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Best Overall: Denon AVR-X13OOW at Amazon
"This receiver is a state-of-the-art surround sound system that delivers breathtaking immersive sound."
Best Compatibility: Denon AVRS930H at Amazon
"This thing has an insanely impressive breadth of out-of-the-box software integrations."
Best Wi-Fi Network Support: Pioneer Elite SX-N30 at Amazon
"It’s high-end audio with all the extra convenience of a fully connected unit."
Best for Video Support: Yamaha RX-V681BL at Amazon
"A receiver that can hang with rapid advances in home theatre technology."
Best Design: Onkyo TX-8140 at Amazon
"No matter what type of audio or video files you are streaming, the receiver translates them into gorgeous sound."
Best Audio Support: Yamaha R-S500BL at eBay
"A high-fidelity stereo sound that comes across as pure, natural, and unencumbered by post-processing."
Best Stereo iOS Support: Onkyo TX-RZ710 at Amazon
"This is a well-rounded receiver that plays well with just about any technology or service you pair with it."
This receiver is a state-of-the-art surround sound system that delivers breathtaking immersive sound compatible with today and tomorrow’s advanced movie soundtracks. This impressive system gives you the same 3D surround sound by creating an overhead sound field that will feel just like a night at the movies.
The Denon AVR not only houses the best of today's AV technology, but it's also made to stick around a while, thanks to an advanced video section that includes HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2 specifications on all six HDMI inputs. In addition, 4K ultra HD 60Hz video is supported, as is 4:4:4 pure color sub-sampling, high dynamic range, 21:9 video, 3D and BT.2020. There’s pass-through support on every input to support next-generation devices. The powerful amp section features discrete high current output devices on all seven channels with identical configuration on all channels, and can drive even low impedance speakers. Multi-room support is offered, allowing a movie to be watched in one room, while music is enjoyed in another. Wireless connectivity is supported with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and you can stream music via Spotify Connect, local network storage drives or AirPlay. Hi-res audio playback is supported up to 192kHz/24-bit and DSD5.6 delivers incredible fidelity.
The Denon remote app, available through iTunes and Google Play, allows you to control the device through your smartphone, tablet or Kindle device. DLNA, DSD, FLAC, ALAC and AIFF High-Resolution Audio Streaming are all supported for streaming. This receiver includes a remote.
The Denon AVR-X1300W is versatile, able to handle the latest technology, and provides solid wireless and networking support. Overall, audio and video support and quality is first-rate, and all the features you could dream of are included.
The AVRS930H almost made the best overall spot on the least due to its sheer capabilities, but with a pricetag that’s just a little high for the full package, it doesn’t quite check all the boxes. But the box it does check in a huge way is compatibility. Suffice it to say that this thing has an insanely impressive breadth of out-of-the-box software integrations that will make sure it works with your home theater setup.
The preloaded HEOS functionality connects via app to allow for multi-room speaker playback (provided you’ve got HEOS-enabled speakers and receivers in those other rooms), much like that of the Sonos line of speakers. The direct play app compatible with the unit claims functional tie-ins with Spotify, TuneIn Internet radio, Pandora, iHeart Radio, Sirius XM, Soundcloud, Tidal, Rhapsody, Deezer, and more, while its connectibility works through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Apple Airplay, and more. Of course, we haven’t even mentioned the playback ability here, but with High Res audio tech powered by both Dolby Digital and DTX, a standalone graphic equalization app for ultimate control, and 7.2 surround functionality, this has all the core capabilities you’ll need in a receiver.
Modern Pioneer receivers have sort of carved a name out for themselves in the audio industry as very Wi-Fi-friendly units for those that are a little budget contest. And while they don’t quite have the high-end name recognition like the Harmon Kardons and the Denons of the world, you can’t deny that this thing forges a stable connection with your at-home wireless environment. The Wi-Fi connection itself operates via 2.4 GHz for ideal compatibility with your existing Wi-Fi router, and the Bluetooth connectivity works with an SBC codec. It’s all controlled with the aptly named ControlApp with your iOS or Android device, while a connection via a faster Wi-Fi speed plays high res audio through Direct Stream Digital, a wide-bandwidth technology that accurately plays back huge audio files via network connection. To go with the solid Wi-Fi features, there’s Airplay, built-in Spotify, and even external computer and hardware connectivity. It’s high-end audio with all the extra convenience of a fully connected unit, all for a pretty great price.
