AV Receiver Reviews

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Daniel Kumin  |  May 08, 2024  |  4 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $6,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
15 x 150 watts of power
Audyssey and Dirac (extra-cost) room correction
Comprehensive surround and up-mixing abilities
Flexible amplifier, channel assignments
HEOS multiroom/streaming ecosystem
Minus
No system-wide user-presets
HEOS streaming omits some services

THE VERDICT
A flagship AV receiver fully worthy of the name.

Remember when cars ran on gasoline, cell phones flipped, and you needed a forklift to get a flagship-model AV receiver onto your equipment rack?

Denon does. Its new pennant-flying model, the AVR-A1H, clocks in at an impressive 71 pounds. And while I managed to hoist our sample onto my rack unaided—mostly because I was too abashed to ask for help—if I’d had a forklift I for damned sure would have used it.

Daniel Kumin  |  Aug 23, 2023  |  6 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,800

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive amplifier power, dynamics, and quality
Simple, straightforward ergonomics
THX-Select certified
Full-bandwidth Dirac Live included
Minus
No global user-preset feature
Limited on-board streaming

THE VERDICT
A powerful, fine-performing 11-channel amplifier section anchors a flagship AVR that delivers the goods and is mostly free of excess baggage.

It’s been a few years since I’ve had a big Onkyo AV receiver under the operating lights. And the brand’s new flagship model, the TX-RZ70, certainly qualifies: nearly 8 inches tall and some 19 inches deep, and tipping the beam at almost 50 pounds, the TX-RZ70 is no lightweight. As a line-topping design it incorporates all the lead features you’d expect: 11 channels of on-board power, Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D object-oriented surround decoding, 8K HDMI 2.1 all around, and THX Reference certification, plus Dirac Live room-correction EQ with Dirac’s Bass Control.

Daniel Kumin  |  Jun 16, 2023  |  5 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Audyssey XT32 room correction, with extra-cost Dirac Live option
9 powered channels enable a full Atmos/DTS:X layout
4 discrete subwoofer outputs to integrate and EQ multiple subs
Handy global-preset feature
Minus
HEOS app required for streaming music services
Non-backlit remote

THE VERDICT
All the important features, enough channels for Atmos/X, and enough watts for a large majority of systems, all with top-shelf sonics, and all for a reasonable price.

For at least two decades now, designers have been managing to deliver more and more features, power, and audio/video finesse, for fewer and fewer dollars—or at least, no more—with every passing model year. Denon’s latest lineup ably illustrates the trend and the one in the spotlight here, the $1700 AVR-X3800H, is going to hit a lot of budget sweet-spots.

Daniel Kumin  |  Jan 17, 2023  |  6 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Audyssey room correction (Dirac Live coming soon)
9 powered channels for full Atmos/DTS:X
Precisely integrate up to four subs via Audyssey
Full compatibility with Marantz/Denon’s HEOS
Two-way Bluetooth (for wireless headphones, speakers)
Minus
Native streaming mostly requires HEOS app
No affirmation of surround mode (Atmos) when streaming from TV

THE VERDICT
A refined AVR offering 9-channel power for a full Atmos or DTS:X setup. It has excellent room-correction capabilities with an innovative multiple-subwoofer option.

With the advent of features such as room correction, object-oriented surround, and networked/wireless streaming (to name but three), AV receivers have become more elaborate than ever. So much so that just to enumerate all the features and functions of the Cinema 50, the next-to-top model in Marantz's newest AVR lineup, would easily exceed the column inches allotted to this entire report; pity the poor AV reviewer! (I know you all do.)

Daniel Kumin  |  Aug 25, 2022  |  18 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Dirac Live and Pioneer MCACC room/speaker correction
9 powered channels for driving a 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos or DTS:X system
HDMI 2.1, 8K-ready with variable refresh on all inputs
Minus
Small, unlit remote
Cheesy speaker-out terminals
Can’t store Dirac and MCACC “runs” simultaneously

THE VERDICT
The Pioneer VSX-LX505 provides a lot of bang for your buck, including nine channels for powering a full Dolby Atmos or DTS:X setup and two excellent auto-EQ options.

