Best AV Receivers for 2023


Originally published: November, 2022; Updated: May, 2023.

Skip Directly to Our Receiver Recommendations:

  • Denon AVR-S760H – Excellent budget performer with Dolby Atmos 5.1.2
  • Sony STR-AZ1000ES/STR-AN1000 – Upgraded 5.1.2 choice with support for Sony 360 Reality Audio and IMAX Enhanced
  • Onkyo TX-NR7100 – Most Affordable 9-channel receiver (5.1.4, 7.2.2) – Includes DIRAC Live room correction
  • Denon AVR-X3800H – Most Versatile, Future-Proof Option with 9 channels (upgradeable to 11 channels), support for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, AURO 3d, IMAX Enhanced and 360 Reality Audio, DIRAC Live calibration (optional)

The Case for AVRs

While soundbars have come a long way lately, nothing beats a good Audio/Video receiver (AVR) with a discrete set of surround sound speakers for a truly immersive surround sound system. You’ll get more of everything: more inputs, more features, more flexibility and usually better sound to boot. Yes, it will take you a bit more time (and a roll of speaker wire) to set up, compared to a soundbar, but the sonic reward you’ll get is well worth the effort.

The A/V receiver market has undergone a bit of a rebirth lately, starting with a flurry of new receiver announcements including models from Denon and Marantz at CEDIA Expo 2022. Sony released a new batch of receivers in February after a five year absence and Premium Audio Group announced new models from its Onkyo, Integra and Pioneer brands as well as evidence of continued support for these brands via regular firmware updates.

All of the models we’re recommending support video displays up to 8K in resolution, include HDMI 2.1 and HDCP 2.3 support and are compatible with the latest source components including next generation gaming consoles. Also, all recommended receivers support DTS:X and Dolby Atmos – not just the “virtual” kind but the discrete kind with real height speakers for the most immersive surround sound effects.

Solid Performance on a Budget: Denon AVR-S760H ($599)

The Denon AVR-S760H (available on Amazon and reviewed here) includes all of the features a burgeoning or budget-minded audiophile might crave including Dolby Atmos (5.1.2), DTS:X, six HDMI ports, network streaming and even a turntable input. It includes a reasonably powerful seven channel amplifier (75 Watts/Channel) which can power a Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 speaker system or do a standard 5.1-channel surround system in the main room plus provide power to second zone.

The receiver also includes support for Denon’s multi-room music platform and app (HEOS) so if you’re thinking about putting speakers in multiple rooms (and don’t already have a Sonos system), this is something to consider.

The Denon AVR-S760H covers all the bases for a solid entry-level home theater receiver.

I tested the 760H in my home theater system for several weeks and found that it worked reliably, was easy to set up and customize, and was capable of reaching impressively loud reference levels in our 14 x 16 foot space. It’s equally well suited to movies and music, with great dynamics and detail. It locks onto a Dolby Atmos signal from Blu-ray Disc or streaming apps on an Apple TV 4K box or Amazon FireTV stick reliably and quickly. The receiver was first released in 2021 but it is still current in Denon’s lineup as of May, 2023.

The receiver is compatible with the top three voice assistant/home control platforms: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Siri. You’ll find Audyssey MultEQ on board for automated speaker level calibration.

The MSRP is $599 but I’ve seen it on sale regularly at Amazon and Costco (in stores and online) for under $500. If you’re looking for a solid entry-level receiver with all of the essential features, it’s worth seeking out. If you’re willing to take a chance on a refurbished/renewed model, you may have better luck finding one at an even lower price.

Pros: low price, true Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support, turntable input, six HDMI ports, HDMI 2.1 with HDCP 2.3

Cons: lacks support for Reality 360 Audio or IMAX Enhanced

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Who Should Buy the Denon AVR-S760H?

Those looking for a budget-priced performance AVR from an established name brand who want to deploy a basic 5.1.2 channel Dolby Atmos/DTS:X system can’t go wrong with this receiver.

Where to Buy the Denon AVR-S760H:

Add 360 Reality Audio Support with Sony STR-AZ1000ES (STR-AN1000)

Comparable in many ways with the Denon AVR-S760H, Sony’s STR-AZ1000ES ($1099) is Sony’s latest entry into the AVR world, having been unveiled in February 2023. It began shipping shortly after that announcement. It’s available on Crutchfield.com and is reviewed here. Like the Denon AVR-S760H, the Sony receiver has seven channels of built-in amplification for a 5.1.2-channel immersive surround system. What the Sony has that the Denon lacks is support for IMAX:Enhanced video and audio, Sony’s own 360 Reality Audio immersive sound, Chromecast Built-in functionality as well as “Works with Sonos” certification.