If you want a receiver that can hang with rapid advances in home theatre technology, it better be equipped to be compatible with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. While these audio formats are just now beginning to show up on Blurays, they will be the definitive way to experience surround sound in the coming years. This 7.2 channel receiver from Yamaha comes equipped to play both, as well as 4K UHD support, making it the best video-supported receiver in its price range.
In addition to the video support, the receiver has a powerful 145 watt output and two audio zones, including Party Mode and Main Zone sync, which sources different audio in different rooms. Set up for optimal sound with YPAO Reflected Sound Control, which calibrates audio to your room for the closest to studio-like quality. It includes one HDMI port, as well as wireless connectivity via Bluetooth, AirPlay and Yamaha’s MusicCast, letting you play music and control the receiver from any room in the house. It supports high-resolution audio files and has a built-in phono input for vinyl records.
The Onkyo TX-8140 is an excellent mid-level receiver equipped with an Asahi Kasei AK4452 digital-to-analog converter, which uses low-distortion sound-enhancing technologies to play any audio format. That means no matter what type of audio or video files you are streaming, the receiver translates them into gorgeous sound. Further, you can route TV via coaxial and optical inputs, which makes connectivity a breeze.
Audio quality is sharp and realistic, with two 80W channels at eight Ohms 20 Hz-20kHz. The 384 kHz/32-bit Hi-Grade DAC makes for excellent audio. The receiver has a built-in phono amp to connect with your turntable for great vinyl listening. More modern listening options are also available via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Spotify Connect, Pandora and more. Control the receiver with the Onkyo Remote app on your phone or use the preset buttons to tune in between your favorite AM/FM and internet radio stations.
The R-S500BL unit is named the Natural Sound stereo receiver for a reason—Yamaha’s goal with this unit was to produce a high-fidelity stereo sound that comes across as pure, natural, and unencumbered by post-processing. The unit is equipped with a ton of audio-centric features including what Yamaha is calling Pure Direct circuit technology that passes the audio signals along the shortest possible route for the purest sound. There’s also built-in iPod and iPhone dock connectivity for simple, automatic pass-through even including an iPod video out to pass more than just audio on. There’s SiriusXM radio connectivity right out of the box, and a variable loudness control that makes sure no audio file is too loud or too soft (even if the file itself came in that way). The whole system offers 75W of output for each of the two main stereo out channels allowing plenty of headroom and fullness. It wraps up with a wordily named Total Performance Anti-Resonance Technology that makes sure there are no artificial effects from the unit’s physical vibration or enclosures.
When you’re looking for compatibility with your Apple devices in a powerful stereo receiver, you likely won’t do better than the Onkyo TX-RZ710. This is a well-rounded receiver that plays well with just about any technology or service you pair with it, including Apple Airplay, Bluetooth, Chromecast, Tune In Radio, Pandora, Spotify, Tidal and Deezer. No matter what type of phone or tablet you use or what music service you prefer, this receiver just works.
On top of broad compatibility, the Onkyo TX-RZ710 does everything a good modern receiver should. It supports the latest audio and video standards, including High Dynamic Range (HDR), UltraHD, 4K and it even has THX certification, so you can match the quality of a movie theater with your home speaker set up. As for ports, this receiver has eight HDMI inputs, two HDMI outputs, analog audio input, phono input, coax input and more.
One final note: If you do purchase this model, you do need to download the latest software update to get full compatibility with all listed music services. For example, one reviewer was unhappy that Tidal did not work initially, but Onkyo added support for it via the latest firmware update. Once that is set up, everything works as promised.
Sound quality - Intuitively, if you want to have the best home audio setup, you’ll want a stereo receiver with the best audio quality, right? Well, yes. But truth be told, the audio quality likely won’t differ too much in this price range. Instead, you’re better off spending a little extra on high-quality speakers, where you’ll really notice the difference.
Connectivity - To future-proof your system, buy a stereo receiver with built-in Wi-Fi, preferably with dual bands. This will make it easy to stream all your favorite tracks directly from Spotify or Soundcloud.
Design - Stereo receivers can be pretty clunky and some look like they are straight out of the 1980s. So if the device is sitting somewhere visible, it’s understandable if a sleek design is atop your list of priorities. Consider the footprint of the device, and also look at the layout of the remote control. Simpler is often better.