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  • Denon has announced plans to offer a free HDMI adapter kit to owners of the AVR-X3700H to address the 4K 120 Hz pass-through issue. You can read more here.

May 17, 2021

If you’re trying to get as close as possible to re-creating a genuine movie-theater experience at home, there's just no replacement for a good AV receiver. Think of it as the traffic cop of your audio-video system, routing video from your sources to your display and sending audio to your speakers. Some AV receivers do much more than that—for a price. Which AV receiver is right for you depends on your needs, so we offer multiple recommendations for different situations.

The Yamaha RX-V6A sounds amazing for the price and is absolutely feature-packed. It offers seven channels of speaker amplification and Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding, plus the ability to set up two overhead audio channels for even more immersive sound. You get seven HDMI inputs, three of which are HDMI 2.1 compatible (although there are some caveats, which we’ll dig into below). You can stream music wirelessly via Bluetooth and AirPlay 2, as well as Yamaha’s own MusicCast multiroom wireless streaming platform. MusicCast also lets you add wireless surround-sound speakers and a wireless sub to cut down on cable clutter, although doing so negates one of the RX-V6A’s most compelling features: It has surprisingly good room correction for a receiver in its price range, which in our tests gave it a clear sonic advantage over similarly priced competitors. The RX-V6A also benefits from a sleek aesthetic that you’ll definitely appreciate if you install your AV receiver in an open-air cabinet or other visible location.

The Denon AVR-S750H delivers everything that most home-cinema fans want and need, but it lacks some of the latest features that may be important for gamers and 8K TV owners. This receiver has seven channels of speaker amplification with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding, plus full-featured streaming support including Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, and Heos (Denon’s own multiroom wireless streaming platform). Its six HDMI inputs support many of the most compelling features of the HDMI 2.1 standard, including eARC (for better audio from your TV) and automatic low-latency mode (which allows devices to automatically detect and switch into the best mode for gaming). But it lacks support for other gaming-friendly HDMI 2.1 features like variable refresh rate and the ability to pass 4K video at 120 Hz. What we like most about the AVR-S750H are the little touches—such as the simple, clear on-screen menus and the automatic naming of HDMI sources—that make it easy to install and use, so anyone can get great performance out of it, even if they’ve never used a receiver before.

For the movie lover willing to pay more to get a higher-quality, more immersive home theater experience, we recommend the Denon AVR-X3700H. This receiver sounds better than the under-$1,000 models we tested, thanks in large part to its more advanced Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction. The 9.2-channel AVR-X3700H includes two additional amp channels that you can use to power more height channels or a pair of speakers in a separate audio zone. It also features more HDMI inputs—eight in total—but only one is fully HDMI 2.1 compliant. This receiver offers some HDMI 2.1 features that the Yamaha RX-V6A currently lacks (though again there are caveats that we’ll discuss below). It also has an improved user interface with sharper graphics, as well as better multiroom capabilities to send AV signals around your house. But it does represent a big step up in price over our other picks.

If you want to assemble a basic 5.1-channel surround-sound system—or you already have a 5.1-channel system and need to upgrade to a receiver that supports 4K and high dynamic range (HDR) video—the Denon AVR-S540BT is a good option for around $300. Like the AVR-S750H, this receiver is easy to set up and use, and it performs well. It has five HDMI inputs, more than other receivers in its price category, but it can stream music only over Bluetooth, not Wi-Fi platforms like AirPlay 2 and Heos.

Everything we recommend

Why you should trust us

Dennis Burger has been reviewing AV equipment for going on two decades now for publications ranging from Robb Report Home Entertainment to Home Theater magazine and HomeTheaterReview.com. Over the years, he has auditioned more receivers, preamps, and amplifiers than he cares to count, and in recent years he has devoted an inordinate amount of time to learning about and testing room-correction systems of all varieties.

Some of this guide is based on the work of Wirecutter senior staff writer Chris Heinonen, who has spent hundreds of hours over the past few years testing AV receivers for previous versions of this guide.

Who this is for

Today’s soundbars offer a level of audio performance that would have been unimaginable 10 years ago, but they still have limitations in performance and flexibility. For those who want to get closest to the movie-theater experience at home, who have multiple sources to connect, and who want more flexibility in speaker selection and setup, an AV receiver is the way to go.

If your current AV receiver works with all your AV components and has all the features you desire, you don’t really need to upgrade, as you likely wouldn’t hear improved sound quality with a newer model unless you were to upgrade to one with better room correction.

An AV receiver is the core of most home theater systems. It combines source switching, audio (and sometimes video) processing, speaker amplification, and volume control in one box. Plug your source components—your media streamer, gaming console, cable or satellite receiver, and disc player—into its inputs, then connect its outputs to your display and speakers, and an AV receiver will direct all of the AV signals to the right places and in the right formats.

An AV receiver can also serve as a music hub for your home, since many can connect to your home network and stream audio around the house via platforms such as AirPlay 2, Chromecast, or proprietary systems, like Denon’s Heos and Yamaha’s MusicCast, that are designed to compete with the likes of Sonos. Many receivers include built-in music streaming services such as Pandora, Sirius XM, Spotify Connect, and Tidal, along with the ability to connect directly to internet radio stations and local DLNA media servers. And for those who prefer a more traditional approach, some receivers allow you to distribute audio sources (and sometimes video, too) to a second zone via wired connections.

If your current AV receiver works with all your AV components and has all the features you desire, you don’t really need to upgrade, as you likely wouldn’t hear improved sound quality with a newer model unless you were to upgrade to one with better room correction. But if you’ve recently purchased a new 4K HDR TV and 4K HDR source devices, an older AV receiver may lack the ability to pass through those higher-quality signals (a really old receiver may lack HDMI connections altogether). All of our current recommendations support 4K HDR displays and sources.

Many new AV receivers also support Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, newer sound formats designed to add an overhead element to the typical ear-level surround sound available for decades. To enjoy Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound to its fullest, you need to add height speakers or buy special Atmos-enabled speakers (you can read more about that topic in our guide to the best surround-sound speaker system), and you need an AV receiver that can decode these formats and provide power to more speakers.

Best surround-sound speakers

How to shop for an AV receiver

AV receivers run the price gamut from a couple hundred dollars to well into four-figure territory. Our focus here is on receivers that strike a good balance of performance, features, and value, so all of our picks are priced below $1,500. The serious audio or home theater enthusiast may choose to spend more money to get more power (which may be important if your speakers are difficult to drive), more amplified channels, more setup and customization options, and better build quality.

Because our goal was to recommend different receivers for different needs, we didn’t set a lot of minimum spec requirements to limit what models we considered. But there are certain key specs that you should consider when you begin your receiver search:

How many channels of speaker amplification do you need?

A basic home theater configuration requires a 5.1-channel receiver to power two front speakers, a center-channel speaker, and two surround speakers. The “5” in this case refers to the number of amplified channels, and the “.1” stands for the subwoofer, which usually has its own amplifier built in so your receiver won’t need to provide it with power. Many mid- and higher-priced receivers are labeled as “.2” instead of “.1,” which means they have two subwoofer outputs that you may or may not be able to set up and adjust independently.

Most receivers priced around $300 or less are 5.1-channel designs. Moving up to a 7.1-channel receiver gives you the option to add an extra pair of surround speakers, power a second audio zone, or build a basic Dolby Atmos/DTS:X system—provided the receiver has Atmos and DTS:X decoding (most newer 7.1-channel models do). Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks include overhead or “height” effects to make the audio experience even more immersive. The more height speakers you add, the more convincing the effect—but that requires more amp channels, which leads to a more expensive AV receiver.

With Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, the channel counting gets a little more complicated. You might, for example, see designations like “5.1.2” or “5.2.4.” The first numeral here refers to the number of conventional ear-level speakers, the second refers to the number of subwoofer outputs, and the third refers to the number of overhead channels. Since the subwoofer is typically self-powered, to figure out how many amplified channels a receiver has, or how many you need, you simply add the first and third numeral. So, a 5.1.2-channel receiver has seven amplified channels and might also be referred to as a 7.1-channel receiver.

How many sources do you plan to connect?

Your receiver needs to be able to connect all the HDMI source devices you have, which could include a cable box or DVR, a Blu-ray player, a gaming console, and a media streamer. Five HDMI ports is probably the right number for most people, as it gives you inputs for every source you’re likely to use in your home theater, with the option to add one or two more. You should also consider how many non-HDMI-equipped sources you want to connect and make sure the receiver has enough digital or analog inputs to accept them. If you have a turntable that lacks a phono preamp, you may want a receiver with a phono input.

How to connect a turntable

Which HDMI 2.1 features do you need?

HDMI 2.1 is the newest version of the digital connection that all current video-based components use. The connector remains the same, but version 2.1 adds many new features, including support for 8K resolution by way of an increase in the maximum bandwidth from 18 Gbps to 48 Gbps (though all of the currently available HDMI 2.1–equipped receivers max out at 40 Gbps). Other noteworthy enhancements include automatic low-latency mode (which allows devices to automatically detect and switch to the best mode for gaming), eARC (which allows for higher-quality lossless audio over the HDMI Audio Return Channel instead of only compressed formats), variable refresh rate, and quick media switching.

An AV receiver can list features of the HDMI 2.1 specification even if it supports only one or two of them, which certainly creates confusion for shoppers. Many current AV receivers and TVs support eARC, some support automatic low-latency mode, and some support variable refresh rate. But only a few of the newest receivers support the higher bandwidth necessary for 4K 120 Hz gaming and 8K video. Make sure to read the fine print (or our discussions below) to pick a receiver that supports the HDMI 2.1 features you need.

What type of streaming audio support do you want?

Even folks with extensive physical music collections likely stream much of their music from the internet, so a receiver needs some way of supporting streaming audio apps like Pandora and Spotify. With a budget receiver priced under $300, you’re likely to get only Bluetooth support. As you move up in price, you can expect the ability to connect to a home network (check for a wired or wireless network connection, if you have a preference) and support for services like Pandora and Spotify built in (so you don’t have to cast the audio from your phone), as well as support for streaming protocols such as Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast. If you already own Wi-Fi speakers that use a certain platform (such as AirPlay), you may want to look for a receiver that features the same streaming technology so that all the devices will work well together.

What level of room correction are you willing to pay for?

