Best Home Theater Receivers - Priced at $399.00 or Less

Home theater receivers provide a great way to centralize the connections and functions of your home theater system. The great thing is that is even moderately priced home theater receivers now provide features and quality that just a couple of years ago would have commanded sky high prices. Below is a list of my favorite budget home theater receivers ($399 or Less).

For additional Home Theater Receiver suggestions, also check out my listings of Home Theater Receivers - $400 to $1,299 and Home Theater Receivers - $1,300 and Up.

Also, check out my Guide to Home Theater Receivers for everything you need to know before purchasing one.

NOTE: For more details on what any stated power ratings that may be included in this article mean with respect to real-world conditions, refer to my article: Understanding Amplifier Power Output Specifications.

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The Yamaha RX-V481 is an example of how much a home theater receiver can offer for a very reasonable price. Although its suggested list price is $449.95, it can be easily be found in the $399 price range as of September 2016.

This receiver has a powerful 5.1 channel amplifier (80WPC- measured with 2 channels driven), and Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, as well as Air Surround Xtreme-based Virtual Cinema Front audio processing for those that would rather place all their speakers in the front of the room.

Another practical audio feature is Silent Cinema. This option allows users to plug in any set of traditional headphones or earphones and listen to movies or music in surround sound without disturbing others.

The RX-V481 can also wirelessly access iTunes and additional music streaming from an iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad via Apple Airplay. However, in addition to Apple AirPlay, vTuner internet radio, as well as media files stored on USB flash drives and compatible PCs connected to a home network can be accessed. The RX-V479 can connect to your home network/internet via Ethernet or Wifi.

Of course, more traditional features have not been neglected. These include Yamaha's SCENE function, which allows preset or customized listening and viewing modes, as well as Yamaha's Silent Cinema headphone surround output.

Also included are HDMI Audio Return Channel, as well as 3D, 4K, BT.2020, and HDR pass-through. For ease of setup, the RX-V481 even includes its YPAO automatic speaker setup system.

If you are planning to purchase a modestly priced home theater receiver with useful features, power, and performance, the RX-V481 may be just the ticket.
 

If you are looking for a 7.1 or 7.2 channel home theater receiver, but don't think you have enough cash - think again, because the Sony STR-DH770 is less that $350!

The STR-DH770 is rated to deliver enough power for a small-to-medium size room. Audio support includes Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, as Dolby Prologic II/IIx and DTS-ES audio processing. For added audio connection convenience, Audio Return Channel is also included, along with 2 subwoofer outputs.

You also have the added flexibility to assign the surround back channels (channels 6 and 7) to function in a front Speaker B, Bi-Amp, or front height setup. However, it is important to point out that the 770 does not have Dolby Atmos or DTS:X decoding, so the height sound effects are generated generically by the receiver's own home-grown audio processing.

To facilitate easy speaker setup, the STR-DH770 provides Sony's Digital Cinema Auto Calibration (DCAC) auto speaker calibration system (microphone included).

For video, the STR-DH770 features 4 HDMI inputs and 1 output that support 3D, HDR, 1080p, and 4K pass-through, but there is no additional video processing or upscaling. This means that either your source (DVD/Blu-ray Disc Player/Media Streamer/Cable/Satellite box) or your TV/video projector, will have to perform any needed video upscaling or processing.

On the other hand, one added bonus is the inclusion of built-in Bluetooth (with NFC), which allows direct streaming from compatible smartphones and tablets. However, Ethernet and Wifi connectivity is not included, which means that the receiver cannot directly access internet-based streaming content, but, if you have download Sony's SongPal App to a compatible smartphone, via Bluetooth you can control the receiver, as well as access select music files that you have stored on your smartphone

In addition, if you have music stored on the flash drive or another compatible USB device, you can plug into the front-mounted USB port.

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The Pioneer VSX-831 provides a built-in 5.2 Channel configuration (80 wpc - measured with 2 channels driven) with Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio decoding as well as additional surround sound processing. The VSX-831 also provides the MCACC speaker calibration system which makes speaker placement and level setup very easy.

For connectivity, the VSX-831 has 6 HDMI inputs that support 3D and HDR pass-through, 4K pass-through, and 1080p to 4K upscaling.

Direct streaming from compatible devices is possible via Bluetooth. Apple Airplay and Google Cast via a firmware update, as well as access to content stored on USB flash drives.

Additional bonuses include Ethernet/LAN and built-in Wifi, which allows access to Internet Radio (vTuner, Pandora) well as DLNA-certified devices (media servers, PCs) on your home network.

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The Yamaha RX-V381 offers a lot for its $299.95 price tag, such as a powerful 5.1 channel amplifier (70 wpc measured with 2ch driven from 20Hz-20kHz at 8 ohms .09% THD), Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding for Blu-ray Discs. Also, built-in Bluetooth allows direct streaming from compatible devices, such as smartphones.

