Table of Contents
- Things to Look for When Buying an AV Receiver for Music
- Best AV Receivers for Music – Comparison Table
- 6 Best AV Receivers for Music in 2021
- 1. Best Overall – Yamaha AVENTAGE CX-A5200 + Yamaha AVENTAGE MX-A5200BL
- 2. Best Under $3,000 – Marantz AV Receiver SR8012
- 3. Best Under $4,000 – Denon AVR-X8500HSP
- 4. Best 7.2 AV Receiver Under $2,000 – Lexicon RV6
- 5. Best Under $1,500 – NAD T 758 v3
- 6. Best Under $1000 – Denon AVR-X3600H
The first thing that comes to mind when talking about AV receivers is probably surround sound. However, AV receivers can also be used as a replacement for an integrated stereo amplifier. In other words, they can also be used for music, not just movies. But not all AV receivers sound equally good with movies and with music. That’s why we are here. Our article about 6 best AV receivers for music in 2021 is here to help you find the perfect receiver for your speaker system. We will talk about things you should pay attention to when buying an AV receiver for music, discuss the prices, and present to you some nice suggestions.
Things to Look for When Buying an AV Receiver for Music
Well, looking for an AV receiver for music is not much different from looking for any AV receiver. After all, their primary purpose is to drive your surround sound system. Music reproduction is also important, but it’s still secondary. If you need the best possible amplification and audiophile-grade equipment for your high-end stereo speaker system, then you should probably think about buying a dedicated power amp and preamp. And maybe even a dedicated DAC. As far as AV receivers are concerned, you’re getting everything in one package (or in some cases – in two separate units).
So, the first thing to pay attention to is the number and type of inputs/outputs. As far as inputs are concerned, you need enough HDMI inputs to connect your video equipment and enough analog and digital audio inputs for your audio equipment. If you have a turntable, you should also look for an AV receiver with a phono stage.
When it comes to outputs, you should be looking for something that matches your speaker setup and gives you flexibility when it comes to upgrades. If you have a new TV, you should be looking for a receiver with HDMI ARC support. Some receivers also have dedicated outputs for one or two independent speaker pairs located in other rooms (multizone audio). Another thing that may come in handy are preamp outputs for all the channels (especially for the front left and right). If a receiver has those pre-outputs, you can buy a dedicated power amp in the future and run the interconnects from two of the receiver’s preamp outputs to the stereo amp and get a much better stereo performance when playing music.
Recommended Reading :
- 6 Best Audio Interfaces For Mac In 2021
- 7 Best Center Channel Speakers In 2021
- 7 Best All-in-One Stereo Systems With Turntables In 2021
Finally, look for a receiver that has a high enough power output. And preferably, go for a receiver with a Class A/B amplification. Many affordable AV receivers have built-in Class-D amps (because Class-D amps are cheaper). Class A/B amps are less efficient than the Class-D amps but are better when it comes to sound fidelity and transparency. So, when looking for an AV receiver for music, you should pay a bit more attention to the sonic characteristics of the receiver.
If you’re interested in additional features, look for a receiver with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, with internet radio, Alexa, Chromecast, or Airplay support, etc.
Best AV Receivers for Music – Comparison Table
|AV Receivers for Music||Rating||Price||Review|
|Yamaha AVENTAGE CX-A5200||4.2||Check Amazon||Read Review|
|Marantz AV Receiver SR8012||4.6||Check Amazon||Read Review|
|Denon AVR-X8500HSP||5.0||Check Amazon|
|Lexicon RV6||5.0||Check Amazon||Read Review|
|NAD T 758 v3||4.8||Check Amazon||Read Review|
|Denon AVR-X3600H||4.6||Check Amazon|
After long research and testing, we’ve gathered our favorites and made the following selection of 6 best AV receivers for music in 2021. We tried hard to make a comprehensive list and to include both – budget-friendly and high-end options. Hopefully, this list will help you find the perfect receiver for your setup.
6 Best AV Receivers for Music in 2021
1. Best Overall – Yamaha AVENTAGE CX-A5200 + Yamaha AVENTAGE MX-A5200BL
Having separate units for every purpose is the preferred way if you’re an audiophile. That’s why we decided to start our list of 6 best AV receivers for music in 2021 with a combo. It’s Yamaha’s CX-A5200 surround sound processor (AV preamp) paired with Yamaha’s MX-A5200BL multi-channel power amp. In this combo, the preamp is in charge of receiving and processing the signal, while the amplification is done by the separate unit (MX-A5200BL). This way, you will get a higher (and cleaner) power output, with much less noise, lower THD, and higher fidelity and sound transparency. It’s a perfect combo for both – surround sound and music reproduction.
