Best Home Theater Receiver

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Best Home Theater Receiver

A good rule of thumb for a home entertainment system is to match the quality of your AV receiver to the quality of your speakers. If you’re using cheap speakers, an expensive AV receiver isn’t going to make the speakers sound amazing, but upgrading the speakers to match the AV receiver can make a huge difference. Conversely, if you’ve invested in expensive speakers, you won’t know it unless you upgrade your AV receiver. The biggest reason for poor audio and blown speakers is the amplifier, which is a core component of an AV receiver. Either the amplifier is too powerful for the speakers (which is like having an expensive receiver with cheap speakers) or not powerful enough (which is like having expensive speakers with a cheap receiver).

Best Home Theater Receiver

This immersive atmosphere isn’t relegated to the movie theater. You can build your own home theater system, which starts with the AV receiver. An AV receiver acts like the brain of your home entertainment system. It receives and directs the information so that everything works in harmony. When you play a movie on Blu-ray, the player sends the audio and video information to the AV receiver. The receiver processes the audio and sends the assigned audio signals to the specific speakers and sends the video signal to your TV or projector. You can also use an AV receiver to play music, internet radio, podcasts and more.

Best Home Theater Receiver

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The Home Theater Receiver (sometimes referred to as an AV or Surround Sound Receiver) is the heart of a home theater system, providing centralized connection and control. High-end Home Theater Receivers also provide extensive audio and video switching and processing, and most also provide network connectivity and custom control capabilities. Check out my list of high-end home theater receiver favorites in the $1,300 and up price range.

Best Home Theater Receiver

The Gold Award winner for best AV receiver in our comparative review is the Sony STR-DN. This 7.2-channel receiver has more power and more audio decoders than every other receiver at this price point. It even includes an additional HDMI output, which is rare. Whether you’re looking for a receiver to be the hub of your home theater room or a simple surround sound system, the STR-DN is the best option for an AV receiver under $600.

Best Home Theater Receiver

If you are looking for a high-end home theater receiver that can accommodate all the newer immersive surround sound formats in use, and a lot more, then check out the Denon AVR-X4300H .To start off, the AVR-X4300H has 9 amplified channels built-in (with expansion to 11 channels via additional external amps). This provides a lot of speaker setup flexibility. Add 2 subwoofer outputs, and the latest surround sound decoding technology, including Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro 3D Audio (via paid firmware update), makes this receiver very tempting.The AVR-X4300H is rated to deliver 125 watts-per-channel (measured from 20Hz-20kHz, 0.05% THD, at 8 ohms with 2-channels driven). What this means is that the AVR-X4300H has plenty of power for medium and large rooms with very low distortion levels.Of course, setting up 9 or 11 channels worth of speakers can be quite intimidating, but the built-in Audyssey MultEQ XT32 automatic speaker setup system makes this task a lot easier by fine-tuning the response of your speakers in relation to room acoustics and seating position.In terms of video support, the AVR-X4300H is fully compatible with 3D, HDR, wide color gamut, HDCP 2.2, 4K UltraHD video signals, supported by 8 HDMI inputs and 3 outputs (one of which can be assigned to Zone 2). Both 1080p and 4K upscaling are provided if you need it.Audio and video are certainly not the whole story as the AVR-X4300H provides extensive networking capabilities, which allows music streaming from compatible network-connected devices, such as PCs and media servers. In addition, built-in ethernet and WiFi connectivity also provides access to internet-based streaming services, such as Pandora, Spotify, and vTuner. Even Apple AirPlay compatibility is provided, so you can stream music from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch as well as from iTunes libraries.Of course, you can always opt to stream music directly to the AVR-X4300H via most smartphones using Bluetooth. To top it all off, this receiver also incorporates both Zone 2 and 3 preamp outputs, and Denon's HEOS wireless multiroom audio platform. This allows wireless streaming to HEOS-branded speakers in other locations around the house (or even outside) as long they are within range. All you need to do is download the HEOS app onto a compatible smartphone and tablet (and purchase one or more HEOS wireless speakers), and you are set to go.

