What kind of home theatre receiver to choose? Part 2

The first part of the article:

Take into account the size and characteristics of the room!

Movies sound MUCH more dynamic than most music. That is, the loud parts can be MUCH louder! It is important to purchase a receiver that has backup power, otherwise the loud parts will be distorted. Not only does this degrade the sound, but it can also damage your speakers. Ideally, about 100 watts or more per channel is required. It is even better, if the receivers also have preamplifier output connectors in order to add an extra amplifier later to increase performance.

What to look for if you want wireless multi-room sound?

In the past, if we wanted to listen to music in another room, we had to drill a lot of holes in the walls and floors to lead the wires to the speakers.

There is no need for that today. Many of today’s latest AV receivers have built-in wireless multi-room features (such as Denon’s HEOS, Yamaha MusicCast, etc.) that can be controlled via a downloadable APP on your phone, tablet, or computer.

Many of the latest home theatre receivers can be easily controlled from any application on your iPhone, tablet or computer, giving you complete control from anywhere in the house.

HEOS Denon app

Often, these APPs are customisable – you can modify them to fit a particular room. An example is the HEOS by Denon multi-room system application.

Make sure there is enough space for the receiver!

AV receivers are often larger than you might think.

An AV receiver should dissipate heat, so I recommend leaving enough space around it for ventilation purposes. Disposing of sufficient ventilation, overheating can be avoided, thus extending the lifespan of your electronic devices.

One thing is for sure: today’s new AV receivers are significantly larger and heavier than their ancestors. Therefore placing them on a nice glass or plastic shelf isn’t exactly the right thing to do.

What is the second zone?

Imagine it’s 9pm and you want to watch “Westworld,” but someone else wants to watch another movie on DVD. A multi-zone receiver allows multiple video sources – cable, satellite, Apple TV, Blu-ray player, etc. – and sends the respective signal to two different TVs. This way it is possible to watch up to two live TV programs in parallel using the same multi-zone receiver, although this requires an additional cable or a second satellite TV set.

Is the room calibration system worth anything?

Yes, almost all AV receivers have included automatic room calibration software today. A room that went through an acoustic treatment, the room calibration software works well further perfecting the sound.

What if I already have an AV receiver?

If you already have a home theatre receiver but are more than five years old, it’s time to upgrade to access the latest formats such as for instance the Dolby Atmost. In addition, the number of functions of a new AV receiver is proportional to the number of new functions in a new TV. However, it is not necessary to change your stereo receiver so often, because not much has changed in that category. But you may want to replace your AV receiver when you buy a new TV to take advantage of the new features of more advanced TVs.

What brands are worth buying?

There are many excellent brands, but our favorites are Yamaha, Marantz, Denon, Arcam, NAD and Sony, to name a few.

10 home cinema amplifiers that we think are worth buying in 2021:

1.Denon AVC-X8500H


The 13.2 channel home cinema receiver is a truly stunning model thanks to its 13 power levels. In terms of aesthetics, it offers a modern and attractive design. It has a power of 140 watts per channel, features details and muscular output, a rugged housing, room acoustic optimisation system, true surround sound, and is able to fill the space. Dynamics and accuracy could be better, deep tones aren’t percussive enough, and the digits and letters on the remote control are too small, it is too heavy and sensitive to movements.

2.Denon AVC-X6700H


The reproduced sound by this device is lively, spacious, detailed with excellent dynamics and accuracy, the dialogues are clear enough. The basses could be better, but with a high-performance subwoofer and speakers, that shall be fine too.

It delivers a power of 205 Watts, has 11.2 channels, 8K HDR resolution, Wifi, Bluetooth connection, IMAX Enhanced, Dolby Atmos, DTS: X, 8 HDMI inputs.

3.Sony STR-DN 1080


Accurate and dynamic with intense basses, has 7.2 channels, Dolby Atmos, 4K HDR, Bluetooth connectivity. It has 6 HDMI input, and music streaming services are also available. It would not hurt if the remote control had backlight, but the price of the receiver is very affordable.

4.Denon AVR – X2700H


The 7.1 channel amplifier has a power of 150 Watts, 8K HDR, Dolby Atmos, DTS: X, IMAX Enhanced, 7 HDMI inputs, Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity. The remote control is excellent, the bass could be more powerful, but that might just be what struck us the most.

5.Yamaha RX-A 1080


Yamaha has 170 watts of power, 7.2 channels, 4K HDR, Dolby Atmos, DTS: X, Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity. The amplifier has many functions, great and detailed sound, but we have assessed that in terms of accuracy and dynamics it was a bit lagging behind.

6.Onkyo TX-SR 393


The 5.2-channel AVR promises 155 watts of power per channel. It lacks built-in Chromecast, Wi-fi, Ethernet connectivity, no Phono input and no access to internet radio, Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Alexa… etc either. But as for an entry-level amplifier in this price range these shortcomings may still be excused. It can be calibrated using the Onkyo AccuEQ room acoustic correction system. Among its entry-level receiver competitors, the Onkyo is an awesome and outstanding model at an affordable price.

7.Marantz SR6014


The Marantz SR6014 is an AV receiver, and that means it is designed to be a central part of your home theatre system. It is equipped with eight HDMI inputs, each capable of 4K video recording with full HDCP 2.3 support. There are also three HDMI outputs, one of which has full eARC functionality. It provides a definite and harmonious sound, supports IMAX Enhanced, Dolby Atmos elevation virtualisation technology, and DTS: X and DTS Virtual: X formats.

8.NAD C368


Extremely simple, clean, stable and solid, the housing is clearly designed with practicality and durability in mind. The NAD amplifier also has 2 analog, USB, and 3 HDMI inputs, 2 coaxial and 2 optical inputs. 2 pairs of speakers and 1 subwoofer can be connected to the device. A Bluetooth connection is also available for this model. The MM Phono input also allows you to play old vinyl records. The frequency transmission is 10 Hz-65 kHz. The output power is 2x 80 Watts. The sound is almost flawless, the price is affordable. It features high quality, durability and affordability. Maybe only the higher frequency ranges are a little weaker than expected, but apart from that, we didn’t find any serious flaw.

9.Denon AVR S750

AVR-S750-home theater receiver

7.2 channel, 4k Ultra HD AV receiver with 165 watts per channel. It has 6 4 K / HDR compatible HDMI inputs, 1 output and Ethernet, USB, Bluetooth, Wifi connections. There are 3 digital inputs-2 optical and 2 coaxial on the device. Audyssey Room Correction software and a microphone for measuring calibrate the speakers. It plays also vinyl records on the Phono input.

Unfortunately, the AVR-S750H does not have Google Chromecast support, unlike its rivals. The affordable price and Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2, Denon’s own HEOS feature, and Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant voice control APPs are clearly in favour of the receiver. I didn’t like the look that much anymore: it seems boring, outdated compared to similar devices from competitors. Its predecessor performed somewhat better in sound, and we encountered issues with the bass frequency ranges.

10.Anthem MRX 1120


It has 8 HDMI inputs and 2 HDMI outputs. With a 4-core digital signal processor and 32-bit / 768 kHz differential output D / A converters, the Anthem MRX 1120 is capable of converting 4K videos. We witnessed fantastic, clear and detailed sound quality. The ARC system is a very serious advantage of the device, the only objection being perhaps that it cannot handle subwoofers individually.

(We have previously published test results on our website regarding several of the receivers listed above, feel free to read them for more insights.)


Written by Róbert Polgár

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