Room-correction systems make the biggest impact on how a receiver sounds to most listeners. People rarely have perfect listening rooms, and speakers (especially subwoofers) often end up in spots where they are unobtrusive instead of where they sound the best. Room correction helps to improve the overall sound quality by using microphones and built-in software to estimate how your room and speaker placement are distorting the sound and to attempt to compensate for those distortions. Lots of receivers offer basic room correction, but when you invest in a more advanced room-correction technology such as Audyssey MultEQ XT32 or Dirac (both of which are proprietary systems that can appear in various brands of AV receivers), you get the ability to customize the type of corrections and account for multiple subwoofers, and these systems do a better job of tuning the sound without making it seem dull or overly processed.

In the price ranges we tested, we were unable to tell most receivers apart in blind testing when their room correction was not enabled. We found that the type of room correction in use had the biggest impact on sound quality, providing big benefits for some receivers and only smaller improvements for others.

How we tested

When testing each receiver, we considered its sonic performance and its ease of setup and everyday use. We performed blind A/B testing between receivers using an ABX test box from Audio by Van Alstine, which let us instantly switch between two different receivers to determine which one sounded better, with and without room correction enabled.

In previous tests, Chris Heinonen used KEF Reference In-Wall THX speakers and a subwoofer from Power Sound Audio for the majority of his testing. In our latest round of testing, Dennis Burger relied primarily on a CG3 speaker system from RSL Speakers and connected every receiver to a Vizio P-Series TV, a Sony PlayStation 4, a Roku Ultra, an Amazon Fire TV, and an Oppo Ultra HD Blu-ray player to see how easy it was to set up the system—including the Audio Return Channel (ARC) function—and switch between sources.

A great future-proof receiver: Yamaha RX-V6A

The Yamaha RX-V6A, our pick for the best AV receiver.

Who it’s for: If you want a great all-purpose 7.1-channel receiver that won't feel outdated in a couple of years but is still priced well below $1,000, we recommend the Yamaha RX-V6A. It has enough inputs for all of your source devices—from your streaming video player to your turntable—and it’s easy enough to set up and operate. Even if you have only a 5.1-channel speaker system right now, it’s nice to have the two extra amp channels to add height speakers or a second audio zone down the road. The RX-V6A is a great choice if you’re thinking of buying a 4K TV that supports 4K video at 120 Hz along with a source that can generate such video signals, such as the PlayStation 5—since it has (or will soon have) the HDMI 2.1 features that gamers need.

Why it’s great: The Yamaha RX-V6A is an excellent performer that should serve most people’s movie and music needs right now, and we expect Yamaha to add a few key features via firmware update very soon (maybe by the time you’re reading this) that will appeal to gamers. It has plenty of inputs, including a phono input to connect a turntable, and it has seven channels of amplification, with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding to add overhead sound effects. In addition, it’s loaded with all the music streaming platforms and services you’re likely to subscribe to, and it sounds great thanks to a room-correction feature—multi-point measurements—that we just don’t expect to see on a $600 AV receiver.

During our blind listening tests, we found that we were unable to tell most of these receivers apart when their room correction was disabled. The quality of the room correction had the biggest impact on the sound, and the RX-V6A’s YPAO (Yamaha Parametric room Acoustic Optimizer) room-correction system helped it deliver better results than what we heard from anything else near its price. After we ran the room correction, the RX-V6A’s sound was more open, more detailed, and more dynamic than that of anything else under $1,000, which really makes a difference when you’re listening to music.

What distinguishes the RX-V6A’s room correction is the ability to place the included microphone in multiple positions while you’re taking your measurements. This gives the YPAO system a more comprehensive snapshot of your room’s acoustics, allowing it to correct the problems affecting all (or at least most) of the seating positions in your home theater or media room without overly deadening the sound—an issue that affects most room-correction systems in this price range and virtually all of the systems that rely on only one measurement position. YPAO is not quite as advanced as the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 technology built into the more expensive Denon AVR-X3700H, though, with less-refined delivery of the very deepest bass notes, those below 30 Hz. But if you’re buying a cheap subwoofer to connect to a $600 AV receiver, the subwoofer is unlikely to generate bass that deep anyway (our budget subwoofer pick, the Dayton Audio SUB-1200, is a rare exception).

Streaming-music aficionados will appreciate that the RX-V6A supports Bluetooth and AirPlay 2, with built-in Amazon Music, Deezer, Napster, Pandora, SiriusXM, Spotify Connect, Tidal, and more. It also supports Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri voice control, and it features Yamaha’s proprietary MusicCast system, a multiroom wireless music ecosystem similar to Denon’s Heos and standalone systems like Sonos.

The MusicCast technology allows you to wirelessly connect your surround speakers and subwoofer, but it has some limitations. You need to use Yamaha’s own MusicCast 20 or MusicCast 50 wireless speakers as rear speakers and its MusicCast SUB 100 for bass. Wireless front speakers aren’t supported, so you still need to connect a left, right, and center speaker with speaker cables, as well as overhead speakers if you’re configuring an Atmos/DTS:X system. There are also some other limitations that we’ll detail in the next section.

The back of the Yamaha RX-V6A AV receiver, showing the various ports.

As for physical connectivity, the RX-V6A is rather generous in its HDMI connections but pretty sparse on the analog side of things. It sports four stereo RCA inputs, one of them an MM phono input to connect a turntable, and that’s it as far as support for analog source devices. It has no composite or component video inputs to connect older video sources. You get seven HDMI inputs, and all of them support 4K HDR (including Dolby Vision and Hybrid Log Gamma). Three of them boast some level of HDMI 2.1 compliance, and the HDMI output supports eARC. Most of the HDMI 2.1 features—such as quick media switching, quick frame transport, variable refresh rate, automatic low-latency mode, and the ability to pass uncompressed 4K 120 Hz video—were still dormant when we reviewed the RX-V6A, but Yamaha says these features will be added in a spring or summer 2021 firmware update. More advanced features such as 8K video passthrough should come later, possibly this fall.

Finally, we simply love the way the RX-V6A looks. This may not be a big concern for most AV receiver shoppers, but the sleek aesthetic of this Yamaha receiver sets it apart from most of its competition, regardless of price, which you’re likely to appreciate if you install your home theater gear on an open-air shelf or tabletop.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The RX-V6A’s HDMI chipset has an incompatibility issue with the Xbox Series X that prevents it from passing through 4K 120 Hz video signals correctly. This appears to be a problem with all of the brand-new “8K-compatible” receivers, not just Yamaha’s. If the Xbox Series X is your next-generation gaming console of choice, just know that you’ll have to route a 4K 120 Hz HDMI signal directly to your TV and rely on eARC to deliver the audio signal to your receiver. But if you’re a PlayStation 5 owner or a PC gamer, you should be able to route 4K 120 Hz signals as soon as the RX-V6A’s next major firmware update is released, likely before June 2021.

You need to download Yamaha’s mobile app (available for iOS and Android devices) to access the sort of intuitive setup wizard that Denon builds into its receivers, or you can work your way through the less-intuitive on-screen menus of the RX-V6A. Setup is still fairly straightforward overall, and the RX-V6A’s menus are pretty easy to figure out. But they could be better.

The remote control of the Yamaha RX-V6A.

One thing that makes the setup process only fairly straightforward instead of completely straightforward is the fact that the RX-V6A’s remote is sparse and not very responsive. We found ourselves frequently aiming the remote at the receiver, pressing a button, thinking the receiver didn’t receive the command, and pressing it again, only to cancel out the command we sent to begin with. The remote also lacks backlighting, so it’s hard to use in the dark beyond simple commands like volume control. If you use a universal remote to control your whole entertainment system, this will be less of a concern.

Our biggest frustration is that adding wireless surround-sound speakers to the RX-V6A disables the ability to use the YPAO room-correction system’s multi-point measurement capabilities, which is one of this receiver’s most significant selling points. Measuring your room from only one seating position results in noticeably less-refined room correction and more inconsistent performance from seat to seat. Also, for high-resolution audio fans: You cannot play DSD audio files when using wireless surrounds, nor does the receiver decode audio from SACD or DVD-Audio discs sent via HDMI.

A great choice for non-gamers: Denon AVR-S750H

The front of the Denon AVR-S750H AV receiver.

Who it’s for: If you’re not interested in the newest generation of video game consoles (and thus don’t need all the new HDMI 2.1 features) and you simply want a great 7.1-channel receiver that supports all the 4K video formats used in movies and TV shows, the Denon AVR-S750H is our recommendation. You might want only a 5.1-channel configuration now, but it’s good to have the option to set up a basic Dolby Atmos/DTS:X system in the future. We also recommend the AVR-S750H for those who are new to AV receivers and need one that’s easy to set up and use.

Why it’s great: The Denon AVR-S750H ticks all the necessary boxes. It has plenty of inputs, including a phono input to connect a turntable. It has seven channels of amplification, and it’s loaded with all the desirable music streaming platforms and services. But perhaps most important, the guided setup makes getting your system up and running very easy. Plus, this receiver sounds very good when you use the basic Audyssey MultEQ room correction—and it can sound great if you’re willing to put a little extra work into the room-calibration process.

Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support, along with seven channels of amplification, lets you enjoy a more immersive audio experience than you can get from a basic 5.1 system. But if you can’t run surround speakers or height-channel speakers in your room, the AVR-S750H also includes speaker-virtualization technology (similar to that found in many soundbars) to simulate surround sound from the front channels. And if you’re doing only a 5.1-channel setup, you can use the two extra amp channels to power stereo speakers in a second audio zone.

The sonic results of the basic Audyssey MultEQ room correction aren’t quite as refined as those of the Yamaha RX-V6A’s YPAO system across the entire audible spectrum, so if you were to compare the two, you might notice that the sound isn’t as open and spacious, and that high frequencies are slightly dulled. But it does have a couple of advantages that put it on more equal footing with Yamaha’s room correction. First, it does a better job of taming the very deepest bass frequencies, which you’ll appreciate if you have a subwoofer that puts out a notable amount of bass below 30 Hz. Secondly, the AVR-S750H is compatible with the MultEQ Editor app for iOS and Android devices. This $20 app greatly expands the capabilities of Audyssey MultEQ, allowing you to customize the receiver’s sound to a significant degree. It doesn’t deliver results as advanced as what you get from the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 technology built into the more expensive Denon AVR-X3700H, and it can’t calibrate two subwoofers individually, but if you’re willing to spend the extra money on the app and learn a bit about room acoustics, you can still achieve very good results.

The remote control of the Denon AVR-S750H.

