Best Av Receivers 2021: Product Information and In-Depth Review.
Do you want to find the best AV receiver for the money? We tested some of the most popular big-black-box options from the major brands, and the feature sets, connectivity options, and performance levels. These AV receiver models have everything a home-theater enthusiast needs.
What Does an AV Receiver Do?
The A/V receiver is the hub of a home theater. An AV receiver is an electronic component that controls and drives your home theater experience.
Before you can evaluate AV receivers, you need a good understanding of exactly what an AV receiver does.
- Connects and switches your audio sources: Every audio source in your home theater should connect to your AV receiver. The preamplifier section of the receiver allows you to easily switch to the audio source that you want to listen to.
- Connects and switches your video sources: Your video source devices are also connected directly to the AV receiver, which is connected in turn to your display device.
- Decodes surround-sound formats: The ability to decode analog and digital surround-sound formats is a feature that distinguishes an AV receiver from a more traditional stereo receiver
- Amplifies audio signals to drive multiple speakers: Another distinguishing characteristic of an AV receiver is the fact that it contains at least five channels of amplification to drive (or provide power to) your surround-sound speaker system.
In general, 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. Sony STR-DN1080 AV Receiver
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 at around £500/$650, but now that it has dropped in price it is 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.
REASONS TO BUY:
- Punchy, agile, and precise
- Enjoyable and dynamic performance
- Exhaustive features
REASONS TO AVOID:
- A backlit remote would be nice
2. Denon AVR-X2700H AV Receiver
There’s very little we can hold against the Denon AVR-X2700H, one of the world’s first 8K receivers and winner of a number of accolades this year.
It’s what we consider the best overall AV receiver in 2021 in terms of what it offers for the money.
What Denon’s entry-level 8K AVR brings to the table is an incredible feature set comprising of Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Quick Frame Transport (QFT), and Auto Low Latency Mode.
For the exceptionally stringent viewers out there, the AVR-X2700H also supports IMAX Enhanced, too.
In terms of audio formats, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization, Atmos, DTS:X, and DTS Virtual:X are all present and accounted for, plus with eARC support, you don’t have to juggle multiple remotes.
Of course, if you want to go remote-free there is voice support for Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri-enabled devices, making it truly egalitarian.
REASONS TO BUY:
- World’s first 8K AVR
- 4K/120Hz passthrough with VRR
- eARC support for Dolby Atmos
REASONS TO AVOID:
- Only one 8K-compatible port
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3. Arcam FMJ AV850 AV Receiver
While the Arcam AVR850 is unlikely to win any Best Value accolades – it’s unashamedly expensive for a 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos design. its overarching musicality is hard to beat.
This is arguably the UK audio specialist’s best-sounding AV receiver to date.
The AVR850 uses Class G power amps, conservatively rated at 100W-per-channel.
The design is understated, with a nice matte cabinet finish and a big central volume knob. It tips the scales at a reassuringly heavy 16kg.
Connectivity is good. There are seven HDMI inputs, all with HDCP 2.2 support, plus three HDMI outputs. Audio options include six analog inputs and six digital audio inputs.
The really significant difference here, compared to previous Arcam home theater boxes, is the provision of Dirac Live room calibration.
Arguably the most sophisticated auto-calibration technology available, it does an extraordinary job fine-tuning the receiver to the listening room.
Dirac tuning is not carried out by the receiver with a microphone but via a laptop. Sounds complicated? Don’t fret. Buyers will have room calibration done by the dealer that supplies the receiver.
REASON TO BUY:
- Sublime musical performance
- Class-leading auto-calibration system
REASONS TO AVOID:
- Only seven channels of amplification
- Outdated user interface
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