The Best Mid-Range Home Theater Receivers of 2020

Get awesome sound without spending a fortune

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The Rundown
"Can serve your home theater receiver needs for a long time."
Best Style and Connectivity:
Marantz SR5012 at Amazon
"Provides up to a seven-channel speaker configuration."
Best Bang For The Buck:
Yamaha RX-V683BL at Amazon
"Has a powerful 7 channel amplifier and a preamp output for connection of a powered subwoofer."
"A flexible mid-range home theater that provides solid audio performance."
"Affordable home theater receiver with connection/content access flexibility."
Best For Wireless Surround Speakers:
Denon HEOS AVR at Amazon
"Big emphasis on wireless multi-room audio."

The best mid-range home theatre receivers are a perfect command center for your home video/audio system. Receivers should have lots of HDMI ports to be able to support your entire set up and amplify all speakers and subwoofers in your system. You know you have a great receiver when there is hi-res audio output, video switching and processing, and upscaling.

The best mid-range home theater receivers will be able to support your dream set up.

Best Overall: Yamaha AVENTAGE RX-A1070

For a home theater receiver that bridges the gap between mid-range and high-end, consider the Yamaha AVENTAGE RX-A1070.

With outstanding performance and an abundance of features, the RX-A1070 can serve your needs for a long time.

This receiver incorporates seven channels of built-in amplification, is rated to deliver 110wpc, and features extensive standard and high-definition Dolby and DTS audio decoding and processing options, including Dolby Atmos (5.1.2 channel configuration) and DTS:X, as well as Yamaha's own audio processing enhancements. The inclusion of ESS Technology SABRE Digital-to-Analog Audio Converters supports audio processing.

Besides HDMI, audio connectivity includes digital optical/coaxial and analog input options (including a dedicated phono/turntable input) and two subwoofer outputs. Both powered speaker outputs or preamp outputs allow for an additional wired zone. The RX-A1070 even provides 7.1 channel analog preamp outputs so that you can connect it to several combinations of external amplifiers.

The built-in test tone generator works in conjunction with a provided microphone and internal firmware (YPAO) that determines the size, distance, and frequency profile for each speaker and determines optimum output levels for your room.

For video support, the RX-A1070 has eight 3D, 4K, HDR-compatible (HDR10, Dolby Vision, and Hybrid Log-Gamma) HDMI inputs, two independently configurable HDMI outputs, along with 3D, 1080p, and 4K support.

The RX-A1070 enables wired or wireless (via Ethernet or built-in Wi-Fi) audio streaming from other devices, such as a PC or media servers connected to a home network.

Extra bonuses include Wi-Fi Direct/Miracast, iPod/iPhone connection via USB, Apple AirPlay, Internet Radio (including Pandora, Rhapsody, Spotify, and Sirius/XM), Wireless Bluetooth (Which allows direct streaming from compatible portable devices), and MusicCast compatibility.

Although the RX-A1070 does come with a remote control, it can also be controlled conveniently by an iOS, Android, or Kindle Fire device.

Before you buy a home theater receiver, you may want to familiarize yourself with its essential features and the difference between a home theater receiver and a stereo receiver.

Best Style and Connectivity: Marantz SR5012

The Marantz SR5012 Network Home Theater Receiver might be an excellent choice for your home theater setup. First off, it has unusual front panel styling. However, behind that stylish front, this receiver provides up to a seven-channel speaker configuration, including connecting two subwoofers via preamp outputs, Dolby Atmos (5.1.2 channel configuration), and DTS:X decoding capability for a fully immersive surround sound experience.

For video, the SR5012 provides eight HDMI inputs (seven rear and one front) and two HDMI outputs that support 3D, 4K, HDR (HDR10, Dolby Vision, Hybrid Log-Gamma), and Wide Color Gamut pass-through, as well as analog to HDMI video conversion, and both 1080p and 4K upscaling.