What truly distinguishes Denon’s receivers from the pack is how easy they are to get up and running. With an on-screen setup system that walks you through the entire process—from connecting speakers to setting up inputs to getting on Wi-Fi to running the room correction—almost anyone should be able to set up the AVR-S750H correctly. When creating inputs, the receiver automatically grabs the name of the devices connected over HDMI, so you don’t have to remember, for example, that you hooked up the Xbox to the Cable/Sat input—it will be renamed “Xbox” for you. And the inputs you don’t use are hidden in the menu. These simple little touches make the AVR-S750H one of the easiest receivers to use that we’ve ever seen.

With support for AirPlay 2, Bluetooth, Deezer, Heos (Denon’s own multiroom music platform), Pandora, Spotify Connect, TuneIn, and more, the AVR-S750H lets you stream almost anything you want without needing any extra hardware. Through the free Heos app for iOS and Android, you can launch streaming services to play directly through the receiver, so you don’t need to keep your phone in range of Bluetooth or on Wi-Fi for AirPlay.

The back of the Denon AVR-S750H AV receiver.

Six HDMI inputs, including a front-panel HDMI input, make it easy to run all of your devices through the AVR-S750H. Though it isn’t a fully HDMI 2.1–compliant receiver, it does support features such as automatic low-latency mode for video gaming and eARC for improved audio quality from TVs. You also get digital and analog audio inputs (including an MM phono input), plus a couple of composite video inputs to connect older sources.

The AVR-S750H provides other nice features, too, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility, the ability to route audio through Bluetooth headphones for nighttime listening, and a secondary audio zone that supports stereo playback of the receiver’s internal digital sources such as Spotify, as well as AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: Since the Denon AVR-S750H’s HDMI inputs are not fully HDMI 2.1 compliant, this receiver isn’t as future-ready as the Yamaha RX-V6A. You can’t pass a 4K 120 Hz signal through it, and gamers don’t get support for variable refresh rate.

Although Denon’s Heos wireless system is technically capable of supporting wireless surround-sound speakers, as evidenced by the company’s Heos Bar and Heos AVR, the AVR-S750H doesn’t support such connectivity.

The best sound quality under $1,500: Denon AVR-X3700H

The Denon AVR-X3700H AC receiver.

Who it’s for: We recommend the Denon AVR-X3700H 9.2-channel receiver for anyone who is willing to pay more to get better room correction and thus a clear sonic upgrade. It’s also a great choice for anyone who wants to add more speakers for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

Why it’s great: The Denon AVR-X3700H takes everything we like about the AVR-S750H and improves upon it. This model is a substantial upgrade to our previous pick in this category, the now-discontinued Denon AVR-X3600H, thanks to improved sonic performance and support for newer HDR video standards and other HDMI enhancements. The Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction is appreciably better than what you can find in any of our other picks, with more adjustments and the ability to calibrate two subwoofers independently. And the addition of two more amp channels allows for more speakers and improved Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersion.

The AVR-X3700H offers nine channels of amplification, so you could set up a system with five ear-level speakers, two independently measured subwoofers, and four overhead speakers. You can also reserve two of those channels for a separate stereo zone in another room. If you’re willing to add an outboard stereo amp, the AVR-X3700H has preamp outputs that allow you to expand the total speaker count to 11.

The on-screen interface has improved graphics and easier-to-read text in comparison with its predecessor. The receiver also features seven HDMI inputs, all of which support HDMI 2.1 features such as variable refresh rate, quick frame transport, and automatic low-latency mode. But only one supports 4K video at 120 Hz or 8K video at 60 Hz.

The remote control of the Denon AVR-X3700H.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: The AVR-X3700H suffers from the same HDMI 2.1 bug as the Yamaha RX-V6A and all current “8K-compatible” AV receivers do—they can’t pass a 4K 120 Hz signal from the Xbox Series X. Denon has introduced an HDMI adapter box that solves this problem, and owners of the AVR-X3700H can request the free box beginning May 15, 2021—but it does add another small piece of equipment to your gear rack. The PlayStation 5 and gaming PCs are not affected by this bug.

Although Denon’s Heos wireless system is technically capable of supporting wireless surround-sound speakers, as evidenced by the company’s Heos Bar and Heos AVR, the AVR-X3700H doesn’t support such connectivity.

An easy-to-use budget receiver: Denon AVR-S540BT

The Denon AVR-S540BT AV receiver.

Who it’s for: If you want to assemble a basic 5.1-channel surround-sound system and you don’t have much (or any) experience setting one up, we recommend the Denon AVR-S540BT. It’s also an affordable choice for anyone who already has a simple 5.1 system in place but needs to upgrade their receiver because it can’t do 4K or HDR.

Why it’s great: Because the Denon AVR-S540BT doesn’t have a lot of features, it’s particularly easy to set up, even if you don’t have much experience. On-screen prompts and a well-labeled back panel make it simple to get everything running correctly even if you’re a rookie.

The back of the AVR-S540BT AV receiver.

The AVR-S540BT provides fewer inputs than our other picks and has no Wi-Fi or Ethernet support, but the essentials are here. Photo: Rozette Rago

The remote control of the Denon AVR-S540BT AV receiver.

The simplicity of the AVR-S540BT’s remote reflects its more stripped-down feature set. Photo: Rozette Rago

This 5.1-channel AV receiver supports high-quality Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks (but not the overhead capabilities of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X), and it offers five HDMI 2.0 inputs that support 4K HDR pass-through (but no HDMI 2.1 features), which is more than you’ll see on some comparably priced models. You also get a front-panel USB port, plus three digital inputs and a pair of analog inputs around back. The receiver has Bluetooth for streaming audio, as well as basic room correction to make everything sound good.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: This receiver lacks Wi-Fi and integrated music streaming options. As a result, you have to use Bluetooth to stream music, so your phone or other source device needs to stay close to the receiver—or you can add an inexpensive Wi-Fi streaming device. In addition, the AVR-S540BT doesn’t have the Audyssey room correction that the higher-end Denon models offer, it lacks a front-panel HDMI input, and the speaker connections accept only pins and smaller-gauge bare wire, not banana plugs or thicker speaker wires.

What to look forward to

Anthem has introduced new upgrades to its popular MRX line in the form of the MRX 540 ($1,600), MRX 740 ($2,700), and MRX 1140 ($3,700). All three models sport some compelling new features, including IMAX Enhanced and eARC, and they use Anthem’s own outstanding room-correction system. None will support 4K 120 Hz or 8K signals at any refresh rate when they launch, but Anthem has designed the units to be hardware upgradable and promises a full 8K upgrade at some point down the road.

Klipsch’s parent company Voxx is now the official US distributor of the Onkyo and Pioneer brands, and Voxx is currently in the process of acquiring Onkyo Home Entertainment Corp, in partnership with Sharp. Onkyo previously announced several new models coming later in 2021, among them four Onkyo models priced from $500 to $1,100 and slated to ship sometime between June and August. All four support 8K video passthrough, and the two top models—the TX-NR7100 ($900) and TX-RZ50 ($1,100)—will reportedly feature Dirac Live, an advanced form of room correction that allows for even greater customization and control than you can get from Audyssey’s top-of-the-line MultEQ XT32.

Pioneer also announced three new 8K-compatible receivers: the $1,000 VSX-LX305 in June, the $700 VSX-LX105 in August, and the VSX-LX505 (release date and price unknown). The VSX-LX305 and VSX-LX505 will also support Dirac Live room correction. We don’t yet know how the sale of Onkyo Home Entertainment Corp will affect these planned releases.

The competition

Companies such as Denon and Yamaha offer a number of AV receivers at prices below, between, and above those we included in this guide. In selecting which specific models to recommend, we looked for the best mix of features, performance, and price, keeping in mind the needs of most people. But you may have specific needs that make one of the models we didn’t select a better pick for you.

For example, the new Denon AVR-S960H and AVR-X2700H are priced between the company’s AVR-S750H and AVR-X3700H, and both feature one fully compliant HDMI 2.1 input. We’ve concluded that the AVR-S960H doesn’t offer enough advantages over the AVR-S750H to justify the increased price, though. And if you’re willing to step up to the AVR-X2700H in price, you’d be better off spending a couple hundred dollars more for the superior Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction of the AVR-X3700H, even if you don’t need its extra channels of amplification.

Along the same lines, the Denon AVR-S650H falls between the AVR-S750H and the AVR-S540BT in price. It’s only a 5.1-channel model, so it doesn’t give you Dolby Atmos or DTS:X support and can’t handle a second zone of audio; you also give up the front HDMI port. But it has all the networking features of the AVR-S750H, so you don’t need to rely on Bluetooth for streaming audio, and it has the Audyssey MultEQ room correction. If you’re certain you’ll never need more than five channels of audio and don’t require a front-panel HDMI input, it offers performance very similar to that of the AVR-S750H.

Yamaha recently introduced its Aventage RX-A2A ($800). Despite its enhanced construction and other step-up features, the RX-A2A remains remarkably similar to the RX-V6A in features, channel count, power ratings, and other aspects—and as a result, the $200-cheaper RX-V6A is simply a better value. The company also offers the RX-V4A at $440, but we still think it’s worthwhile to step up to the RX-V6A, not only for its increased channel count (the RX-V4A has only five amplified channels) but also for its superior room correction, since the RX-V4A lacks multi-point measurement capabilities. Finally, the Yamaha RX-V385 is the company’s entry-level Bluetooth-only model; the comparably priced Denon AVR-S540BT is easier to set up and use.

Sony has not introduced new receivers since 2017. We previously tested the STR-DN1080, which is nearly three years old at this point so it’s missing key features such as AirPlay 2 support and any HDMI 2.1 functionality. We were not impressed with its room correction; the automatic speaker setup wasn’t terribly accurate, and the bass in music was lacking impact and detail. We also tested the Sony STR-DH790 and STR-DH590. As with the STR-DN1080, the room correction in these receivers wasn’t as accurate in detecting our speakers, and Denon’s comparable models were easier to set up.

Onkyo and Pioneer have been in limbo for a couple of years, so we were hesitant to review and recommend their receivers, but both are supposed to come back this year with new models (detailed above), some of which feature the superior Dirac Live room-correction system. Our intention is to add these to our testing once they’re released in the summer and autumn of 2021.

About your guides

Dennis Burger
Chris Heinonen

Chris Heinonen is a senior staff writer reporting on TVs, projectors, and sometimes audio gear at Wirecutter. He has been covering AV since 2008 for a number of online publications and is an ISF-certified video calibrator. He used to write computer software and hopes to never do that again, and he also loves to run and test gear for running guides.

Sours: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-receiver/

Want to find the best AV receiver for the money? I've tested some of the most popular big-black-box options from the major brands in the $500 to $700 range, and the feature sets, connectivity and performance levels are impressively high. From Dolby Atmos to Wi-Fi music streaming to voice control -- and high-quality audio -- these modern home cinema receivers offer everything a home theater enthusiast needs. 