The STR-AZ1000ES model is part of the company’s “Elevated Standard” line with a longer warranty and more CI-friendly features like an RS232 port for integration with legacy home automation systems. The STR-AN1000 model ($799) offers similar performance and features, but without the RS232 port at a lower price.

As for Sony’s 360 Reality Audio codec, this is a fairly new object-based immersive sound format that has begun to appear in music releases on streaming services such as Amazon Music, TIDAL, deezer and nugs.net. Similar to Dolby Atmos, 360 Reality Audio allows music producers and engineers to create an immersive, three dimensional representation of new and classic songs adding a level of involvement and immersion beyond what is possible with regular stereo or even traditional surround sound.

Who Should Buy the Sony STR-AZ1000ES or STR-AN1000?

Those who favor the Sony brand and want support for the latest immersive sound formats will appreciate this receiver. Also, support for third party products like Chromecast Built-in and Works with Sonos means this receiver plays nicely with other products and systems.

Where to Buy:

Sony STR-AZ1000ES on Crutchfield; Sony STR-AN1000 on Amazon

More Channels and More Power: Onkyo TX-NR7100 (MSRP $899 – reduced from $1299)

With a recent price drop to $899, the Onkyo TX-NR7100 just became the most affordable nine channel AV receiver from an established name brand. This is a great option if you have a larger home theater space or living room and you want to deploy a 5.1.4 or 7.1.2 channel Dolby Atmos speaker system.

Onkyo got a bit of a bad rap several years ago with a notorious issue with a bad batch of HDMI boards that caused premature failure. This caused some fans to abandon the brand, even though the problem has been resolved now for many years. Also, the parent company of both Onkyo and Pioneer recently declared bankruptcy but a new company has stepped in to take over production and distribution of Onkyo gear. The new owner is PAC (Premium Audio Company), a joint venture between VOXX International and Sharp. PAC has promised continued support for current products as well as development of new Onkyo products moving forward. The company has continued releasing firmware updates for its receivers so we feel confident recommending the brand.

onkyo-tx-nr7100-900

With nine channels of on-board amplification (100 Watts/Channel), the TX-NR7100 can fill a large room with immersive surround. You can choose between a 5.1.4 or 7.1.2-channel immersive surround system, depending on your room size, layout and preferences. Or you can go with a 5.1.2 or traditional 7.1 channel system and use the extra two amplifier channels to power a pair of speakers in another room.

What makes the TX-NR7100 receiver special is that it’s one of the first A/V receivers to include Dirac’s best of breed room correction software “Dirac Live” on-board at no extra cost. It even comes with a calibration microphone certified for use with Dirac in the box. The room correction routine itself is handled via a dedicated Onkyo app for Android or Apple devices. Seasoned Dirac professionals can also use Dirac software for Windows. Beyond what you can do with standard speaker calibration routines, Dirac Live makes adjustments in both the amplitude and time domain, compensating and correcting for anomalies in your listening room that may impact sound quality.

On the audio codec side, in addition to Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, DTS:HD Master Audio and DTS:X, the Onkyo TX-NR7100 includes “IMAX:Enhanced” support as well. With bi-directional Bluetooth, you can either stream music to the receiver using your phone or you can stream sound from the receiver to a pair of Bluetooth headphones or earbuds for late night listening.

Because Onkyo doesn’t have its own multi-room wireless music platform, it plays particularly nicely with third parties. The 7100 is “Works with Sonos” certified, which means your living room or home theater system can become its own Sonos room (zone) by adding a Sonos Port. The receiver also supports multiple streaming music services including Spotify, TIDAL, Amazon Music HD, Deezer, TuneIn, and Pandora. It is also compatible with the three most popular smart home ecosystems: Apple HomeKit, Google Home and Amazon Alexa. The receiver can be voice-controlled on any of these platforms using a compatible device. The Onkyo receiver supports DTS PlayFi for playback of your local digital music files, compatible apps and synchronization across multiple rooms. Finally, the TX-NR7100 has Google Chromecast on-board and Apple AirPlay 2 support built in.

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Pros: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and IMAX Enhanced Support, Dirac Live room correction, plenty of channels (up to 5.1.4 or 7.1.2 channel immersive sound), plays nicely with 3rd party products, most affordable 9-channel AVR from a name brand

Cons: Dirac Live version lacks independent subwoofer support, lacks preamp outputs for channel expansion, lacks support for 360 Reality Audio

Who Should Buy the Onkyo TX-NR7100?