Pioneer's VSX-LX505 Elite A/V receiver represents a new generation of reasonably priced AVRs that boast up-to-date technology and enough channels to rock a full 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos or DTS:X surround setup with four height speakers without having to rely on an outboard amplifier to power "extra" channels. And that's not its only marquee feature: The LX505 is Roon Tested to ensure compatibility with the music-management/streaming software, supports HDMI 2.1/4K passthrough on its main HDMI inputs and outputs, and is certified to work with Sonos systems. It also supports 8K video and incorporates Dirac Live room/speaker-correction EQ technology along with Pioneer's proprietary MCACC (Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration) system.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 04, 2022  |  1 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $8,550

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent A/V performance
Processes up to 16 channels
HDMI 2.1 connections support 4K/120, 8K/60 video pass-through
Minus
Expensive
Complex Dirac Live setup
Onboard amplification limited to seven channels
Glitchy operation

THE VERDICT
The JBL SDR-38 is expensive, but offers exceptional A/V performance. The effects of its Dirac Live room EQ are rewarding, though the setup process can be frustratingly complex.

Up until a few years ago, the heart of a JBL Synthesis installation was the brand's Synthesis SDP-75—basically a rebadged Trinnov Altitude surround preamp-processor. But in 2017, JBL's parent company Harman International bought British audio manufacturer Arcam, and the lights went on. Could they take the already well-regarded Arcam line of AVRs and A/V processors, alter their cosmetics, maybe add a bit of Synthesis secret sauce, and rebadge them as JBL Synthesis models at prices dramatically lower than the nosebleed-level Trinnov?

Daniel Kumin  |  Feb 23, 2022  |  8 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,099

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Onboard Dirac Live room/speaker correction
Nine amp channels for a full Atmos/DTS:X experience
Multiple HDMI 2.1 connections with 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz support
Minus
Small remote control a bit cramped
Somewhat light-duty casing and speaker outputs

THE VERDICT
This affordable Onkyo AVR renders powerful Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound via its nine built-in amp channels, and it brings the considerable benefits of Dirac Live room EQ as well.

The arrival of yet another A/V receiver doesn't usually engender much excitement here at S&V's currently sub-arctic regional headquarters in New England. But Onkyo's new TX-NR7100 is not "just another" receiver. First, the TX-NR7100 features a true nine-channel-power layout, which makes possible a full 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos system without supplemental amplification within hollerin' distance of the magical ten-Benjamins line. Just as notably, it's among the first affordably priced AVRs to incorporate Dirac Live, the eponymous Swedish tech firm's widely praised room/speaker-correction software system, at no extra cost.

Daniel Kumin  |  Nov 24, 2021  |  4 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,200

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Tremendous surround configurability
Solid multichannel power and sound quality
Powerful Scene memory system
Minus
Complex setup
Limited remote control direct-access to inputs, surround modes
YPAO auto-EQ less accurate than other solutions

THE VERDICT
Yamaha’s high-end AVR offers everything but the kitchen sink, plus solid audio quality and the company’s unique DSP-surround.

The first A/V receiver I ever reviewed had four channels and five inputs. That was back in nineteen eighty sev...well, never you mind when it was. My point is, AVRs have changed a bit.

Michael Trei  |  Dec 30, 2020  |  10 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $600

AT A GLANCE
Plus
HDMI 2.1-ready (via firmware update)
Versatile speaker switching
Built-in phono preamp
Minus
Small front panel and onscreen displays
Lacks analog video connections

THE VERDICT
Yamaha's latest mid-priced A/V receiver promises—and delivers—cutting-edge features at an unprecedented price.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 11, 2020  |  5 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Superb performance
Pre-amplifier Mode
Excellent onscreen setup guidance
Minus
Runs hot
Non-backlit remote

THE VERDICT
Denon’s 11-channel AVR does its formidable job with great style. It may have a few quirks, but none detract from its exceptional audio and video performance.

Denon's AVR-X6700H, made in Japan, is one of four new models in the company's X-Series A/V receiver family. The new models start at $849 for the AVR-X2700H and extend up to $2,499 for the AVR-X6700H under review here. (The company's current $4,000 AVR-X8500H carries on as the X-Series flagship.) The AVR-X6700H is notable for its next-gen HDMI 2.1 connectivity, which supports pass-through of 8K video and multiple gaming-oriented features.