There's one thing to take into consideration, though, especially if you're a gamer. Until recently 8K-compatible receivers have had issues displaying video from certain types of PCs and gaming consoles. So, there's one brand in particular you should be wary of in the short term. However, if you don't care about using the Xbox Series X or simply can't wait, these are the best models available right now.

Now playing:Watch this: How to buy an affordable AV receiver

2:33

Which receiver should I buy?

If you can live without the latest features -- HDMI 2.1, 8K, VRR -- then the 2019 Onkyo TX-NR696is the receiver to get. The Onkyo is an excellent performer and offers easy setup, excellent usability, solid looks and useful features, including the best streaming suite. The TX-NR696 retails for more than $500, but it is regularly on sale for under that. Even at its regular price of $599 the TX-NR696 is a great deal. Be aware that it's about to be replaced by a new model, but it will cost a whole $200 more.

Until the 4K/120Hz bug reared its head -- more on that shortly -- the Yamaha RX-V6A was my favorite receiver of the last 12 months. It offers striking looks and the performance chops to match. On the other hand, the Sony STR-DN1080 may be getting super old at this point but it still offers 4K HDR throughput, streaming capabilities and top-notch sound. (Note: It is currently marked as being discontinued on many shopping sites, but Sony has confirmed to CNET that it remains a current model.)

Why should I wait?

I would advise caution on buying a Yamaha receiver in particular right now, especially if future-proofing is something you're interested in. You see, all of the newest, 8K-compatible receivers were susceptible to a bug preventing them from displaying variable refresh rate video, and from the Xbox Series X in particular. While Denon, Marantz and Yamaha announced fixes for existing models, if you buy a Yamaha RX-V6A right now it could mean sending your new receiver in to get a mainboard replaced. Yamaha says new compliant receivers won't be available on shelves until fall.

Meanwhile Sound United, which produces Denon and Marantz receivers, says any models sold after April 2021 should be 4K/120Hz compliant. The spokesperson said that if customers are unsure whether their model is compliant or not they should contact their dealer or customer support. Older, noncompliant models are able to be rectified with a free adapter, but the company advises these dongles are now out of stock for the next five months. 

Competitor Onkyo released its $599 TX-NR5100 in mid-July 2021, and while I found it could pass 4K/120Hz I believe it's not as recommendable as the older, more capable TX-NR696 for the same money.

But is 4K/120Hz support even a big deal? There are a small handful of games that you can put into this mode -- Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and so on -- but the advantages of 4K/120Hz over 60Hz are minimal as far as we've seen so far. Future games and even video sources may make the differences clearer, and that's why you'd want a receiver that's fully compatible.

If you do buy an older receiver, don't care about the Xbox Series X, or don't want to send your 8K model to the shop, you can always hook a fancy new console directly to the TV, then use eARC to get audio to the receiver. Despite the mess AV receiver manufacturers find themselves in right now, there is one thing the following models have in common: great performance.

Best receiver overall

Onkyo TX-NR696

Sarah Tew/CNET

Nov 2019

The Onkyo TX-NR696 is the best AV home theater receiver for those looking for a budget-ish option. This receiver was released in 2019 with a wealth of connectivity that supports multiple audio formats and gives a big, bold sound. It isn't the direct replacement to my favorite receiver of 2018, the TX-NR585, but this step-up AV receiver model offers a number of improvements, including a bump in power (80 to 100 watts) and a front-mounted HDMI port, in addition to the six HDMI inputs on the back. This video and audio receiver offers streaming protocols, including built-in Chromecast, DTS Play-Fi, Spotify Connect, AirPlay and Bluetooth. If you can find the TX-NR696 under $500, that's great, but if you can't it's still worth the extra coin.

Note the forthcoming $749 TX-NR6100 has the 4K/120Hz and 8K compatibility which the NR696 lacks.

Read our Onkyo TX-NR696 review.

Best design

Yamaha RX-V6A (Update: Out of stock)

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

This Yamaha AV receiver is the best 8K receiver we've tested, but it's a pity about the lack of 4K/120Hz support right now. It's worth waiting for the newer versions to come out in the fall with VRR and Xbox Series X and PS5 compatibility. Video compatibility aside, the Yamaha RX-V6A offers a fresh look at AV receiver design with futuristic edges while also maximizing sound quality. The RX-V6A could make you forget about ever visiting a cinema again, and it's no slouch with music, either. This Yamaha receiver offers Wi-Fi connectivity, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth and Yamaha's MusicCast system for streaming from your devices. Just wait a month or two till the updated models go on sale.

Read our YAMAHA RX-V6A review.

Best for gamers, music fans

Denon AVR-S960H

Sound United

One of only two mainstream designs released in 2020, Denon's AVR-S960H may not be as glittering and shiny as the Yamaha RX-V6A, but it still offers excellent sound quality. The receiver is laid-back, blends well with forward-sounding speakers and replays music beautifully. It has almost everything you need, including 8K video, voice control via both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant speakers, Dolby Atmos, and Apple AirPlay 2. While 2019's excellent AVR-S750H is still available, if the price for the '960 is around $600 you might as well pay a bit more for the bump in features and power the S960 offers.

Be aware that versions of the Denon AVR-S960H bought before April 2021 are affected by the 4K/120Hz bug and owners should sign up for one of the free dongles. 

Read our Denon AVR-S960H review.

Best for Android users

Sony STR-DN1080

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Sony STR-DN1080 earned our Editors' Choice Award back in 2017, and despite being pretty long in the tooth it's still an excellent AV receiver package. Sound quality isn't quite as strong as those of the Denon and Onkyo, but they're all very close. If you want a receiver that offers ease of use and integrates both AirPlay (but not AirPlay 2) and Google Chromecast built-in wireless streaming, this is a great option. It even uses virtual speaker relocation technology to optimize sound in the room where you set it up. Don't pay full price, though -- it has been on sale in the past for between $400 and $500.

Read our Sony STR-DN1080 review.

What to look for in a $500-ish receiver

AV receivers are notoriously complex, with reams of features and confusing technical specifications. (For example, what's "ultra HD"?) But what are the things that really matter when buying a new model? I'm going to sum up the most important ones right here.

4K HDR compatibility

You want to make sure your new receiver can keep up with the latest TVs and video gear. Standards do change all the time, but the bare minimum right now is support for HDR and Dolby Vision, at least HDMI version 2.0 or better. All of these models support 4K and HDR video. 8K is coming, slowly, but most recorded content is still going to be in 1080p or even SD for many, many years. If future-proofing is a concern for you, the Yamaha RX-V6A and Denon AVR-S960H offer 8K and HDMI 2.1 compatibility as well. 

11-onkyo-tx-nr585-add

As many HDMI inputs as you can afford

With most TVs and set-top boxes supporting HDMI, you should buy a receiver that has as many of these HDMI input ports and outputs as possible. Front-mounted HDMI ports are kind of like an appendix -- unneeded, because most users don't hot-plug HDMI devices -- making the number of rear inputs what's most important. (How else are you going to connect your Blu-ray player, Nintendo Switch, soundbar and all your other devices?) The Sony and Onkyo in this roundup both have six rear-mounted HDMI ports while the Denon and Yamaha go one better with seven. If you want to connect two different displays -- a TV and a projector for example -- all but the Yamaha offer a second HDMI output. You should also be sure you have an extra HDMI cable or two on hand -- these things are like the second sock of a pair in that you can never find them when you need them.

You don't really need Dolby Atmos 'height' speakers

Most receivers in the $500-and-above price range include Dolby Atmos capability and DTS:X, but the effect they have on your home theater movie-watching can be subtle, or in most movies nonexistent. In other words, don't worry about missing out on these formats if you don't install an extra height speaker or two. Mounting your rear surround speakers high on the wall will get you halfway there in terms of quality, immersive sound.

Wi-Fi music streaming

Most midrange receivers have onboard Wi-Fi network connectivity for wireless music streaming through your speaker system. There are plenty of standards for wireless streaming services, but the most universal are Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay 1 and 2, and Google Chromecast built in. If you're looking to build a multiroom system with a variety of AV systems and speakers with wireless connectivity, these are the three flavors to aim for. The Onkyo and Sony are the only two devices that support all three. The Denon receiver model lacks wireless streaming via Chromecast, but ups the ante to AirPlay 2 and the proprietary HEOS system. Yamaha has its own MusicCast in the meantime.

For more general information on what you should be looking for, check out this AV receiver buying guide from 2016.

More for those seeking great sound quality

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Get smart home reviews and ratings, video reviews, buying guides, prices and comparisons from CNET.

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Like most types of cable, HDMI has a limited range. Unlike most varieties commonly in use, it’s fairly short. The theoretical range of an ordinary HDMI cable is 50 feet, but that’s only theoretical. For one thing, the range for a 4K, 60Hz signal is much shorter. Not only that, but HDMI cables are finicky. They’re highly sensitive to interference, so their range is easily impacted by other nearby cabling. If you’re a neat freak and don’t run a lot of cables, this might not be a big deal. But if you’re anything like us, you’ve got a lot of cables behind your TV. This can shorten the maximum range of your cable, causing signal issues.

Signal issues, in this case, depend on the severity of the disruption. With mild interference, you’ll get visual artifacts and random noise, much like a poor analog antenna connection. Audio may also lag behind the video as the cable’s effective bandwidth narrows. The video may drop out, whether intermittently or for several seconds at a time. In the worst case scenario, your display won’t even be able to detect your source device. This can get frustrating, particularly if you know that you’re oh-so-close to making your entertainment setup work. If you’re setting up a sports bar or other commercial venue, a non-functional screen can even cost you money.

hdmi booster

One solution to this problem is to use an HDMI signal booster, sometimes called an “amplifier” or “repeater.” The concept behind a signal booster is simple: it amplifies the existing signal, like a transformer on an electrical line. This can help you reach places you hadn’t been able to run a cable before. We should point out that 4K signal boosters will only work with an HDMI 2.0 cable. If you have older HDMI 1.0 cables, you’ll need to upgrade them in order to get 4K video.

We’re about to look at three of the best 4K HDMI signal boosters on the market. First, we’ll review the StarTech.com HDMI Signal Booster. This is a reliable choice from a reliable brand, and will work well for most people. Next, we’ll examine the Flashmen HDMI Booster. It has the longest range and highest power, albeit with support for fewer features. Finally, we’ll look at the J-Tech Digital HDMI Repeater. This one has the shortest range, but there’s no external power required. It also supports ARC for sound systems, and CEC for device controls.

