Whatever piece of equipment you are thinking of purchasing next for your home theater, we are putting together a number of Top 10 guides over the coming weeks that will hopefully make your choices easier. Although we have not had a chance to review every product that makes these lists, we have researched what’s hot, what’s been getting the good reviews and what should deliver on both price and performance. Here is a selection of ten receivers and processors in various price brackets that should accommodate most people’s tastes and that we think you should at least check out before handing over the plastic.

Budget

Sony STR-DN1080 Receiver $599

Already in its third year of production, the DN1080 enjoys both sturdy sales and sustained interest from the hi-fi and home theater community. This 7.2 receiver packs audio performance that some reviewers have branded “punchy”, “spellbinding” and “insightful” into a solid-looking and multi-talented black box. With Dolby Atmos and DTS:X configurable as 5.1.2, 6 x HDMI inputs and exemplary hi-res music support options – all at a highly affordable price – there is talk of this receiver single-handedly heralding the Japanese corporation’s return to form.

Onkyo TX-NR696 Receiver $579

The Onkyo TX-NR696 has established itself in the past year as one of the undisputed champions of budget receivers. Although priced officially at $579, you should be able to find it for well below $500 now, which makes it quite a steal. As well as its reportedly impressive sonic performance on both movies and music, this attractive black box from Onkyo – with its 7 x 100W per channel of amplification – sports an extraordinary list of features, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersive audio for your movies, and all the latest 4K and HDMI connectivity, such as Dolby Vision pass-through. With 7 HDMI inputs, Bluetooth, a phono connection for vinyl fans and a host of streaming options, you get the feeling that there’s not much more that Onkyo could have thrown in for the price.

Mid-Range

Marantz NR1711 Receiver $799

If you’re looking for something with a lower-profile design for a living space, check out the 8K-ready NR1711 (recently replacing the NR1710). 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 50W 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.

Denon AVR-X3600H $1,099

You can save yourself $600 if you plump for the Denon AVR-X3600H (shortly to be replaced by the AVR-X3700H this year) rather than the upgraded AVR-X4500H (below). There is a compromise on power output reduced to 105W per channel, but you can still drive 11 channels for a 7.2.4 setup with the addition of an external two-channel amplifier, and you also get to hang onto all the streaming mod cons, HEOS compatibility and IMAX Enhanced certification of the higher-ticket 4000 series. Denon has added two power amplifiers over the preceding AVR-X3500H to take the onboard total up to nine, and the word on the street is that bass response, timing and clarity have all benefited from a comprehensive redesign of the 3000 series.

Marantz SR6014 Receiver $1,499

The nine-channel Marantz SR6014 has garnered somewhat greater accolades than its cheaper $999 SR5014 sibling, which has been occasionally criticized for lacking the flare of other receivers in the line. More characteristic of Marantz, however, the SR6014 receiver is considered both “muscular and musical” while providing no less than 7 HDMI inputs and “class leading” connectivity. Like the Denon X4500H, you can build out a 7.2.4 immersive setup with the assistance of an external amp, and if you haven’t quite got round to purchasing your height speakers yet, there’s Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization and DTS Virtual:X to keep you going. You also get IMAX Enhanced certification if it’s one of your must-haves.

Denon AVR-X4500H Receiver $1,699

Denon’s 9.2-channel feature-rich mid-range war horse, the AVR-X4500H, has been described as producing “dynamic and detailed” audio. With IMAX Enhanced added to the bill via firmware, the unit can also process 11.2 preamp outs for a full 7.2.4 setup, and offer up 125W per channel into 8 ohms (two channels driven). Although replaced recently with the 8K-upscaling and Quick Media Switching (QMS) AVR-X4700H, the 4000 series has been consistently rated for delivering extraordinary bang-for-buck, and therefore lapping up huge sales year-on-year.


Middle-High End

Yamaha CX-A5200 Processor $2,699

Like the Anthem AVM 60 (below), when heading north of the $2,500 price point, in many cases this means contemplating a preamplifier for your home theater, rather than AV receiver (with its own amplifiers on board). While there is the added expense of purchasing further black doorstops to power your speakers, the marked uptick in audio performance is almost universally game-changing for most listeners. The CX-A5200 stops short of the 13 channels available in the Denon AVR-X8500H receiver, but users are treated to a great swathe of Yamaha’s expert DSP effects modes and inherent musicality in performance. Audio is considered neutral, uncolored and natural, and purists will be pleased to see balanced XLR outputs for power amp hookup.