The SCENE function allows preset or customized listening and viewing modes. One feature I especially like is the Silent Cinema headphone surround output.

Also included is HDMI 2.0a/HDCP 2.2 compatibility, which includes 3D, HDR, and BT.2020 Wide Color Gamut support along with both 1080p and 4K pass through switching (no upscaling) via 4 HDMI inputs. The RX-V381 even offers the YPAO speaker setup system.

If you are planning to purchase a basic home theater receiver with useful features, power, and performance, the RX-V381 may be just the ticket.

The Onkyo TX-SR373 packs in a lot for not a lot of money. Starting with core functions, the TX-SR73 provides a 5.2 Channel configuration that delivers 80 Watts-per-Channel (measured with two channels driven), combined with, Dolby TrueHD/DTS-Master Audio decoding, as well as Audio Return Channel, 3D, HDR, 1080p, and 4K pass-through (no additional video processing or upscaling) via 4 HDMI inputs and one output. Also, the 5.2 designation means the TX-SR373 allows connection of up to two subwoofers.

Other bonuses include built-in Qualcomm-enhanced Bluetooth with Aptx Audio, which allows improved direct streaming from compatible smartphones and tablets, as well as front mounted USB port for convenient access to music files stored on flash drives.

For novices, the Onkyo TX373 provides a rear connection panel that not only provides the connections, but also includes etched-in images of the types of devices that you can plug into each connection, as well as a visual speaker layout diagram example.

In addition, another setup aid includes Onkyo's AccuEQ speaker calibration system. Just plug in the provided microphone and follow the easy instructions for setting the speaker levels and crossover points.

For an initial suggested price of $349, the Onkyo TX-SR373 offers the core basics you need for a modest home theater system. If you are on a limited budget or are looking for a receiver to serve as the hub for a second room system, the TX-SR373 may be just right for you.

If you are looking for a home theater receiver that emphasizes the basics, check out the 5.2 channel Denon AVR-S530BT, which has a stated power output of 70 watts-per-channel with a very low distortion level.

Some of the audio and video features include are, Audio Return Channel, 4K, and 3D pass through. However, in keeping with basic nature of this receiver, no 1080p or 4K video upscaling is provided.

On the hand, the AVR-S530BT's HDMI connections have been upgraded to comply with HDMI 2.0a with HDCP 2.2 specifications. This means that support is provided for 60fps 4K, HDR, and wide color gamut video input signals.

Also, the AVR-S530BT provides a Direct USB connection for accessing music from iPod/iPhone/iPad, or USB flash drives, as well as built-in Bluetooth, which allows direct music streaming from compatible portable devices, which includes many smartphones and tablets. However, although you can stream compatible music content from smartphones and tablets via Bluetooth, it must be pointed out that the 530BT does not provide direct access to internet radio or streaming music services.

Another bonus is the inclusion of Denon HEOS Link. This feature allows users to integrate the 530BT into the HEOS wireless multi-room audio system via an intuitive app.

The AVR-S530BT can be controlled using the included remote via a free app for compatible iOS or Android phones/tablets.

If you are looking for an entry-level home theater receiver, check out the Sony STR-DH550. This receiver features up to a 5.2 channel configuration, Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD Master Audio/Multi-channel PCM decoding, as well as additional audio processing. The 4 HDMI  inputs are both 3D and 4K pass-through compatible (One HDMI input is also MHL-compatible), and HDMI output is Audio Return Channel-enabled. The STR-DH550 even offers a pass-through mode that allows access to HDMI connected devices even if the receiver is off. One added bonus is they include a front mounted USB port for accessing content on flash drives or iPhone, iPod, or iPad.

The STR-DH550 is definitely not high-end but has practical features (including Sony's Digital Cinema Auto Calibration speaker setup system), that make it great for a modest home theater system.

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Pioneer's VSX-531 does not include access to internet radio or other internet or network streaming content, and it doesn't have Pioneer's MCACC automatic speaker setup system, but if you are looking for a no-frills home theater receiver that sounds sound, and costs less than $300, then the VSX-531 might be enough.

The VSX-531 provides up to a 5.1 channel speaker configuration, with a stated power output of 80 wpc (measured using 20 Hz to 20 kHz test tones, 2 channels driven, at 8 Ohms, with 0.8% THD - in non-technical terms, enough power for a small or medium size room) and provides Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, as well as additional sound processing modes.

There are also 4 3D and 4K pass-through HDMI connections, with HDCP 2.2 copy protection. However, at this price, you won't get video upscaling.

Audio-only connections include 1 digital optical, 1 digital coaxial, and dedicated set of analog stereo inputs. A Subwoofer preamp output is also provided for connection to a powered subwoofer.

One added connection provided is a USB port for connection of flash drives or other compatible USB devices.

Another surprise is the inclusion of built-in Bluetooth which enables direct streaming from compatible smartphones and tablets.

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