Receiver Buying Guide 2018
This week starts our annual shopping spree where we get to spend your money on new products for your home theater. We’ll start the spree with receivers. As always, our goal is to maximize the value for your dollar, so we aren’t necessarily concerned about getting the latest product or the latest features. It's about getting a good product at a great price so you may even see some of last year’s gear on the list. All these receivers are readily available online or at a big box store. We each pick three receivers in increasing price categories, less than $500, less than $1000 and over $1000. Prices stated are street prices from online retailers.
Sony STR-DN1080 7.2 Channel Home Theater AV Receiver ($450 Street Price)
It's been a while since I have recommended a Sony product that wasn’t part of their ES line. But for the price this receiver is hard to beat! It's a 7.2 receiver that supports all the latest audio formats including Atmos and DTS:X. Through in 4K UHD compatibility with support for HDR (HDR10, HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma), and Dolby Vision) and you have a reasonably priced receiver that will serve you well for many years to come. Other features include: Hi-Res compatible, 6 HDMI in and 2 out, Bluetooth Connectivity with NFC one touch, and Wifi, Airplay, and CHromecast compatibility.
Onkyo TX-RZ730 9.2-Channel Network A/V Receiver ($740 Street Price)
I tried to not include an Onkyo receiver this year. It's just too easy to put an Onkyo on a list like this because of the tremendous bang for the buck. But when I looked at all the options open to me I just could leave this unit off the sub $1000 category. This unit is jam packed with features. For starters, it's THX Certified Select. You may not have a THX certified room, but having a receiver that is THX certified means that the receiver was sent to THX labs where everything from noise levels and distortion to frequency response and bass management have been tested and analyzed in over 1,000 laboratory tests. What that means to you is that the receiver will not be the weak link in your home theater.
Features include: 4K UHD with support for HDR (HDR10, HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma), and Dolby Vision), Native DTS:X™ and Dolby Atmos® to 5.2.4 Channels, 11.2 multi-channel pre-outs & processing for 7.2.4 (with amp), Chromecast built-in, AirPlay, Wi-Fi®, and Bluetooth®, AccuEQ Advance calibration with AccuReflex Technology, FlareConnect™ Multi-room Wireless Audio Distribution, HDMI® 7 In (1 Front), Main Out, Sub/Zone 2 Out
This receiver is just about future proof!
Yamaha RX-A3080 AVENTAGE 9.2-Channel AV Receiver with MusicCast ($1999.95 Street Price)
If you watch movies or spend time listening to hi fidelity audio this receiver is for you! It's packed with components specifically designed to enhance your listening experience including two ESS SABRE™ DACs for some of the lowest noise levels in the any receiver in its class. The 3080 comes with 9 amplifiers to support a 7.2.2 Atmos setup but has the processing available for a 7.2.4 Atmos or DTS:X setup with the use of an external amplifier.
Features include: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth®, AirPlay®, Spotify Connect and MusicCast multi-room, New Surround:AI™ technology automatically optimizes the sound in real-time, HDMI with HDCP 2.2 (7-in/3-out), 4K Ultra HD support, HDR10, Dolby Vision™, Hybrid Log-Gamma and BT.2020, YPAO R.S.C., Multipoint, 3D and Precision EQ and much more!
This year I’m all about bang for the buck, maximizing features and performance for your hard earned dollars. I usually try to pick models from a few different manufacturers, to provide a bit of diversity, but this year is different. This year it’s simply the best unit for the money, regardless of who makes it.
Denon AVR-S940H $499 (MSRP $579)
7.2 Ch. High-Power 4K AV Receiver with Amazon Alexa Voice Control
Featuring discrete high-current power amplifiers on all channels, the AVR-S940H delivers maximum performance and 185 watts of power per channel. The AVR-S940H offers Dolby Atmos®, DTS:X™ and DTS Virtual:X®, plus the latest video technologies such as Dolby Vision™, HDR, HLG and 4K video upscaling. Listen to music using Airplay 2, stream with Spotify, Pandora, Tidal and more with HEOS built-in and control it with your voice through Amazon Alexa. 8 HDMI inputs and 2 outputs features HDCP 2.2 support on all ports. The front-panel USB offers convenient audio playback of MP3, WAV, FLAC, ALAC and DSD (2.8/5.6MHz) files.
Marantz SR6012 $949 (MSRP $1499)
9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD Network AV Surround Receiver with HEOS
Features Dolby Atmos and DTS:X surround decoding, with the ability to drive overhead speakers. It is equipped with 9 channel amplification, rated at 110 watts per channel, so you can set up a 7.1.2 or 5.1.4 3D experience without an external amplifier; with an additional amp the set-up can expand to 7.1.4, because it has 11.2 channel processing support. It has the latest HDMI and HDCP 2.2 specifications on all 8 HDMI inputs. With 4K Ultra HD 60Hz video, 4:4:4 Pure Color sub-sampling, High Dynamic Range (HDR), 21:9 video, 3D, and BT.2020 and Dolby Vision pass-through on every input. And in addition, HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) pass-through is also supported for forthcoming HDR broadcasting contents, and eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) will be supported via a firmware update as well.
Denon AVR-X8500H $3999 (MSRP $3999)13.2-channel AV Receiver
The Denon Flagship AVR-X8500H powers the next generation of home theater with the world’s first 13.2 channel receiver that supports the latest immersive audio formats, including IMAX Enhanced, Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and (via future firmware update) Auro3D. It also has unparalleled music playback options, thanks to built-in HEOS technology, Apple AirPlay 2, and enjoy effortless voice control and total flexibility from the leading voice agents. Speak commands with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri and high-end smart home automation, Josh.ai. Ask to play your favorite music, turn the volume up, skip to the next track, switch inputs and more. Switch between voice agents, or pick a favorite to use — the choice is yours.