Monday, June 22, 2015

Top Picks AV Receivers (eng)

< $999
Yamaha RX-V475: $450
A follow-up to RX-V473, the V475 retains “best budget receiver” status and even manages to bring a couple new features into the fold, including access to Pandora radio and a Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL)-enabled HDMI input for connecting smartphones, tablets, and streaming devices like the Roku Stick. But at the end of the day it was the excellent sound that won over reviewer Dennis Burger: “The Yamaha RX-V475 really does deliver on the sound side of things in a way that few receivers at this price point do.” (,Read Full Review)
Yamaha RX-V473, RX-V573: $450, $550
Take your pick: The RX-V473 and RX-V573 are two of the best budget receivers you can buy. They look identical from the front and share the same features, including Apple’s AirPlay, a front-panel USB port, and Yamaha’s automated room acoustic optimizer. The difference? The V573 has two extra channels you can use to drive back-surround speakers in a 7.1 setup or to power speakers in another room. With either model you get a well-chosen set of features and sound that reviewer Dennis Burger described as “fantastic” for the money. (, Read Full Review)
Sony STR-DN1030: $499
Sony has unleashed a wireless triple threat in a budget receiver that offers Apple AirPlay, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connectivity for tapping into your home network and accessing Internet radio stations like Pandora. That’s in addition to an amplifier section well suited for medium-size rooms, automated room correction that works like a charm, and Faroudja DCDi Edge video processing. Noting that it’s “especially adept at pleasing the listener who’s tired of wires and addicted to mobile devices,” reviewer Mark Fleischmann concluded: “The STR-DN1030 does everything a budget AVR should do and then some.” (January 2013, Read Full Review)
Denon AVR-E400: $599
With the AVR-E400, Denon has successfully rethought the budget receiver and delivered an all-around good performer that is easy to operate and offers a host of useful features, including color-coded Easy-Connect speaker terminals, 4K/Ultra HD upconversion, and a generous selection of network audio offerings. You get full Apple connectivity (sorry, no Bluetooth), DLNA support, Spotify and Pandora Internet radio, and Flickr photo sharing. Watching Hit & Run on Blu-ray, reviewer Mark Fleischmann wrote: “The Denon receiver sensibly ducked out of the way, nailing dialogue with admirable clarity and letting increasingly aggressive effects speak for themselves.” (January 2014, Read Full Review)
Pioneer VSX-1124: $600
Building a decent performing budget AV receiver is no easy task, which is why so many models in this price class just aren’t that good. But it doesn’t have to be that way as Pioneer has proved with the VSX-1124. Calling it “a miracle,” reviewer Mark Fleischmann wrote: “This little receiver hit one home run after another, with midrange voicing just a little on the warm side of neutral. The top end— where most cheap receivers are weakest—was smooth and communicative, about as far from that dirty, gauzy, cheap-receiver sound as you can get without moving well into four-figure price territory…” (November 2014, Read Full Review)
Sony STR-DN1040: $599
Sony has exerted itself in an attempt to make the STR-DN1040 discernibly better than theSTR-DN1030, which it is replacing. It costs $100 more, but the extra bucks have gone into better build quality. The result is excellent performance with music and movies. As reviewer Mark Fleischmann put it: “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey gave the receiver a chance to do what it does best: pump out loads of clean power.” Further adding to its value is built-in wireless connectivity via Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay, and Bluetooth. (,Read Full Review)
Sony STR-DN1050: $600
It’s often the case that you have to spend upwards of a thousand bucks or even more to get top-quality sound in a receiver. No so with the DN1050. It’s packed with features including a superb graphical user interface, a DSD-capable high-resolution digital-to-analog converter, auto calibration, an iOS/Android control app, six HDMI inputs, three HDMI outputs, and wireless streaming via Wi-Fi, AirPlay, and Bluetooth. But what good are all those features if you can’t get decent sound? No worries on that count. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann wrote: “The Sony STR-DN1050 is the best receiver I’ve ever heard selling for $600…it is now my top recommendation at this price.” (September 2014, Read Full Review)