Things we like
The preamp unit (CX-A5200) looks like a regular AV receiver with controls on the front and inputs/outputs on the back. The front panel looks exactly like the panel of some Yamaha Aventage AV receivers (RX-A1080, A2080, A3080). However, the big difference is that CX-A5200 doesn’t have any powered speaker outputs. Instead, it has 11 balanced XLR preamp outputs that connect to 11 XLR inputs on the MX-A5200BL. It also has 11 unbalanced RCA pre-outputs.
For sound optimization and calibration, you can use Yamaha’s famous YPAO calibration tool. It truly gives great results and makes a huge difference.
When it comes to inputs, you have 7 HDMI inputs and 3 outputs. All HDMI inputs support 4K UHD pass-through and 3D video. Furthermore, all 10 HDMI ports are compliant with HDCP 2.2 and support all the latest image standards (HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, BT.2021).
The unit also houses 4 composite video inputs, 2 component inputs, three coaxial, three optical audio inputs, 8 RCA inputs, and one phono input. On the front, you have a headphone output, RCA input, USB port, and YPAO mic connector.
As far as additional features are concerned, CX-A5200 features Bluetooth connectivity (V4.2 with AAC and SBC support) and dual-band wi-fi connectivity (2.4/5GHz). It also supports Airplay2 and features MusicCast. Thanks to MusicCast, the unit can be seamlessly integrated with other multiroom products (speakers, soundbars, and receivers) featuring MultiCast.
What guarantees great surround sound performance is the so-called Surround:AI processor built inside the DSP chip. This processor analyzes all the scenes in real-time and adjusts the sound reproduction constantly, creating a great sense of realism.
When it comes to music processing and digital-to-analog conversion, CX-A5200 features dual Sabre Pro Premier DAC chips (ES9026PRO) that enable 32bit/384kHz conversion. The unit can play FLAC, ALAC, WAV, AIFF, and DSD audio files (up to DSD256).
Yamaha AVENTAGE MX-A5200BL multi-channel power amp has a much cleaner look. On the front, there’s just the power button and A/B speaker selectors. On the back, there are 11 XLR balanced inputs, 11 unbalanced RCA inputs, and 11 speaker terminals arranged in two sections (R and L). The RMS power output with two 8Ω channels driven is rated at 150W (20Hz-20kHz, 0.06% THD). With bridged connection and two 8Ω loads, the RMS power output is rated at 200W (20Hz-20kHz, 0.06% THD).
Things we don’t like
The biggest downside could be the price. This combo will cost you more than $5,500.
Some users complained about the MusicCast app and the reliability of wireless streaming. However, we’ve had no problems with MusicCast.
2. Best Under $3,000 – Marantz AV Receiver SR8012
Marantz SR8012 is a highly versatile and very powerful AV receiver. Its transparent and clear sound output makes it the main reason why SR8012 is our favorite AV receiver for music under $3,000. SR8012 is an 11.2 receiver, compatible with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. It has 11 HDMI ports (8 IN + 3 OUT), numerous analog and digital audio inputs, preamp outputs for all the channels, and 2 subwoofer pre-outputs. SR8012 is a perfect solution for your Dolby Atmos home theater system.
Things we like
SR8012 comes with a calibration mic, remote with an LCD display, radio antennas, detachable Bluetooth and wi-fi antennas, manual, and a warranty card.
To set the system up and calibrate the sound, you get to use the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 calibration tool and Audyssey MultEQ Editor App.
The controls are simple and intuitive. You can use the panel on the front side or the included remote. Or you can use the AVR remote app, which is not the most convenient way of controlling everything since it’s not very stable.
The receiver houses a multitude of inputs/outputs and most of them are on the back. When it comes to HDMI connections, you have 11 ports (7 HDMI IN on the back + 1 HDMI IN on the front + 3 HDMI OUT). One of those 3 HDMI outputs is HDMI ARC for connecting your TV. All these HDMI inputs/outputs are HDMI 2.0, they all support HDCP 2.2, and all the latest image standards including HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG, and BT.2021.
