If music is one of your passions like it is mine, then you’ll want to listen to it with the best sound possible. A sound that is better than what you get with a mp3. It might be a sound that you can only get with vinyl. In any case if the highest quality sound is something you not only want but need than you will want a stereo receiver. Throw in a home theater and you have little choice.
Buying a stereo receiver is an important purchase and it may be difficult knowing what you need with the components you already have. If you don’t have the other stereo components yet then you will want to know what components work with the receiver you are considering.
In this article we will look at five of the best high-end home stereo receivers on the marked today. Hopefully this will help you in making an all important decision on what stereo receiver you should buy for a really dynamic home stereo and home theater system. Let’s get started.
How to Decide
Before we start discussing the best-high end stereo receivers, you need to know what to look for to get the right receiver for you. This will take a little homework. The receiver does a lot of things, it provides power to the speaker, tunes in radio stations, provides a switching function between audio and video components, and allows you to design the type of sound you need for your room.
You also want to determine if the receiver is going to be primarily used for audio or to drive your home theater system. Other considerations are the receiver’s adaptability and compatibility when thinking about the other components you have now and may want to add later. If you only need sound for one room then a simple receiver will work. If you need surround sound for a home theater system you will need to consider buying a home theater receiver. This will allow you to provide music, TV, movies, video games, etc. all in surround sound.
If you want one room to have surround sound and another to listen to classical music, you should consider a receiver that has 5 channels for surround sound and 2 other channels for music. Otherwise, you may have to buy an additional receiver.
Another important factor and maybe most important is the receiver power. You want to make sure you get a receiver that provides enough power to get optimal sound quality from the speakers and enough power for the size of the room. In general receivers with more wattage produce a more dynamic and higher quality sound. To know if a receiver will produce a loud high quality sound you’ll want to look at the full-bandwidth power rating.
Below we will look at 5 receivers that are among the best high-end receivers available. These are in no particular order except that the Arcam and Denon receivers top multiple lists.
The Arcam AVR850 is one of the most powerful high-end AV receivers out there today. It is also very expensive and recommended for those who can afford it.
Arcam is a British company that have been creating high-end products since 1976. This AV receiver has premium features that surely impress. Dolby Atmos and DTS Neural:X are supported. This Arcam is part of the FMJ (Full Metal Jacket) range that includes some cheaper models if this one is out of your price range.
The Arcam AVR850 is a 7.2-channel AV receiver and is a Class G amplification. Class G is much more complex and expensive to produce but is a very efficient way to drive your speakers with very low levels of distortion. Most AV receivers use the Class A/B amplification which is more cost effective but still produces a good sound. The Class G though is perfect for those wanting a high-end audiophile sound.
There is full support for all the latest 4K UHD video requirements. So 4K/60p with HDMI 2.0a ports and HDCP 2.2. HDR pass-through is present for HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG. There are also 7 HDMI connections on the back with 3 outputs. The main output supports ARC. The power of this receiver is 120 watts.
- Totally amazing sound and performance
- Really expensive
- Could use more built-in channels
This is a great receiver that easily integrates your home entertainment system with Alexa for those who have app-controlled homes. The AVR-X8500H has up to 13.2 channel surround and supports Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D. If you prefer analog, this receiver has a Moving Magnet phono cartridge input for hooking up turntables. It also supports Hi-Fi streaming over Wi-Fi at up to 24bit/192kHz.
This receiver has a glossy black metallic finish and a hinge panel that hides an auxiliary HDMI, full-size headphone and mic jacks and various calibration controls. There are also sound presets to choose from to personalize your listening experience even more.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections are there for your convenience but the eight HDMI ports will allow you to connect many devices. The AVR-X8500H works with eleven separate amplifiers for great Denon sound quality 3D sounds. This is great for producing a better sound layout without a complicated setup. The power of this receiver is 150 watts.
- Simple control features
- High-quality output
- Compatible with most TVs and has Networked streaming
- Works with Alexa, Audyssey, and features HEOS
- Airplay compatible
- Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D compatibility
- Moving Magnet phono cartridge
- Needs additional cooling to control heat for extended use.
Simply put the Marantz SR6014 is one of the best in the market. Marantz has been a premium brand for audio equipment for over 65 years. This is probably why its A/V receivers primarily focus on audio performance as opposed to loads of bells and whistles. This stands to reason why Marantz’s receivers scale more towards music enthusiasts (Yea!). Even with that though, this is a modern home theater receiver that checks all the boxes for the most wanted surround sound features.