Another feature worth noting is the inclusion of both 5.1/7.1 channel analog audio inputs and preamp outputs, which is becoming rarer these days, even on some higher-end receivers. Also, for added connection convenience, the speaker terminals are color-coded by channel and widely spaced across the rear panel.

Besides solid core audio and video features and performance, the SR5012 also provides media player and networking functions with USB ports, DLNA certification, and internet access to music streaming services, such as Pandora, Sirius/XM, and Spotify. Apple AirPlay compatibility enables streaming music from your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and iTunes libraries. Also, wireless Bluetooth capability allows direct streaming from compatible portable devices.

However, another big bonus is the incorporation of the Denon/Marantz HEOS multi-room audio system platform, which allows you to stream music content from the receiver to compatible HEOS-branded wireless speakers that you can place around the house.

The above summary is just the tip of the iceberg. The Marantz SR5012 is probably the most flexible home theater receiver available priced less than $1,000, and merit checking out.

Best Bang For The Buck: Yamaha RX-V683BL

The Yamaha RX-V683 is an example of how much a home theater receiver can offer without digging too deep into your wallet.

This receiver has a powerful seven-channel amplifier (90WPC - measured with two channels driven) and a preamp output to connect a powered subwoofer. Most Dolby and DTS surround sound formats are supported, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. It includes AirSurround Xtreme-based Virtual Cinema Front audio processing for those who would rather place all their speakers in the front of the room, providing a speaker setup option for smaller spaces.

The RX-V683 includes Yamaha's YPAO automatic speaker setup system, as well as excellent onscreen diagrams and easily understood setting options if you would prefer to set up your speaker manually.

You can use any set of headphones or earphones to listen to movies or music in surround sound without disturbing others with Silent Cinema. Perfect for late-night private listening!

The RX-V683 can also access iTunes and other music streaming from an iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad via Apple AirPlay. The receiver can also play music stored on USB flash drives and PCs connected to a compatible home network. The RX-V683 provides both Ethernet and Wi-Fi.

HDMI Audio Return Channel is provided, as well as 3D, 4K, Wide Color Gamut, and HDR (including HDR10, Dolby Vision, and Hybrid Log-Gamma) pass-through, and 1080p to 4K upscaling. There are a total of six HDMI inputs and one output.

In addition to the provided wireless remote, you can also download Yamaha's AV controller app to a compatible smartphone and control the receiver's setup, operation, and content access from there.

Another outstanding feature is the inclusion of Yamaha's MusicCast. Working in conjunction with the free MusicCast app, you can stream music from the receiver's built-in AM/FM tuner and streaming services, such as Pandora, Spotify, Deezer, TIDAL, Sirius/XM. You can also stream any connected audio source (CD player, turntable, DVD, Blu-ray, USB flash drive, etc.) to any compatible Yamaha MusicCast-enabled wireless speakers, such as their WX-010 and WX-030. MusicCast can stream music to up to 9 compact wireless speakers. However, keep in mind that the system currently does not provide wireless support for surround sound.

Take Command: Denon AVR-X2400H

The AVR-X2400H InCommand home theater receiver combines outstanding audio and video performance with an abundance of up-to-date features, and the price isn't bad either.

On the audio side, the AVR-X2400H provides up to a 7.2 channel speaker configuration supported by Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, with the bonus of including both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding capability.

You can also send select audio sources connected to the AVR-X2400H to a two-channel Zone 2 system, using an external amplifier.

The AVR-X2400H is rated at 95wpc (.08% THD - measured at 20Hz to 20kHz with two channels driven with an 8-ohm load).

This receiver provides eight (seven rear and one front) HDMI inputs, with 3D, 4K (up to 60Hz), expanded Color Gamut, and HDR10 and Dolby Vision high dynamic range pass through, as well as 1080p and 4K upscaling. Also, two parallel HDMI outputs allow you to display the same images on two displays (or a display and a video projector) simultaneously.