Pioneer VSX-1123 AV Receiver: $600
Pioneer has packed a good many connection options into this moderately priced 7.1-channel receiver: Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) for watching smartphone content on the big screen (while the phone is charging), wireless audio streaming from Apple devices (via Airplay) and HTC-compatible Android phones, and Ethernet/DLNA connectivity; the USB port is even compatible with Apple’s Lightning connector. Summing things up, reviewer Mark Fleischmann described its overall performance as “solid” and wrote: “If you want to incorporate an MHL or HTC smartphone into a home theater system, this may be just the receiver for you.” (September 2013, Read Full Review)
Yamaha RX-S600: $650
Not all AV receivers are space hogs. Take the super svelte RX-S600. It stands less than 4.5 inches tall yet delivers enough clean power to drive a set of reasonably efficient home theater speakers and packs a number of useful features, including AirPlay and six HDMI inputs. Best of all, it performs well with music and movie soundtracks and boasts independent analog and digital power supplies and an aluminum front panel, signaling a level of build quality you don’t expect at this price. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann called it “one of the best budget models I’ve heard.” (, Read Full Review)
Denon AVR-S900W: $650
The AVR-S900W rises above the competition in this crowded segment with exceptional audio performance and a comprehensive set of features, including support for streaming via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and AirPlay, Internet radio through Spotify, Pandora, and SiriusXM, and onboard Audyssey MultEQ room correction. Denon even includes a nifty cardboard mike stand that simplifies the task of making audio measurements. Calling the receiver a “lean, mean movie machine,” reviewer Mark Fleischmann wrote: “It kept its composure with scene after scene of dynamically demanding effects…Denon’s AVR-S900W is a receiver that tries to do everything and pretty much succeeds.” (October 2014, Read Full Review)
Onkyo TX-NR636: $700
One of the awesome realities of modern consumer electronics is that this year’s model almost always offers more features, better performance, and a lower price than last year’s. Case in point is the TX-NR636, which delivers solid amplifier performance, Qdeo video processing, up-to-the-minute HDMI 2.0 connectivity, plus a firmware upgrade for Dolby Atmos surround sound (slated for fall 2014). Reviewer Daniel Kumin wrote: “A busy DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack like the one on Battle: Los Angeles sounded fully realized and hugely dynamic… with wide-ranging and well-localized spatial effects and easily intelligible dialogue throughout.” All that for only 700 bucks. (, Read Full Review)
Yamaha RX-A730 Network AV Receiver: $700
The RX-A730 is least expensive model in Yamaha’s upscale Aventage line but you still get all the basics and then some, including automated room correction, five HDMI inputs, and an Ethernet jack for streaming music from your home network or the Internet. “Network” also stands for the AV Controller app you can download and AirPlay wireless streaming. And then there’s the rock-solid performance you get with music movie soundtracks, which reviewer David Vaughn called mighty impressive: “Its audio prowess is second to none—especially at this price point.” (November 2013, Read Full Review)
Yamaha RX-V775WA: $850
The RX-V775WA is ready for any kind of wireless action. Apple’s AirPlay is built in and a Wi-Fi adapter is included in the box. Prefer to make a Bluetooth connection? An optional adapter is available for $70. This well-rounded AVR is further equipped with six HDMI inputs, 4K video upscaling, and Yamaha’s excellent YPAO auto setup/room-correction system. But in the end it’s the sound that matters and on that front, reviewer Mark Fleischmann wrote: “The RX-V775WA is the kind of receiver that puts me in a good mood. Its top end was exceptionally transparent, detailed, open, and listenable.” (April 2014, Read Full Review)
Marantz SR-5009: $899
The mid-line SR-5009 delivers solid 7-channnel performance for the price and, while it doesn’t support Dolby Atmos surround or HDCP 2.2 digital rights management (to ensure passthrough of all 4K content), it is equipped for wireless streaming via Wi-Fi, AiPlay, or Bluetooth and offers bountiful connectivity, including eight HDMI inputs and an increasingly rare analog multichannel input/output. Summing up, reviewer Mark Fleischmann wrote: “The Marantz SR5009 is a solidly engineered surround receiver with an inherently good-sounding amp and the kind of room correction that takes the amp to the next level” whether you’re enjoying a movie or listening to music. (January 2015, Read Full Review)