You may not know that some key A/V receiver makers fall under the same ownership with Marantz and Denon being part of Sound United and Onkyo buying Pioneer’s home entertainment wing in 2015. You might think that the offerings from each brand would get to be pretty similar but actually each brand has its own design goals even if there are some signs of consolidation. As far as Marantz, their emphasis on audio quality means you get features like their high performance Hyper Dynamic Amplifier Modules (HDAM).
Marantz is also one of the first brands to deliver IMAX Enhanced A/V receivers with firmware update in late 2018. Unfortunately IMAX Enhanced content has not kept up with the hardware. We will see if this changes going forward.
The SR6014 has eight HDMI 2.0b inputs plus a host of analog audio and video inputs which makes it possible to connect to just about any other components your have. In addition, there is a moving magnet phone input for your turntable. The SR6014 is fully compatible with any video signal that you’ll encounter now and into the near future. The power of this receiver is 110 watts per channel
- Outstanding performance, high and amplified sound
- Many great features
- To get the best sound you’ll need a larger room
Yamaha has been doing a great job producing high quality AV receivers. I’ve seen multiple models on various best-of lists and the RX-A3080 is no exception.
This is a 9.2-channel receiver that supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. Along with the surround layouts of 5.1 and 7.1. It can provide Dolby Atmos with a speaker layout of 5.2.4 and 7.2.2.
It has a nice aluminum panel to hide the front connections and weighs nearly 40 lbs. so its quite hefty. This receiver has seven HDMI inputs that are HDCP 2.2 4k 60p 4:4:4 compatible which means it will play anything and everything. There are also 3 HDMI outputs.
Another interesting feature is that Yamaha has added XLR balance audio inputs which allows for receiving signals from professional audio hardware or anything with XLR audio outputs.
You can also go wireless since this receiver supports Yamaha’s MusicCast system. You can use the app to stream music all around your home and have MusicCast speakers in up to 9 rooms. Also, supported is MusicCast surround. This may be the solution for you if you really want wireless surround speakers.
There is also the Yamaha Surround:AI technology. The aim here is to give you the best sound in your room by adapting the sound to the scene on the screen. Scenes with loud sound effects and music will be optimized differently than those with low sound and quiet dialog. The power of this receiver is 150 watts.
- Sound field is wide and immersive
- Surround:AI real-time sound adaptation
- Complicated set-up
- Only a 9-channel amplifier
- Large unit
You might be thinking what is Onkyo? Not as well know as Sony or Yamaha but they are an important player when it comes to AV receivers and home cinema equipment. They’ve created amazing products over the years for both the budget conscious and high-end buyers. Onkyo has also managed to improve their models and offer better value each year. This is true with the Onkyo TX-NR696 as it has some nice improvements over its predecessors.
On the back you’ll find 2 HDMI outputs and 6 HDMI inputs according to the 2.0 standard. The front HDMI interface accepts 4k or HDCP 2.2 signals and there are 6 analog stereo RCA inputs joined by a phono board and 3 digital S/PDIF inputs.
Bottom line for this receiver is that Onkyo with the TX-NR696 as made fully equipped home theater affordable. You’ll find all the necessary connections even with a comprehensive home cinema system. It also has Chromecast with Google Assistant, DTS Play-FI and FlareConnect systems built in for multi-room use, and Bluetooth and Apple AirPlay for wireless file sharing. Once connected to Wi-Fi, you’ll have access to the popular streaming services.
What about the sound? This NR696 has a rich and expansive full-bodied sound stage that fills the room. It has a well-balance frequency range that avoids any brightness or hard edges with plenty of detail. Compared to some others on this list though, it could be said that there are some that have a better all-around performance out there when it comes to punch and some seem to have more dynamic variance and musical detail. This does have a nice sound though and if that’s what you are looking for the Onkyo TX-NR686 might be the one for you especially since it is under $1000. The power of this receiver is 100 watts.
- Large full-bodied sound
- Decent detail levels
- Extra channels for stereo zone
- Under $1000
- Punch and dynamics on the modest side
- Some others are better for music
OK so there you have it. Five of the best high-end home stereo receivers on the market today. If you truly want the best sound from your home stereo, you’ll want to invest in a nice receiver. And for home theaters you do not want to settle for inferior quality. We hope this information will help you make the correct choice but you should do some research on your own and find the one that’s best for you and your situation. Good luck and good sound!
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