Furthermore, you have plenty of other video/audio inputs – component video (3IN/1OUT), composite video (1IN/1OUT), optical audio inputs (x2), coaxial audio (x2), analog RCA audio inputs (x6), and one phono input. The unit also has an Ethernet port, radio antenna inputs, Bluetooth/wi-fi antenna input.
SR8012 has 11 speaker outputs (5-way binding posts). It also has two subwoofer pre-outputs as well as pre-outputs for all the other channels in case you want to connect an external power amplifier to the unit. This number of speaker terminals allows you to have a full Dolby Atmos speaker system (something like 7.2.4 or 9.2.2). According to the manual, the unit pushes 140W per channel when two 8Ω channels are driven (0.05% THD) or 175W per channel when two 6Ω channels are driven (0.7% THD). The unit is compatible with 4-16Ω speakers.
Aside from the standard features, Marantz SR8012 features Bluetooth connectivity and dual-band wi-fi connectivity. The device is Roon-tested. It supports Airplay 2 and is compatible with all voice assistants. SR8012 features multi-zone capabilities and is compatible with HEOS wireless speakers.
The unit supports all Dolby and DTS surround sound audio formats including DTS:X and Dolby Atmos.
Things we don’t like
The AVR remote app needs serious polishing. The biggest complaint people had about this app is related to the app stability.
The Bluetooth version is outdated (BT 3.0 + EDR) and none of the advanced Bluetooth codecs (aptX or LDAC) are supported (only SBC).
3. Best Under $4,000 – Denon AVR-X8500HSP
As Denon and Marantz are part of the same company, AVR-X8500HSP has a very similar set of features like the previously reviewed Marantz AV receiver. They even have a similar design. However, Denon AVR-X8500HSP is more versatile, it has more speaker terminals (13 VS 11), and slightly higher power output.
Things we like
Like the Marantz receiver, AVR-X8500HSP comes with remote, calibration mic, radio antennas, detachable Bluetooth and wi-fi antennas, manual, and a warranty card.
To calibrate the system, like in the case of SR8012, you will have to use the included mic, Audyssey MultEQ XT32 calibration software, and Audyssey MultiEQ Editor app.
When it comes to controls, you can use the control panel on the front side (most of the controls are located behind the hidden compartment) or the remote. Also, you can use the Denon AVR remote app.
The most special thing about AVR-X8500HSP is its connectivity. Aside from 8 HDMI inputs (7 on the back + 1 on the front) and 3 HDMI outs (one HDMI eARC), you have plenty of video inputs and outputs (composite – 4 IN and 1 OUT, component – 3IN and 1 OUT) as well as analog and digital audio inputs (RCA IN x6, optical x2, coaxial x2, and one phono input). On the front, you also have one USB input, one 3.5mm input, and a mic input for calibration.
All HDMI ports are HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 support. They all support 4K/60Hz pass-thru and all the latest image standards (HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG).
The unit has 15 speaker terminals. 13 speaker outputs are powered. It also has two subwoofer pre-outputs and preamp outputs for all the other channels. It can push 150W of power (two 8Ω channels driver, 0.05% THD) or 190W of power (two 6Ω channels, 0.7% THD). The max supported speaker layouts are 9.2.4 or 7.2.6.
The unit has built-in AKM’s 32bit converters. It supports all the most popular lossless audio formats (FLAC, ALAC, WAV) and can play in hi-res files up to 24bit/192kHz. It also supports DSD64 and DSD128.
AVR-X8500HSP features Bluetooth connectivity and dual-band wi-fi connectivity. It supports the multi-zone feature (two separate zones) and multiroom functionality thanks to its compatibility with wireless HEOS speakers.
All Dolby and DTS formats are supported, including object-based DTS:X and Dolby Atmos.
Things we don’t like
AVR-X8500HSP has absolutely the same downsides as the previous Marantz SR8012 receiver – outdated Bluetooth version with only SBC support and poor Denon AVR remote app.
4. Best 7.2 AV Receiver Under $2,000 – Lexicon RV6
Lexicon RV6 by Harman Kardon is a bit more affordable option than the previous two receivers, but it’s also slightly less versatile and supports smaller speaker layouts.
Things we like
Lexicon RV6 comes with a calibration mic, remote (with batteries), FM/DAB antenna, manual, and a warranty card.
During the initial setup, you will have to use the included mic and Dirac Live room correction software to calibrate the sound. You just have to install the software and follow the on-screen instructions.
