We spent dozens of hours researching and comparing the best AV receivers under $600 to help you find the right one for your entertainment room. We evaluated each receiver’s power handling, audio format options and available connection types, and based on our research, we think the Sony STR-DN1080 is the best option overall because it has the best combination of power, connectivity and audio codecs for surround sound.
You can easily spend thousands of dollars on a high-quality AV receiver, but there are plenty of good options in the $300 to $600 range. We think $400 to $600 is the sweet spot for receivers that are powerful and that offer plenty of connectivity and audio format options.
The Sony STR-DN1080 is the best receiver we reviewed because it has an exceptional power rating for 6- and 8-ohm speakers and excellent connectivity. It’s also one of the few receivers with two HDMI outputs.
The Denon AVR-S730H is a 7.2-channel AV receiver with a bevy of connectivity options and audio decoders, and it’s one of the best values on the market.
The Onkyo TX-NR575 has all the connections found on quality AV receiver, including six HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs. It also has a phono input for connecting a turntable.
|Product||Price||Overall Rating||Power Handling||Audio Formats||Connectivity||Help & Support||Phono Input||Composite Inputs||HDMI Inputs||Analog Audio Inputs||Subwoofer Pre-Outs||HDCP 2.2 Compatible||Additional HDMI Output||Two-Zone Audio||Output for 8-ohm Speakers (watts)||Standby Power Consumption (watts)||Power Consumption (watts)||Output for 6-ohm Speakers (watts)||Max Channel Processing||Depth (inches)||Weight (lbs.)||Width (inches)||Height (inches)||Warranty|
|Sony STR-DN||View Deal||5/5||10||10||10||10||-||✓||6||✓||2||✓||✓||✓||130||0.3||Not Listed||165||7||13.97||18.3||16.93||6.14||2 Years|
|Yamaha AVENTAGE||View Deal||4.5/5||9.5||7.3||9.8||8.8||-||✓||4||✓||2||✓||-||✓||120||0.1||Not Listed||140||7||13||18.3||17.13||6.38||2 Years|
|Pioneer VSX-LX102||View Deal||4.5/5||8.8||7.3||10||8.8||✓||✓||6||✓||2||✓||-||✓||80||0.15||460||170||7||17.69||20.7||21.25||10.25||2 Years|
|Onkyo TX-NR||View Deal||4/5||9.3||6||10||7.5||✓||✓||4||✓||2||✓||-||-||80||0.1||480||170||7||12.63||19||17.13||6.81||2 Years|
|Denon AVR||View Deal||4/5||8||6||9.8||6.3||-||✓||6||✓||2||✓||-||✓||75||0.1||400||110||7||13.3||18.8||17.1||6||2 Years|
|Harman Kardon AVR||View Deal||4/5||8.3||5||10||7.5||-||✓||6||✓||2||✓||✓||✓||100||0.5||510||100||7||11.81||11||17.31||4.75||2 Years|
|Yamaha RX-V||View Deal||3/5||7.5||2.3||6.3||8.8||-||✓||4||✓||1||✓||-||✓||110||0.1||Not Listed||130||5||12.88||17.9||17.13||8.75||2 Years|
|Marantz NR 1508||View Deal||3/5||4.8||2.3||9.8||8.8||-||✓||6||✓||2||✓||-||-||50||0.5||180||100||5||14.8||17.9||17.3||4.1||3 Years|
|NAD T 748 V2||View Deal||2.5/5||8||1||5.8||6.3||-||✓||4||✓||1||-||-||✓||80||0.5||280||120||7||15.69||25.3||17.13||6.63||2 Years|
|Pioneer VSX-S520||View Deal||2.5/5||4||5||4.3||6.3||✓||-||4||-||1||✓||-||-||40||0.2||60||60||5||12.81||8.8||17.12||2.75||1 Year|
The Sony STR-DN1080 is the best AV receiver we evaluated. It is the most powerful, and it has all the audio formats and connectivity options we looked for.
It is rated for 130 watts per channel at 8 ohms and 165 watts per channel at 6 ohms. Those power ratings are right in the sweet spot for any floor standing speakers that cost less than $2,000 per pair. The standby power consumption is a bit high compared to other receivers we evaluated, but that is a good sign that the power rating isn’t too exaggerated.