StarTech HDMI Signal Booster

StarTech.com HDMI Signal Booster

StarTech.com is an established brand that produces a wide variety of electrical parts. In addition to a number of PC components, we’ve also reviewed their Ethernet extender kit. This kit was very effective, so we were excited to see how well their HDMI signal booster compares.

StarTech HDMI Signal Booster

This signal booster is made from rock-solid aluminum, and is more than tough enough to take a beating. It’s all black, with a white, orange, and grey StarTech logo printed on the top. It’s also compact, measuring 2.05 inches in length, 1.12 inches in width, and 0.54 inches in thickness. Because of this small size, you don’t need to worry about placement. It can even be used inline in just about any configuration. Keep in mind, though, that it requires a USB power supply. Wherever you’re putting the repeater, it will need to be near an outlet or other USB power source.

StarTech HDMI Signal Booster

The StarTech signal booster has a simple configuration. There’s an HDMI input port on one of the short ends, and an output port on the other. These are clearly marked by printed labels, so you won’t forget which is which. On one of the long sides, you’ll find the Micro USB power input port. There’s a USB to Micro USB cable included in the package, so you won’t need to supply your own. That said, there’s no AC adapter. If you’re trying to connect to a regular outlet, you’ll need your own adapter. You do, however, receive a robust three-year warranty, along with lifetime technical support.

Range and Power

When evaluating any signal amplifier, your results will vary based on the range. Yes, that’s obvious. But it’s important to understand that there’s not just an imaginary line where the signal disappears. Instead, it slowly deteriorates over distance. In other words, your range will depend on the type of display you’re using. This is the case for all signal boosters, including the StarTech.com model.

StarTech HDMI Signal Booster

So, how far can you expect the signal to reach? At maximum, the StarTech amplifier can provide 4K video at 60Hz. To get this quality, you’ll need to be within about 22.5 feet in either direction. In other words, the maximum range for a 4K 60 FPS signal is 45 feet. That’s not bad, and it should be effective for most circumstances. That said, you can reach a good bit further if you don’t need a 60Hz signal. The range for a 4K, 30Hz signal is up to 100 feet in total, or 50 feet in each direction. That’s fantastic, and it’s enough for use in even fairly large facilities.

When it comes to extra features, the StarTech signal booster is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, you don’t get access to CEC controls or ARC audio. This means you might run into issues with some soundbars, or with some gaming setups or home assistants. On the other hand, this amplifier does support 7.1-channel surround sound. And because it accepts external power, the signal is fairly resilient against moderate interference.

Flashmen HDMI Booster

Flashmen HDMI Booster

The Flashmen HDMI Booster is another tough, durable signal repeater that can take a beating. Like the StarTech.com repeater, it’s constructed from black aluminum, with a logo stamped on the top. The first difference you’ll notice is the size. At 2.16 inches long and 1.77 wide, it has a larger profile. And at 0.98 inches, it’s nearly twice as thick.

The main reason for the larger profile is that the Flashmen repeater is powered by a larger DC input. Instead of USB, it accepts a 5-volt barrel-style adapter. A power supply is included in the package, so you’ve got everything you need to plug in. The advantage is that you won’t need to buy a separate adapter to plug into an AC outlet. On the downside, you’ll only be able to use an AC outlet. You won’t be able to get power from the USB port on a game console or computer. The adapter plugs into one end of the housing, alongside a red LED light. This will illuminate whenever the power is connected, so you know the booster is working.

Flashmen HDMI Booster

The Flashmen booster has an HDMI in port on the same side as the power supply. It’s right next to the light, and is conveniently labeled in white text. The HDMI out port is on the opposite end, and is also conveniently labeled. Next to that port, you’ll see the sequence “2160P” printed in large white text. This is a reference to the booster’s maximum resolution of 4K, or 2160p.

Range and Power

As with the StarTech amplifier and all others, the range of the signal will depend on the video quality. For 4K video at 60Hz, you’ll be able to reach an impressive 15 meters in both directions. That’s just under 50 feet, or a total run of up to 100 feet. That’s the longest range of any of these adapters at maximum quality.

Flashmen HDMI Booster

The advantage in range remains strong as the video quality gets lower. At 4K and 30Hz, you can reach 20 meters in both directions, or 66 feet. That’s a total range of over 130 feet. And at 1080p and 60Hz, you can reach 30 meters in both directions, or a total range of about 200 feet. That’s four times the range of a standalone HDMI cable. Not only that, but the Flashmen booster is powered, so interference is less of a concern. We’re not saying you can run it right through a power main, but you shouldn’t have trouble under normal conditions.

One thing the Flashmen booster doesn’t support is 7.1-channel surround sound. That’s a bit unfortunate, but it’s a side effect of the longer range. Whether or not this is worth the trade-off depends entirely on your circumstances.

J-Tech Digital HDMI Repeater

J-Tech Digital HDMI Repeater

J-Tech is another manufacturer whose gear we’ve looked at in the past. Not long ago, we reviewed their wireless HDMI transmitter receiver, and we were reasonably impressed. So it only made sense to look at their physical repeater, and see how it compared to the competition.

The first thing you’ll notice about the J-Tech repeater is that it’s tiny. It measures only 2 inches long, 1.1 inches wide, and half an inch thick. It’s also silver instead of black, and has an oval profile rather than rectangular. This gives it a unique appearance, closer to a large thumb drive than a small smartphone. There’s a J-Tech logo stamped on the top, along with the words “HDMI Repeater” and the supported resolution.

J-Tech Digital HDMI Repeater

The HDMI in and out ports are located on opposite ends, with identifying stamps on the top. Unlike the other two signal boosters, there’s no power input on the J-Tech. That’s a big part of how they’re able to make it so small. As a result, it’s ideal for in-line use, where you can’t access a power outlet directly. You’re protected by a 12-month manufacturer’s warranty, which covers defects in materials and workmanship.

J-Tech Digital HDMI Repeater

Range and Power

The lack of a power supply simplifies the J-Tech repeater’s design and streamlines the installation. Unfortunately, it limits what you can actually do with this little device. The advertised range is 4K and 60 FPS at 25 feet per side, for a total of 50 feet. However, without power, you’re not going to get that kind of performance. There’s inevitably going to be some interference, which will shorten your range. Even so, you can expect a solid 15 to 20 feet per side, which is enough for most home setups. At lower video resolutions, you’ll be able to reach considerably further.

The upside of the J-Tech repeater is that it supports a variety of functions that the others don’t. Yes, it supports 7.1-channel surround sound. But it also supports CEC, HDR, and ARC. CEC, or Consumer Electronics Control, is a system for simplifying controls. For example, you can program your soundbar to automatically turn on whenever your TV turns on. HDR, or High Dynamic Range, refers to the variance in brightness and saturation of colors. Support for HDR lets you get the most out of high-quality, top-of-the-line TVs. ARC, or HDMI ARC vs. eARC – What’s the Difference?, allows for audio to be sent in both directions. This is useful for reducing the number of cables in many audio configurations.

Final Verdict

So, which of these 4K signal boosters is the best? A lot depends on what you’re trying to do. For most people, the StarTech.com HDMI Signal Booster is probably going to be ideal. It provides reasonable range at 60 FPS, and it also holds up reasonably well at lower framerates. It also supports 7.1-channel surround sound, so you can use it with powerful sound systems. And it’s externally-powered, so it doesn’t suffer as much from interference as some repeaters.

The Flashmen HDMI Booster is the most powerful in terms of sheer range. With a range of nearly 100 feet at 4K and 60 FPS, it can go where other adapters can’t. The 1080p range is also impressive, at nearly 200 feet. The downside is that you won’t get support for a lot of other features. All of the bandwidth is being dedicated to pushing your signal as far as possible.

The J-Tech Digital HDMI Repeater is the mirror image of the Flashmen. On the one hand, it has relatively short range. On the other hand, it supports a variety of features like CEC, HDR, and ARC. For more complex home installations, this is an excellent signal booster.

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Purchasing products such as laptops from different dealers or retailers can be a daunting task. This is even worse if you don’t understand much about Best Buy Hdmi Splitter. One of the most important things to consider when it comes to buying a Best Buy Hdmi Splitter is the specs of features.

Why You should Buy the Best Best Buy Hdmi Splitter on Amazon

There is a reason why many people prefer buying products from Amazon. Despite being a credible platform, Amazon has a variety of laptops and also works directly with manufacturers. This means that instead of purchasing your laptop from a retailer, you get it directly from the manufacturing company.

Amazon serves as a third-party and works with various manufacturers across the world. The good thing about Amazon is that it offers a perfect guide about each type of laptop.You will see a clear description of each Best Buy Hdmi Splitter. This makes it easy for you to make the right decision.

For instance, the guide has information regarding the specs of the Best Buy Hdmi Splitter you want such as brand, size, function among other features. In case you want a Best Buy Hdmi Splitter with specific features, then Amazon has the best search tools. All you have to do is to key in the features you prefer and a list of laptops will appear on your screen.

Other Benefits of Buying Products from Amazon

There are numerous benefits of purchasing Best Buy Hdmi Splitter and other products from Amazon. Here are some of the common benefits:

Best Prices

There’s no doubt that Amazon offers the best prices for most products. This is because the platform works in conjunction with a host of manufacturing companies and dealers. As a result, a lot of intermediaries are cut off hence reducing the cost of various products.

Reliability

Amazon is an international company that has offices and stores across the world. Their ability to deliver is much higher compared to other online platforms. Besides, they have great customer service that works round the clock to ensure customer satisfaction.

Huge Selection

Amazon has a large number of sellers from all over the world. This means that you can access a huge variety of products and services every day. It also means that you have different options to choose from.

For example, if you want to purchase a treadmill, you are able to compare the prices and specs from different sellers and make the right decision.

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The other advantage of purchasing products from Amazon is credibility. The company has been in operation for many years and there are lots of positive reviews from customers across the world.

How to Choose the Best Best Buy Hdmi Splitter

As mentioned earlier, Amazon is one of the best platforms to purchase products like Best Buy Hdmi Splitter. However, it can sometimes be a challenge to get the exact Best Buy Hdmi Splitter you want, especially if you are using the platform for the first time.

Here are some of the things to consider when choosing the best Best Buy Hdmi Splitter on Amazon:

Price

Price is one of the most important factors to consider when buying Best Buy Hdmi Splitter from Amazon. There’s no one who doesn’t want to get quality products and reasonable prices. With Amazon, you are able to compare laptop prices from different sellers and settle on the most favorable one.

