The 3 Best High-End Home Theater Receivers of 2020

Take a walk on the high-end side of home theater

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The Rundown
"A high-end home theater receiver that looks as good as it sounds, and also packs in more than you would expect."
Best for Custom Installs:
Sony STRZA5000ES 9.2-Channel at Amazon
"There’s plenty of space to connect your TV, internet and gaming console and still have room to spare."
Best for Auro 3D Audio:
Denon AVR-X8500H 13.2 Channel at Amazon
"Delivers a whopping 150 watts per channel at 8 ohms and contains four high-speed SHARC processors."

Best Connectivity: Marantz SR7012 9.2 Channel Network Home Theater Receiver

If you are looking for a high-end home theater receiver that looks as good as it sounds, and also packs in more than you would expect, the Marantz SR7012 might just the ticket.

Behind its uniquely stylish front panel, the SR7012 packs it in, starting with 9 built-in amplifiers that can deliver as much as 125 wpc. In addition, there are two subwoofer outputs and two sets of preamp outputs for connecting two external amplifiers that can expand the SR7012 to 11.2 channels, supporting a lot of speaker setup options for all surround sound formats including Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro 3D audio for a fully-immersive surround sound experience.

For video, this receiver is 3D, 4K, HDR (includes HDR10, Dolby Vision, and Hybrid Log Gamma) pass through compatible, as well as providing up to 4K upscaling.

The SR7012 has more connection options that some might need - but it is better to have more than not enough. 8 HDMI inputs are provided as well as three HDMI outputs. HDMI outputs 1 and 2 output the same signal, but the third output can send a different HDMI source signal to a Zone 2 setup (Zone 2 and 3 preamp audio outputs are also included). Additional connections include a set of 5.1/7.1 channel analog audio inputs and preamp outputs, as well as a dedicated phono turntable input and additional digital and analog inputs.

The SR7012 also provides a USB port, DLNA support (access to content stored on network-connected PCs and media servers), and internet access to music streaming services, such as Pandora, TIDAL, Spotify Connect, Sirius/XM, and TuneIn internet radio. Apple AirPlay and Bluetooth compatibility are also provided, so you can stream music from either your iPhone or Android smartphone.

One added bonus is the incorporation of the Denon (Denon and Marantz are sister brands) HEOS wireless multi-room audio streaming. HEOS allows the SR7012 to stream audio from your own local music library (phone, tablet, USB drive) and streaming music services to compatible HEOS wireless speaker products that can be placed around the house.

The home theater receiver and HEOS functions can be easily controlled via the Marantz AVR Remote App for iOS and Android (standard wireless remote is also included). Also, some of the SR-7012's features can be controlled using Alexa voice control via an Amazon Echo device with the Alexa HEOS skill enabled.

Best for Custom Installs: Sony STRZA5000ES 9.2-Channel AV Receiver

You’ve put a lot of time into building your personal home theater system, so you need an equally customizable AV receiver to complete the set. With 6 HDMI inputs and 2 outputs (both with HDCP 2.2 support), there’s plenty of space to connect your TV, internet and gaming console and still have room to spare. Also, the Sony features subtle IR codes that connect third-party remotes to your system, showing off its adaptive capabilities.

Instead of connecting wirelessly, the receiver uses an 8-port gigabit ethernet switch, so you’ll always have the most reliable connection. It supports the standard Dolby ATMOS and DTS:X audio decoding, along with more exciting features, like 4K, 3D, and TRILUMINOS color.

This Sony receiver also produces exceptional audio quality: 130 watts per channel at 8 ohms, with the ability to add two active subwoofers to distribute an equal bass sound. Also, its unique “in-ceiling” mode redirects audio from the front speakers, giving the impression that sound is coming directly from the TV monitor, instead of bouncing off the ceiling.

Best for Auro 3D Audio: Denon AVR-X8500H 13.2 Channel Home Theater Receiver

As the first 13.2 channel receiver to support the latest immersive audio formats, the Denon AVR-X8500H has a lot to live up to. And at the price point, you best believe that Auro 3D comes as part of the standard package.

While quite a handful of products on this list also support Auro 3D formatting, more often than not, it’s offered as an additional upgrade rather than as part of the standard package. Since Dolby Surround and DTS:X formats are essentially the industry standard for audio in American films, it’s typically not an issue for most buyers. But if you crave the unique experience of Auro 3D, and don’t want to pay extra for it, then this is an A/V receiver worth investing in.

The X8500H model delivers a whopping 150 watts per channel at 8 ohms and contains four high-speed SHARC processors with a combined processing power of 10 GLOPS (10 billion floating point numerical computations per second).

It also features eight HDMI inputs and three HDMI outputs, all enabled with the latest HDCP 2.2 specifications, and the receiver is prepped to support 4K ultra HD sound, HDR Dolby Vision and even eARC audio, for the eventual rise of 3D video. In short, the Denon X8500H model is ready to take you into the future.

What to Look for in a Home Theater Receiver

Speaker wattage - When buying a receiver for your home setup, be sure that the unit fulfills your speaker's power needs. Speakers require a specific wattage to correctly output sound, and your receiver needs to be able to meet that demand.

Speaker configuration - How many speakers do you intend to use in your cinema system? It’s essential to check the number of speakers that your unit supports. While some systems can only power two speakers for stereo sound, others can control over half a dozen for a full Dolby Atmos experience.

Audio/video standards - Make sure that your new receiver supports the audio and video standards of your equipment. If you have a 4K television with HDR (high dynamic range), be sure that your new receiver can handle it. Do you want to watch movies with Dolby Atmos speakers? Your hardware will also need to manage that.