This receiver has all the necessary audio format options, including the newest Dolby Atmos and DTS:X multidimensional surround formats. Those formats add two overhead channels to the mix that are denoted in the marketing materials as 5.2.2, instead of the traditional 7.2. It also has Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS Neo: 6 decoders that make traditional two-channel stereo mixes sound good in a surround format. Those decoders are important if you listen to CDs or vinyl through your sound system.
The only connection the STR-DN1080 is missing is a phono input. You can connect a turntable to the analog RCA inputs, but since record players output a very quiet signal, it will need to have a built-in phono preamp. You can also purchase a phono preamp and put it in-line. It does have six HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs, which is the most you’ll find on a receiver at this price.
The Denon AVR-S730H isn’t quite as powerful as the best receivers we reviewed, but it has most of the audio formats and connection options found on the best models. It has a good feature set and costs $100 less than the best receivers we compared.
There are definitely cheaper options out there, but we don’t suggest spending less than $350 on your entertainment room’s hub, and if you decide that’s too much to spend, you may want to consider a sound bar instead.
The AVR S730H is rated for 75 watts per channel for 8-ohm speakers and 110 watts per channel for 6-ohm speakers. Those power ratings mean you can safely pair this receiver with most mid-level floor standing speakers or bookshelf speakers. It also has two-zone audio and two subwoofer outputs, so you can power a 5.1 AV system in one room and a 2.1 music-listening system in another.
This receiver includes support for the newest audio formats, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. Those multidimensional surround formats are the newest trend in the AV world, and you can be sure that audio producers for upcoming movies will include overhead audio information. As such, it is important to buy a receiver that can accommodate the sound and the speakers that project it.
Best for Connectivity
The Onkyo TX-NR575 has the most impressive input connection options of all the receivers we reviewed. It has six HDMI inputs, analog audio inputs, composite video inputs and a phono input.
That may be more than you currently need, but having too many inputs ensures your AV receiver is future-proof. It also has two subwoofer outputs, so you can add floor-rumbling bass to your movie-watching experience.
The TX-NR 575 sends 80 watts per channel to 8-ohm speakers and 170 watts per channel to 6-ohm speakers. The 8-ohm power rating is a bit low compared to the best receivers but should be sufficient to power most entry-level floor standing speakers. In addition, the 0.15-watt standby power consumption rating is among the lowest in our test group and can help keep your electricity bill low when you’re not using your system.
This receiver supports the newest audio formats: Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. These formats include overhead audio information that adds dimension and depth to movie soundtracks. You can stream audio via Wi-Fi-, Bluetooth- and Airplay-capable devices, and the Dolby Digital Plus decoder ensures the music you stream from them sounds great in your entertainment room.
With the Pioneer VSX-LX102, you’ll have similar features and power ratings as costlier AV receivers, without having to pay quite as much.
It works well with most home theater systems despite its only average power output and lack of two-zone audio. The 7.2-channel receiver has upscaling and pass-through capabilities and all of the necessary audio decoders used by Blu-rays, DVDs and various streaming services.
The VSX-LX102 can put out 80 watts of power per channel using 8-ohm speakers, or 170 watts if you use 6-ohm speakers. Its 7.2 audio channels can power up to seven speakers and two subwoofers, and its built-in audio decoders are more than capable of using these channels to their full potential. It’s compatible with 4K and 1080p video, and you can easily connect your Blu-ray player, gaming console or satellite box to it, although it only has four HDMI inputs. It also boasts a phono preamp, which is great to have if you regularly use a record player. Plus, the Pioneer’s small size helps it easily fit into your home entertainment center.
Best for Large Theater Rooms
If you need a powerful AV receiver for your large home theater room but don’t want to spend too much, the Yamaha AVENTAGE has your back.
Its excellent power output considering the price point and can easily power your home theater’s speakers. It has all the latest audio decoders, so no matter what devices you connect – such as a gaming console or Blu-ray player – you’ll have the best surround sound possible. Plus, built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity let you stream content to it wirelessly.
The AVENTAGE RX-A670 is rated for 120 watts per channel for 8-ohm speakers, or 140 watts with 6-ohm speakers. Additionally, it has two-zone audio so it can connect to speakers in separate rooms, which is perfect for watching a movie in one room and listening to an album in another. It has decoders for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD, so you can hear movie dialogue, action and soundtracks just as intended, as well as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X – the latest audio formats. And though it has Dolby Digital Plus, it lacks Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS Neo:6 decoders.
Why Trust Us?