Brand

The other important factor you need to consider when buying a Best Buy Hdmi Splitter from Amazon is the brand. Different sellers sell different types of brands and it is important to understand each type of the brands in order to make the right decision. High-quality and popular brands like Apple brand usually cost more compared to less popular ones.

Function

You also need to consider the functionality of a Best Buy Hdmi Splitter before purchasing it. The functionality of any Best Buy Hdmi Splitter usually depends on the specs it contains. The more sophisticated the specs are, the higher the functionality.

Old Customer Reviews

Most customers leave feedback with regard to their experience with the different Best Buy Hdmi Splitter they bought from Amazon. The reviews are always displayed on the same page where the product is located. Looking at such reviews will help you to know whether the Best Buy Hdmi Splitter you want to buy good or bad.

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Buy hdmi amplifier best

Best AV receivers 2021: brilliant home cinema amplifiers

Best AV receivers Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best home cinema amplifiers you can buy in 2021.

If you're serious about home cinema then there really is no substitute for a set of surround sound speakers powered by an AV receiver.

The home cinema amplifier is the brains and brawn of any home cinema system and will ensure your TV and films sound powerful, detailed and dynamic and truly give you that immersive experience.

The majority of AV receivers now include Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support for adding even more sound channels, with the addition of height channel speakers, or they can, of course, play vanilla 5.1 surround sound. Expect HDMI inputs that can pass through 4K (and even 8K) and HDR video, with voice assistant support, Bluetooth wireless audio and Apple AirPlay extras on a fair number of models these days. 

But most of all, the best AV receivers deliver brilliant, room-filling sound. And these are our pick of them, all tried, tested and star-rated in our dedicated testing rooms.

1. Denon AVC-X3700H

Denon raises the bar again for what is achievable for less than a grand.

Specifications

Video support: 8K HDR

Surround formats: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, IMAX Enhanced

HDMI inputs: 7

Hi-res audio: 24-bit/192kHz & DSD

Bluetooth: Yes

Streaming services: Spotify, Tidal. Qobuz, AirPlay, YouTube

Audio channels: 9.2

Dimensions: 17 x 43 x 38cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to buy

+Wonderfully clear and detailed+Dynamic and engaging+HDMI 2.1 and 8K

Reasons to avoid

-Nothing at this price

When you listen to class-leading products as often as we do, you know immediately when a new standard has been set. That said, sometimes it takes until you have a direct comparison with another superb product to comprehend just how high the bar has been lifted.

That is the case with the new 8K-ready Denon AVC-X3700H home cinema amplifier. While there may be a small part of us that would delight in the Japanese company messing up one of these amps – purely so we would have something different to write – the sonic improvement it has made on its predecessor is quite surprisingly marked, which is why its retained its What Hi-Fi? Award in 2021.

The energy of the performance is immediately striking. There’s greater muscle than before, but it is also even lither and better defined. It’s a combination of solid dynamic expression, which enthuses each vocal line as much as differentiating one gunshot from another, a sharper punch and greater clarity that allows you to get deeper inside the soundtrack and become more immersed.

If you have the system to match it with, the AVC-X3700H is another Denon effort that will happily last you many years.

Read the full review: Denon AVC-X3700H

2. JBL Synthesis SDR-35

JBL’s classy SDR-35 is a clear cut above the AVR norm

Specifications

Video support: 4K HDR

Surround formats: Dolby Atmos, Atmos Height Virtualization, DTS:X, DTS Virtual:X, Auro 3D, IMAX Enhanced

HDMI inputs: 7

High res audio: 24Bit / 192kHz

Bluetooth: Yes

Streaming Services: Chromecast, AirPlay 2, aptX HD Bluetooth, Roon Ready

Dimensions: 171 x 433 x 425 x mm (H x W x D)

Reasons to buy

+Supremely clean, clear sound+Thrilling mix of subtlety and scale+Substantial format support

Reasons to avoid

-Only seven channels of power-HDMI 2.1 upgrade will cost extra

When hunting for an AV receiver or amplifier, it can be hard not to get caught up in the battle of the tech specs and those who become too focused on comparing spec sheets may well overlook the 2021 What Hi-Fi? Award-winning JBL Synthesis SDR-35.

While its format support is thorough, its amplification for just seven channels and current lack of HDMI 2.1 connections (all of the sockets are 18gbps HDMI 2.0s but a hardware upgrade to HDMI 2.1 will be offered towards the end of 2021) are trumped by Denon receivers costing around a sixth of its price tag.

In terms of sound quality though, this JBL is in a whole different league, delivering music and movies with a truly rare maturity and sophistication and if we were building a high-end home cinema from scratch, it would be the first component on the shortlist.

The range of supported HDR types is exemplary, with HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision and HDR10+ all offered on the video side, and Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Auro 3D and even IMAX Enhanced for audio. There's also Dolby Height Virtualisation and DTS Virtual:X on board for those who want to simulate height effects without the use of physical ceiling or up-firing speakers.

As well as a substantial selection of physical connections, there are plenty of ways to wirelessly get your content to the SDR-35 too with aptX HD Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast on board. It also works with Harman’s MusicLife app, which allows for streaming of music from the likes of Tidal, Deezer and Qobuz, plus tracks stored on your own network.

Read the full review: JBL Synthesis SDR-35

3. Denon AVC-X6700H

A powerful amp that was worth the wait.

Specifications

Power output: 205W

Channels: 11.2

Video support: 8K HDR

Surround formats: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, IMAX Enhanced

HDMI inputs: 8

Wi-fi: Yes

Bluetooth: Yes

Dimensions: 17 x 43 x 38cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to buy

+Impressive scale and authority+Improved detail and expression+8K support

Reasons to avoid

-Some may want to dial back bass

When hunting for an AV receiver or amplifier, it can be hard not to get caught up in the battle of the tech specs and those who become too focused on comparing spec sheets may well overlook the 2021 What Hi-Fi? Award-inning JBL Synthesis SDR-35.

While its format support is thorough, its amplification for just seven channels and current lack of HDMI 2.1 connections (all of the sockets are 18gbps HDMI 2.0s but a hardware upgrade to HDMI 2.1 will be offered towards the end of 2021) are trumped by Denon receivers costing around a sixth of its price tag.

In terms of sound quality though, this JBL is in a whole different league, delivering music and movies with a truly rare maturity and sophistication and if we were building a high-end home cinema from scratch, it would be the first component on the shortlist.

The range of supported HDR types is exemplary, with HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision and HDR10+ all offered on the video side, and Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Auro 3D and even IMAX Enhanced for audio. There's also Dolby Height Virtualisation and DTS Virtual:X on board for those who want to simulate height effects without the use of physical ceiling or up-firing speakers.

As well as a substantial selection of physical connections, there are plenty of ways to wirelessly get your content to the SDR-35 too with aptX HD Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast on board. It also works with Harman’s MusicLife app, which allows for streaming of music from the likes of Tidal, Deezer and Qobuz, plus tracks stored on your own network.

Read the full review: JBL Synthesis SDR-35

4. Sony STR-DN1080

Best AV receiver in its class. A superb piece of kit for the money.

Specifications

Video support: 4K HDR

Surround formats: Dolby Atmos & DTS:X

HDMI inputs: 6

Hi-res audio: 24-bit/192kHz & DSD

Bluetooth: Yes

Streaming services: Spotify, Tidal. Qobuz, AirPlay, YouTube

Audio channels: 7.2

Dimensions: 16 x 43 x 33cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to buy

+Punchy, agile and precise+Enjoyable and dynamic performance+Exhaustive features

Reasons to avoid

-A backlit remote would be nice

The fact that this was our Product of the Year for two years in a row – and picked up a fourth Award in 2020 – tells you all you need to know. This hugely talented AV receiver was best in class when we originally tested it and remains sensational value for money.

And as for the sound it makes... well, let's just say you'll have to spend an awful lot more cash to get better performance. The feature-packed Sony STR-DN1080 sounds fantastic, reaching deep into its reserves to deliver a performance packed with punch, dynamism and authority in a way we haven’t heard from home cinema amplifiers at this sort of price.

There's an incredible amount of detail from natural, expressive voices to layers of insight and depth surrounding each sound effect. Dynamically speaking, it's a fun and exciting listen, equally at home rendering tranquil, quiet moments as it is huge, wall-shuddering explosions - in a word, enthralling.

Sony has unfortunately discontinued the STR-DN1080 and it's now almost impossible to buy a new one in the UK. It's worth considering a second-hand unit, though, and there's still decent availability in the US – for now.

Read the full review: Sony STR-DN1080

5. Denon AVR-X2700H

Another entry-level AVR belter from Denon.

Specifications

Power output: 150W

Channels: 7.1

Video support: 8K HDR

Surround formats: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, IMAX Enhanced

HDMI inputs: 7

Wi-fi: Yes

Bluetooth: Yes

Dimensions: 17 x 43 x 33cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to buy

+Superb spatial control+Excellent sense of rhythm+HDMI 2.1 and 8K

Reasons to avoid

-Nothing at this price

If we had to use one word to describe the sound of this receiver, it would be ‘confident’. The AVR-X2700H doesn’t try too hard to impress, as a nervously underpowered budget amp might. 

It’s bigger, better and more cultured than that. It has even greater authority than last year’s model, and it never strains to exert it. The two subwoofers in our 7.2 set-up growl with control whenever called upon, never once detracting from the crystal clarity of the music in the soundtrack, the voices or surround effects.

It’s an easy and effective listen. No matter how hectic the action becomes, this Denon never misses a beat. It passes the laser blasts from speaker to speaker in a wonderfully coherent manner and, no matter the scene, creates a genuine sense of place.

Read the full review: Denon AVR-X2700H

6. Denon AVR-X3600H

A former Award winner that still packs a punch.

Specifications

Power output: 180W

Channels: 9

Video support: 4K HDR

Surround formats: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Dolby Vision

HDMI inputs: 8

Wi-fi: Yes

Bluetooth: Yes

Dimensions: 17 x 44 x 3cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to buy

+Added amplification channels+More power than its predecessor+Gains worthwhile technologies

Reasons to avoid

-Nothing at this price

Sometimes the differences between generations of Denon home cinema can appear minor. But that wasn't the case with the AVR-X3600H.

Rather than merely updating the 2018 Award-winning AVR-X3500H, Denon added two amp channels and processing power for a further pair, upgraded power supply and power transformer and extruded aluminium heatsink.

Most importantly, though, it tightened up the sound to a truly impressive degree. Its predecessor had muscle, but this amp is even more clearly defined and at full fighting fitness.