Denon AVR-2313CI: $900
The AVR-2313CI has everything most of us would want in a receiver—plenty of power, six HDMI inputs and two outputs, first-class video processing with 4K upscaling, and auto setup and room correction via Audyssey’s excellent MultEQ XT system. It also provides a plethora of audio/photo streaming capabilities, including Apple’s AirPlay, FLAC HD support, and Windows 7 certification. How’s it sound? Watching The Amazing Spider-Man, reviewer David Vaughn wrote: “Dialogue was clear and concise, bass response tight and deep, and discrete effects flew throughout the room from every direction with precise imaging.” What more could you ask for? (April 2013, Read Full Review)
Anthem MRX 300: $999
From a company known for bleeding-edge surround processors and muscle amps comes the MRX 300, the least expensive of Anthem’s three AVRs. In addition to automated setup and room correction, it offers a handful of unusual features, including Dolby Volume (equalizes volumes among sources and tames extreme dynamic range), Dolby Pro Logic IIz (derives two height channels from any program material), and the excellent stereo-to-surround modes AnthemLogic-Music and AnthemLogic-Cinema, the first of which reviewer Mark Fleischmann described as “remarkably fine.” His conclusion: “Altogether, this is a very impressive AVR and a must-hear.” (August 2011, Read Full Review)
Pioneer Elite SC-71: $1,000
With eight HDMI inputs, built-in AirPlay, a killer Android/iOS control app, and a direct connection to the popular music service Spotify, the SC-71 offers a sweet features package. But the real star of the show is Pioneer’s third-generation D3 Class D amplifier, which delivers smooth, clean, dynamic sound. “The more of these products I hear, the better I like their assured dynamics and what I now perceive as their top-to-bottom clarity,” wrote reviewer Mark Fleischmann. Give the Elite SC-71 a listen and hear the D3 difference for yourself. (, Read Full Review)
Harman/Kardon AVR 3700: $1,000
For a thousand bucks the AVR 3700 gets you eight HDMI inputs, extensive surround decoding and processing modes—including Harman’s excellent Logic 7 mode—4K video passthrough, audio streaming via DLNA or Apple AirPlay, 7 x 125 watts of power, and sound that is robust and well-defined. All this in a refreshingly lightweight chassis. Commenting on its delivery of the Dolby TrueHD soundtrack of Star Trek Into Darkness, reviewer Daniel Kumin wrote: “A sequence like chapters 10-11 displayed the receiver’s dynamic capacity to great effect with no sign of strain, even at full cinema-reference levels.” (February/March 2014, Read Full Review)
Pioneer Elite SC-61: $1,100
You can’t go wrong with the SC-61 and its smart assortment of features. In addition to decoding a wealth of audio formats, the receiver provides ready access to Internet radio and streaming services such as Pandora, supports AirPlay streaming from Apple devices, and puts Pioneer’s world-class auto setup and room-correction system at your fingertips. Then there’s the topnotch video processing and ultra-efficient Class D amplifier section that not only delivers 7 x 125 watts of muscular power but encourages lifelike dynamics, improves bass output, and takes on challenging speaker loads without crapping out. (May 2013, Read Full Review)
Onkyo TX-NR838: $1,199
Ready for today and tomorrow, the TX-NR838 delivers benchmark audio/video performance and is equipped with the latest technology: 4K/Ultra HD passthrough and upscaling, Wi-Fi and HDMI 2.0 connectivity, and HDCP 2.2 support to ensure compatibility with the latest copy-protected content. If that’s not enough, it’s also one of the first receivers that can be upgraded for the new Dolby Atmos surround-sound format via a free firmware update. Summing up his impressions, reviewer Daniel Kumin wrote: “The TX-NR838…is incrementally better than the model it replaces, richly endowed with thoughtful features and up-to-date technologies, and fairly priced.” (September 2014, Read Full Review)
Yamaha Aventage RX-A1020: $1,200