The Onkyo TX-NR7100 is an excellent choice for those looking for a 5.1.4 or 7.1.2 channel immersive surround sound set-up at a fairly affordable price (currently under $900). With support for IMAX Enhanced, Works with Sonos, and DIRAC Live room correction, this receiver offers high end sound, optimization and flexibility without a high price tag.

Where to Buy the Onkyo TX-NR7100:

One with Everything: Denon AVR-X3800H ($1699)

Similar in some respects to the Onkyo model above, Denon’s brand new AVR-X3800H receiver offers nine channels of on-board amplification with 105 Watts/channel. But unlike the Onkyo, the Denon AVR-X3800H can be upgraded to an eleven channel system by simply adding a two-channel power amp. This receiver was announced at last year’s CEDIA Expo and began shipping in late 2022. It includes the latest features and technology for future compatibility and covers all the bases for audio and video format support. I’ve been testing it for a few weeks (review coming soon) and have found it to offer excellent sound and simple intuitive operation.

You’ll find Audyssey’s advanced MultEQ XT32 calibration software on board as well as an optional upgrade for Dirac Live room correction. But unlike the Onkyo receiver (and most other A/V receivers on the market today), the Denon AVR-X3800H supports connection of up to four subwoofers, with independent controls for each. Most receivers have only a single subwoofer output (or at most two, which are not independently adjustable). By having four independent subwoofer outputs, you can install two, three or even four subwoofers in your listening room and adjust them so they complement each other instead of working against each other. And no, this is NOT to annoy your neighbors (well not ONLY that) but it will allow you to get truly uniform deep bass response anywhere in your room.

The tricky part about bass frequencies is that they tend to interact with the room and with each other, creating areas where the bass is too strong (room modes) and areas where the bass disappears (bass nodes). With proper placement of multiple subwoofers – and proper calibration or correction – you can get deep, solid low frequency response no matter where you sit. With both Audyssey MultEQ XT32 built-in and a DIRAC Live option, hobbyists and professional calibrators alike have numerous options to dial in the best possible sound for your specific room.

denon-avr-x3800h-900

With its nine on-board amps and four sub outputs, the AVR-X3800H can be configured right out of the box for a 5.4.4 or 7.4.2-channel immersive Dolby Atmos surround system. If you need even more channels, the 3800 actually has 11 channels of processing, so you can add a 2-channel power amp for a 7.4.4 channel system. Eleven speakers plus four subwoofers. That’s a lot of speakers. This makes the AVR-X3800H an excellent choice for a large home theater room or living room where you’ve got a lot of space to fill with sound.

The AVR-X3800H also has Denon’s HEOS whole home music and streaming platform on-board so it will easily integrate in a multi-room speaker system along with other HEOS devices. Install the HEOS app on your Apple or Android phone, link it up with the receiver, add your music streaming apps and you’re ready to rock.

For immersive surround, the 3800 supports pretty much every 3D audio format known to man (and woman): Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, IMAX:Enhanced, Auro 3D, 360 Reality Audio and MPEG H. For legacy stereo and surround sound content, the receiver includes Dolby Surround, DTS Neural:X and Auro-Matic processing to enhance the immersiveness of the sound. If you’re into 3D audio, in virtually any format, on virtually any streaming service, the Denon AVR-X3800H has got you covered. And the receiver has only gotten better since launch with Dirac Live room correction now available as an optional software update.

Pros: Comprehensive immersive audio support, nine channels upgradeable to eleven channels, Audyssey MultEQ XT 32 calibration, upgradeable to Dirac Live, up to four independently controlled subwoofers

Cons: A bit pricey, no built-in Sonos compatibility or Chromecast built-in support

Who Should Buy the Denon AVR-X3800H?

The Denon AVR-X3800H is a superb option for those looking for the immersive sound in a large room with wide format support for the best future-proofing. It has nine channels of amplification, but can be upgraded to 11 channels with a 2-channel amp (for 7.1.4, or even 7.4.4 channel system). It is the most affordable receiver to support four independently controlled subwoofer outputs. It supports Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, AURO 3D, Sony 360 Reality Audio, IMAX Enhanced and MPEG-H immersive sound as well as DIRAC Live room correction via an optional upgrade. Truly “One with Everything.”

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Where to Buy Denon AVR-X3800H:

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