The 7 Best Under-$400 Home Theater Receivers

Great audio for less

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The Rundown
Best Overall:
Yamaha RX-V385 at Amazon
"If you are planning to purchase a basic home theater receiver with useful features, power, and performance, the RX-V383 offers a worthy option."
Least Expensive:
Sony STR-DH550 at Amazon
"If you are looking for an entry-level home theater receiver, check out the Sony STR-DH550."
Best 5.1 Channel:
Yamaha RX-V385 at Amazon
"A great entry-level, budget-friendly AV receiver, offering user-friendly features at an affordable price."
"Focuses on delivering vibration resistant, crisp audio alongside focused features for a tailored, Hi-Fi experience."
Best 5.2 Channel:
Onkyo Onkyo TX-SR393 at Amazon
"Easily the best 5.2 channel AV receiver for the price."
Best 7.2 Channel:
Sony STR-DH790 at Amazon
"A highly capable 7.2 channel receiver that’s perfect for home theater newbies."
"An affordable, entry-level amplifier that’s great for home theater or music lovers."

The best home theater receivers are no light matter to consider adding to your home cinema experience, especially when combined with the latest 4K TVs. The hub of the home-theater system, receivers are capable of producing dimension, clarity of sound, and best of all, power. When combined with a 5.1 or a 7.2 channel home theater setup, it’s a significant difference in quality. It’s especially noticeable when contrasted with soundbars or the built-in sound systems available in TVs today, whose quality has steadily degraded as TVs have gotten thinner and thinner.

A game changer on movie night or binge-worthy weekends, not only do the best AV receivers provide ample power to speakers and support the latest in video standards, but their excellent, immersive sound quality takes the home cinema experience to the next-level up. Many also come with a litany of ease-of-life features, and we’ve found that for $400 or less, you’ll find excellent, entry-level AV receivers or amplifiers that provide great bang for your buck. While it may sacrifice some of the latest and greatest features that come with premium machines today, for the casual user, the differences are subtle enough that it’s not worth the added price. 

Before we get started, be sure to take stock of the devices, such as cable boxes or gaming systems, which you’ll want to connect to your receiver. Be mindful of how you’ll bridge those connections—especially if you have older units such as an Xbox 360 or Wii U—as this can be an important deciding factor in which AV receiver you ultimately bring home to join the family. 

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.

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

What We Like
  • Easy to set up

  • Built-in Bluetooth

  • Supports 4K, HDR10, and Dolby Vision

  • Variety of Scene functions for customizable listening options

What We Don't Like
  • No wireless internet support

  • No Dolby Atmos or DTS:X support

The Yamaha RX-V385BL is a great entry-level, budget-friendly AV receiver, offering user-friendly features at an affordable price while providing an ample 70 watts power-per-channel to the attached speaker system. Four HDMI inputs and one HDMI (eARC) output support the latest video standards. This includes HDR10, Dolby Vision, and Hybrid Log Gamma in addition to 1080p and 4K video at 60 frames/second. It also supports 1080p to 4K upscaling via its HDMI inputs and 3D video pass-through technology. Built-in Bluetooth connects to wireless devices such as smartphones or headphones for easy music-only listening. Suffice to say, this loaded AV receiver can do a lot for the price. It’s an easy fan-favorite in our books.

Setting up this system is particularly simple thanks to the handy YPAO, an acoustic optimizing tool provided by Yamaha. This quick, easy-to-use device calibrates the RX-V385BL based on the room’s acoustic characteristics.. 

 Once you’re up and running, you can select from a variety of pre-programmed modes to personalize your audio experience. Whether you’re watching the latest Disney classic on Cinema mode or tackling the underworld of Hades on the Nintendo Switch with Video Game mode, you’ll always have great sound for the task at hand. One annoyance, although not a major hindrance in our experience, is that the receiver isn’t able to connect to the internet for built-in streaming . Technically part of Yamaha’s 2019 lineup, its quality of sound and performance consistency set the RX-V385BL apart from the competition, easily making it one a standout 4K AV receiver. 

"A simple, easy-to-use 4K AV receiver with ample power as well as great sound quality and clarity. I really enjoy how easy the preset modes are to navigate between so that I can quickly and easily tweak my home-theater experience to suit my needs." — Emily Isaacs, Product Tester

Best 2.1: Denon PMA-600NE

Denon PMA-600NE Stereo Integrated Amplifier
What We Like
  • Clean, crisp audio

  • Bluetooth connectivity

  • Phono-stage built-in for turntable attachments

What We Don't Like
  • No digital interface or Wi-Fi connectivity

While it’s not the latest model, the Denon PMA-600NE is a standout integrated amplifier from Denon’s 2019 lineup that focuses on delivering vibration resistant, crisp audio alongside focused features for a tailored, Hi-Fi experience. A great entry-level model for the home theater enthusiasts and music lovers on a budget, although it may seem a bit basic thanks to its limited features compared to other higher-end competitor models. Fortunately for the Denon, it stands out thanks to its consistency of performance, great power, and clarity of sound. 

The Denon PMA-600NE offers 70 watts of power-per-channel, great dynamic range, optical and coaxial digital input options, and low harmonic distortion. It also includes a built-in phono stage for turntables attachments and a solid DAC connection. Combined with Bluetooth connectivity, the Denon can quickly and seamlessly stream music directly from the latest devices at a 24-bit/192kHz digital-to-analog converter. Thanks to its interface-free design and ease of use, this amplifier will be a great fit for many home theater fans, but it will especially appeal to old-school and vintage music lovers.

