The 10 Best Under-$400 Home Theater Receivers of 2020

Best Overall: Yamaha RX-V385 5.1-Channel A/V Receiver

The Yamaha RX-V385 offers a lot for its suggested price tag, such as a powerful 5.1-channel amplifier (70 wpc), 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, as well the ability for the receiver to send audio to Bluetooth-enabled speakers or headphones.

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

For ease of speaker setup, the RX-V385 includes Yamaha's YPAO system. Using an included microphone, the receiver generates test tones that it can analyze to get the best sound from your speakers in a given room.

Also included are four HDMI inputs and outputs that, in addition to 1080p, 4K, and 3D video signals, are also pass-through compatible with HDR (HDR10, Dolby Vision, and Hybrid Log Gamma) and Wide Color Gamut. However, the RX-V385 does not provide additional video processing or upscaling.

Also, although Bluetooth is provided, as mentioned earlier, the RX-V385 does not include built-in internet streaming capability. However, the front-mounted USB port allows the playback of downloaded music files from stored flash drives.

If you are planning to purchase a basic home theater receiver with useful features, power, and performance, the RX-V385 offers a worthy option.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Onkyo TX-NR575 Home Theater Receiver

If you are looking for a home theater receiver that is affordable, packs in a lot of great features, and delivers good sound, check out the Onkyo TX-NR575.

First up, the NR575 is Onkyo's least expensive 7.2 channel receiver that provides both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio decoding, which provides an immersive surround experience. For non-Dolby Atmos and DTS:X encoded content, the NR575 also includes the Dolby Surround Upmixer and DTS Neural:X audio processing which provides vertical/overhead sound enhancement 2, 5.1, or 7.1 channel sources (speakers required).

To make speaker setup easy, Onkyo includes its AccuEQ automatic speaker setup system.

For video, the NR575 provides 6 HDMI inputs that can pass through 3D, 4K, and Wide Color Gamut video signals, as well as providing analog-to-HDMI video conversion. The NR575 is also compatible with HDR encoded video content, which can be accessed via the Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc format, or via a 4K/HDR compatible media streamer (accessing 4K/HDR encoded content). It is important to note that although the TX-NR575 also provides component video inputs, they are only compatible with 480i resolution video signals.

Via Ethernet or Wi-Fi, the TX-NR575 can also stream media content via the internet (Spotify, TIDAL, Pandora, and more), Apple Airplay, DLNA, and Bluetooth. Also, Google Chromecast for Audio can be added via firmware update.

Audio can be sent to other rooms physically via the traditional Zone 2 feature, or wirelessly via DTS Play-Fi (also requires firmware update).

In addition, vinyl record lovers can also rejoice as this receiver also provides a dedicated, traditional phono/turntable input.

The Onkyo TX-NR575 is a great choice for those that need to stretch those dollars, but don't want to settle for something that is cheaply made or modestly equipped.

Best Bang for the Buck (5.1 / 5.2 Channels): Onkyo TX-SR373

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 four HDMI inputs and one output. Also, the 5.2 designation means that 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 a 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.

Solid Basics: Yamaha RX-V483

The Yamaha RX-V483 is an example of how much a home theater receiver can offer for a reasonable price. Although its suggested price is $449.95, it can be easily be found in the $399 price range.

This receiver has a powerful five-channel amplifier (80WPC-measured with two channels driven) and a preamp output for connection of a powered subwoofer. Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio decoding is provided, as well as AirSurround Xtreme-based Virtual Cinema Front audio processing for listeners who would rather place all their speakers in the front of the room. This setup is convenient for those who have limited space.

Also, Yamaha's SCENE function allows preset or customized listening and viewing modes. For ease of setup, the RX-V483 even offers the YPAO speaker setup system.

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

The RX-V483 can also wirelessly access iTunes and additional music streaming from an iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad via Apple AirPlay. However, in addition, the receiver can access internet radio, music stored on USB flash drives, and PCs connected to a compatible home network. The RX-V483 provides both Ethernet and Wi-Fi.

Also included is HDMI Audio Return Channel, as well as 3D, 4K, Wide Color Gamut, and HDR pass-through, as well as 1080p to 4K upscaling. There are a total of four 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 added bonus is the inclusion of Yamaha's MusicCast system. After downloading the MusicCast App, you can not only stream music from Pandora, Spotify, Deezer, TIDAL, and Sirius/XM, but you can also incorporate the RX-V483 into a wireless multiroom music system using compatible Yamaha MusicCast-enabled wireless speakers.

If you are planning to purchase a modestly priced home theater receiver with useful features, power, and performance, the RX-V483 may be just the ticket.

Best Speaker Setup Options: Pioneer VSX-832

The Pioneer VSX-832 is a home theater receiver that definitely offers more than you would expect for the price.

To start, this receiver provides a built-in 5.2-channel configuration (80 wpc with two channels driven) with Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, and additional audio processing. However, an additional perk is additional support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio decoding (available via firmware update).

