The 6 Best Mid-Range Home Theater Receivers of 2023

Get awesome sound without spending a fortune

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The best mid-range home theater receivers serve as command centers for your home audio and video systems. They should have lots of HDMI ports, connect to and amplify all of the speakers in your system, and will support the video and audio technologies you plan on using. 

We examined dozens of mid-range home theater receivers, and our pick for the best is the Denon AVR-S960H because it offers 8K pass-through, up to 7.2 channel support, and other high-end features at a mid-range price. If the AVR-960H isn’t for you, we’ve included the best options for different surround sound setups.

Best Overall

Denon 8K Ultra HD 7.2 Channel AV Receiver

Denon 8K Ultra HD 7.2 Channel AV Receiver


What We Like
  • 8K pass through

  • Built in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

  • Up to 7.2-channel surround 

What We Don't Like
  • Somewhat pricey

The Denon AVR-960H is a solid choice for just about anyone—gamers, movie buffs, and sports fans can all appreciate what this receiver offers. It supports 4K/120Hz pass-through, variable refresh rates, and an auto-low latency mode for the best gaming experience. You can watch movies in up to 8k, and the receiver has six HDMI-in ports and two HDMI-out ports for connecting devices. Only one of the HDMI inputs supports 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz video pass-through and upscaling (this port also supports eARC), but having six input ports means you can connect your PS5, FireTV stick, and BluRay player and still have three extra HDMI ports available.

The AVR-960H allows for up to 7.2-channel surround sound. It boasts a seven-channel discrete amplifier with 90 watts (8 ohms) per channel and dual subwoofer outputs for booming bass. If you connect a good projector and surround sound system, you’ll have a movie theater-like experience at home. The 960H supports Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision, and other audio and video technologies. Plus, you can take advantage of Wi-Fi, Airplay support, and even voice assistant control via Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant. If you’re looking for a flexible receiver, you can’t go wrong with this Denon model.

Best 5.1

Yamaha RX-V385 5.1-Channel A/V Receiver

Yamaha RX-V385 5.1-Channel 4K Ultra HD AV Receiver with Bluetooth


What We Like
  • Affordable

  • 4K support

  • Includes mic for room calibration

What We Don't Like
  • No Wi-Fi

The Yamaha RX-V385BL is a good choice for a receiver that will do the job at a reasonable price. It provides many of the features you need—4K support, HDMI with HDCP 2.2, Bluetooth, and 5.1-channel surround sound support—yet it doesn’t cost a fortune. The package includes a YPAO microphone to auto-calibrate the sound to your specific space. 

You are giving up the more advanced features like 8k pass-through, a second HDMI output port, Wi-Fi, and compatibility with voice assistants with this receiver. It has four HDMI inputs and only one output, but that’s usually sufficient for most people. It also has Bluetooth for wireless connections and supports Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD Master Audio. So, this is a good option for people just starting with a home theater system or those who primarily watch movies and shows. Sports fans and gamers may prefer a different option.

Best 9.2

Denon 8K Ultra HD 9.2 Channel AV Receiver

Denon 8K Ultra HD 9.2 Channel AV Receiver


What We Like
  • Plenty of HDMI ports

  • 8K support

  • Excellent for gaming

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

The Denon AVR-X3700H has just about every feature in a receiver, including seven HDMI inputs and three outputs and a dedicated port that supports 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz video pass-through and upscaling. Gamers will appreciate the high video quality, but they’ll also enjoy variable refresh rates, quick frame transport, and an auto-low latency mode—all of which make the gaming experience faster, smoother, and higher quality. Sports fans will appreciate the high-res picture, excellent sound, and accurate colors on the screen.

The AVR-X3700H supports 3D audio and Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization when you can’t have the perfect speaker placement. It also has Wi-Fi, wired connectivity, Bluetooth, Airplay support, and compatibility with voice assistants like Alexa and Google Home. You can set up a relatively advanced surround sound system, given this receiver has a nine-channel amplifier at 105 watts per channel (8 ohms). It has 11 different connections for speakers and dual subwoofer connections for a maximum of 11.2 channels. The 3700H is ideal for those serious about their home theater picture and sound but still want to stay within a reasonable budget.

Best Budget

Sony STR-DH790 7.2 Channel Receiver

Sony STR-DH790 7.2-ch Surround Sound


What We Like
  • Automatic setup with included microphone

  • Great pricing for the features

  • Clear markings for 5.1 and 7.1 channel use

What We Don't Like
  • No Wi-Fi

The STRDH790 offers solid performance and features at a great price. It provides four HDMI inputs and one HDMI output, which should be sufficient for most home theaters. The receiver has a 4K pass-through, so you can get a beautiful picture without compromising quality. It also supports 3D, HDR10, and Dolby Vision, so you get the best possible quality out of your devices. 

Unfortunately, this model lacks Wi-Fi compatibility or an Ethernet port but does have Bluetooth. You can even use your smartphone to power the receiver. Audio is where this model shines, though. It’s hi-res compatible, and you can set up a 5.1 or 7.1-channel surround sound system uniquely calibrated to your space. The build quality is impressive too, and this receiver should last quite a while.

Runner-Up, Best Budget

Sony STR-DH190 Stereo Receiver

Sony STRDH190 2-ch Home Stereo Receiver


What We Like
  • Very affordable

  • Good for purists

  • Low harmonic distortion

What We Don't Like
  • No HDMI ports

An extremely affordable option, the Sony STR-DH190 isn’t like the other receivers on this list. It’s not for watching the game, Netflix binges, gaming, or anything. This is a receiver for music, and vinyl lovers, in particular, might appreciate this model because of its clean sound with minimal distortion. It has a total harmonic distortion rate of only one percent. Some other models on this list come in at ten times that rate.