The AVR-X2400H includes network and internet streaming access (including (vTuner, Pandora, Sirius XM, and Spotify), via either an Ethernet connection or built-in Wi-Fi. Built-in wireless Bluetooth and Apple AirPlay and built-in support for the HEOS wireless multi-room audio platform are included.

The AVR-X2400H is a flexible mid-range home theater that provides reliable audio performance, up-to-date video connectivity, and the expandability for both 2nd Zone and wireless multi-room audio applications.

Good Value: Sony Sony STR-DN1080 Network Home Theater Receiver

For an affordable Home Theater Receiver that has surprisingly good audio performance, consider the Sony STR-DN1080.

The STR-DN1080 has flexible surround setup options, providing both a 7.2 channel speaker configuration or a 5.1.2 channel Dolby Atmos or DTS:X setup that includes vertically height or overhead speakers. Also, for those with limited space, there are additional options. With Phantom Surround back, you can experience a seven-channel surround effect with only five speakers. S-Force Virtual Surround provides a limited surround effect with only two front speakers.

You can also send audio-only to a Zone 2 system, either using a direct connection supported the 1080's amplifiers or analog two-channel audio preamp output (additional external amplifier required this option). In addition to its surround sound capabilities for movie viewing, the STR-DN1080 also incorporates Hi-Res two-channel audio listening from local and USB connected sources.

For video, 1080 provides six 3D, 4K, and HDR-compatible HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs - all compatible with today's 4K video sources, external media streamers that offer access to 4K streaming content from services, such as Netflix.

It is important to note for those that have older video gear, that while the STR-DN1080 does provide two composite video inputs, it does not include any component video inputs.

In addition to core audio and video features, the STR-DN1080 includes both network and internet streaming access (Google Chromecast for Audio built-in - also works with Google Home) via either Ethernet connection or built-in Wi-Fi. It also provides Bluetooth (with additional one-touch NFC support) for direct streaming from compatible portable devices.

Another bonus is that with Sony's SongPal app, you can incorporate the receiver into a wireless multi-room audio system by combining it with other compatible Sony wireless audio products.

If you are looking for an affordable home theater receiver with connection/content access flexibility for a variety of setups and needs and good sound quality, definitely consider the STR-DN1080.

Best For Wireless Surround Speakers: Denon HEOS AVR

While most home theater receivers are still large boxes that seem to provide everything but the kitchen sink, some receivers take a different approach that places more emphasis on slim profile desiSome receivers place more emphasis on slim profile design, streamline connectivity and significant focus on wireless multi-room audio. One example is the Denon HEOS AVR. HEOS stands for Home Entertainment Operating System.

On the traditional side, the HEOS AVR incorporates a 5.1 channel configuration, Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD Master Audio decoding and additional surround sound processing, and 4K HDMI pass-through connectivity.

However, there is a twist. Users can run wires to speakers in the back of the room or use select HEOS wireless speakers for the surround channels instead. We will probably see this convenient option added to other receivers.

The HEOS AVR has a modest output of 50 wpc when using all of its internal amps, but when using the wireless surround speakers, the rear surround power output will be less.

In addition to wireless surround, the HEOS system can also send music around the house to additional compatible wireless speakers.

Additional audio features include music playback via USB (which includes Hi-Res Audio) and direct streaming from compatible smartphones via Bluetooth. Also, both ethernet and Wi-Fi offer access to several online music-streaming services.

All control functions are either via the provided remote control or on a smartphone via Denon's remote control app. The only onboard control on the receiver is the master volume control.

If you are looking for an easy-to-set-up and use home theater receiver with a stylish look that cuts out the fat, the Denon HEOS AVR is one option to consider - especially if you have a small or medium-size room.

The Ultimate Home Theater Receiver Buying Guide

By Robert Silva

The home theater receiver also referred to as an AV receiver or surround sound receiver, is the heart of a home theater system. It provides most, if not all, the inputs and outputs that you connect everything, including your TV, into. A Home Theater Receiver provides an easy and cost-effective way of centralizing your home theater system.