Anthem AVM 60 Processor $2,999

Back in November, Dave Upton reviewed and raved about the Anthem AVM 60 pre/pro. Although launched more than four years ago now, the product continues to receive feature updates, one of which recently included the company’s own

Anthem AVM60 AV Receiver Processor

ARC Genesis room correction system, responsible for knocking some serious competitors off their perch. While eschewing the usual cornucopia of streaming and integration features of similarly priced pre/pros from the likes of Marantz and Yamaha, the AVM 60 delivers top-notch audio performance for the category. Add that fact to the now unassailable legacy of the Anthem and Paradigm names behind this beast, and you might well ask what’s not to like here. Purchase at Crutchfield

 

Denon AVR-X8500H Receiver $3,999

If you find you need six overhead or nine ear-height speakers in your media room, you could opt for Denon’s tier-topping AVR-X8500H receiver. This 13.2-channel behemoth supplies 150W per channel to each speaker in a 7.2.6 or 9.2.4 architecture (although keep in mind that DTS:X is limited in its channel output). Some speak of no receiver sounding better than this one, while others suggest the soundstage scale is “immense”, but if you prefer your tech full-featured and without compromise, the X8500H might be the one for you.

 

High End

Lyngdorf MP-40 AV Receiver Processor

Lyngdorf MP-40 Processor $9,500

Lyngdorf’s RoomPerfect room correction software celebrates its 14th birthday this year and yet it still has the capability of making home theaters sound utterly sublime. The warmth and detail that can be heard in stereo and multi-channel sources on the company’s new MP-40 processor is nothing short of astounding, and these Great Danes certainly have set a new bar for their competitors to attain. Whatever it takes, give it a listen before you finally decide it’s outside your budget. See our full review here and click here to find a dealer.

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Martin Dew

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Scott Jentsch

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Wow, not much love for Yamaha in that list, while Sound United has an entry in every price segment.

Perhaps it's just a personal preference, but after having three Yamaha receivers followed by three Denon receivers, I was very happy to get back to a Yamaha again. I find the menus much more usable, and the performance and calibration capabilities are equally matched, IMHO.

I will submit that more people are probably more aware of Denon, and there are some very ardent fans out there, but unless things have changed recently, Yamaha is definitely worth a look!
 

john a hunter

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About three years ago I had the Yammy CX 5100 and changed to the Anthem AVM60.
In a totally different ball park to the Yammy for sound quality.
Never looked back.
 
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technohobby

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Wow, not much love for Yamaha in that list, while Sound United has an entry in every price segment.

Perhaps it's just a personal preference, but after having three Yamaha receivers followed by three Denon receivers, I was very happy to get back to a Yamaha again. I find the menus much more usable, and the performance and calibration capabilities are equally matched, IMHO.

I will submit that more people are probably more aware of Denon, and there are some very ardent fans out there, but unless things have changed recently, Yamaha is definitely worth a look!
I suppose we're always going to get accused of "loving what we own", but you nailed exactly why I have a Yamaha in my theater room and a Yamaha in my family room.

So easy to setup and use. Feature setup that makes sense to a causal media enthusiast. Such a nice, convenient App on my phone. The simple access to various sound fields (still not tempted by them). And, using it as a pre-amp for my Parasound Amp driving my Revel setup (family room) mitigates issues related to adequate power .... which would have also been an issue with the competition.

And, yes, I owned (slim-line) Marantz in one room. And, a Pioneer followed by a SONY premium units. Everyone has upped their game, I'm sure. But, I feel like I needed my instruction book on the others and that still wasn't adequate. Usability is my new purchase criteria. Keep in mind, we don't live in this A/V arena. We setup, once, and only revisit setup if we add a device or something goes wrong. My support team (me) demands intuitive and simple feature management. If I can't figure it out, it might as well not have those cool features.
 
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My experience with non-Yamaha receivers over the last 20 years or so has not been a good one. My first "high end" surround receiver was a Marantz SR8000? that cost a ton of money and died once under warranty, and then again right after it expired. Off to the boneyard it went, as it cost too much to fix. Had crappy binding posts, too.