It isn’t so much the fact that this is an altogether more powerful amplifier than the Award-winning AVR-X3500H – already a mighty receiver in its own right – but its muscle feels leaner, and punches tend to sting more.

Truly, this is a heavyweight in every sense of the word. That's why we named it our AV receiver Product of the Year for 2019. For pound-per-performance value, it's only beaten by its successor above.

Read the full review: Denon AVR-X3600H

7. Yamaha RX-A2A

An AV receiver with bold sound to match its bold looks

Specifications

HDR support: HDR10, Dolby Vision, HDR10+ (via future update)

Surround formats: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization

HDMI inputs: 7

High res audio: ALAC: up to 96 kHz / 24-bit, FLAC: up to 384 kHz / 24-bit, WAV / AIFF: up to 384 kHz / 32-bit

Bluetooth: Yes (SBC / AAC)

Streaming: MusicCast, AirPlay 2

WiFi: 2.4/5GHz

Dimensions: 17 x 44 x 37cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to buy

+Agile and responsive+Spacious but focused presentation+Exciting character

Reasons to avoid

-Lacks authority-HDMI 2.1 features require updates

Part of Yamaha's premium Aventage range, the RX-A2A is the beneficiary of a glossy aesthetic revamp as well as an injection of next-generation connectivity that will future proof it for the coming years.

With seven full-range channels of power, each rated at 100W into eight ohms in stereo conditions, plus two subwoofer outputs, the RX-A2A can handle up to 7.1 speaker configurations or, if using the supported Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding, a 5.1.2 set-up. 

Sonically it's impressive and incredibly responsive, delivering punchy transients, spacious surround sound and plenty of musical drive.

For streaming, there's Yamaha’s MusicCast app, which allows for high-res and lossless music formats including Apple Lossless (ALAC) up to 96kHz, WAV, FLAC or AIFF up to 192kHz as well as playback from services including Spotify and Tidal. There’s also AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth (SBC / AAC) on board and Google Assistant/Alexa compatibility for voice control, not to mention a DAB+ and FM/AM tuner.

There are several planned upgrades that Yamaha will make to the RX-A2A to get it up to full spec, but it will eventually support up to 4K at 120Hz (both with and without display screen compression) and 8K at 60Hz (with display screen compression) through three of its seven HDMI inputs. 

These features, along with other next-gen HDMI updates and HDR10+, will only become available thanks to a series of firmware updates beginning this Autumn. A free hardware upgrade will also be available to make it fully compatible with 4K at 120Hz signals from an Xbox Series X or Nvidia RTX30-series graphics card. 

But the lack of these features out of the box will probably only matter if you're a hardcore gamer. For films, the RX-A2A handles 4K signals at up to 60 frames per second, which no source currently goes beyond, and supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision video formats.

Read the full review: Yamaha RX-A2A

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

Read more about how we test

Sours: https://www.whathifi.com/us/best-buys/home-cinema/best-home-cinema-amplifiers
HDMI Extender - 4K UHD 40m HDMI Repeater with Two 20m Low-Speed HDMI Cables

Best stereo amplifiers 2021: best integrated amps, budget to premium

Best stereo amplifiers 2020: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best stereo amplifiers you can buy in 2020.

A great stereo amplifier is the engine of any great hi-fi system. All you need to do is find the right one for your particular set-up, and we hope this carefully curated list can help. Whether you're building a home stereo from scratch or want to splash out on a system upgrade, you'll find our pick of the best stereo amps available in the States below.

There are lots of different types of amplifiers to choose from – and all have their strengths and weaknesses. To make life simple, all the models on this page are integrated stereo amps. That means they feature two components in one (a power amp to drive the speakers and a preamp to control the volume and your sources). 

But as the way we consume music has evolved, you'll also find that many amps boast digital and wireless connections alongside traditional analogue inputs and outputs. Whether it's Bluetooth, optical or wi-fi networking, these features will make it easy to stream high-quality music from your mobile devices or computer to your hi-fi.   

Convenience is, of course, great, but it's sound quality that sets the best stereo amplifiers apart from the crowd. Each of the integrated amps on this page has been thoroughly tested by our dedicated team of in-house experts, so you can expect spellbinding sonics whatever your decision.

1. Cambridge Audio CXA81

An exceptional performer for the money, packed with top technology.

Specifications

Power: 80W per channel

Remote control: No

Phono stage: n/a

Digital inputs: S/PDIF coaxial, Toslink

USB: Yes

Bluetooth: aptX HD receiver built-in

Headphone output: Yes

Dimensions (hwd): 11.5 x 4.3 x 34.1cm

Reasons to buy

+Strong presentation+Great timing+Awesome detail

Reasons to avoid

-Nothing at this price

This What Fi-Fi Award-winner is our MVP, and one of the best stereo amps you can buy for around $1000. Its elegant Lunar Grey chassis may bear a passing resemblance to its predecessor, the CXA80, but like a thanksgiving turkey, the CX81 is stuffed with fresh internals.

The signal path has been improved, there's a superior DAC and the USB port now supports hi-res audio up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD256 quality. You even get an aptX HD Bluetooth receiver that delivers better-than-CD-quality wireless playback.

The result of these upgrades? Sound that is rich, confident, full-bodied and bursting with detail. Whether it's a hammering out a frenetic mid-range melody or a staccato bass line, the CX81 has the agility and energy to handle whatever comes its way.

Clarity is stunning given the (very reasonable) sticker price. Those sweet sonics, plus the high feature-count, mean the CX81 sets a new benchmark at this price. 

Put simply, this is one awesome amp.

Read the full review: Cambridge Audio CXA81

2. Cambridge Audio CXA61

For the money, very few amplifiers can compete with the CX61.

Specifications

Power: 60W per channel

Remote control: No

Phono stage: n/a

Digital inputs: S/PDIF coaxial, Toslink

USB: Yes

Bluetooth: aptX HD receiver built-in

Headphone output: Yes

Dimensions (hwd): 11.5 x 4.3 x 34.1cm

Reasons to buy

+Detailed, dynamic audio+Stacked feature set+Great build quality

Reasons to avoid

-Pricier than the previous model

The CX61 has big boots to fill. It's predecessor, the CX60, scored five-stars in our tests and picked up a coveted What Hi-Fi Product of the Year Award. Thankfully, the CX61 builds on that heritage with a classy design, impressive connections, high-resolution audio support and study remote.

The lower-specced sibling of the CX81 (above), the CX61 makes do with a touch less power (60W vs 80W). But at under $1000, it delivers exceptional sound-per-pound.

Audio is fluid, entertaining and energetic but that's not to say this integrated amp is constantly in party mode. It's serious about detail, dynamics and rhythmic precision, and knows just when to tone down the enthusiasm.

It does lack a USB port – you'll need to splash out on CX81 if that's a deal-breaker – but the CX61 is a fine bit of kit that pairs well with almost any musical genre.

Read the full review: Cambridge Audio CXA61

3. Rega Brio

A sonically-superior stereo amp for demanding listeners.

Specifications

Power: 50W (8 Ohms)

Remote control: Yes

Phono stage: MM

Digital inputs: No

USB: No

Bluetooth: No

Headphone output: Yes

Dimensions (hwd): 7.8 x 21.6 x 34.5cm

Reasons to buy

+Detail and dynamics to die for+Agile and rhythmic presentation+Good headphone output

Reasons to avoid

-No digital inputs

British outfit Rega has been designing high-end audio components since the early 1970s. The company launched the original Brio amp in back in 1991 but this sixth-generation model continues to pay homage to its illustrious forebears.

Those retro looks may divide opinion but few would dispute that the Rega Brio takes sound to new heights at this price point. This is an analogue-only amplifier, so there's no built-in DAC, but it sounds terrific. From the incredible sense of scale to the punchy dynamics, this is certainly Rega's best-ever Brio.

Build-quality is typically solid and the hefty 5kg aluminium case has a reassuring, tank-like quality to it. In terms of features, Rega hasn't added much since 1991. You do get a phono stage but forget about Bluetooth streaming or digital inputs.

If you can overlook the lack of wireless connections, the back-to-basics Brio delivers stellar sound-per-pound and is worth every penny.

 Read the full review:Rega Brio

4. Cambridge AXA35

One of the best budget integrated amplifiers for the money.

Specifications

Power: 35W (8 Ohms)

Remote control: Yes

Phono stage: MM

Digital inputs: No

USB: No

Bluetooth: No

Headphone output: Yes

Dimensions (hwd): 8.3 x 43 x 33.5cm

Reasons to buy

+Punchy, precise sound+Good detail resolution+Expressive midrange

Reasons to avoid

-Remote struggles off-axis-No Bluetooth

So if you're looking for the best stereo amplifier at the cheapest price, this Cambridge model's a great option.

At around $350, it's big on value, big on sound and built to last. The sleek, 8cm-high case is equipped with a built-in moving magnet photo stage (worth using if you have a budget turntable), a 6.35mm headphone output and 3.5mm auxiliary input. The lack of Bluetooth and USB port is entirely forgivable give the bargain sticker price.

As for sound, the AXA35 puts on a killer performance for the money. It throws plenty of power and weight behind every track, providing a spacious and spirited sound without any harshness. If you're happy to live with the relatively simple specs, this great budget amp serves up superb sonics.

Read the full review:Cambridge AXA35

5. NAD D 3020 V2

This rebooted version of the classic NAD amp has high-tech appeal.

Specifications

Power: 60W (8 Ohms)

Remote control: Yes

Phono stage: MM

Digital inputs: optical/coaxial

USB: No

Bluetooth: Yes

Headphone output: Yes

Dimensions (hwd): 18.6 x 5.8 x 21.9cm

Reasons to buy

+Full-bodied performance+Fine timing and dynamics+Phono stage

Reasons to avoid

-Nothing really at this price

You might be struck by this budget amp's quirky design, but things get a whole lot more interesting under the hood. The D 3020 V2 is packed with high-tech features including, Class D amplification, Bluetooth for music streaming and a moving magnet phono stage for connecting a turntable. 

Assuming you appreciate the curvature of its neat, upright case, this accomplished NAD amp is easy to love. It combines an impeccable sense of timing with superb dynamics to great effect, making it an enjoyable and engaging listen. Presentation is tonally-even but there's the option of a tasteful 'bass boost' via a button on the remote control. 

Detail levels are superb for the money, although the Marantz PM6006 near the top of this list offers a bit more performance for the money. Still, if you want a fully-featured digital amp, the NAD 3020 V2 is a great shout. Be sure to add it to your shortlist.