John Sciacca  |  May 27, 2020  |  14 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Striking front panel display
Excellent sound quality
Effective Dirac Live room correction
Future-ready MDC chassis
Minus
No analog video inputs
HDMI Out 2 only supports 1080p

THE VERDICT
Those who value sound quality will find much to love about the T 778, which features BluOS multiroom music streaming and Dirac Live room correction, along with an upgradeable chassis to prevent obsolescence.

While entry-level surround systems move increasingly toward less complicated designs that pair soundbars with wireless speakers and subs, the A/V receiver remains the steadfast workhorse of the media room. As such, it is arguably the most important component in your system, handling all audio/video switching, amplification, audio and room correction processing, and often much more. And as systems move from 5.1- to 11.2-channels-plus, the AVR is being called on to do even more.

Daniel Kumin  |  Jan 22, 2020  |  2 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Fine amplifier power and sonics
Subwoofer output
Full-sized, full-function remote control
Bluetooth streaming
Minus
No USB type-B input for computer connection
No onboard Wi-Fi
Limited ergonomics

THE VERDICT
Cambridge Audio's stereo receiver may be simple, but it features an excellent amplifier, solid DAC performance, and a useful FM tuner.

They still make stereo receivers? Who knew! But seriously, folks—I'm here all week. Stale humor aside, there will always be a sure market for high-quality audio playback, with access to terrestrial-broadcast radio, AKA good old FM, and a basic feature set for hooking up outboard components. And Cambridge Audio's AXR100 is one of a small but growing cadre of current-day stereo receivers aiming to satisfy it.

Rob Sabin  |  Dec 24, 2019  |  5 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Audiophile-quality sonics
Easy access to networked and internet-streamed music
Extensive HDMI switching
Minus
Non-backlit remote

THE VERDICT
Denon’s modern take on the classic stereo receiver delivers excellent sound quality, video switching for 2-channel home theater, and all the amenities of an app-driven, internet-connected music system.

As I uncrated the Denon DRA-800H stereo receiver and set it on my rack for review, I was struck by a powerful wave of nostalgia. Back in my early days of audiophilia, stereo—no wait, stereo and vinyl—was pretty much the game. Buying a basic receiver was a typical rite of passage for a high school or college student back then, and it was staring at rows of them at the local TV/appliance store—with their shiny brushed chrome faceplates, dials and buttons, and backlit tuning displays—that got me hooked on audio in the first place.

Michael Trei  |  Oct 09, 2019  |  6 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Punchy, music-friendly sonics
Flexible speaker configuration options
HEOS wireless streaming
Minus
Limited custom installation features
Non-backlit remote

THE VERDICT
Marantz’s SR6014 proves that an A/V receiver can deliver both great music performance and the latest home theater audio formats, all at an affordable price.

Marantz has been a premium audio brand for more than 65 years, so it makes sense that the company's A/V receivers focus squarely on audio performance, rather than racking up loads of home theater bells and whistles only a few will use. But while it's clear that Marantz's offerings tip the scale a bit more toward music enthusiasts than the custom installation scene, the new SR6014 isn't some stripped-down product aimed at hair shirt-wearing audiophiles. Instead, it's a bang-up-to-date home theater receiver that ticks off all the boxes for most-wanted surround sound features.

Michael Trei  |  Jul 03, 2019  |  15 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
IMAX Enhanced certified
Nine channel amp for flexibility
Extensive wireless options
Minus
Ample power for a medium-size room
Limited crossover control Non-illuminated remote

THE VERDICT
Pioneer's first A/V receiver to carry IMAX Enhanced certification offers fine sound and bang- up-to-date technology at a mid-level price.

More than any other category of home theater gear, A/V receivers are subject to an ever-evolving list of "must have" technologies. The required logos for each of these licensed features now forms a long row extending the full width of most receivers, with IMAX Enhanced counting as the latest logo gunning for real estate on any AVR that wants to be up-to-date.

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