I’m still in the market for a stereo receiver. I want one that will work well for both music listening and watching movies. To get a receiver to do both well it appears that you’ll need an AV receiver rather than just a stereo receiver. If you want a receiver strictly for listening to music then you probably don’t want an AV receiver because stereo receivers generally do music better.
This is my dilemma, having great sounding music is really important to me. Having a great movie experience is also important not only for me but also my family. I would like to ultimately have a home theater experience that feels like being in an actual cinema, and a music listening experience that would please most audiophiles.
Can I accomplish this with an AV receiver? I hope so. The other caveat is I have a budget of under $1000 so I want the best AV receiver that fits my budget and is available today.
My last post I previewed the Yamaha RX-V6A and RX-V4A AV Receivers which will become available this year. Check that out for more info. I decided I don’t want to wait for these. I just bought some new speakers and a new projector so I’m ready now. That is why today we are going to look at the best budget AV receivers for 2020 that are available now.
My plan right now is to pick one from this list and actually buy it. The receivers we will look at will be either 5 channel or 7 channel. I personally want a 7 channel so you know if I choose one of these it will be a 7 channel.
Besides the number of channels, there are other features you’ll want to consider when buying an AV receiver. You’ll need to know how many inputs and outputs you’ll need. What kind of sound formats does it support such as Dolby Atmos. Does it have any LFE outputs for your sub woofer.
Take a look at the receivers on this list and see what they have to offer. This should help you with your decision and allow you to buy the correct receiver for your current system or the one you are planning.
Keep reading to find out which one I picked.
Note: The power is specified in continuous watts, not maximum watts.
1. Denon AVR-S540BT 5.2 Channel
Denon is well-known for producing great receivers and the Denon AVR-S540BT is no exception. This receiver has 5.2 channels with 70 watts per channel.
It is great for your home theater since it provides degradation-free pass through for 4K Ultra HD video using HDCP 2.2 processing on all 5 HDMI inputs, 4:4:4 Pure Color sub-sampling, along with HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG. It does have support for Dolby and DTS surround sound decoding.
It also offers Bluetooth for easy mobile connections and pairs with a Denon Heos Link for multi-room playback and support for streaming services.
Other connections include composite video switching (2 in, 1 out), digital audio inputs (2 optical, 1 coaxial), 2 analog stereo audio inputs, preamp outputs for two powered sub woofers, no phono input, front USB port for flash drives, 5 speakers outputs, and a full-sized headphone jack.
Back of Denon AVR-S540BT
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2. Denon AVR-S750H 7.2 Channel
This is another high-quality Denon receiver but this one has 7.2 channels. With the AVR-S750H you’ll get great surround sound that includes app control, wireless streaming, and multi-room music capability.
This receiver will power seven speakers allowing you to use all the channels in a 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos or DTS:X system. It also has Dolby and DTS surround sound decoding, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization, and DTS Virtual:X
With 75 watts per channel, you’ll be able to power bookshelf, ceiling, and wall speakers.
There is support for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Apple AirPlay 2 so go ahead and stream music from your phone or tablet. Don’t forget about vinyl either as this has a built-in phono input.
The AVR-S750H also has the HEOS built-in technology giving you access to your music from multiple locations including streaming services, internet radio, or your own library.
Add HEOS wireless speakers and you can set up a wireless multi-room audio system. With the HEOS app you can control the music played in each room which can be the same or something different. In addition, HEOS lets you interface with Alexa and Google Assistant.
Connections include 6 HDMI 2.0b inputs and 1 output all with HDCP 2.3, HDR compatibility, HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG support. Two analog stereo audio inputs, preamp outputs for two powered sub woofers, phone input, front USB port for flash drives, an Ethernet port, 7 speakers outputs, and a full-sized headphone jack.
Back of Denon AVR-S750H
3.Yamaha RX-V4A 5.1 Channel And
4. Yamaha RX-V6A 7.2 Channel
These are the brand spanking new Yamaha RX-V4A 5.1 channel and the RX-V6A 7.2 channel AV receivers.
What’s great about Yamaha’s two new receivers is that both come with future-proofing support that includes 8K, HDMI 2.1, and HDR+10. The RX-V6A is the more powerful of the two new receivers with its 7.2 channels and 100 watts of power per channel. It also has a Zone 2 option that allows for the connection of speakers in different parts of your home.
When it comes to connections, the RX-V6A has HDMI 2.1 with HDCP 2.3 and eARC for its seven HDMI inputs and one HDMI output. It doesn’t appear that I’ll have to worry about having enough HDMI inputs as this one has the most on the market. The refresh rate supported is 8K/60Hz.
Both receivers support audio formats Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. With the RX-V6A you’ll also find support for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and YPAO Multi-Point automatic room calibration. Voice control is available for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. Both the RX-V6A and the RX-V4A support MusicCast and app control that includes Wi-Fi, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, streaming services, and offer MusicCast Surround meaning wireless MusicCast speakers can be used as surrounds with no wires to the receiver.