As the top 7.2-channel model in Yamaha’s Aventage line—now entering its third year—the RX-A1020 hits the sweet spot with excellent build quality, exceptional imaging prowess and clean amplification that brings authority to well-recorded movie soundtracks and music. New features include an Eco mode that cuts power consumption by 20 percent and ultra-high-def 4K video scaling and passthrough. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann wrote: “The more I listened to it, the more I liked it, until finally it moved into “I could live with this” territory.” (February/March 2013, Read Full Review)
Marantz SR6006: $1,200
This model was recently replaced by the SR6007 at the same price, but can still be found online at discounted pricing. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann praised the SR6006 for it’s attractive porthole design and full slate of features (including Apple AirPlay and a full suite of Audyssey modes). But it was the sound that got him. “With best-case content, the sound was as clear as a bell,” he wrote, and deliciously well balanced across the audio spectrum; the clean mids and highs, he said, “allowed the receiver to achieve a degree of transparency well above its pay grade.” (June 2012, Read Full Review)
Cambridge Audio Azur 551R: $1,299
This surprisingly compact and low-profile AVR from Cambridge Audio falls into that class of product that lacks some of the latest whiz-bang features normally found at its price point among the mainstream brands, but makes up for it with sound quality. There’s no fancy room correction circuitry, and no networking features. Still, “those with more demanding speakers may want to take a long, hard look at this receiver…” wrote audio editor Mark Fleichmann. “If you want a closer relationship with music and movies—and are willing to overlook the absence of bells and whistles—this AVR will take you to the heights.” (August 2012, Read Full Review)
Onkyo TX-NR1009: $1,499
Despite its pricetag, this 9.2-channel behemoth sits at a sweet spot in Onkyo’s line. David Vaughn wrote that “the TX-NR1009 offers virtually all of the most desirable features you’ll find in a flagship product at a savings of over 50 percent, and delivers sound quality that rivals more expensive components. This one comes highly recommended.” (March 2012, Read Full Review)
Yamaha Aventage RX-A2040: $1,700
If you’re looking for flagship performance without the flagship price, Yamaha’s RX-A2040 delivers rich, powerful sound through up to nine 140-watt channels and is loaded with features, including Dolby Atmos surround processing, HDMI 2.0, and wireless connectivity (although, like many AVRs, it is not equipped to play HDCP 2.2 copy-protected UHD content). It handles music and movies with warmth, clarity, timbral transparency and, when needed, authority. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann concluded: “The Yamaha RX-A2040 gives you pretty much everything you would expect from a big, near-flagship receiver.” (May 2015, Read Full Review)
Arcam AVR360: $1,799
We’ve been fans of Arcam AVRs in the past thanks the remarkable musicality they deliver, and this “budget” Arcam, rated at 75 watts per channel (all 7 channels driven), was no different. Mark Fleischmann wrote that, “though not cheap, the AVR360 sets a new standard of affordability for anyone hungering for the Arcam sound. If you want maximum features per buck, look elsewhere. If you want to power speakers with low sensitivity or efficiency ratings, the rail-switching AVR600 is a better bet. But with the right speakers, the AVR360 is just the ticket for the budget-minded audiophile seeking a receiver that celebrates musical and cinematic values.” (April 2012, Read Full Review)
Marantz SR7007: $1,800
Marantz’s new top-of-the-line receiver boasts gobs of power, the company’s signature porthole design (with a second full-size/full-info display below the porthole readout), a full suite of Audyssey room correction and dynamic/eq features, and Marantz’s best audio circuitry in the preamp section. Said reviewer Mark Fleischmann, “The SR7007 expertly conjures musical magic and cinematic excitement. It also has a great feature set, spearheaded by AirPlay and other treats for the Apple-centric listener. It’s a great receiver and well worth its price.” (October 2012, Read Full Review)
Denon AVR-X5200W Atmos-Enabled: $1,999
The 9.1-channel AVR-X5200W delivers five-star audio performance with one huge bonus: Onboard decoding for the new Dolby Atmosformat, which delivers the most convincing surround- sound presentation ever thanks its use of “elevation” speakers and object-based technology. Reviewer Dan Kumin was impressed: “I have little but praise…It sounded first-rate in every mode, and I should think it would prove amply powerful for even quite generously sized home theaters. Dolby Atmos may be a real draw, but there are enough other virtues to attract non-Atmos (or at least pre-Atmos) shoppers as well.” (December 2014,Read Full Review)
