10 Best AV Receivers and Processors for 2023
By Martin Dew
We have pooled the knowledge and resources of our reviewers at Home Theater Forum to come up with the best receivers and processors to kick off the new year in 2023. There are still plenty of winter months yet to enjoy hunkering down on cold evenings to spin up your favorite discs or binge-watch hours of Disney+ or Netflix episodics.
Luckily, even in this cash-strapped age, there’s an option here to suit every budget. While supply chains over the past two years have hampered manufacturers’ release dates and delivery schedules, more products are starting to find their way into stores and online shopping warehouses. We are also starting to see interesting tech developments where manufacturers are incorporating more sophisticated in-room calibration systems and other features into their receivers. As time goes on, that means better performance per dollar spent for all of us.
As ever, although we have not had a chance to review every product that makes these lists, we always research what’s hot and what’s been getting the best reviews. Several of us on the team at HTF also get a chance to hear and see how these products perform at tradeshows and industry events. We know some of you will have your own opinions about which devices deserve to be on this list, but keep in mind that our overview here is a composite of what we see in the wider world. There are a lot of good products out there.
Here is our selection of ten AVRs and processors in ascending order of price and category that should accommodate most people’s tastes and affordability expectations. We certainly think you should check these out before handing over the plastic.
Best Budget AV Receivers
Sony STR-DH790 Home Theater AV Receiver
Sony continues to receive accolades for its recent groundbreaking HT-A9 home-theater-in-a-box and all-in-one multi-channel systems. The company also supports a legacy of producing professional audio codecs and products for theatrical applications. So, it’s reasonable to deduce that this most famed of Japanese brands is well qualified when it comes movie sound. Seven-channel playback capability means you can achieve immersive audio in a 5.1.2 configuration.
Sony’s D.C.A.C. auto calibration tech has some nice features, including phase matching which aligns the characteristics of all speakers to the left and right channels for more cohesive surround sound. Like the HT-A9, the STR-DH790 can reposition phantom speakers within your setup. This obviously alleviates speaker placement constrictions. The Sony delivers robust surround audio with good placement of effects within the soundstage. However, note that there are no analog video connections, no ethernet or network support, or second zone capabilities.
Denon AVR-X1700H 7.2 Channel Receiver
Denon are still the industry leaders when it comes to both affordable and mid-price receivers. The company’s products usually find a few well-earned places on our lists, simply due to the breadth of products on offer. Being just as exposed to the covid crisis of 2020/21, the company was unable to fulfill many of its ongoing orders during that period. However, last year’s AVR-X1700H was every bit as feature driven as its worthy predecessors and came with a few surprises, too.
Sporting a myriad of HDMI connections, three ports of the available six accommodate the latest 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz capacities. These are a godsend to gamers, along with auto low latency mode (ALLM) and variable refresh rates, all neatly packaged into one of Denon’s stylish black front fascia profiles. The X1700H also amply compensates movie lovers with 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersive codecs.
If you don’t have upfirers or in-ceiling speakers to satisfy your craving for skyward sound effects, there’s DTS Virtual:X and Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization onboard to compensate. With Denon’s standard raft of music streaming features such as Spotify, Tidal and Apple AirPlay2, the receiver comes pretty fully-loaded. But remember, you get what you pay for. While the shopping list of features is commendable and some reviewers praised a detailed soundstage, others highlighted a sometimes mechanical musical performance and dimension-lacking movie audio.
Marantz NR1711 AV Receiver
We still rate the Marantz NR1711 receiver. If you are looking for something with a lower-profile design for a living space, check out this confident 8K-ready performer. It even maintains an alluring price against this inflation-rampant backdrop. Whether you intend to wire up a 7.1 or 5.1.2 immersive home theater, the Marantz will easily satisfy movie and music lovers with robust and “gorgeous” sound, courtesy of 50 watts per channel amplification.
It even supports multi-room designs via the home-grown HEOS app and there is connectivity for Zone 2 included. Belying its size, the NR1711 carries a host of streaming options and gaming-friendly features. There’s also a phono input stage and six HDMI Ins, but note there is only one Out. In the real world, the NR1711 will likely find its discreet home nestled in a TV stand but adding a bit of magic to a living room. But with this rollcall of features and attractive price, what’s not to like?
