A great all-purpose receiver
The AVR-S750H sounds great, is easier to set up and use than the competition, and checks all the right boxes in terms of features.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $400.
The Denon AVR-S750H has everything that most people need in an AV receiver: plenty of inputs (with six HDMI), support for 7.1 channels with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding (to add height effects for an even more immersive sound), and full-featured streaming support, including Spotify, Bluetooth, and AirPlay 2. But we especially like the little touches—such as the simple, clear onscreen menus and the automatic naming of HDMI sources—that make this receiver easy to set up and use, so anyone can get the best performance out of it, even if they’ve never used a receiver before. Denon’s effective EQ room correction software helps the AVR-S750H produce some of the best sound of any receiver we tested, and Denon has added support for a few HDMI 2.1 features, such as eARC (for better audio from your TV) and automatic low latency mode (which allows devices to automatically detect and switch into the best mode for gaming).
The best sound quality under $1,500
With better room correction, more amp channels, and a host of advanced features, the Denon AVR-X3600H is designed for the hardcore theater fan.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $900.
For the movie lover willing to pay more to get a higher-quality, immersive theater experience at home, we recommend the Denon AVR-X3600H. This receiver supports all the same audio formats as the S750H and sounds better than the under-$1,000 models we tested, thanks to its more advanced Audyssey XT32 room correction. Compared with the less-expensive AVR-S750H, the AVR-X3600H has two additional amp channels to add more surround/overhead speakers (or power a pair of speakers in a separate audio zone), more HDMI inputs (eight total), an improved user interface with sharper graphics, and better multiroom capabilities to send AV signals around your house.
If you want wireless surround speakers
If you want 7.1-channel sound without wires running across your room, the RX-V685 lets you use MusicCast wireless speakers as surrounds.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $500.
If you want wireless surround speakers
If you want 5.1-channel sound without wires running across your room, the RX-V485 lets you use MusicCast wireless speakers as surrounds.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $330.
If you can’t or don’t want to run wires around your room, the Yamaha RX-V685 can output wireless surround sound when using Yamaha MusicCast speakers as your surround speakers. This 7.1-channel receiver supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks, and its solid room correction helps it produce good sound. Its five HDMI 2.0 inputs are enough for most systems, though it’s one less than the Denon AVR-S750H has—and this model isn’t quite as easy to set up as Denon’s offerings. Yamaha has enhanced the RX-V685 since its initial release to support AirPlay 2 and eARC but not automatic low latency mode. Yamaha also offers the lower-priced 5.1-channel RX-V485, which supports wireless surrounds, but it has fewer amp channels and HDMI inputs, and its room correction isn’t quite as good.
An easy-to-use budget receiver
Simple to set up and use but lacking in features, the Denon AVR-S540BT is a solid choice if you just want to put together a good 5.1-channel system.
If you want to assemble a basic 5.1-channel surround-sound system—or you already have a 5.1-channel system and need to upgrade to a receiver that supports 4K and HDR—the Denon AVR-S540BT is a good, affordable solution. Like our other Denon picks, this receiver is easy to set up and use, and it performs well. It has five HDMI inputs, which is more than other receivers in its price category, but it can only stream music over Bluetooth, not Wi-Fi platforms like Heos and AirPlay 2.