Best Home Theater Receiver

Best Home Theater Receiver

The Home Theater Receiver (sometimes referred to as an AV or Surround Sound Receiver) is the heart of a home theater system, providing centralized connection and control. High-end Home Theater Receivers also provide extensive audio and video switching and processing, and most also provide network connectivity and custom control capabilities. Check out my list of high-end home theater receiver favorites in the $1,300 and up price range.
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Best Home Theater Receiver

However, you should still do a few things to ensure that you have set the receiver optimally for your room. First, double-check the distance measurements the receiver selects during the setup routine. These are usually right, but it doesn’t hurt to check again. You want the speaker distances to be as close to correct as possible. If you buy the Anthem receiver we recommend as an upgrade pick, you have to set these manually.
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Best Home Theater Receiver

For easy speaker setup, all of Anthem's MRX Home Theater Receivers incorporate Anthem Room correction which provides accurate speaker setup using a special microphone and software that connects to a PC/Laptop. The PC, via wired or wireless connection, directs the receiver to output test tones that are then read and analyzed by the software. When completed the software sends all the speaker level information to the receiver, and also generates a graphical report than can be saved and printed for future reference.
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Best Home Theater Receiver

We spent 10 hours researching and more than 70 hours performing hands-on testing to determine that the Denon AVR-S720W is the best receiver for most people. It offers by far the easiest setup process we’ve ever seen in a receiver, and it’s the simplest to use of the models we tested, with none of the usability flaws of its competitors. It provides very good sound quality and every new feature you might need, including AirPlay, Bluetooth, Pandora, and Spotify Connect support plus the ability to connect directly to Internet radio stations and local DLNA servers. It’s also ready for 4K content and all the sources you use today and might use in the near future, thanks to HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 support. In the end, the competition is closer this year than last, but this Denon retains the lead.
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Best Home Theater Receiver

If you’re concerned only about sound and don’t need streaming features integrated into your receiver, the Anthem MRX 520 offers the best audio quality. In our tests, we ran all of the receivers through their built-in setup routines, and the Anthem was the only one able to accurately detect and configure all of our speakers with the ideal settings. It also has more HDMI inputs than our main pick, and is the only receiver we tested that’s designed to work with an external amplifier, if you want to add one in the future.
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Best Home Theater Receiver

December 7, 2015: After more than 50 hours of hands-on testing, the Denon AVR-S710W is our pick for best receiver. It offers every feature most people will need, and it has the easiest setup we’ve seen. If the Denon is unavailable, the Onkyo TX-NR545 matches the Denon feature-for-feature, but it isn’t as easy to set up. If you don’t need more than five channels or integrated streaming, the Yamaha RX-V379 is our budget pick, and it makes a great entry-level receiver.
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Best Home Theater Receiver

October 22, 2015: After considering all the new models, we think the Denon AVR-S710W is the best receiver this year. This is largely due to how easy it is to set up compared to its competition, while still having all the features we look for in a receiver. This includes 6 HDMI 2.0a/HDCP 2.2 inputs for 4K video, the ability to decode Dolby Atmos, built-in Apple Airplay, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Pandora, Spotify, an app for your smartphone/tablet, and more. There’s not much difference in sound among receivers at this price, so features and ease-of-use put the Denon over the top. Look for our fully updated guide soon.
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Best Home Theater Receiver

Help & Support AV receiver companies tend to route much of their customer support through their authorized retailers. However, there are still are few things you should look for in an AV receiver support team. Look for a company with phone support and a social media team. Social media has become one of the best ways to get timely assistance with a problem. Also, you should look for a warranty of at least two years.
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An Audio/Video (A/V) Receiver is, if you’ll forgive a slightly clunky analogy, the quarterback of your home theater. It’s not just because it tells everything where to go, routing signals to different speakers and screens. It’s because it has a profound effect on the quality of the system. If it isn’t up to the task of handling the vast amount of data that get’s thrown it at, then you could have the best speakers on earth and still get bad results. The market is a crowded one, so we’ve picked out some of the best A/V receivers for this year, ranging from sub-$300 budget options to monster units that will cost you a couple of grand.
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If you have an older receiver without HDMI support, now is a good time to upgrade. All the new models we tested support HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2, which means they’ll work with Ultra HD 4K displays and sources. Last year only a pair of models offered such support, but now almost all new receivers do. So if you already have an HDMI receiver but want to buy a 4K TV and want to be able to switch between 4K sources now (or soon), upgrading makes sense.
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Back in 2014, before we made any decisions about what units to test, we surveyed Wirecutter readers to see what they wanted in a receiver. (Though we conducted that survey two years ago, in that period of time there have been no new surround-sound formats or HDMI versions that would significantly change what to buy.) We wanted to know how many speakers our readers used, how they listened to music and watched video, and what they expected from a receiver. Close to 1,000 people responded to the survey and helped us define the criteria we would look for in our choices.
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Every so often, however, new standards and features make huge changes and stick around for years. A receiver with HDMI inputs bought seven or eight years ago can still play almost any source today; it can’t do 3D, but it can handle all the lossless audio formats and full 1080p images that today’s receivers can. In contrast, a receiver without HDMI inputs bought that same year probably needed upgrading three to five years ago, since almost everything is HDMI-only now.
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A receiver is the most complex AV device most people will ever buy. Everything in your system has to run through it, so once you’ve gotten everything hooked up, it looks like a giant wire Cthulhu. Even for experienced AV enthusiasts, setting up a receiver, with its dozens of buttons and options, can be daunting.

Many competing receivers have added support for Google Cast for Audio. This feature makes it easy to stream audio to the receiver without needing to devote your phone to the task (once you start streaming, Google Cast takes over, freeing your phone up for other things, unlike AirPlay or Bluetooth streaming). While this functionality isn’t enough to make us choose another receiver over the Denon AVR-S720W, it is a key feature we wish this model supported; instead it supports Denon’s HEOS wireless-audio lineup, which is much less common.
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The most complicated part of using a receiver is setting it up. One of the main reasons we’re choosing the Denon AVR-S720W as our top pick is that its setup process was simpler than that of any of the other models we looked at. In addition, most of the Wirecutter readers in our survey said they used the automated setup microphone that came with their receiver, so we paid attention to how well those worked in our testing; the Denon AVR-S720W was as accurate in this regard as anything aside from the Anthem model.
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Some of the top AV receivers can actually upscale content to higher resolutions. If you use a lot of legacy video inputs, then look for a receiver that can upscale standard-definition videos to 1080p. If you own a 4K television, then look for a receiver that can upscale 1080p video to 4K.
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You don’t play your music or movies in a vacuum. Your sound comes out in a room filled with things: couches, tables, bookshelves, children, the dog, glass windows, pictures on the walls. All of these things affect the sound. Calibrating your room – which your system will do by playing a test tone and then recapturing it through a special microphone before adjusting the sound accordingly – is a crucial part of the whole home theater experience, and will help you get the best out of your receiver, and indeed your whole system. Not every unit has this type of thing, but it can work really, really well when you use it.