The STR-DH190 uses four analog (RCA) audio inputs and one analog audio output. You can plug in your turntable via the phono input, and there’s a headphone jack as well. The two-channel receiver has Bluetooth but lacks Wi-Fi, HDMI, and many technologies on a home theater receiver designed for movies or gaming. However, this model might be worthwhile if you’re a music buff who wants pure sound.

Best 7.2

Onkyo Home Audio Smart Audio and Video Receiver

Onkyo Home Audio Smart Audio and Video Receiver


What We Like
  • Powerful sound

  • 4K and 3D pass through

  • Wi-Fi ready

What We Don't Like
  • Some odd design choices

This smart Onkyo model is another good pick for features and flexibility. You get nine HDMI ports (seven in, two out), so you won’t have to worry about running out of spots or purchasing an HDMI switch. It supports 3D and 4K pass-through for a stunning picture and boasts a ton of sound technologies that take it a step above some of the cheaper models on this list. With 165-watt per channel output coupled with Dolby Digital, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos, DTS decoder, and DTS-HD Master Audio, you’ll get exceptional surround sound quality and clarity. AccuEQ acoustic calibration makes each speaker work harmoniously with the system, creating a surround sound system that works its best in your room.

On top of the sound and video perks, the receiver has dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplay, and Chromecast built-in, and it works with Google Assistant for voice commands. What’s not to love? This isn’t the most affordable option, and the front of the receiver has a lot of blank space that takes away from the overall aesthetic. But, this isn’t enough to outweigh all the benefits the TR-NX696 provides, as this is one of the better receivers available in this price range.

The Ultimate Home Theater Receiver Buying Guide

The home theater receiver also called 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 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 connecting a powered subwoofer are provided.

What to Consider When Choosing a Home Theater Receiver

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

Power Output

The power output capabilities of home theater receivers vary depending on the price you are willing to pay and on what size room and the power requirements of your loudspeakers should be taken into consideration with regards to which brand/model home theater receiver you might purchase. However, being 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 including the various surround sound formats also dictates how many channels a home theater receiver may be equipped with—which 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 by 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).


All home theater receivers provide speaker connections, 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 consist of composite and component video. However, composite/component options are becoming less available to receivers of each successive model year due to the increasing use of HDMI.


In addition to the connection options discussed above, HDMI connectivity is provided on all 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 to 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 the HDMI signals' audio and video portions for further processing.

Also, if you plan to use a 3D TV and 3D Blu-ray Disc player with your home theater receiver, remember 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 can also pass 4K resolution video signals (30fps), provided the receiver manufacturer has activated the feature.

However, since 2015, home theater receivers have implemented HDMI connectivity that adheres to the HDMI 1.4/4a standards and 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 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 where 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 the same or a separate source from 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 simultaneously. The same receiver controls both the Blu-ray or DVD or CD player.

Some higher-end home theater receivers also include two or three HDMI outputs. Depending on the receiver, the multiple HDMI outputs may provide a parallel audio/video signal to additional zones or 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 can wirelessly stream audio to compatible wireless speakers connected via a home network. However, each brand has a closed system requiring 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." You should look for not only the ability for the iPod or iPhone to connect to the receiver but for the receiver to 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, eliminating the need to connect an iPhone to the receiver; you can sit back and send your iTunes to your home theater receiver wirelessly.

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

Another addition now found on most home theater receivers is Bluetooth. This lets users 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. 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 a specific receiver's networking and streaming features, check the user manual, feature sheet, or a review beforehand.

Hi-Res Audio

Another option available on many home theater receivers is accessing and playing two-channel Hi-res audio files.

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

Hi-Res audio applies to any music file with 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, is considered "low res" audio, and anything above "CD quality" is considered "hi-res" audio.

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

Video Switching and Processing

In addition to audio, another essential feature of home theater receivers is the incorporation of video switching and processing. When buying a receiver for your home theater system, will you connect all your video sources to the TV directly, or would you like to use the receiver as your central video hub for switching 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 use. You are not required to pass video through your home theater receiver.

Video Conversion

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

For those receivers, a basic video processing feature 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 conversion may improve the signals slightly but 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.


When considering a receiver, a second level of video processing to check for is deinterlacing. This is a process whereby video signals 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, remember that not all receivers can perform this function well.

Video Upscaling

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

However, remember that this process does not convert standard definition to high definition or 4K but improves the image to look better on an HDTV or 4K Ultra HD TV.

Remote Control via Mobile Phone App

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

  • How can you add Bluetooth to a stereo receiver?

    Some budget receivers don't come with native Bluetooth connectivity, but luckily, adding it is fairly simple. It just involves purchasing a wireless Bluetooth adapter. Plug it into your receiver, and you'll instantly be able to stream audio to it from any Bluetooth-enabled device.

  • How do I connect a subwoofer to a stereo receiver?

    Connect the subwoofer to the output of the receiver. Some receivers will have specific subwoofer outputs, while with others, you may need to connect to a speaker output. Our handy guide explains how easy it is to connect your subwoofer to your stereo receiver using RCA or LFE cables, or via the speaker output if your subwoofer features spring clips.

  • What's the best way to clean a stereo receiver?

    The best way to tidy up your receiver is using a can of compressed air to dispel dust on the surface and in the cavities, which is especially useful if you open up the chassis. It's also advisable to occasionally remove the knobs, faceplate, or switches, and clean any point of contact with contact cleaner, which is specially designed for cleaning electronics. Harsh chemicals could damage your receiver, so try to avoid using them.

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