I've had a mid level Sony after that that had endless issues, then an Onkyo that had an intermittent left front channel that two trips to the shop didn't cure. I fixed it myself with 2 cans of freezit and a lot of time looking for a cracked/bad solder joint which turned out to be a resistor that had a crack when cold then would heat up and work fine. Only took about 20 minutes to start working. Took a long time to find. Cost was about 5 cents for the resistor, and about 17 bucks for the freeze stuff. It was gone for weeks at a time for service.

My latest and I would bet last dud is my Denon 4500X which has died for the second time. It's still under warranty, but what a hassle. Seems to be the same issue as last time, an IC failed in the DD processing unit, causing huge levels of distortion in the surround channels. Kind of sounds like broken glass sound mixed into the surround channels. I have to run it in 2 channel mode to have decent sound.

After the first time it went out, I added one of the ACInfinity fan units and the thing wasn't even close to hot anymore. Without it, it ran hotter than my TRS-7810 does/did, and I thought that's what killed it the first time. I guess not.

Meanwhile, the Yamaha TRS-7810 has come out of retirement a second time and does a fine job, and it cost about 1/3 what the Denon did. And if it dies, there is the Yamaha RX-V675 from 2006 that still works perfectly, and to be honest, sounds better than any of the above. The remote is a little tired at this point, and the only reason it's not back on duty. It's Yamaha for me from now on. Next time I'm moving up to an Adventage (?) model, which I should have done instead of throwing $1000+ in on the 4500X.

I'm not hard on my stuff, I have two Technics cassette decks from 1972 and from 1979 that work perfectly, and until about 2010, I had my bought in 1972 Panasonic (Technics) receiver that I bought just before my 16th birthday. The slider volume control finally wore out, and it was sold to a friend who still uses it to run his rear surround channels as a power amp. Not bad for a $212 close out.
 

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I'm not hard on my stuff, I have two Technics cassette decks from 1972 and from 1979 that work perfectly,
You read my mind. I was about to ask about your usage and environment. I've never had any AV receiver outright fail on me and I've owned plenty over the years. My Onkyo TX SR805 did suffer the front panel demise that was typical of that particular model but it still works and is actually filling in for my Outlaw 7140 right now. Onkyo's are also known for running extremely hot.
 

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One point I would add in favor of the anthem being on this list over the Marantz, is that once you've heard the alternatives to Audyssey, either ARC Genesis or Dirac, it becomes apparent immediately that they're vastly superior. I don't include YPAO, MCACC in this list because they're frankly terrible and don't even compete.

I have had top-of-the-line units with all three room correction technologies in my room and there's a reason I'm not using a Marantz anymore.
 
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Kevin Alexander

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Wow, not much love for Yamaha in that list, while Sound United has an entry in every price segment.

Perhaps it's just a personal preference, but after having three Yamaha receivers followed by three Denon receivers, I was very happy to get back to a Yamaha again. I find the menus much more usable, and the performance and calibration capabilities are equally matched, IMHO.

I will submit that more people are probably more aware of Denon, and there are some very ardent fans out there, but unless things have changed recently, Yamaha is definitely worth a look!
There is an industry wide bias in favor of Denon/Marantz imo. I've found Yamaha to be more balanced in sound whereas D/M tends to roll off the upper end.
 

Kevin Alexander

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You read my mind. I was about to ask about your usage and environment. I've never had any AV receiver outright fail on me and I've owned plenty over the years. My Onkyo TX SR805 did suffer the front panel demise that was typical of that particular model but it still works and is actually filling in for my Outlaw 7140 right now. Onkyo's are also known for running extremely hot.
The days of the hot running Onkyos are gone. The crown of the blow torch receivers go to Denon and Marantz.
 

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One point I would add in favor of the anthem being on this list over the Marantz, is that once you've heard the alternatives to Audyssey, either ARC Genesis or Dirac, it becomes apparent immediately that they're vastly superior. I don't include YPAO, MCACC in this list because they're frankly terrible and don't even compete.

