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The Best Home Theater Receivers

1
Sony STRDH590 HDR AV Receiver

Editor's Choice
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Sony updates the AV receiver for the digital age with its STRDH590 4K AV Receiver with Bluetooth. Sony products are filled with innovative tech and the STRDH590 is no slouch when it comes to features.

Designed for smaller rooms, like a home theater or living room, this unit is equipped with Sony's S-Force PRO, which produces virtual surround sound with only a two-speaker setup. This effect is achieved thanks to some sophisticated digital processing that directs the TV speakers' sound at wider angles. These sound waves are aimed at the walls and towards the back of the room to create an enveloping audio effect around the viewer that resembles a 5.1 channel surround sound with half the equipment. In short, the guys at Sony are pros at harmonics.

Another cutting edge feature on the STRDH590 is Sony's DCAC, which stands for Digital Cinema Auto Calibration. If you have multiple speakers like a 5.1 channel system, then the DCAC is going to be your best friend. In short, this convenient system scans the harmonics of your living room then pinpoints where to place your speakers. Next, it calibrates the best audio levels, frequencies, and parameters for your receiver to better suite your home theater. In essence, forget getting a professional audio installer, this Sony receiver will do it for you.

To top it off, this unit offers crystal clear 4K definition for your TV and Bluetooth connectivity so you can control your system via your phone as well as connect wireless speakers. And of course, how can we forget the audio specs? The STRDH590 boasts a 725 watts of output couples with 6 ohms of impedance.

This offering from Sony is a serious hole in one when it comes to marrying quality audio with innovation.

Key Features

  • Equipped with Sony's advanced S Force PRO virtual surround sound
  • No professional installation required! DCAC calibrates best audio levels and speaker locations
  • Bluetooth enabled for wireless speakers

2
Denon AVR-S540BT Channel Receiver

Clearest Audio
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What we like the most about the Denon AVR-S540BT Channel Receiver is its flexibility and customization. This unit has many of the same capabilities as other receivers like 4K definition, 145 watt output, and Bluetooth wireless capabilities. However, Denon builds upon these features in a way that others don't. For example this unit has Bluetooth Audio with 8 device memory, so you don't have to re-sync every time you switch from your phone or laptop. This Bluetooth capability also means you can connect wireless speakers and your Smart TV to the receiver wirelessly as well. The Denon AVR can also be controlled with your smartphone or your smart TV remote.

On top of the flexible Bluetooth connections, the AVR-S450BT has numerous channel options to fit whatever shape your home theater is. We're talking 2.1, 3.1, 5.1, or 5.2 audio channel options. Whatever configuration you decide on, this receiver will be bumping out DTS HD Master Audio.

The key feature with DTS Master Audio is its lossless audio system. Now what this means is that you're guaranteed the closest audio to the master recording you can get. Lossless audio is identical to the studio master since no audio compression is involved to dilute the quality. Couple lossless audio technology with the immersion of Denon's surround sound and you're in store for a truly authentic home cinema experience.

Like the Sony receiver, installation for the Denon AVR-S450BT is simple too. With Denon's onscreen Set Up Assistant and Room Calibration technology, this receiver can pinpoint the best placement and audio settings of your speakers according to the acoustics of your living room or home theater.

Key Features

  • 8 device Bluetooth memory
  • Multiple audio channel options
  • DTS HD Lossless Audio gives you the clearest sound possible

3
Yamaha R-S202BL Stereo Receiver

Most Accessible
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Yamaha's R-S202BL Receiver may not have all the features as some other receivers on this list, but it is a highly accessible offering for those seeking a solid unit to start their home entertainment center with.

Though you cannot connect your HDTV to this unit (no HDMI ports), you can depend on it to provide you with loud and clear 70 dB audio. For those with older TV models, the R-S202BL offers RCA hookups and circuitry for wired audio.

This Yamaha also has Bluetooth connections for wireless speakers or streaming music from your smart phone. If you want to rock out to the radio like Mike Myers and Dana Carvey in Wayne's World, this unit has you covered too with a 40 station FM/AM tuner.

Overall, we like this Yamaha for its simple controls, solid performance, not to mention its sleek brushed aluminum design. Though not the most feature heavy unit, the Yamaha R-S202BL is good performer with plenty of potential as the core of your home theater system.

Key Features

  • 70 dB audio
  • 40 station FM/AM tuner
  • Sleek, brushed aluminum design

4
Pioneer SX-10AE Home Audio Stereo Receiver

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Much like the Yamaha, Pioneer's SX-10AE keeps things straightforward with this receiver. This simple unit plays it smart with Bluetooth compatibility so you can sync your phone seamlessly. Equipped with a remote and 40 channel AM/FM tuner there isn't too much dividing this unit from the Yamaha other than its auto standby feature which turns off by itself after being idle and its unique Direct Energy Design. That second feature is probably more interesting so we'll explain.

Pioneer's Direct Energy Design is one feature made with audio efficiency and quality in mind. The SX-10AE houses a discrete amplifier for faithful reproduction of the audio recording, thus producing a greater clarity of sound. Every inch of the chassis has been optimized for audio exactness in mind. So, if you're deciding between this model and the Yamaha R-S202BL, the choice really hinges upon your audio preference. The Pioneer opts for clearer audio at a less bass heavy experience, while the Yamaha has a greater emphasis on lower frequencies. But despite the differences in priorities, the Pioneer is in fact louder than its Yamaha competitor with a 100 dB output.

The SX-10AE ends our list as a solid performing receiver with plenty of modern options and a great ear for audio clarity.

Key Features

  • Direct energy design for optimum audio clarity
  • Auto standby feature
  • 85 watt power, 100 dB output

Most of us know good sound quality when we hear it, but not everybody knows all the jargon when it comes to audio systems. We realize you want the best your money can buy, so we compiled this guide to help you better understand all the audio lingo and make the best decision for you.

Watt

This is the measure of a speaker’s electrical output. The greater wattage a speaker has the more output a speaker can perform and the louder it can be.

Ohms

Ohms refers to your speaker or amplifier impedance. Impedance is the amount of resistance needed in a current to keep the voltage from blowing the system. So for however much wattage you have going into a system, you will also need an appropriate amount of ohms (resistance) to keep the circuit controlled. This number must be calculated according to how many speakers you have in your system and the wattage of your speakers and amplifier. In essence, if you want louder audio this will require greater wattage followed by the right number of ohms to stabilize voltage.

5.1 Channel

This is ratio used to explain audio system formats. For example the five means five audio channels or speakers, while the one refers to the one subwoofer used in the system.

4K Definition

4K is the new standard of high definition and is essentially four times sharper than 1080p. We’re talking over 8 million crisp, lifelike pixels.

Bluetooth

Bluetooth is a short range wireless system that sends data over radio waves and connects mobile phones and laptops to other devices. For AV receivers, Bluetooth can be used in a number of ways such as connecting wireless speakers to the system or streaming music from your phone directly to the unit.

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