Best 5.2 Channel: Onkyo TX 5.2-Ch. with Dolby Atmos 4K Ultra HD HDR Compatible A/V Home Theater Receiver

Onkyo TX-SR373 5.2 Channel A/V Receiver with Bluetooth
What We Like
  • Bluetooth connectivity

  • Supports 4K, HDR, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS:X

What We Don't Like
  • No wireless internet support

Easily the best 5.2 channel AV receiver for the price, Onkyo’s loaded machine is an entry-level receiver offering a variety of features and setup options that’ll ensure you’ve got the perfect home theater setup for your needs. Configurable up to 3.1.2 channels, Onkyo ensures you can take advantage of the latest in immersive surround sound technology, whether it’s Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, or native object-audio playback. 

A surprising standout considering it’s Onkyo’s least expensive AV receiver from its 2019 lineup, the TX-SR393 includes four HDMI inputs and one HDMI (ARC) output. The speaker hookups accept banana plugs, which makes connecting them much simpler, and thanks to Onkyo’s proprietary AccuEQ calibration technology, you can rest assured knowing that you’ll have the best acoustics for the room you’re in, no matter the size. 

The Onkyo TX-SR393 is easy to use and adjust as-needed, thanks to its user-friendly GUI and remote control. It supports 1080P to 4K upscaling, 4K HDR video at 60 frames/second, and HDR video passthrough. A future firmware update will bring the receiver into HDCP 2.3-compatibility, too. 

Bluetooth connectivity, but notably no Wi-Fi connectivity, is a nice slice of life feature, allowing you to cast music and stream directly from devices to the TX-SR393. Overall, the main criticism of this receiver is that it simply can’t perform at the same level as mid to high-end AV receivers, which offer more finesse and natural sound. Hardly a criticism, given the great value this budget system provides.

Best 7.2 Channel: Sony STR-DH790 7.2 Channel Receiver

What We Like
  • Supports 4K, HDR, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound

  • Easy-to-use auto calibration

What We Don't Like
  • Not rated for 4-ohm loudspeakers

  • Can’t fine tune second zone

The Sony STR-DH790 offers excellent value for the price. Able to support either a 5.1, 5.2 or a 7.2 channel home theater system setup and rated at 145 watts power-per-channel, it’s got plenty of options and power for most needs. Even better is its support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. For any 5.1 or 5.2 channel users out there, it also offers room to grow if you’re considering adding additional speakers at a later date for even more immersive sound quality. 

The STR-DH790 comes equipped with four HDMI inputs which all support HDR and 4K video at 60 frames/second as well as one HDMI (eARC) output. Including 3D video pass-through technology, Bluetooth connectivity, and a variety of Sound Effect options to optimize listening, the STR-DH790 offers competitive features for the price. 

Like many entry-level AV receivers, the STR-DH790 doesn’t include Wi-Fi connectivity. While the spring-clip connections are a bit annoying and the setup wizard leaves a little to be desired, the Sony auto-calibration makes finalizing your home theater system a breeze. Do be aware—it doesn’t support wireless speaker connections. Still, with a low harmonic distortion of .9%, this system offers clean, strong sound, great bass, and excellent features at a good price.

The Sony STR-DH790 is a highly capable 7.2 channel receiver that’s perfect for home theater newbies and anyone looking to put together a decent setup on the cheap.” — Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

Best Design: Cambridge Audio AXA35

Cambridge Audio AXA35
What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Phono-stage built-in for turntable attachments

What We Don't Like
  • No Bluetooth connectivity, coaxial or optical inputs

  • Remote control can be finicky

The Cambridge Audio AXA35 is an affordable, entry-level amplifier that’s great for home theater or music lovers. It provides input for up to five sources, although it’s lacking some key features we’ve grown used to seeing as standards, such as Bluetooth connectivity and coaxial or optical inputs. Its design is otherwise intuitive and attractive, from the silver finish, beveled heat vents to reduce sharp edges, and its almost floating nature thanks to its low-profile supports. Combined with a convenient remote and good power at 35 watts of power-per-channel, the AXA35 integrated amplifier is a great fit for small to medium-sized rooms. 

In addition to its sleek design, it includes a USB B port for powering smartphones, tablets, and other media devices. Unfortunately, it’s not capable of playing music directly from external sources connected to through this port.

Once it’s all hooked up, it’s easy to see why those seemingly standard features were actually dropped: to support clean, crisp, and surprisingly strong sound quality. Cambridge Audio’s selective focus on the AXA35’s components and minimalist features has paid off, making it easily the best-designed budget amplifier today. It’s excellent quality for the price. 

Hands down, the best overall home theater receiver under $400 is the Yamaha RX-V385BL 4K AV receiver. With a number of ease of life features, a smooth setup process, user-friendly controls for customizable listening options, and support for the latest video standards, albeit at the sacrifice of higher-end and emerging audio standards such as Dolby Atmos or DTS:X support, we find the trade-off to be well-worth the difference in price. It’s a great machine for people looking to get their toes wet without investing an arm and a leg in their home-theater setup.

If the lack of support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X is a deal-breaker for you, or you’d just prefer the extra speakers for a more immersive surround sound experience, the runner up is the Sony STR-DH790. While it’s a little more expensive than the V385BL, its ability to support 5.1, 5.2, and 7.2 configurations, as well as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, make it a great AV receiver for the price. 

About Our Trusted Experts

Emily Isaacs is a Chicago-based technology writer who's been teaming-up with Lifewire since 2019. Her areas of expertise include video games, consumer technology, and gadgets. She also uses the top pick on this list daily.

Jeremy Laukkonen is a former auto shop owner who was always drawn towards the tech side of cars (and virtually everything else) and gave up life under the hood to become a tech journalist. He specializes in home entertainment, Android devices, and consumer tech, and loves making complex subjects legible for even the most novice reader.

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.

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