I have had top-of-the-line units with all three room correction technologies in my room and there's a reason I'm not using a Marantz anymore.
Fair enough. I've never owned an Anthem product and wasn't advocating an either or scenario. I think there's room for both on the list as they seem to target different audiences. Anthem appears to be the better choice for those who primarily value audiophile level performance while Marantz is [IMO] a great choice for those who value fit & finish and myriad feature sets. Since the latter camp is clearly the larger consumer market [most of us are not audiophiles, even at the high end] it seems somewhat remiss to not include the 8805.
 

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All fair points and thanks for the feedback. The reality is that there are good value products at most price points from most manufacturers and, in hindsight, I could easily have included a mid-price Yamaha and/or the Marantz 8805. For the eight of the total ten models in the list we haven't reviewed at HTF, my print and online media research showed that these remaining products were the most consistently highly-rated (usually 5 stars) and therefore talked about. That did result in a bit of a Sound United bias but I suppose I weighed this up as a necessary evil.

I've owned and used Yamaha, Anthem, Technics, Marantz, Tag McLaren, Onkyo and Integra mid- and high-end home theater preamps and receivers and my experience is that they've all had their relative strengths and value propositions. It was the final composite scores, if you like, that informed my list.
 
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I forgot to mention that going back to 1977, I've never had a Yamaha made component have any problem more severe than a loose knob on my old R-700 receiver. Over thirty years after I bought it, some guy in Australia bought it from me and paid $100 to ship it over there. It took literally over 2 months to get there. He loved it.

I've had Yamaha power amps, pre-amps, turntables, speakers (small ones) and cassette decks, and they all did great and lived to the point where I upgraded or they died when a lightning hit killed a bunch of my stuff in the mid 80's, and again in 2000. Surge protectors only can do so much. Some stuff died, some lived. I lost a ton of stuff that second time, including two really nice VCR's.
 

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With all due respect to Anthem I still feel the Marantz 8805 deserves a spot on any realistic list.
One point I would add in favor of the anthem being on this list over the Marantz, is that once you've heard the alternatives to Audyssey, either ARC Genesis or Dirac, it becomes apparent immediately that they're vastly superior. I don't include YPAO, MCACC in this list because they're frankly terrible and don't even compete.

I have had top-of-the-line units with all three room correction technologies in my room and there's a reason I'm not using a Marantz anymore.
My plan is to buy a new Marantz 7706 (presumed 2020 model) pre-pro to replace my 7702mkII when I go 4K. Having read the Anthem review, I’ve got to give that some consideration. But, it’s at least 50% more expensive, requires an additional pricey calibrated microphone purchase, and figuring out the computer support for ARC (might be easy, tbd), and a major programming update to my remote. But, it promises much better room correction. So...hmmmm...
 

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Good discussion on receivers, thanks for the inputs. With old ears and damaged hearing, I doubt that I can detect subtle differences in sound from various brands, I can barely detect differences in speaker brands. For me ease of setup and use are important. I bought a Yam RX-A660 Aventage avr about 3-4 yrs ago and was immediately awed by the 130+ page owners manual. I have since installed a distributed audio system to supplement my 5.1.2 HT and use Yamaha WXA-50 amps for 4 extra zones via MusicCast. The Yamaha apps are excellent and functionality is good. I did make a couple of mistakes with the avr; 1) not getting a unit with pre-outs and 2) not getting a higher level of YPAO. So once the HDMI situation settles down I will be in the market for another avr, Yamaha of course, certainly don't want to go thru another learning curve with a different brand.
 

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I think Yamaha builds a fantastic receiver, and I would recommend them every time if YPAO was a bit better. I revisit it every 18 months or so, and remain dissatisfied. It's the one thing separating them from greatness imo.
 

Clinton McClure

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I think Yamaha builds a fantastic receiver, and I would recommend them every time if YPAO was a bit better. I revisit it every 18 months or so, and remain dissatisfied. It's the one thing separating them from greatness imo.
I can attest to that. I’m still using a 20+ year old Yamaha RX-V995. The headphone jack died last year but the rest of the receiver seems to be bulletproof. It only does lossy 5.1 DD and dts via digital audio or TOSlink (this receiver predates hdmi) but still sounds good paired with my Anthem amp. I want to upgrade to a Marantz SR6014 but with my wife not working, I can’t afford to upgrade.