The RX-V6A goes further, offering Dolby Atmos with Height Virtualization that simulates the overhead sound experience giving you a 360-degree sound field.
The RX-V4A is a 5.1 channel receiver with 80 watts of power per channel which is less powerful than the RX-V6A but it is also about $150 cheaper. Also missing in this receiver, is the support for Dolby Atmos but there is 8K/60Hz support. You’ll also find four HDMI inputs and one output that features HDMI 2.1 with HDCP 2.3 and eARC. YPAO automatic room calibration is supported which helps optimize the sound of your home theater based on its environment.
Both receivers will be able to support the 4K/120Hz refresh rate after a firmware update.
Connections for the RX-V4A include 4 HDMI 2.1 inputs and 1 output, all with HDCP 2.3 technology, HDR compatibility, HDR10 and HDR10+ support, digital audio inputs(1 Toslink optical, 1 coaxial), 3 analog stereo RCA audio inputs, two line-level subwoofer outputs, front USB port for flash drives, 5 speakers outputs, Ethernet port, 12-vold trigger output, and a full-sized headphone jack.
Connections for the RX-V6A include 7 HDMI 2.1 inputs and 1 output, all with HDCP 2.3 technology, HDR compatibility, HDR10 and HDR10+ support, digital audio inputs(1 Toslink optical, 1 coaxial), 3 analog stereo RCA audio inputs, MM phono input, two line-level subwoofer outputs, front USB port for flash drives, 9 speaker outputs (can power 7 channels at once), zone 2 stereo preamp outputs, Ethernet port, 12-vold trigger output, and a full-sized headphone jack.
Both receivers also feature gaming-optimized video processing with VRR, ALLM, QMS, and QFT. Also, support for ARC and eARC where eARC receives uncompressed surround sound including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
Back of Yamaha RX-V4A
Back of Yamaha RX-V6A
5. Sony STR-DH590 5.2 Channel
The well-known company Sony is on our list with the STR-DH590 5.1 channel receiver. This is a 4K receiver that gives you great sound and a lot of other features that make it a great choice for your home theater system.
This receiver is a 5.2 multi-channel surround sound that packs 90 watts of power per channel and supports Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD audio that exceeds its price point. It also has Digital Theater Auto Calibration (DCAC) for easy speaker setup.
There will be no degradation of TV images with its 4K and HDR passthrough capabilities and for music, it offers built-in Bluetooth wireless support for playing music form wireless devices.
Connections include 4 HDMI 2.0 inputs and 1 output all with HDCP 2.2 technology, HDR compatibility, HDR10, and Dolby Vision support. There are optical and coaxial digital audio inputs, 4 analog stereo audio inputs, no phono input, preamp outputs for 2 powered sub woofers, outputs for 5 speakers, 1/4″ headphone jack, and a rear USB port (power supply only).
Overall this a great receiver choice with a great price and should work well with your current setup.
Back of Sony STR-DH590
6. Sony STR-DH790 7.2 Channel
Here is another entry from Sony, the STR-DH790 7.2 channel receiver, and it may be the best one for Dolby Atmos on this list. Dolby Atmos is more common in higher-end receivers so it can be considered a premium option which makes this Sony receiver very desirable in this price point.
The STR-DH790 represents a significant improvement of its predecessor the STR-DH770. The main improvement is its support of Dolby Atmos, but it also has a more advanced automatic calibration system, and an eARC HDMI port.
Streaming music from you mobile device is possible using the built-in Bluetooth and the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding gives you 360-degree surround sound for a life-like movie experience.
This receiver has 7.2 channels with 90 watts per channel into 6 ohms and is also pretty flexible when it comes to setting up your speakers. Even if you only have a pair of stereo speakers, with Sony’s front surround sound technology you can still get that immersive surround sound experience. If you do have seven speakers, they can be configured to use the sixth and seventh channels for surround in the back or for front high speakers. Those channels can also be used to power a set of speakers in another room.
Connections include 4 HDMI 2.0a inputs and 1 output all with HDCP 2.2 technology, HDR compatibility, HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG support. There are digital audio inputs (1 optical, 1 coaxial), 4 analog stereo audio inputs, no phone input, preamp outputs for 2 powered sub woofers, outputs for seven speakers, 1/4″ headphone jack, and a rear USB port (power supply only).
Back of Sony STR-DH790
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7. Onkyo TX-SR393 5.2 Channel
Another receiver with Dolby Atmos, the Onkyo TX-SR393 5.2 Channel receiver came out in 2019 and was the least expensive AV receiver Onkyo had. Even though that may be the case, this receiver still offers a lot of features in a relatively small size. Two important features are support for 4K and HDR-encoded content.
There are five channels of amplification with 80 watts per channel into 8 ohms and with its Dolby Atmos and DTS:X surround sound processing, you can set up a 3.1.2 system using overhead speakers in place of the traditional surround speaker channels.