Best Home Theater Receiver

However, you should still do a few things to ensure that you have set the receiver optimally for your room. First, double-check the distance measurements the receiver selects during the setup routine. These are usually right, but it doesn’t hurt to check again. You want the speaker distances to be as close to correct as possible. If you buy the Anthem receiver we recommend as an upgrade pick, you have to set these manually.

Best Home Theater Receiver

An AV receiver is the unsung hero of your home entertainment system. Once everything is connected to it, the quality of your home theater experience largely rests on the quality of your TV, speakers, furniture, taste in movies and snack selection. The receiver isn’t the star of the show, but the show can’t effectively happen without it.

For example, if the receiver has weak amplifiers, the manufacturers often only present the rated power output for speakers with a 4-ohm impedance, because this provides the biggest wattage. However, most home theater speakers have an 8-ohm impedance. It’s easy to see a 100-watt rating at 4 ohms and think it’s better than the 80-watt rating for 8 ohms of a different receiver, but the output is about half as great.

For easy speaker setup, all of Anthem's MRX Home Theater Receivers incorporate Anthem Room correction which provides accurate speaker setup using a special microphone and software that connects to a PC/Laptop. The PC, via wired or wireless connection, directs the receiver to output test tones that are then read and analyzed by the software. When completed the software sends all the speaker level information to the receiver, and also generates a graphical report than can be saved and printed for future reference.

Sometimes, it has processing powers and other times it can connect to the web. In other words, it’s something that you really shouldn’t skimp on. This one heavy home theater component serves as the cornerstone, the hub and the “brains” behind any good setup. You want the best home theater receiver your budget can handle.

Dolby and DTS are the two rival brands that develop the codecs for the surround sound formats used in the theater. Directors and sound engineers mix the soundtrack for the theater according to these formats, which means that if you want to hear what the director intended, your AV receiver needs to be capable of decoding the codec and sending the assigned audio to the various channels.

Room Calibration Getting the best possible sound from your AV receiver requires meticulous attention to how the speakers are arranged and how the levels are mixed on each channel. Every room has different acoustical characteristics and challenges. With time and experience, you can learn to make these adjustments by ear. But until then, you can use the room calibration tool that comes with your AV receiver.

Earning our Bronze Award for best AV receiver, the Onkyo TX-NR is a 7.2-channel receiver with excellent connectivity options and decent power. While it lacks the array of audio decoders that other receivers feature, it does include the most important ones, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, which are the most advanced audio formats available.

December 7, 2015: After more than 50 hours of hands-on testing, the Denon AVR-S710W is our pick for best receiver. It offers every feature most people will need, and it has the easiest setup we’ve seen. If the Denon is unavailable, the Onkyo TX-NR545 matches the Denon feature-for-feature, but it isn’t as easy to set up. If you don’t need more than five channels or integrated streaming, the Yamaha RX-V379 is our budget pick, and it makes a great entry-level receiver.

October 22, 2015: After considering all the new models, we think the Denon AVR-S710W is the best receiver this year. This is largely due to how easy it is to set up compared to its competition, while still having all the features we look for in a receiver. This includes 6 HDMI 2.0a/HDCP 2.2 inputs for 4K video, the ability to decode Dolby Atmos, built-in Apple Airplay, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Pandora, Spotify, an app for your smartphone/tablet, and more. There’s not much difference in sound among receivers at this price, so features and ease-of-use put the Denon over the top. Look for our fully updated guide soon.

We spent 10 hours researching and more than 70 hours performing hands-on testing to determine that the Denon AVR-S720W is the best receiver for most people. It offers by far the easiest setup process we’ve ever seen in a receiver, and it’s the simplest to use of the models we tested, with none of the usability flaws of its competitors. It provides very good sound quality and every new feature you might need, including AirPlay, Bluetooth, Pandora, and Spotify Connect support plus the ability to connect directly to Internet radio stations and local DLNA servers. It’s also ready for 4K content and all the sources you use today and might use in the near future, thanks to HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 support. In the end, the competition is closer this year than last, but this Denon retains the lead.

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