Best Mid-Priced AV Receivers
Denon AVR-X4700H AV Receiver
Denon’s AVR-X4700H comes in with a predictably more rounded out roster of features than the entry-level AVR-X1700H (see above). With nine channels of amplification, you can of course opt to retain seven ear-level and two ceiling channels in a 7.1.2 configuration or push out your Dolby Atmos array to include four ceiling channels in a 5.1.4 configuration.
The claimed power output is 9 x 125 watts, and there are eight HDMI Ins and three Outs, plus three-zone multi-room capability care of HEOS. There is also IMAX Enhanced certification for those with an inclination to the audiovisual prowess of the marque. Denon prides itself in delivering a host of voice assistant compatibilities on its platform along with music streaming services from Amazon Music HD, Spotify, TuneIn and Tidal.
Audyssey’s MultiEQ XT32 in-room calibration promotes an easy walk-through for beginners and the results from multiple seats promise excellent response. Reviewers have universally praised the AVR-4700H for both clarity and unapologetic slam during action movie playback, as well as its dynamic music chops.
Marantz Cinema 60 7.2 Channel AV Receiver
Marantz went into stealth mode during the covid pandemic. And then Masimo, a medical devices company, paid $1bn dollars for Marantz’s parent company Sound United earlier this year. The jury is out on how this acquisition will play out. But the immediate upshot of these changes is a cosmetic overhaul of Marantz’s AV processor and receiver lines.
The Cinema 60 7.2-channel AVR replaces the former SR5015 but now incorporates a striking new look. The company has ditched the former curved-side front fascia design which was starting to look tired. The word on the street is that the new Cinema receivers sound much like their predecessors but are as feature-rich as ever. There is also a promise baked in that Dirac Live room correction will be distributed in a future firmware release in March, while holding onto the existing Audyssey MultiEQ XT platform.
This versatile AVR arrives with 100 watts per channel (8 ohms, two channels driven), three HDMI 2.1 inputs, HEOS compatibility and hi-res music playback. The Cinema 60 can support a 5.2.2 Dolby Atmos setup or you can opt for a 7.2 ear height layout. (If you want four separate subwoofer outputs, you’ll have to upgrade to the Cinema 50 AVR.)
Considered ample for a mid-sized room, the Cinema 60 can produce all the power required for your movies with accurate effects placement and a sense of realism. Two-channel music listening also comes with a surprisingly good recommendation across the board, so give it a listen if you live close by a dealer.
Yamaha RX-A6A 9.2 Channel Aventage Receiver
Many of you will want to protect yourselves from future redundancy by upping the channel count and the Yamaha RX-A6A arrives with just that solution. A ‘full’ Dolby Atmos-friendly setup consists of a 7.1.4 configuration. While the Yamaha processes 11 channels, it only amplifies nine onboard. This means you can purchase a separate two-channel amp for either the front left and right, or rear height speakers.
The RX-A6A also adds Auro-3D to its portfolio of immersive audio codecs, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. There’s a good sprinkling of HDMI connectivity, voice control and streaming options, plus a DAB+ radio thrown in. While Yamaha’s YPAO calibration system doesn’t quite muster the tweakability and performance of its nearest competitors like Dirac, it does get points for easy usability.
With all that in mind, the RX-A6A does deliver on the brand’s undisputed music legacy with naturalism and delicacy applied to disc and streamed sources. Movie playback is considered both heavyweight and authoritative so, if this box is within your budget, add it to your audition list.
Best Mid-High Priced AV Receivers
Anthem MRX 740 8K 11.2 Preamplifier/Receiver
While the Anthem MRX 1140 has 15.2 channels of processing, its more budget sibling, the MRX 740 8K, sports 11.2 channels with seven channels of onboard amplification. The Anthem range has undergone a spectacular overhaul of its design aesthetic, now resulting in a much more 21st century profile and appeal. The MRX 740, with its lefthand top to bottom edge display screen resembles something much closer to the clean lines of the Lyngdorf processor line.
Power output measures 170 watts x 5 (all channels driven) and two 75 watt channels, all into 6 ohms (or 140 watts and 60 watts into 8 ohms). Anthem Room Correction (ARC), the company’s own in-house calibration system, can produce spectacular results and is still the tech to beat in the price category. ARC allows saving of multiple profiles for different rooms, and you can also create your own custom target curves. The Anthem accommodates Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based audio and is IMAX Enhanced certified.
Many consider the ‘new’ 2021 Anthem receivers and preamplifiers to be some of the best on the market with their soaring performance on movies and precision and articulacy on music sources. The $2,899 price tag translates into true bargain territory when measured up against the MRX 740’s excellent slew of features and barnstorming performance.
