We’ve decided to bring our top AV receivers list closer into the realm of affordability this time, leaving out pricier pre/pros and flagship surround amps. As a result, below is a list of eight of the multi-channel machines that we think will give you the best bang-for-buck in your home theater or media room. Just as last time, although not having a chance to review many of the products here, we have nevertheless researched what’s hot, what’s been getting the good headlines, and what should deliver on both price and performance. Bear in mind that in this post-Covid world there are ongoing global supply chain issues combined with pared back personnel at many manufacturers’ HQs, so be prepared for disappointment if products are not currently in stock at your favorite retailer. With postage and shipping also subject to delays, there is a further dimension to this conundrum, but hopefully we will see things improve over the summer and fall.
Once again, here is a selection of surround sound champions in various price brackets that should suit most people’s tastes and that we think you should at least check out before committing. A few are carry-overs from our 2020 list simply because they’re still holding up as frontrunners in a competitive marketplace. (Note that the prices in the headings act as a guide and/or are previously announced MSRPs.)
Sony STR-DN1080 Receiver $599
The DN1080 continues to enjoy 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.
Yamaha RX-V6A $599
With HDMI 2.1 compliance for an 8K and high frame rate future, this sturdy and high-end-looking, curved-edge amp from Yamaha may come up short on its underwhelming LCD display and reduced streaming options compared to the competition. But where you really gain here is from Yamaha’s musical prowess, a quality often lacking in this price range of home theater receivers. Movie playback, care of its 7.1.2 audio array, is also considered “thrilling” and therefore possibly nudging its immediate rivals off the top shelf for sound quality, if that’s your priority over other features.
Onkyo TX-NR696 Receiver $649
The Onkyo TX-NR696 has established itself as one of the undisputed champions of budget receivers, and consequently the unit makes it back onto our list. Although priced officially at $649 now, you might still be able to find it for below $500, 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. 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.
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 (available in silver or black). 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.
Yamaha RX-A1080 $1,299
Yamaha once again addresses the need for music to stand its ground when set against multi-channel movie soundtracks. The RX-A1080 forms part of the mid-price Aventage series of receivers by the Japanese company, and is capable of a “huge” and “detailed” soundstage, thanks to its 7.2 channels of processing with 170W of power allotted for each. Loaded with features, music streaming capabilities and seven HDMI inputs, the RX-A1080 is also stabilized with the Aventage line’s five vibration-damping feet for enhanced performance.
Denon AVR-X3700H $1,299
Like the AVR-X3600H which made our 2020 list, the X3700H allows a 5.2.4 or 7.2.2 immersive audio setup, or 7.2.4 if you decide to add an additional two-channel external power amp. This new receiver is adorned with HDMI 2.1 switching, significantly improved audio performance over its predecessor, IMAX Enhanced certification and all the streaming and immersive audio mod cons you’ve come to expect from the Denon stable. The in-built versatility and “amazing” audio delivery make the AVR-X3700H a convincing prospect for anyone building out a new home theater.
Marantz SR6015 Receiver $1,699
For those considering a path to upgrade, the Marantz SR6015 receiver offers preamp capability bypassing its own internal amplification while also delivering “superb” sound quality on both music and film sources. This 9.2-channel 2021 model is packed to the seams with streaming and gaming features, all the latest immersive audio formats and, of course, HDMI 2.1 with its obsolescence-proof [email protected] and [email protected] pass-through. Of particular note is the product’s almost universally acknowledged fine sound quality from two-channel music sources.
Denon AVR-X4700H Receiver $1,699
Denon’s 9.2-channel powerhouse, the AVR-X4700H, offers eight HDMI inputs (one 8K) and a healthy bank of nine 125W onboard amplifiers. It can achieve a “three dimensional realism” with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks while mixing both “refinement and drama” in equal measure. One reviewer describes the performance as nothing short of “epic”. As with all the Sound United models in this mid-price bracket, there is a ream of features and gizmos for hi-res audioholics, gamers and movie buffs alike. There is also IMAX Enhanced certification and support for all common immersive audio formats, including Auro-3D.
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