Anthem MRX 710: $1,999
With four- and five-star ratings across the board, the MRX 710 will appeal to audiophiles whose focus is on performance, not how many features—many frivolous—can be amassed in a single chassis. So there is no wireless connectivity nor is there a multitude of legacy inputs and outputs. What you do get is rugged build quality, eight HDMI inputs, a simple remote, refined room correction, a bullet-proof 7 x 200-watt amplifier section and, what reviewer Mark Fleischmann called a “no-nonsense personality that combined a crisp presentation with strong dynamics…Anthem sound is one that’ll please the overwhelming majority of listeners.” (September 2014, Read Full Review)
Marantz SR7008: $1,999
The long and short of the SR7008: You get nine amp channels, Audyssey’s top-shelf MultEQ XT32 room correction, and excellent sound quality in a reference-worthy receiver that offers serious bang for the buck. Recalling his experience with Oz the Great and Powerful, reviewer Mark Fleischmann observed: “As the trombones shuddered nervously and witches and apparitions shot fireballs out of their mouths, the receiver handled dynamically challenging material without losing its grip on timbre, imaging, soundfield integrity, and bass authority.” Sound-wise, your two-thousand bucks couldn’t be better spent. (October 2013,Read Full Review)
Anthem MRX 700: $1,999
Anthem’s first best AVR features the company’s excellent proprietary ARC room correction and highly regarded audiophile sonics. Fred Manteghian described it as “light on bells and whistles, heavy on high-end sound,” adding, “It owes its excellent sound to both the high quality amplification section and proprietary room correction, which can overcome some limitations in your room and to a much lesser degree, your speakers. It comes down to your priorities. If they begin and end with first rate sound, you should visit your Anthem dealer. You certainly won’t be disappointed.” (March 2011, Read Full Review)
$2,000 >
Sony STR-DA5800ES: $2,100
The 9.2-channel STR-DA5800ES might be the most versatile A/V control center on the planet. In addition to a multitude of audio processing modes, nine HDMI inputs, and Sony’s Digital Cinema Auto Calibration system, it has serious networking and streaming chops. It also boasts an intuitive, app-controlled (Android and iOS) graphical user interface (GUI) and doubles as a Control4 home automation controller. In the words of reviewer Darryl Wilkinson: “Sony figured out a way to take an excellent AVR, soup it up with extra connectivity, add a healthy dose of system (and lighting) control capabilities, and put it under the control of an easy-to-use activity-based GUI.” (, Read Full Review)
Onkyo TX-NR3010: $2,299
Onkyo’s TX-NR3010 is about as fully loaded as it gets, and includes something not found even on several directly competitive models from other manufacturers—namely, Audyssey MultEQ XT32, the very best and highest resolution room correction scheme that Audyssey offers. There’s also InstaPrevue HDMI selection that lets you see what’s playing on different sources, and MHL compatibility for watching high-def content from a compliant smartphone. Nine amplifier channels allow a full-tilt system with front height or width channels in addition to back surrounds without the need for additional amplification, as well as multiple options for feeding distant listening zones. (December 2012, see for review)
Denon AVR-4520CI: $2,499
The AVR-4520CI, Denon’s top receiver, is a nine-channel powerhouse loaded with features that make enthusiasts smile, including height channels for an expanded the soundstage, an exemplary remote, excellent build quality, and Audyssey’s advanced MultEQ XT32 automated room correction system, which produces extraordinary results. “I’ve never known a receiver to have such a symbiotic relationship with its room correction,” wrote reviewer Mark Fleischmann. “So often, room correction seems an afterthought, or even a compromise; here it is a vital ingredient that improves nearly all content.” (May 2014, Read Full Review)
Pioneer Elite SC-68: $2,500
