump over sub-$1,000 models. It offers an excellent, if slightly scary, calibration routine from Dirac Live and the best number of streaming features on the market. It sounds great with music and movies alike.
Lastly, if it’s home theater thrills you’re after, the Yamaha RX-A4A offers crisp, dynamic sound and fantastic build quality for $1,300 (street price $1,144).
How CNET tests
At CNET I test audio equipment from compact soundbars though to surround sound systems, but regardless of the device my methodology is essentially the same. I always compare products against one or more reference devices that offer the best performance at a similar price.
When it comes to receivers I want to see how well a system performs with music and movies, as most people will want to do both. I watch some test scenes from 4K Blu-ray or streamed from a 4K streaming service (Vudu, for example) and evaluate aspects such as Dolby Atmos surround performance and dialog clarity. I also use several test music tracks and evaluate streaming features such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Systems that can perform well with both types of entertainment inevitably score the highest.
Check out CNET’s receiver buying guide for more about the features and things you should consider when looking for a new system.
Other AV receivers I’ve tested
- Denon AVR-S960H ($549, save $250): The Denon 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’s not quite as good as the Yamaha RX-V6A or the Onkyo TX-NR6100 as it has neither the former’s home theater chops nor the latter’s streaming options. It’s currently on sale, which makes it an excellent value. Read CNET’s Denon AVR-S960H review.
- Yamaha RX-V6A ($650, save $200): This Yamaha RX-V6A offers a fresh look at AV receiver design, with its futuristic edges and simple controls, while maximizing sound quality. The Yamaha might even make you forget about visiting a cinema ever again, and it’s no slouch with music, either. It offers plenty of connectivity with Wi-Fi bringing AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth and Yamaha’s MusicCast system for streaming from your devices. While the receiver saw a $200 price hike in September 2022, the V6A is back to around $650 on sale. Notably, the TSR-700 is identical — it’s an exclusive model for some outlets — and you can find it for $550 here at Amazon. Find out more in CNET’s Yamaha RX-V6A review.
- Marantz SR6015 ($1,599, save $600): The Marantz SR6015 does everything you’d expect — Dolby Atmos, music streaming, 4K/120Hz throughput — and with a good deal of aplomb. It sounds great, but it’s not as flexible as the best receivers here — for instance, you can’t watch a video source while listening to music, like the Onkyos can, and neither can you ask a Google Nest to play a song on it. The Marantz SR6015 has been replaced by the Cinema 500 but as it is selling out for its original price it’s a good deal.
The Denon AVR-S960H
AV receiver FAQs
The rear panel of the TX-NR6100 offers 6 HDMI inputs and 2 outputs
Other features to look for in an AV receiver
AV receivers are notoriously complex, with reams of features and confusing technical specifications. (For example, what’s 4K/120Hz anyway?) Yet, what are the things that really matter when buying a new model? I’m going to sum up the most important ones right here.
- HDMI inputs: 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 Roku, Blu-ray player, Nintendo Switch and all your other devices?) The Onkyo TX-NR6100 has six rear-mounted HDMI inputs, while the Denon AVR-S960H and Yamaha RX-V6A 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.
- Dolby Atmos capability: Most receivers in the $500-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. Onkyo and Sony are the only devices to support all three. The Denon receiver model lacks wireless streaming via Chromecast, but ups the ante to AirPlay 2 and the proprietary HEOS system. Meanwhile, Yamaha has its own MusicCast system.
For more general information on what you should be looking for, check out this AV receiver buying guide.
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Home Theater Receivers, A/V Receivers, and Surround Sound Receivers
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How to shop for Home Theater Receivers
You’ll want to make sure your home theater receiver has enough speaker outputs to support the number of speakers in your surround sound system and enough HDMI inputs to support the AV components (Blu-ray player, media streamer, cable or satellite box, etc.) you want to connect. You should also make sure it has enough power for your speakers.