To update our AV receiver reviews, we spent about 40 hours researching the newest technology and features and finding the best products out there. We approached the comparison process as if we were customers looking for a new receiver. That means we pored over each model’s spec sheets and user manuals, looking for the must-have features you won’t learn about by skimming the marketing materials found in stores and on websites.
We identified what separates the best AV receivers from the rest of the pack and then found all the features that contribute to those areas of performance. Our reviewers and editors are most interested in researching and explaining the important strengths and shortcomings that don’t show up on spec sheets or in customer reviews.
How We Researched
We believe power handling, audio format, connectivity, and help and support are the most important considerations when buying an AV receiver. As such, we identified the features that contribute to performance in each of those categories and compared the receivers based on them.
For instance, in the audio format category, we found that every receiver we compared has the Dolby TrueHD and DTS:HD lossless surround codecs, but only half of them have the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X multidimensional surround codec. So, the models that include that new audio format received a higher score in that category.
Connectivity options weighed heavily in our rankings. An AV receiver is the hub for your entertainment room, and it should have all the necessary connections to integrate new components into your system. HDMI cables are the industry-standard delivery method because they can send audio and video information through a single cable. As such, it’s important to choose a receiver that has more HDMI inputs and outputs than you currently need because new AV components will, most likely, use that connection. Receivers with more than four HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs received higher connectivity scores.
To compare each receiver’s power handling, we evaluated the manufacturer’s advertised power handling and compared it with the advertised power consumption. Power ratings are hard to test and often vary, even between two receivers of the same model. For this reason, we ranked products by their advertised rating. While we realize this number may be overinflated, it is most likely consistently so across the different manufacturers. When a receiver has a high power rating and low power consumption, the power rating is likely grossly overinflated, so keep that in mind as you pair it with speakers.
What Else Is Important?
After power handling, audio formats and all the toys you can connect to your receiver, there are a few other features you may want to consider.
Most of these receivers are big, boxy devices. They can be over 10 inches tall, 20 inches wide and 17 inches deep – better make sure yours will fit wherever you plan to put it.
In addition to the number of HDMI inputs, we looked at which legacy inputs, such as analog audio and digital inputs, component inputs, and composite inputs, each receiver has. These are all used by older technology. While you likely don’t still use a VCR or a first-generation video game console, legacy inputs are necessary if you want to connect them.
Since most movie soundtracks have a 5.1-channel format, you may not know what to do with the extra two channels on your 7.1-channel receiver. You could upmix the audio, which simply means that you send the same signal from one or more channels to the additional channels as well. However, with two-zone audio, you can connect the two additional channels to speakers in a different room. For it to truly be two-zone audio, you must be able to choose a different audio source for the second zone. For example, you could simultaneously play music in the second zone and watch a movie in the first zone.
Help & Support
We looked at each receiver’s warranty term, which varies significantly from model to model. You can expect your receiver to last anywhere from six years to a decade, and most have a two-year warranty.
We also considered the support options each manufacturer provides. AV receivers aren’t simple devices, and if you have trouble, the manufacturer should be able to help. The best companies provide educational resources to help you become a master of home theater.
Should You Upgrade Your Current AV Receiver?
If you’ve owned your AV receiver for years, you may be wondering whether you should upgrade to a newer unit. The answer depends on why you want an update. Connectivity and audio limitations are typically the biggest reasons why people consider an upgrade, but neither are completely necessary, plus it depends on your available budget.
If you simply like having the latest electronics, and price isn’t a concern, go for the update. There’s something nice about having the latest edition of a product, especially of nice electronics.
Now, if you believe that an upgrade will bring you much-needed access to the latest and greatest technological components, as would be the case with computers or smartphones, you’re probably mistaken. AV receiver technology doesn’t see changes quite as often as laptops and smartphones do, so your receiver’s sound is likely still as good as that of newer receivers.
However, if your receiver precedes DTS Master Audio or Dolby TrueHD, you may also want to upgrade, as some older cables may be limited to standard DTS/Dolby Digital. Though if you’re a top-notch audiophile, you may already know it is difficult to differentiate between these formats. We recommend going for upgraded speakers instead.
If you’re wanting to update your receiver for the sake of modern connectivity options, this is when an upgrade is a good idea. Depending on how old your current receiver is, you may not have HDMI connectivity, which limits what you can do with the receiver. It’s not a necessity, thanks to input switches, but it makes for less of a hassle. Of course, if you have a good universal remote and don’t mind the extra setup, honestly, you’re fine as is.
Contributing reviewer: Suzanne Humphries
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