For Dolby Atmos/DTS:X, the VSX-832 provides an innovative 3.1.2-channel speaker configuration option (three front channels, subwoofer channel, and two height channels, instead of having two rear surround channels). You can run the VSX-832 in either a standard 5.1-channel or 3.1.2-channel configuration.

To aid in making speaker setup easier, the VSX-832 also provides Pioneer's MCACC calibration system.

For connectivity, the VSX-832 has four HDMI inputs that support 3D, HDR (including Dolby Vision), 4K pass-through, as well as 1080p to 4K Upscaling.

Direct streaming from compatible devices is possible via Bluetooth. Apple AirPlay, Chromecast for audio (via firmware update), DTS Play-Fi, as well as access to content stored on USB Flash Drives.

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

If you are looking for an inexpensive home theater receiver that provides flexible speaker setup options combined with the inclusion of an innovative way to access Dolby Atmos/DTS:X audio, definitely check out the Pioneer VSX-832.

The Bare Basics: Pioneer VSX-532

Pioneer's VSX-532 does not include access to internet radio or other internet/network streaming content, nor does it provide advanced Dolby Atmos/DTS:X audio decoding. But if you are looking for a no-frills home theater receiver that sounds sound and costs less than $300, the VSX-532 might be enough.

The VSX-532 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, two channels driven, at 8 ohms, with 0.8 percent THD; in nontechnical terms, enough power for a small or medium-size room) and provides Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, as well as additional sound processing modes.

There are also four 3D, 4K, HDR pass-through HDMI connections. However, at this price, you won't get video upscaling.

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

One added connection is a USB port for 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.

For easy setup, the VSX-532 also includes Pioneer's MCACC automatic speaker setup system (required microphone included).

Best for Small Spaces: Pioneer VSX-S520

In terms of home theater receivers, the Pioneer VSX-S520 veers from the large traditional box design with a stylish, slim profile cabinet that is only 2.76 inches high, and an 8.8-pound weight. Despite its slim profile, the VSX-S520 actually incorporates quite a bit.

Audio decoding for most Dolby/DTS surround sound formats are provided. Connectivity options include HDMI for both audio and video (including 4K and HDR pass-through), as well as digital and analog audio-only inputs.

Standard speaker terminals are provided for connection of both speakers and a passive subwoofer, and subwoofer preamp line outputs are provided for connection of a powered subwoofer. A dedicated passive subwoofer connection option is very rare.

The VSX-S520 also incorporates network connectivity via Ethernet or Wi-Fi, providing access to several internet music streaming services, as well as access to hi-res audio files via local networks and USB. AirPlay, Bluetooth, and Google Chromecast support is also provided.

As an added convenience, the VSX-S520 can also be controlled via Pioneer's downloadable remote app.

However, as much as the VSX-S520 packs in, there is a​ trade-off with its similarly priced, larger cousins. One example is the modest power output (approximately 50wpc per channel), which is fine for a small room, but a little lean for a large room.

Also, with its 5.1-channel configuration, surround decoding for more immersive formats, such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, are not included.

In addition, for video, only HDMI input/output connections are provided. If you have older video gear that requires composite or component video connectivity, you cannot use the VSX-S520 to route those video signals to your TV.

For the price of the VSX-S520, some home theater receivers offer a 7.1-channel configuration, more power output, and the inclusion of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, but if space is at a premium, the Pioneer VSX-S520 is definitely worth consideration.

Clean Sound: Denon AVR-S530BT

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

On the other hand, the AVR-S530BT's HDMI connections have been upgraded to comply with HDMI 2.0a with HDCP 2.2 specifications. In other words, 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, including many smartphones and tablets. However, although you can stream compatible music content from smartphones and tablets via Bluetooth, 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 multiroom audio system via an intuitive app.

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

Least Expensive: Sony STR-DH550

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 four 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 that they include a front-mounted USB port for accessing content on flash drives or an 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.

Best Bang for the Buck (7.2 Channels): Sony STR-DH770

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. The Sony STR-DH770 is less than $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 two 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, 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 four HDMI inputs and one output that support 3D, HDR, 1080p, and 4K pass-through, but has no additional video processing or upscaling. Either your source (DVD/Blu-ray Disc Player/Media Streamer/Cable/Satellite box) or your TV/video projector has 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 Wi-Fi connectivity is not included, which means that the receiver cannot directly access internet-based streaming content. But if you have downloaded 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 a flash drive or another compatible USB device, you can plug it into the front-mounted USB port.

What to Look for in a Home Theater Receiver Under $400

Connectivity - Before you buy a receiver, look at how many devices you want to connect and the methods you’ll use to connect them. Make sure that the receiver has enough HDMI, RCA, optical, and other inputs to accommodate all of your equipment. If you want any wireless connections, look for a receiver that includes Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or both.

Audio formats - Most inexpensive home theater receivers support older codecs like Dolby TrueHD and DTS:HD. If you want the best surround sound experience possible, look for a receiver that supports the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X codecs.

Room correction - In this price range, built-in room correction software is one of the biggest difference makers in terms of audio quality. It takes a little extra work to use this feature, but you’ll really notice the difference if you choose a receiver that has great room correction.