On the front panel, there are some basic controls, a simple LCD display, headphone output, and mic input. The rest of the inputs are on the back. The unit has 10 HDMI ports (7 IN and 3 OUT). One of the outputs is the HDMI ARC. All the HDMI ports are HDMI 2.0a with HDCP 2.2 support and 4K UHD pass-thru. RV6 also has 4 coax inputs, 2 optical inputs, and 6 analog RCA inputs. Furthermore, you have one USB input, DAB/FM antenna input, and Ethernet port.
RV6 has 7 powered speaker terminals, two subwoofer outputs, as well as 11 preamp outputs, which allow you to expand the system from 5.1.2 (or 5.2.2) to 7.2.4. However, that would require an additional multi-channel amp. The unit also supports the multizone feature (but you have to sacrifice your height speakers).
According to the specs, the unit can push 110W continuously into two 8Ω loads (20Hz-20kHz, 0.02% THD) or 90W into seven 8Ω channels (at 1kHz, 0.2% THD). It has a Class-A/B amp built inside.
RV6 has a built-in high-quality 24bit/192kHz DAC by Cirrus Logic. It supports hi-res playback of lossless files (FLAC and WAV).
Lexicon AV control app comes with the unit and allows you to control all the basic and some advanced playback parameters.
The unit can decode all the popular surround sound formats including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
Things we don’t like
RV6 lacks some advanced features you can find on other similarly priced AV receivers. For example, it doesn’t feature Bluetooth or wi-fi connectivity. It also doesn’t have any phono inputs or additional video inputs other than HDMI.
5. Best Under $1,500 – NAD T 758 v3
NAD T 758 is not incredibly versatile but it still packs some great features and is an excellent choice for music. T 758 v3 is our top choice when it comes to AV receivers for music under $1,500.
Things we like
T 758 v3 comes with a remote (batteries included), calibration mic, power cable, and user manual.
The unit is quite robust. The control and input/output schemes are very intuitive. The whole design is quite clean. On the front, you have some basic controls and a hidden compartment with 4 inputs (RCA x1, composite video IN x1, optical audio IN x1, and mic input).
On the back, you will find 3 HDMI inputs and one HDMI ARC output. They are all HDPC 2.2 compliant and support 4K UHD pass-through. Aside from HDMI inputs, you have one USB port, two coax audio inputs, two optical audio inputs, four RCA inputs. There’s also a set of 7.1 analog inputs. The unit has 7speaker terminals as well as 7 preamp outputs and one subwoofer pre-output. The power output is rated at 110W (two 8Ω channels driven, 0.08% THD).
For the initial setup and sound calibration, you get to use the included Dirac Live room correction.
To control the unit, you can use the remote or the NAD AV remote app.
The unit uses the latest Gen of multi-core DSP chips that support hi-res audio playback and MQA. It also has a built-in BluOS wireless streaming technology that allows you to stream lossless audio wirelessly and to combine the receiver with BluOS wireless speakers and make a multiroom speaker system.
Things we don’t like
NAD T 758 v3 is not as versatile as some pricier units – it has only 3 HDMI inputs. Also, it doesn’t feature Bluetooth or wi-fi connectivity, and it doesn’t support Airplay2.
NAD AV remote app is quite unstable and unreliable.
6. Best Under $1000 – Denon AVR-X3600H
Denon AVR-X3600H is an amazing AV receiver with so many features and a very reasonable price. You can hardly find a more versatile and better-performing AV receiver at this price point.
Things we like
AVR-X3600H comes with a calibration microphone, remote, power cable, and user manual.
During the initial setup, you can use the MultEQ XT32 calibration tool (the same one that comes with much pricier Denon receivers).
On the front, you have some basic controls and a couple of I/O (headphone OUT, mic IN, one HDMI IN, and a USB port).
On the back, you have 7 more HDMI inputs and 3 outputs. All HDMI inputs are HDCP 2.3 compliant and they all support 4K/60Hz and all the latest image standards (Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG).
The receiver also has numerous video and audio connections – component video (2IN, 1OUT), composite video (3IN), optical audio (2IN), coaxial audio (2IN), RCA audio (5IN), and one phono input.
Furthermore, the receiver has 11 speaker outputs, 9 of which are powered. So, without any additional equipment, you can make a 5.1.4 or 5.2.4 surround sound system. With an additional stereo amp for the Zone 2, you can run 11 channels simultaneously. The receiver also has dual subwoofer pre-outputs as well as 11 additional preamp outputs for all the available channels. The power output is rated at 105W (two 8Ω channels driven, 20Hz-20kHz, 0.08% THD).