Most home theater receivers include Bluetooth for easy music streaming from your phone or other compatible device, and many also have built-in WiFi for better integration with popular music streaming services. Some WiFi equipped AV receivers work with wireless multi-room music platforms that let you stream to compatible wireless speakers and components in different rooms throughout your home.
Read our guide to home theater receivers for more information on what to look for.
Popular questions customers ask
A home theater receiver has two main jobs: to provide sound and power to your speakers, and to send video to your TV or projector. It also lets you switch between connected sources like a Blu-ray player, cable or satellite box, or a media streamer like Roku or Apple TV 4K.
Read the full article
You need one channel of power for each speaker in your home theater. For example, a 5.1-channel surround sound system gets five channels of amplification from the receiver. (The “.1” is your subwoofer, which has its own amp.) It’s okay to have unused channels on your receiver since they let you grow your system down the road. Some receivers even let you use extra channels to power speakers in another room.
A good rule of thumb is to stay within the power range of your speakers but look toward the upper end of that range. More power is a good thing ù it gives you stronger bass and clearer, louder sound, especially in larger rooms.
Absolutely! All home theater receivers can play music through your front left and right speakers. Some receivers even have additional modes for playing music through all the speakers in your surround sound system. Love playing vinyl? Look for a model with a dedicated phono input for connecting a turntable.
Read the full article
Most home theater receivers have Bluetooth for wireless music streaming from your phone or other device. Some models also have Wi-Fi, which gives you better sound and range. WiFi equipped receivers also offer built-in support for popular music services like Spotify and Qobuz, and some even let you stream music to compatible speakers or components in other rooms.
Denon 8K AV receivers with Dirac Live and HDMI 2.1
Denon AV receivers 2022 lineup: Denon AVR-A1H, Denon AVR-X4800H, Denon AVR-X3800H, Denon AVR-X2800H, Denon AVR-S580BT, Denon AVR -S970H, Denon AVR-S570BT
Denon AV receivers 2022 prices
- AVR-A1H – $6500
- AVR-X4800H – $2500
- AVR-X3800H – $1700
- AVR -X2800H – $1200
- AVR-S970H – $900
- AVR-S580BT – $400
- AVR-S570BT – $400
90 002 In 2020, Denon made a bet that due to quarantine, people will spend more time at home sitting in front of the TV. That is why the manufacturer decided to improve their receivers. We knew then that other manufacturers would soon follow Denon’s lead. Shortly thereafter, Marantz released their own 8K capable devices and we are seeing this trend continue today with Arcam releasing an 8K receiver in August 2022.
In 2022, Denon is once again ahead of the competition with the release of seven new 8K AV receivers supporting the latest in media transmission and processing technologies. We think that we will soon see similar solutions from other audio companies.
Denon’s new receivers combine popular 3D audio formats such as Dolby Atmos, IMAX Enhanced and Auro 3D, as well as Dolby Surround and DTS:X. Most Denon AV receivers feature built-in HEOS technology to create a multi-room speaker system. So you can stream your favorite music to other HEOS devices and enjoy it with the whole family in different rooms.
Denon A-Series AV Receivers
The Denon AVR-A1H is a category leader in the truest sense of the word. The top-of-the-line Denon ‘A-Series’ receiver is designed to deliver the ultimate music, movie and podcast experience. With 15 channels of amplification (150 watts per channel), Denon’s most powerful transformer, carefully selected parts and solid construction, the flagship AVR-A1H receiver will elevate your acoustics to the level of a professional home theater.
According to the manufacturer, the Denon AVR-A1H receivers are designed to fill spacious rooms with 3D sound. And besides, the most intriguing features can be overlooked at a cursory glance at the specifications.
The Denon AVR-A1H looks like a beast at first glance, weighing 70 pounds (32 kg). That’s a whopping 15 pounds more than the previous 13 channel AVR-X8500H or A110 models. The AVR-A1H has some similarities to the AVR-5805 10-channel 100 lb receiver (170 watts per channel) that Denon released years ago.
