5 Great AV Receivers You Need in 2018

Top 5 AV Receivers of 2018

AV Receivers (sometimes referred to as an Home Theater or Surround Sound Receiver) are the heart of a home theater system, providing centralized connection and control. High-end AV Receivers also provide extensive audio and video switching and processing, and most also provide network connectivity and custom control capabilities. Just connect your receiver up to your smart TV and settle in for a great night of theater. Also, most now provide wireless multi-room audio capability, and some AV receivers are also offering Alexa or Google assistant. voice control compatibility.


5. Marantz SR8012 ($2,999)

Channels: 11.2

Surround Sound: Dolby V*, DTS V*, Auro-3D (Via Upgrade)

Wattage Per Channel (RMS): 140/8Ω, 2Ch Driven

What We Like: A receiver for the future.

What We Don’t: This Auro-3D upgrade thing is getting tiresome.

We waited a long time for this one. Marantz teased the upgrade to the 12 series for almost a year, and when they finally delivered, they really came through. This takes everything that made the 7011 and the 7012 so good, and boosts in all, adding new features and tweaking the overall package. Chief among these features: an additional two channels as standard, and a big boost in power.

However, it does have a couple of annoying bits that we wish Marantz would take care of. For starters, Amazon’s Alexa runs through the HEOS (made by Denon, who along with Marantz are owned by the same company, Sound United). HEOS is fine, but it still feels like a weird and clunky way to run a system this expensive. And at this point, when you’re paying three grand for a receiver, shouldn’t Auro-3D come as standard? Why do we continually have to pay to upgrade? These annoyances aside, this is a receiver that is clearly looking to the future. Buy this, and you shouldn’t have to buy another one for quite a while. By the way, if you need less power, and want to spend significantly less, while enjoying the same solid build and sound, it may be worth looking at second-hand versions of the 7011 and 7012.


4. Onkyo TX-NR575 ($329)

Channels: 7.2

Surround Tech: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X

Wattage Per Channel (RMS): 80/8Ω, 2ch Driven

What We Like: One of the better sub-$400 AV receivers.

What We Don’t: Off-the-shelf components

This is a smaller version of Onkyo’s TX-NR838 – and at the time of our latest update, the only Onkyo on this list. It’s good – good enough to make the top five – but there’s a huge amount of competition in the receiver world, and manufacturers like Denon and Yamaha are making strides that Onkyo can’t quite match. All the same, there’s nothing wrong with the 575, which manages to impress.

It loses quite a bit from its bigger brother, including the wireless connections and a few HDMI inputs, but if you aren’t concerned with those, this may be ideal – especially if you have a smaller room to deal with, or fewer speakers. And you still get a decent amount for your money: 7.2 channels, the standard Dolby and DTS surround functions, and some good power. Don’t expect audio quality to be fantastic – at this price range, almost all components, from amps to digital-to-analogue converters, are off-the-shelf, meaning there’s less variance in audio style between brands. Regardless, it will still function as a good quarterback for your home theater, and we do recommend it.


3. Sony STR-DN1080 ($598)

Channels: 7.2

Surround Tech: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X

Wattage Per Channel (RMS) : Unknown

What We Like: Terrific sound and user interface.

What We Don’t: Doesn’t quite compete with bigger models.

We loved the STRDN1060, which we reviewed in full some time back. This is a superb update, with excellent sound quality for the price, which adds in a slew of useful features. While it doesn’t compete with models like the Denon AVR-S730H in terms of sound quality, it’s got a lot of energy: 165 watts, more than triple that of the Marantz NR1607. We prefer that model for value, but this is a true wall-shaker – if you need it to be.

We also love Sony’s interface, which continues from the one present on 1060, and is very easy to use. The sound quality is good, too – far better than we’d expect from a budget unit. We appreciate the fact that it not only has Dolby Atmos and DTS:X functionality (not usually seen at this price range) but also DSD functionality. That means it can play ultra-high-resolution audio files; a nice touch, and not one you see often. Here’s to the…1090? 1100? What we wouldn’t give for some original receiver names…Anyway, if you’ve got around $600 to spend, this is the one you should go for.


2. Marantz NR1607 ($499)

Channels: 7.2

Surround Sound: Dolby (Various), DTS (Various)

Wattage Per Channel (RMS) : 50/8Ω, 2ch Driven

What We Like: Slim profile, good features, looks great.

What We Don’t: Lacks power.

Most other roundups would automatically stick the newer, more powerful and way more expensive SR8012 in this spot. We won’t. It’s still on our list – just much lower down – because it doesn’t offer nearly as much value as this slim, silver beastie. For under $500, you get a receiver that looks as good as it sounds, and offers some very solid features.

It doesn’t have the power of the models above it – 50 watts compared to the cheaper Denon AVR-S730H’s 75 watts. Pump it to high volumes, and the mids start to get a little bit thin and insubstantial. Sadly, this means it’ll never beat out the models above it, but it does certainly put a lot back on the table: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, room EQ, excellent sound quality at lower volumes, and smart TV connectivity. Beware: there’s no Alexa functionality, so this isn’t the ideal receiver for smart homes. However, if you aren’t interested in smart functions, and have a slightly smaller space that you need to fill, this receiver could be the perfect balance of sound quality and feature set.


1. Denon AVR-S730H ($349)


Channels: 7.2

Surround Sound: Dolby (Various), DTS (Various)

Wattage Per Channel (RMS): 75/8Ω, 2ch Driven

What We Like: You get an unbelievable amount for your money.

What We Don’t: HEOS music system is a bit weird.

For most people, this is, by far, the best receiver available. Unless you demand the absolute best in audio quality and connectivity, it has just about everything you could possibly need. Honestly, we can’t believe it costs less than $500. Very few receivers deliver 7.2-channel audio that sounds quite this good, with this much depth and intensity to the sound. You could argue that the Sony STR-DN1080, below, sounds better, but it’s more expensive than this model, and doesn’t offer quite as much.

Because, boy, did Denon deliver with the feature range. To start, you get Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound processing – which is almost unheard of in this price range. You also get full Bluetooth connectivity, a range of HDMI inputs and outputs, Audyssey MultEQ to customize the sound to your room (with accompanying app) and the ability to link to smart TVs. Speaking of smart gear: you can use the HEOS functionality to add Amazon Alexa to the mix. For the record, we think that’s the one aspect that could use some improvement. It’s a little finicky to use – which is a minor point, but worth mentioning. For almost every person looking to buy a receiver, this is going to be the best choice. Unless you need the war-snorting power of something like the Arcam receiver, below, – and have the funds to match – you should absolutely buy this one.

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