For the audio signal conversion, AVR-X3600H uses AKM’s 32bit DAC chips on all channels. It supports FLAC, ALAC, and WAV (up to 24bit/192kHz) as well as DSD128. That’s one of the main reasons why we consider X3600H one of the best AV receivers for music under $1000.
The receiver is also packed with all kinds of additional features like Bluetooth and wi-fi (dual-band) connectivity. It also features multizone capabilities. Thanks to Denon’s HEOS technology, the receiver is also compatible with other HEOS wireless speakers (multiroom capabilities). Finally, the receiver is compatible with all the popular voice assistants including Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant.
Things we don’t like
Denon AVR remote app is one of the ways of controlling the receiver and wireless streaming but it’s not very stable.
This concludes our article about 6 best AV receivers for music in 2021. If there are some unanswered questions, go through the FAQs and try to find your answer. Feel free to share your opinion and experience with AV receivers in the comments below.
Q: What is the best AV receiver for music in 2021?
A: There are so many great AV receivers with all kinds of features, connections, and power outputs. The price also varies a lot. All these things make it practically impossible to select just one receiver. That’s one of the reasons we made our list of best 6 AV receivers for music in 2021. Check it out and find a receiver that meets your requirements and fits the budget.
Q: Who makes the most reliable AV receivers?
A: Well, there are a few names that come to mind. Some of the most reputable brands when it comes to receivers are Marantz, Pioneer, Denon, Onkyo, Yamaha, Arcam, NAD, etc. The first four brands (+ Integra) are now part of the same audio company called Sound United and they often share technologies, so you can usually find the same (or at least similar) features on similarly priced AV receivers coming from these manufacturers.
Q: Do AV receivers affect audio quality?
A: AV receivers have a crucial effect on the audio quality. After all, they are responsible for receiving the signal from all the sources, for all the audio signal processing, for converting all the digital signals to analog, and finally, they are responsible for the amplification. All those things determine the quality of the sound. So, yeah, AV receivers are very important for the audio quality.
Q: Which is better Marantz or Denon?
A: As discussed in one of the previous answers, Marantz and Denon are now part of the same company and use the same technological solutions (like auto-calibration tools, apps, etc.). The same-priced receivers from Denon and Marantz have similar features and number of connections but there are some subtle differences in sound reproduction – Denon is a bit brighter while the Marantz receivers sound warmer. In the end, it all depends on your taste in sound.
Q: How do I choose an AV receiver?
A: We have discussed this in the introduction, so here’s a short recap. First, set your budget limits. Second, determine how many HDMI and other inputs you need to connect all the existing and maybe some future sources you want to buy. Third, look for the receiver with enough speaker outputs for all the home theater speakers you want to connect and check if it has enough power to drive all the speakers. Finally, look for additional features you find important (Bluetooth, wi-fi, app, Chromecast, Airplay, internet radio, etc.).
Q: Do expensive AV receivers sound better?
A: In general, the answer is yes. Pricier receivers enable cleaner signal processing, have higher power output and sound better. However, the quality of the sources and of the original audio coming to your receiver, as well as the quality of the speakers, are also very important. Having poor-quality speakers connected to a high-end AV receiver is absolutely meaningless.
Q: Can I use an AV receiver as a power amp?
A: Yes. An AV receiver can be used as a power amp. One of the purposes of a receiver is to amplify the audio signal and send it to speakers, just like a power amp.
Hello, my name is James Longman.
I’m a writer and editor at AudioReputation. I disassembled my first portable AM/FM radio when I was only 8. At the age of 11, I burned the circuit board on my old boombox cassette player. I’m not going to explain how but it was reckless and stupid.
Since then, I have become much more careful around radios, boomboxes, and other audio devices (at least, I like to think so) but I have never lost the passion for audio equipment. Throughout 20 years of my professional career, I’ve been working for various audio equipment manufacturers and even started building speakers on my own in my little workshop.
I love the work we do here at AudioReputation. Testing, comparing, and evaluating all kinds of audio devices (speakers, soundbars, headphones, home theater systems, etc.) is something I truly enjoy. I try to be unbiased and give you my honest opinion on every piece of equipment I test. Still, you should take my reviews with a pinch of salt and always be just a little bit skeptical. The fact that I liked some speaker or soundbar doesn’t mean that you are going to love it. If you have the opportunity, you should test it/hear it before buying it.