The Home Theater Receiver Defined

A home theater receiver combines the functions of three components.

  • A tuner for AM/FM, and, in some cases, built-in, or the ability to add, access to HD Radio, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and/or internet radio and music streaming services.
  • A Preamp that controls which audio/video source is selected ( Blu-ray Disc Player, DVD player, VCR, CD player, iPod, etc...), processes the incoming stereo/surround sound signals and distributes audio to the channels and subwoofer output. Video from designated components is routed to a TV.
  • A built-in Multi-channel amplifier (5, 6, 7, 9, or 11 channels) that sends the surround sound signals and power to the speakers. Also, one or two preamp outputs for connection of a powered subwoofer is also provided.

What to Consider When Choosing a Home Theater Receiver

Now that you know what a home theater receiver is, it is time to learn about what to consider when purchasing one.

First, there are the core features:

  • Power Output
  • Surround Sound Formats
  • Connectivity

In addition to core features, depending on the brand/model, you may have one, or more of the following advanced options available to you:

  • Automatic Speaker Setup
  • Multi-Zone Audio
  • Wireless Multi-Room/Whole House Audio
  • iPod/iPhone Connectivity/Control and Bluetooth
  • Networking and Internet Audio/Video Streaming
  • Hi-Res Audio
  • Video switching and processing
  • Additional Control Options

Ready to dig into the details? Here we go...

Power Output

The power output capabilities of home theater receivers vary depending on the price you are will to pay and depending on what size room and the power requirements of your loudspeakers should be taken into consideration with regards which brand/model home theater receiver you might purchase. However, confronted by sales hype and reading specifications can be confusing and misleading.

Surround Sound Formats

The main feature attraction of home theater receivers for most consumers is the ability to provide a surround sound listening experience.

These days, even the most basic home theater receivers offer several options, including not just standard Dolby Digital and DTS Digital Surround decoding, but more advanced Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding (which are the primary formats used on Blu-ray Discs), as well as (depending on the manufacturer) additional surround processing formats.

Also, as you move into mid-range and higher home theater receiver models, surround sound formats such as Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, or even Auro3D audio may be included or offered as options. However, DTS:X and Auro3D Audio often require a firmware update.

In addition, be aware that inclusion of the various surround sound formats also dictate how many channels a home theater receiver may be equipped with — which a can range from a minimum of 5 to as many as 11.

Automatic Speaker Setup

Although not always included in the more inexpensive home theater receivers, almost all mid-range and high-end home theater receivers provide a built-in automatic speaker setup system utilizing a built-in test tone generator and special plug-in microphone.

Using these tools, a home theater can balance the speaker levels in accordance with speaker size, distance, and room acoustics. Depending on the brand, these programs have different names such as AccuEQ (Onkyo), Anthem Room Correction (Anthem AV), Audyssey (Denon/Marantz), MCACC (Pioneer), and YPAO (Yamaha).

Connectivity

All home theater receivers provide speaker connections, as well as special output for connection of one, or more subwoofers, and several audio connection options that include analog stereo, digital coaxial, and digital optical, and video connection options that may include composite and component video. However, composite/component options are becoming less available on receivers of each successive model year due to the increasing use of HDMI, which is discussed in further detail next.

HDMI

In addition to the connection options discussed above, HDMI connectivity is provided on all current home theater receivers. HDMI can pass both audio and video signals through a single cable. However, depending on how HDMI is incorporated, access to HDMI's capabilities may be limited.

Many lower-priced receivers incorporate pass-through HDMI switching. This allows the connection of HDMI cables into the receiver and provides an HDMI output connection for a TV. However, the receiver can't access the video or audio portions of the HDMI signal for further processing.

Some receivers access both the audio and video portions of the HDMI signals for further processing.