Read the full review: NAD D 3020 V2

6. Audiolab 6000A

An impressive amplifier and a classy alternative to the Rega Brio.

Specifications

Power: 100W (8 Ohms)

Remote control: Yes

Phono stage: MM

Digital inputs: optical/coaxial

USB: No

Bluetooth: Yes

Headphone output: Yes

Dimensions (hwd): 6.5 x 44.5 x 30cm

Reasons to buy

+Clear, refined and articulate sound+Big, spacious presentation+Good spread of features

Reasons to avoid

-Fierce competition

If you're not sold on the Rega Brio's retro looks, or simply want accomplished alternative for the same money, take a look at the five-star Audiolab 6000A. A competitive mid-range amp, the 6000A shares a DAC chip with the Award-winning Audiolab M-DAC, giving it instant appeal.

The solid, high-quality case and volume dial are well-crafted, while connections are plentiful. You get four digital inputs, three analogue inputs, and a pair of moving magnet phono inputs. And unlike the Rega Brio, this amp also has Bluetooth for music streaming.

Sound is wonderfully-crisp, with ample detail and plenty of clarity. Vocals are cut with emotion and subtlety. We find that the best amplifiers breathe new life into well-worn tracks, and this model does just that. 

While the Rega Brio offers more texture, the nimble Audiolab 6000A offers a more spacious and refined sound that's hard to beat at this price. A fantastic sub-$1000 amp.

Read the full review: Audiolab 6000A

7. Rega Elex-R

This high-end bargain would impress at double the price.

Specifications

Power: 72W (8 Ohms)

Remote control: Yes

Phono stage: MM

Digital inputs: optical/coaxial

USB: No

Bluetooth: No

Headphone output: Yes

Dimensions (hwd): 10.5 x 44 x 37cm

Reasons to buy

+Agile and articulate performer+Fine rhythmic ability+Good phono stage

Reasons to avoid

-Remote control could be classier

Here's a great option for those who demand the taste of champagne on a beer budget. It's priced at around $1700, but the Award-winning Rega Elex-R performs more like a $3400 amp.   

It produces the kind of sound that transports from your lounge to a live recording session. Timing is impressive and it fills the room with an addictive sense of energy that seems to soak into the walls. In terms of authenticity and scale, few amps can beat the Elex-R – especially at such an appealing price.

As you may have guessed from the typically-solid case, this is very much a traditional amp. It not luxurious but it is well-engineered and reliable – our test unit has been running for over three years without any issues.

There's no digital inputs, no Bluetooth and no headphone output. But if you're all about the music, you'll almost certainly be wowed by the Elex-R's sonics.

Read the full review: Rega Elex-R

8. Rega Aethos

A superb stereo amplifier with that justifies its premium pricetag.

Specifications

Power: 125W (8 Ohms)

Remote control: Yes

Phono stage: No

Digital inputs: No

USB: No

Bluetooth: No

Headphone output: Yes

Dimensions (hwd): 9,5 x 43.3 x 36cm

Reasons to buy

+Impressive agility and punch+Rhythmic and dynamic+Solid build

Reasons to avoid

-Runs warm-Some minor ergonomic issues

The Rega Aethos delivers an fantastic combination of insight, dynamics and rhythmic precision to produce a class-leading sound. It's not the most highly-specced stereo amp we've seen, though. There are no digital inputs, nor is there a phono stage for a turntable, which is surprising at this level. You do get five line-level inputs and a 6.3mm headphone socket, though.

IF you can live with that, the Rega will reward you with a captivating sound, that majors in clarity and dynamic fluidity. Its sense of timing is second to none at that level, which is part of the reason it's a What Hi-Fi? Awards 2020 winner.

Read the full review: Rega Aethos

9. Moon 240i

One of the best high-end stereo amplifiers for the money.

Specifications

Power: 50W (8 Ohms)

Remote control: Yes

Phono stage: MM

Digital inputs: optical/coaxial

USB: Yes

Bluetooth: No

Headphone output: Yes

Dimensions (hwd): 3.5 x 42.9 x 36.6cm

Reasons to buy

+Smooth, subtle and dynamic+Rhythmically cohesive+Agile, precise timing

Reasons to avoid

-Not the most muscular sound

Just like a Cadillac, the Moon 240i offers power and performance in a classy, understated case. Sound is smooth and defined, layered with texture and refreshingly clear. The 240i partners well with almost any speakers but to show off its true capabilities, you'll want to hook it up to some serious kit.

The superb sonics are matched by impressive specs. You get an asynchronous DAC supporting playback of hi-res files up to 32-bit/384kHz, a USB input and four digital inputs. So, whether you want connect a CD player, laptop, TV or media streamer, the 240i will oblige.

If all that hasn't won you over, take a closer look at the Moon 240i's classy metal casing and crisp OLED display. Although this amp isn't cheap, its build quality is reminiscent of the kind of hi-fi components that cost a lot more than $2500.

If you're working with a healthy budget and want a versatile digital amp, take a trip to the Moon.

Read the full review:Moon 240i

10. Musical Fidelity M2si Integrated Amplifier

This stereo amp lacks features but it's still a top performer.

Specifications

Power: 60W (8 Ohms)

Remote control: Yes

Phono stage: None

Digital inputs: None

Bluetooth: No

Headphone output: No

Dimensions (hwd): 10 x 44 x 40cm

Reasons to buy

+Expansive and fluid sound+Impressive dynamics+Refined yet muscular performance

Reasons to avoid

-Line level unit only-No headphone out

This stripped-back amp is pitched at the hifi purist. With no digital connections, no wireless connectivity, no headphone socket and no phono stage, the M2si is all about going back to basics and focusing on what really matters – sound.

In the M2si, Musical Fidelity has created an brilliant performer capable of delivering large-scale sound without breaking a sweat. Complex rhythms are handled effortlessly; individual instruments are rendered precisely and tonal balance is such that this amplifier is a lot less fussy about partnering with equipment than many of its rivals.

Of course, cheaper alternatives such as the Audiolab 6000A give you far more features for the money. But if a remote control, six line level inputs and a smattering of solid metal controls are really all you need from a stereo amplifier, this simple, clean-cut affair is great bang for your buck. And at around $1500, it's a worthy alternative to the Rega Elex-R (above).

Read the full review:Musical Fidelity M2si

11. Copland CSA 100

A cultured integrated amp with a plenty of features

Specifications

Power: 100W (8 Ohms)

Remote control: Yes

Phono stage: MM/MC

Digital inputs: Coaxial, optical, USB

Bluetooth: aptX HD

Headphone output: Yes

Dimensions (hwd): 13.5 x 43.5 x 37cm

Reasons to buy

+Transparent and detailed+Agile and precise sound+Good range of features

Reasons to avoid

-No display-Needs care with headphone matching

Copland doesn't introduce new products all that regularly, so the CSA 100 is a welcome addition to its line-up and a welcome addition to our list of the best stereo amplifiers you can buy.

The CSA 100 boasts a clutter-free and elegant design, with digital module, headphone output and a phono stage all to be found inside that well-constructed chassis. At its core is a hybrid electronic design that produces a solid 100W per channel (8ohm).

Connectivity includes a phono (moving magnet/moving coil) plus single-ended (three) and balanced XLR (one) line-level inputs. As for digital, there’s the usual trio of USB, coaxial and two optical sockets. The Copland's ESS Sabre ES9018 Reference DAC is compatible with up to 32-bit/384kHz PCM files and DSD128.

Sonically, the amp produces a nicely layered image with instruments sharply focused – its sonic precision and a sense of fluidity are hugely appealing. It’s an impressively detailed performer that allows you to just sit back and enjoy your music collection.

Read the full review: Copland CSA 100

12. NAD D 3045

A compact stereo amplifier that is bursting with features.

Specifications

Power: 80W (8 Ohms)

Remote control: Yes

Phono stage: MM

Digital inputs: optical

USB: Yes

Bluetooth: Yes

Headphone output: Yes

Dimensions (hwd): 23.5 x 7 x 26.5cm

Reasons to buy

+Nicely balanced sound+Good timing+Versatile design and features

Reasons to avoid

-Lacks a little energy

The D 3045 looks a whole lot like its cheaper sibling, the D 3020 V2, and is jam-packed with features. You get Bluetooth aptX for 24-bit hi-res music streaming, two optical connections, a hi-res DAC and an asynchronous USB input for optimised USB audio playback.

But then, you get all that if you buy the cheaper variant – so why pay more for the D 3045? Well, the main reason is that the 3045 provides more power than the D 3020 V2 (80W vs 60W). It also sports a more luxurious design and comes in a case that features some extra premium touches.

The added power makes for a beefier presentation but that's not to say this amp punches like Tyson. It serves up a smooth, balanced performance that is controlled and detailed across the frequency range. On the downside, it lacks the same level of enthusiasm as it's lower-priced sibling. 

This amp's technological firepower make it a great buy for the money. But if you don't care for the additional 20W of power, the D 3020 V2 might be the better choice.

Read the full review: NAD D 3045

13. Yamaha A-S3200

This high-end integrated amp is an articulate performer

Specifications

Power: 200W

Remote control: Yes

Phono stage: MM/MC

Digital inputs: No

Line level: 6 (2x XLR)

Bluetooth: No

Headphone output: Yes

Dimensions (hwd): 18 x 44 x 46cm

Reasons to buy

+Clean and detailed presentation+Impressive levels of resolution+Excellent build and finish

Reasons to avoid

-Midrange is a little lean-Presentation lacks verve-Phono stage needs adjustable cartridge loading

What we have here is a rather straight-laced, all-analogue integrated that’s been designed with considerable care. It has a sensible features list and, most importantly, a performance that justifies its hefty price tag.

The A-S3200 is a beautifully built product, as expected at this level – an impressively solid beast thanks to its chunky casework and back-straining 25kg weight. Alongside line level and XLR sockets, there's a switchable moving magnet/moving coil phono stage (though it’s a shame there’s no electrical loading adjustability to optimise the results for any specific cartridge).

This is a surprisingly clean and clear performer that renders the leading edges of notes with crispness without ever veering towards sounding hard or edgy. That’s a difficult balancing act that quite a few alternatives fall foul of. Tonally, it stands on the lean side of neutral, particularly through the midrange, affecting the A-S3200’s ability to convey solidity and punch through these frequencies and giving it a more analytical presentation than most. 

There are certainly more robust sounding alternatives, but make no mistake, the A-S3200 is a classy performer.

Read the full Yamaha A-S3200 review

Sours: https://www.whathifi.com/us/best-buys/hi-fi/best-stereo-amplifiers

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