Pioneer’s latest top-of-the-line receiver is the first AVR we’ve seen with a built-in high-quality USB DAC for improving the sound of your streamed digital music files; it offers the company’s proprietary Class D amplifier topology first introduced to rave reviews last year. Though different than what we expect to hear from a traditional Class AB amplifier, it in some ways betters sonically what’s come before, said reviewer Mark Fleischmann, who noted “the D3 amplification is dynamically compelling and well rounded in other performance parameters. If you approach it without preconceptions, it’ll treat you right.” (November 2012, Read Full Review)
Cambridge Audio Azur 751R: $2,999
Can a top-of-the-line AV receiver hold it’s own against holier-than-thou separates? You betcha. The Azur 751R proves that combining a 7 x 120-watt amp and an AV pre/pro in one svelte chassis doesn’t automatically mean compromise. Marveling over its audio prowess, reviewer Mark Fleischmann wrote: “It performed cleanly across the frequency spectrum with especially generous bass weight. Content with significant high-frequency information was as airy as it could be but without undue brightness. The midrange included a well-sculpted presence region that delivered loads of texture without inducing discomfort. Everything sounded right.” (June 2013, Read Full Review)
Pioneer Elite SC-89: $3,000
If you’re a surround enthusiast who absolutely must have the latest technology, the SC-89 is made for you. One of the first Dolby-Atmos-equipped receivers, this 39-pound heavyweight provides everything you need (except speakers) to fill your home theater with stunning state-of-the-art 5.1.4 surround sound, including the amazing Dolby Surround upmixer that tailors stereo, 5.1-, and 7.1-channel content for Atmos playback. And audiophiles will appreciate the inclusion of a high-performance USB DAC that lets high-res audio files really shine. Once again, Pioneer gets it right with a receiver that transcends next-generation surround technology.” (February/March 2014, Read Full Review)
NAD T 787: $4,000
NAD’s latest receiver offers a tremendous power plant—120 watts with all channels driven into 8 ohms—and a future-proof modular design, while skimping on some of today’s most popular features. But did it ever sound great, notes our golden-eared reviewer Michael Fremer. “If you do get the opportunity to hear the T 787 in a proper setting, its superb sonics should be immediately obvious…Overall, the NAD T 787 is the best-sounding A/V receiver I’ve yet heard.” (August 2012, Read Full Review)
Arcam AVR750: $6,000
Yes, the price is steep but the AVR750 is a “special occasion” receiver that’s made for audiophiles by audiophiles. The technical star of the show is its Class G rail-switching amplifier, which boasts two sets of output devices operating at different voltages so it can kick out more power when the going gets tough and conserve power during quieter moments. The result is “wide dynamics and an evenness of tone that will make movie and music lovers swoon,” according to reviewer Mark Fleischmann. “With the right movie, it’s like being on a roller coaster, as the amp gracefully transitions from soft to loud and back again with the adeptness of a true master.” (February/March 2014, Read Full Review)
Worthy of Consideration, < $999
Though not Top Picks, the following models are worthy of consideration in the under $999 price range. See our full review for details.
Pioneer Elite VSX-42: $450
Pioneer’s entry level Elite series AVR didn’t wow reviewer Chris Chiarella enough to make it a Top Pick, but it’s nonetheless an excellent value in a 7.1-channel AVR: loaded with features like Apple AirPlay and Pioneer’s excellent proprietary room correction circuitry, and it measured well for a budget receiver, delivering excellent power sufficient for smaller rooms when mated with appropriately efficient speakers. Our issues with it are the same we find with every budget AVR we test, all of which come up short on power reserves and start sounding strained when pushed to notably high volumes. But use it within its range, and it’ll deliver plenty of clean, impactful sound at a very good price. (August 2012,, Read Full Review)
Onkyo TX-NR414: $499
This 5.1-channel model failed to achieve Top Pick status, not for any flaw in audio performance but mainly because reviewer David Vaughn thought it came up a bit short on features for its $499 suggested retail price, lacking as it does some extras like room correction circuitry and video cross-conversion that allows a single HDMI connection to the display even with non-HDMI sources. However, it’s readily available online for $299 or less, where it qualifies as an excellent value in a basic, no-nonsense receiver. (August 2012,Read Full Review)