Also, if you are planning to use a 3D TV and 3D Blu-ray Disc player with your home theater receiver, keep in mind that your receiver should be equipped with HDMI ver 1.4a connections. If you have a home theater that does not have that ability, there is a workaround that may work for you.

It must also be noted that HDMI 1.4 and 1.4a connections also have the ability to pass 4K resolution video signals (30fps), provided that feature has been activated by the receiver manufacturer.

However, since 2015, home theater receivers have been implemented HDMI connectivity that adheres to both the HDMI 1.4/4a standards as well as HDMI 2.0/2.0a and HDCP 2.2 standards. This is to accommodate 4K signals at 60fps, as well as the ability to accept copy-protected 4K signals from streaming sources and the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc format, as well as sources that include HDR-encoded video content.

Another HDMI connection option that is available on some home theater receivers is HDMI-MHL. This updated HDMI connection can do everything that a "normal" HDMI connection can, but has the added capability to accommodate the connection of MHL-enabled smartphones and tablets. This enables the receiver to access content that is either stored on or streamed to, portable devices, for viewing or listening through your home theater system. If your home theater receiver has an MHL-HDMI input, it will be clearly labeled.

Multi-Zone Audio

Multi-Zone is a function in which the receiver can send a second source signal to speakers or a separate audio system in another location. This is not the same as connecting additional speakers and placing them in another room.

The Multi-Zone function allows a Home Theater Receiver to control either the same or a separate, source than the one being listened to in the main room, in another location. For example, the user can be watching a Blu-ray Disc or DVD in the main room, while someone else can listen to a CD in another, at the same time. Both the Blu-ray or DVD or CD player are controlled by the same Receiver.

Some higher-end home theater receivers also include two or three HDMI outputs. Depending on the receiver, the multiple HDMI outputs may provide either a parallel audio/video signal to additional zones or might be configured independently so that one HDMI source can be accessed in the main room and a second HDMI source can be sent to a second or third Zone.

Wireless Multi-Room/Whole House Audio

In addition to traditional wired multi-zone options, some home theater receivers also offer the ability to wirelessly stream audio to compatible wireless speakers connected via a home network. However, each brand has its own closed system that requires the use of specific brand-compatible products.

Some examples include: Yamaha's MusicCast, FireConnect from Onkyo/Integra/Pioneer, Denon's HEOS, and DTS Play-Fi (Anthem)

iPod/iPhone Connectivity/Control and Bluetooth

With the popularity of the iPod and iPhone, some receivers are equipped with iPod/iPod compatible connections, either via USB, an adapter cable, or a "docking station". What you should look for is, not only the ability for the iPod or iPhone to connect to the receiver but for the receiver to actually control all iPod playback functions via the receiver's remote control and menu functions.

Also, many home theater receivers incorporate built-in Apple Airplay capability, which eliminates the need to physically connect an iPhone to the receiver, you can just sit back and send your iTunes to your home theater receiver wirelessly.

Also, keep in mind that if you connect a Video iPod, you may only have access to audio playback functions. If you desire to access iPod video playback functions, check the receiver's user manual before you purchase to see if this is possible.

Another addition now found on most home theater receivers is Bluetooth. This allows users to stream audio files directly from a compatible Bluetooth-enabled portable device.

Networking and Internet Audio/Video Streaming

Networking is a feature that more home theater receivers are incorporating, especially in the mid-to-high price point. Networking is executed via an Ethernet connection or WiFi.

This can allow several capabilities that you should check for. Not all networking receivers have the same capabilities, but some features commonly included are: Streaming audio (and sometimes video) from a PC or the internet, internet radio, and firmware updating directly from the internet. To find out the networking and/or streaming features included in a specific receiver, check the user manual, feature sheet, or a review ahead of time.

Hi-Res Audio

Another option available on an increasing number of home theater receivers is the ability to access and play two-channel Hi-res audio files.