It does come with Bluetooth that allows you to stream music from your phone and with 80 watts per channel, this receiver works well with most bookshelf, in-wall, and ceiling speakers for small to medium-sized rooms. In addition, you get AccuEQ that will calibrate your speakers to optimize the sound for your room.
Connections include 4 HDMI inputs and 1 output all with HDCP 2.2 technology, HDR compatibility, HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG support. There are digital audio inputs (1 optical, 1 coaxial), 3 analog stereo audio inputs, zone B stereo line-level outputs, preamp outputs for 2 powered sub woofers, rear USB port for power only, and outputs for 5 speakers.
Back of Onkyo TX-SR393
8. Onkyo TX-NR696 7.2 Channel
The last entry is the Onkyo TX-NR696 7.2 channel AV receiver. This receiver came out in 2019 also and is an upgrade to the 2018 model. In addition to the same feature set of its predecessor this one has Apple AirPlay2 to stream music from your iPhone or iPad and integrates with Siri.
Other upgrades include a new quad-core networking processor, a better screen display, and a new remote control.
There are seven channels with this receiver that can power seven speakers at the same time and each channel rates at 100 watts of power. This receiver gives you the flexibility to use all seven channels in a 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos or DTS:X system or configure a smaller system using the extra channels for music in another zone.
In addition to AirPlay 2 support, there is also Bluetooth for streaming music and a built-in Chromecast feature. With Wi-Fi you’ll be able to use Spotify and Pandora, and you’ll have access to internet radio.
If you have wireless multi-room music, the TX-NR696 will easily integrate into your system. Adding a Sonos Port and using the Sonos App, you’ll be able to send music from any source to this receiver. In addition, when you start the Sonos app, your receiver will automatically turn on and switch to the correct input source. That is pretty cool.
The TX-NR696 is built for great sound. Soundtracks will have great clarity due to its premium 32-bit/38 kHz digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and the Dynamic Audio Amplification produces great power with low distortion. Its Specialized Vector Linear Shaping Circuitry filters noise across the two front channels to give you a precise reproduction of the audio signal.
Other features include in addition to Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, THX Certified Select theater reference sound, AccuEQ Advance 9-point automatic speaker calibration to optimize the sound to your room, and AccuReflex aligns phase of up-firing height speakers with the sound that comes directly from your other speakers.
Connections include 7 HDMI inputs and 2 output all with HDCP 2.2 technology, HDR compatibility, HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG support. There are digital audio inputs (1 optical, 1 coaxial), 5 analog stereo audio inputs, a front 3.5 mm mini jack, MM phono input, preamp outputs for 2 powered sub woofers, rear USB port for flash drive playback, Ethernet port, and outputs for 9 speakers (7 can be powered at once).
Let’s just say the Onkyo TX-NR696 7.2 channel receiver is loaded and may be the best one on this list for home theater.
Back of Onkyo TX-NR696
I suppose now it’s time for the verdict. Let’s go ahead and eliminate some based on my specific needs. First off, I want a receiver that has 7.2 channels so I can expand in the future. That eliminates half of the receivers on this list.
I also don’t like spring clip speaker wire connections since they really don’t perform as well as ones that support banana plugs, and it just so happens I just bought banana plug speaker wires. So that leaves the Onkyo TX-NR696, the Yamaha RX-V6A, and the Denon AVR-S750H still in contention.
First I’ll eliminate the Denon since it only has 75 watts of power per channel which is probably enough but the other two would probably power my tower speakers better. That leaves the Onkyo, and the Yamaha. I think the Onkyo is probably better if you are looking for a receiver for mainly home theater usage.
For music, I think Yamaha and Dennon have a better reputation, and for reliability, I also think Yamaha and Dennon have a better reputation. The fact that I’m more familiar with Yamaha equipment than Onkyo also gives the Yamaha the edge.
Another thing I need to consider, are both these receivers available from the source I purchase equipment. With all these considerations, the AV receiver I choose is…. Stay tuned for the answer in my next post. Just kidding, I would like to get the Yamaha but the last thing I heard is it won’t be available until 2021. I can’t wait that long.
So I decided to take a look at the Denon again since it has a reputation for being better for music. Since the Denon AVR-S750H isn’t recommended for tower speakers, I took a look at the Denon AVR-S950H. I noticed it had a couple more features than the older Yamaha I was looking at, and did have enough power for my floor speakers. So there you have it, I chose the Denon AVR-S950H 7.2 channel receiver.
Funny thing though, as I was looking to buy this Denon I found a factory refurbished Denon AVR-X2600H receiver available that is highly rated and sits at a higher price point than what I was looking at. So instead of the AVR-S950H I snagged the refurbished one instead for the about the same price. I know buying refurbished can be risky, let’s hope I don’t live to regret it.
Once I get the receiver and set up all my new equipment, I’ll give an update on what I think. Also, keep on the lookout for my unboxing video of my new receiver.
Let me know what YOU think in the comments below. I hope you enjoyed this post and got the information you were looking for. I have to say, it was kind of a painful process. Thanks for reading.