Arcam AVR31 HDMI 2.1 Class G AV Receiver
If you feel you are ready to take that step up to a 16-channel processor/receiver and don’t want to budget for the $10k-plus region, Arcam is good place to fix your gaze. The AVR31 can decode Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D. There are seven channels of Class G amplification, which Arcam bases on the innards of the company’s stereo amplifiers.
Dirac Live room optimization is the onboard calibration process, but you can tweak performance with the optional Dirac Live Bass Control as well. With seven HDMI 2.1 inputs and three outputs, all the former of which support 8K at 60 Hz and 4K at 120 Hz, and a host of streaming options, the AVR31 is more than future proof. The dark grey chassis and overall build quality reflect the class of product in which it resides. There is also a full color matrix showing album artwork on the front display when you cast your tunes.
But the value proposition here is in the audio reproduction. The AVR31 can discern the quietest and most subtle movie soundtrack cues with exquisite sound field placement juxtaposed with tremendous dynamics unleashed when required. Such a level of performance should put this receiver at the top of any serious home theater aficionado’s consideration list.
Best High-End AV Processors
Lyngdorf MP-60 Surround Sound Processor
Danish maestros Lyngdorf know a thing or two about HiFi, so much so that piano makers Steinway decided to enter into a joint venture with the brand to produce higher-than-high-end audio components and loudspeakers. But with Steinway-branded price tags that could make the eyes water, head honcho Peter Lyngdorf wisely decided to make the magic available to mere mortals by disseminating some of the core technologies to the Lyngdorf brand itself.
The company’s first home theater processor, the MP-50, hit the market in 2017. Although it could decode 12 discrete channels (with a matrix facility out to 16), it arrived just before the HDMI 2.1 specification took hold. Consequently, you could only max out video switching and pass-through with 4K HDR sources at 24 frames per second.
While that’s more than enough for most people, the new MP-60 arrived with the fully-leaded HDMI spec and 16 discrete channels of decoding. Lyngdorf designs its kit with a beautiful low-key Scandinavian aesthetic and the MP-60 is capable of an exquisite sound. Both immersive audio movie and two-channel music sources are so warm and realistic as to be tangible. The brand has an intensely loyal following and you will find it a formidable challenge to wrench devotees from the cause.
Trinnov Altitude16 Surround Sound Processor
Back in 2021, Trinnov announced that it would release a 16-channel processor to add to its already legendary Altitude processor line. Its forebear was named Altitude32 because, yes, it could decode up to 32 channels (and more) of immersive audio. Realizing that most customers would probably find that many speakers in their living room overkill, they introduced the Altitude16. But the Trinnov preamp/processors are still considered the high bar in home theater performance with their extraordinary ability to place sounds with devastating accuracy and render house-demolishing dynamics throughout the listening area.
The Altitude16 harbors a fully upgradeable platform and is designed to sit in your home theater rack for years. Based on a PC architecture, Trinnov developed its own immersive audio chips in-house (and not sourced off the shelf) by talking directly to Dolby and DTS. The results are awe-inspiring, even if competitor Lyngdorf arguably holds the prize for best music performance from its home theater preamps.
Trinnov throws in Auro-3D and IMAX Enhanced certification over and above the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X Pro codecs. You also get Trinnov’s second-to-none Room Optimizer, a visual interface to let you monitor the travel of object-based effects as they glide around your room, and a remapping tool to correct for less than perfect speaker placements. The Altitude16 is one box to drool over and dream about.
Martin Dew is an independent AV and pro cinema journalist. He has written news, features and reviews for several print magazines, including Home Cinema Choice, Essential Install, Cinema Technology and Film Journal. Martin moved to San Francisco in 1995 to join the THX Division of Lucasfilm Ltd. where he worked in international sales and marketing for residential and pro cinema. He subsequently joined the digital cinema division of NEC in Los Angeles in business development. He later consulted to DreamWorks at Universal City to assist with shooting schedule mapping for several major feature films. Having originally trained as an actor at GSA, Martin also found time to work on the other side of the camera in both the US and UK, with cast credits in three Steven Spielberg films. He has also appeared in Doctor Who and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
Some of our content may contain marketing links, which means we will receive a commission for purchases made via those links. In our editorial content, these affiliate links appear automatically, and our editorial teams are not influenced by our affiliate partnerships. We work with several providers (currently Skimlinks and Amazon) to manage our affiliate relationships. You can find out more about their services by visiting their sites.