AV receivers do two things: They power your surround sound system and act as a switch or hub between your input devices and your television. If you want to experience the huge, rich sound that you hear in a movie theater in your living room, then you need a surround sound system. And if you have more than a couple input devices, you'll need a central hub to plug the HDMI cables into.
The best AV receivers that we reviewed are the Onkyo TX-NR636, the Sony STR-DN850 and the Pioneer VSX-1124K. If you want to learn more, keep reading, or check out our additional articles on home theater receivers.
When choosing the best AV receiver for your needs, there are several features you should consider. We broke AV receivers down according to the following criteria:
There are two main video capabilities to look for in an AV receiver: pass-through capabilities and upscaling capabilities. You'll want a receiver that can pass through 4K video so that you can watch media at the highest possible resolution. Look for a receiver that is enabled with HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2. These technologies are rarely used now, but you'll need them to watch the 4K content of the future.
Some of the top AV receivers can actually upscale content to higher resolutions. If you use a lot of legacy video inputs, then look for a receiver that can upscale standard-definition videos to 1080p. If you own a 4K television, then look for a receiver that can upscale 1080p video to 4K.
You'll want to purchase an AV receiver with at least 50 watts of power when measured at two channels. This ensures that you can watch movies at an immersive volume without the amplifier or speakers suffering from degraded sound quality.
You'll also want a unit with wireless capabilities. Look for a receiver with Bluetooth and AirPlay. This gives you the ability to use your surround sound system as a wireless speaker system. You'll be able to send music to your speakers by simply tapping a few commands on your smartphone or tablet.
Look for a receiver that can power at least seven speakers and one subwoofer. This provides you with the most immersive listening experience possible and allows you to experience the latest and greatest DTS and Dolby surround sound formats.
You should also buy a receiver with at least five HDMI inputs. This gives you the ability to plug a multitude of devices into the receiver. Some of the best receivers have up to seven HDMI inputs. There are also a variety of legacy audio inputs that will be useful if you own older audio equipment. Look for a receiver with at least one optical input and two analog audio inputs. This allows you to use your old audio equipment with your new receiver.
Help & Support
AV receiver companies tend to route much of their customer support through their authorized retailers. However, there are still are few things you should look for in an AV receiver support team. Look for a company with phone support and a social media team. Social media has become one of the best ways to get timely assistance with a problem. Also, you should look for a warranty of at least two years.
An AV receiver can transform your home theater experience. Our in-depth reviews can help you make sure you choose a receiver that will last for years.