Like the AVR-5805, the Denon AVR-A1H is manufactured at Denon’s main factory in Japan. Denon appears to be using a similar class AB linear amplifier design from the AVR-X8500H. The manufacturer was hesitant to switch to Class D amplification in its AV receivers, as they recently did with the Marantz subsidiary and their new 16-channel amplifiers.
The main technical update for the top three models (A1H, X4800 and X3800) was the introduction of Dirac Live . Top Denon receivers come with Audyssey calibration technology built in and a Dirac Live update will be offered with a future software update.
As you would expect from a product of this caliber, you also get support for a host of other features such as Apple AirPlay 2, TuneIn, Spotify Connect, Pandora, SiriusXM (if you have a subscription), an accompanying phone control app, and wireless connectivity bluetooth.
On the front I/O panel, you get seven HDMI 2.1 inputs with HDCP 2.3 and full bandwidths of 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz. It can also pass through HDR, HLG, Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and Dynamic HDR. The only HDMI 2.1 feature not on Denon’s list of features is Quick Media Switching.
In addition to all of the above, it’s worth mentioning the four independent subwoofer outputs now available on the Denon AVR-A1H and X4800H receivers. We’ve always said that with the addition of subwoofers, any home theater system takes on a new sound character. With an additional bass driver, acoustics get a smoother bass response, an extended sound stage and increased dynamic range. Now Denon has made subwoofer integration easier than ever before.
Denon X-Series AV receivers
In the previous paragraph, we discussed the main trends for Denon receivers in 2022. Now let’s take a closer look at each of the 6 models behind the category-leading Denon AVR-A1H.
AVR-X4800H: This 9.4-channel AV receiver delivers 125 watts per channel of 3D audio and HD video up to 8K. With nine channels of amplification and four independent subwoofer outputs, support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, IMAX Enhanced and Auro 3D, this device is ideal for large rooms and fills them with quality sound. The X4800 will also support Dirac Live room acoustic correction technology. Dirac Live support will be available with a future software update. A corresponding software update is scheduled for early 2023.
AVR-X3800H: The Denon AVR-X3800H is a 9.4-channel 8K AV receiver with 105 watts per channel. The X3800 will also offer its users the Dirac Live acoustic calibration feature with a software update. This receiver is also the perfect affordable preamp option. Using the pre-out feature, you have access to up to 11 channels of clean pre-outs (up to 4 Vrms) and 4 independent subwoofer outputs.
AVR-X2800H: Designed to fill medium-sized rooms with 7.2 channels and 9 power5 watts per channel. The Denon AVR-X2800H has enhanced connectivity with three HDMI 2.1 inputs that deliver 8K video and high refresh rates.
AVR-X580BT: The Denon AVR-X580BT offers an entry-level model for those who want a quality home theater experience without spending too much. The available 5.2 channel receiver delivers 70 watts per channel.
Denon S-Series receivers
AVR-S970H: Offering 9 power0 watts per channel, the Denon AVR-S970H 7.2-channel AV receiver offers three 8K inputs, resulting in more HDMI 2.1 connectivity, just like the AVR-X2800H.
AVR-S570BT: For movie buffs who want to take the first step in upgrading their home theater or those who want better sound in a smaller space, this powerful 5.2-channel AVR with 70 watts per channel is the perfect choice for novice users.
*Denon AVR-S570BT available in North America only.
The inclusion of Dirac Live and four subwoofer outputs on top models is certainly a major achievement for Denon as an audio manufacturer. However, the news that caught our attention the most is the expansion of the Denon receiver range with two entry-level models.
At $400, the Denon AVR-S570BT and Denon AVR-X580BT receivers are among the most affordable yet advanced receivers on the market. With support for 8K video, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Fast Frame Transfer (QFT) and Low Latency Mode (ALLM), the two low-end models are essentially a big boon from Denon.