Since the introduction of the iPod and other portable listening devices, although making access to music a lot more convenient, they have actually taken us backward in terms what we settle for as a good music listening experience — the quality is degraded from that of the traditional CD.

The term, Hi-Res audio is applied to any music file has a higher bitrate than the physical CD (16 bit linear PCM at a 44.1khz sampling rate).

In other words, anything below "CD quality", such as MP3 and other highly-compressed formats are considered "low res" audio, and anything above "CD quality" is considered "hi-res" audio.

Some of the files formats that are considered hi-res are; ALAC, FLAC, AIFF, WAV, DSD (DSF and DFF).

Hi-Res audio files can be accessed via USB, home network, or downloaded from the internet. Generally speaking, they cannot be live-streamed directly from the internet. However, there is movement from services, such as Qobuz (not available in the U.S.) to provide this capability via Android phones. If a specific home theater receiver has this capability, it will either be labeled on the receiver's exterior or outlined in the user manual.

Video Switching and Processing

In addition to audio, another important feature in home theater receivers is the incorporation of video switching and processing. When buying a receiver for your home theater system, will you be connecting all of your video sources to the TV directly, or would you like to use the receiver as your central video hub for switching, and, or video processing?

If you plan to use your receiver for video, there are two options, some receivers merely pass-through all video signals untouched to your TV or video projector and some provide extra layers of video processing that you can take advantage of. It is not a requirement that you pass video through your home theater receiver.

Video Conversion

In addition to using a home theater receiver as a central location for connecting both audio and video components, many receivers also feature video processing, just as they offer audio processing.

For those receivers, a basic video processing feature available is the ability of many receivers to convert Composite video inputs to Component video outputs or composite or component video connections to HDMI outputs. This type of conversion may only improve the signals very slightly, but does simplifies connections to HDTVs, in that only one type of video connection is needed from the receiver to the TV, instead of two or three.

Deinterlacing

When considering a receiver, a second level of video processing to check for is deinterlacing. This is a process whereby video signals coming in from the composite or S-video inputs are converted from interlaced scan to progressive scan (480i to 480p) and then output via Component or HDMI outputs to the TV. This improves the quality of the image, making it smoother and more acceptable for display on an HDTV However, keep in mind that not all receivers can perform this function well.

Video Upscaling

In addition to deinterlacing, another level of video processing is very common in mid-range and high-end home theater receivers upscaling. Upscaling is a function that, after the deinterlacing process is done, mathematically attempts to match an incoming video signal to a specific screen resolution, such as 720p, 1080i, 1080p, and in a growing number of cases, up to 4K.

However, keep in mind that this process does not actually convert standard definition to high definition or 4K, but improves the image so that it looks better on an HDTV or 4K Ultra HD TV. For more details on video upscaling, check out: DVD Video Upscaling, which is the same process, just substitute Upscaling receiver for upscaling DVD player.

Remote Control via Mobile Phone App

One feature that is really taking off for home theater receivers is the ability to be controlled by either an Android or iPhone via a free downloadable app. Some of these apps are more comprehensive than others, but if you lose or misplace the remote that comes with your home theater receiver, have a control app on your phone may be a convenient alternative.

The Bottom Line

Keep in mind that when you buy a home theater receiver, that you may not initially use all of its features, especially if it is a mid-range or high-end model, that provides several surround sound decoding and processing formats, speaker configuration options, multi-zone, and network options.

You may think that you have paid for a lot of stuff that you may never use. However, keep in mind that a home theater receiver is designed to be the centerpiece of your home theater system, so future expandability as your preferences and content sources change should be taken into consideration. Things change fast, and you have a home theater receiver that offers a little more than you need right now, you may have a cushion against rapid obsolescence.

If you have the budget, buy as much as you can afford, with the strategy of leaving enough money to purchase any other needed times, such as loudspeakers and a subwoofer — you will be making a better investment.

Of course, buying the home theater receiver of your choice is just the first step. After you get it home, you need to get it set up and running.