Best Home Theater Receiver

Best Home Theater Receiver

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.
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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.
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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.
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Best Home Theater Receiver

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.
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Best Home Theater Receiver

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.
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Best Home Theater Receiver

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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Best Home Theater Receiver

If you’re concerned only about sound and don’t need streaming features integrated into your receiver, the Anthem MRX 520 offers the best audio quality. In our tests, we ran all of the receivers through their built-in setup routines, and the Anthem was the only one able to accurately detect and configure all of our speakers with the ideal settings. It also has more HDMI inputs than our main pick, and is the only receiver we tested that’s designed to work with an external amplifier, if you want to add one in the future.
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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.
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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.
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An Audio/Video (A/V) Receiver is, if you’ll forgive a slightly clunky analogy, the quarterback of your home theater. It’s not just because it tells everything where to go, routing signals to different speakers and screens. It’s because it has a profound effect on the quality of the system. If it isn’t up to the task of handling the vast amount of data that get’s thrown it at, then you could have the best speakers on earth and still get bad results. The market is a crowded one, so we’ve picked out some of the best A/V receivers for this year, ranging from sub-$300 budget options to monster units that will cost you a couple of grand.

If you have an older receiver without HDMI support, now is a good time to upgrade. All the new models we tested support HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2, which means they’ll work with Ultra HD 4K displays and sources. Last year only a pair of models offered such support, but now almost all new receivers do. So if you already have an HDMI receiver but want to buy a 4K TV and want to be able to switch between 4K sources now (or soon), upgrading makes sense.
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Back in 2014, before we made any decisions about what units to test, we surveyed Wirecutter readers to see what they wanted in a receiver. (Though we conducted that survey two years ago, in that period of time there have been no new surround-sound formats or HDMI versions that would significantly change what to buy.) We wanted to know how many speakers our readers used, how they listened to music and watched video, and what they expected from a receiver. Close to 1,000 people responded to the survey and helped us define the criteria we would look for in our choices.
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Every so often, however, new standards and features make huge changes and stick around for years. A receiver with HDMI inputs bought seven or eight years ago can still play almost any source today; it can’t do 3D, but it can handle all the lossless audio formats and full 1080p images that today’s receivers can. In contrast, a receiver without HDMI inputs bought that same year probably needed upgrading three to five years ago, since almost everything is HDMI-only now.
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A receiver is the most complex AV device most people will ever buy. Everything in your system has to run through it, so once you’ve gotten everything hooked up, it looks like a giant wire Cthulhu. Even for experienced AV enthusiasts, setting up a receiver, with its dozens of buttons and options, can be daunting.