In the 80s, the home entertainment boom started. It gathered pace in the 90s and is now a fixture for personal entertainment.
As with most things, technology has improved and, in some cases, brought prices down. It is now possible to get great systems at a reasonable price, as we shall see in our reviews of the Best AV Receivers Under $500.
So let’s go through them and find the perfect affordable AV Receiver for you…
Top 6 Best AV Receivers Under $500 For Your Consideration In 2021 Reviews
What is an AV Receiver?
It is a device that receives audio and video signals from a number of sources and then processes them and amplifies them before sending the signal to drive loudspeakers. Some do not contain an amplifier and just route signals to an external amp. They also route the video to displays, for example, a TV or video projector. A number of them also contain built-in radios.
It usually undertakes several functions that would normally be performed by other equipment.
Let’s take a look and the best currently available, starting with the…
1 Onkyo TX-NR595 Home Audio Smart Audio and Video Receiver – Best Compact AV Receiver Under $500
The AV Receiver is, if you like, the heart and the driving force behind your home entertainment system. Therefore, it is important that you get a quality receiver. Is the Onkyo TX-NR595 Home Audio and Video Receiver such a system? Let’s find out.
Works with Sonos…
This receiver is Sonos compatible. Sonos is a California-based company that manufactures wireless audio systems, especially Smart speakers. It is well known for its very extensive library for streaming.
With this receiver, you can add it to an existing Sonos-based system, or you can use it to start a new one from scratch. But it is far more than just a receiver for streaming audio. It is the extras that make this one of the best receivers available.
It has great surround sound playback options, including DTS and Dolby Atmos. These give a very advanced system of sound dispersion around your room. Whether watching TV, movies, or even gaming, sound effects will move between speakers. This has the result of total immersion in the sound experience.
With Atmos, there is a ‘height visualizer’ built-in. This creates and gives height to the sound experience. Providing you with a virtual effect without you having to use extra speakers
It has extra features, including a High Dynamic Range for video and High Dolby vision. To ensure a quality reproduction of the sound, it has low noise, high current transformer. It utilizes USB and Bluetooth connections.
There are plenty of fine-tuning controls on the front panel that are all clearly labeled. On the rear are six inputs for HDMI with dual outputs. This allows the use of TVs and other compatible display devices.
Given its position as a centerpiece to your system, it is quite compact. It measures 17.13 by 14.94 by 6.83 inches and weighs 25 pounds.
A very good receiver with lots of plus points.
To find out more about Sonos, check out our in-depth Best Sonos Speaker review.
- Includes DTS:X and Dolby Atmos.
- Has Dolby Atmos height visualizer virtual sound.
- Some may want a little more power.
2 Denon AVR-S950H Receiver, Home Theater – Best Value for the Money AV Receiver Under $500
Denon is one of the leading names in high-end audio equipment. Established in 1910 in Tokyo, they have become a renowned manufacturer.
This is an AVR receiver from their ‘S’ series. Denon designates their ‘S’ series as one of their more affordable ranges. The AVR-S950H is the top of the range in that series and was first released in 2019. With that in mind, we are expecting it to perform.
Does it meet expectations?
It is powerful, to say the least, with an output of 185 watts for each channel. Furthermore, it produces plenty of volume but also a complete 3-D experience of sound.
It supports several formats, including Dolby Atmos and also Atmos height visualization. Dolby Vision, HLG, and HDR10, the latest technology for video, are also supported.
Connect to almost everything…
There are an impressive eight HDMI inputs. Also, two outputs, and on the front, there is a USB socket that will support audio formats such as MP3. The inclusion of Bluetooth, WiFi, and Airplay two make music streaming easy. Voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant are also operative.
There is a separate amplifier for each of the seven channels. An interesting feature for this AVR Receiver is the sound calibration. It is supplied with Audyssey, which is an EQ software package.
Using this software and a specially supplied microphone, the speakers in your system are measured and then automatically set to get the best results for the room. This system is considered by many to be one of the best for precise calibration on the market.
Sturdy and convenient controls…
All the controls are placed conveniently on the front of the receiver, with a visual display screen. The receiver weighs 20 pounds and measures 13.40 by 17.10 by 6.60 inches. It sits on four circular feet to protect any surface it is placed on.
Connections are on the rear. It comes with a remote control that is for this unit only and an app to assist with further settings. For easy installation and operation, there is a Denon Setup Assistant.
An AVR packed with features and Denon reliability. Certainly must be a contender as one of the best receivers in our review.
- Packed with good features.
- Powerful amp for each channel and automatic calibration system.
- The app is not the most helpful.
3 Sony STRDH590 5.2-ch Surround Sound Home Theater Receiver – Best Budget AV Receiver Under $500
Of course, Sony would have to have a product in this market. Audio/Visual is one of the areas in which they have excelled for years.
A great starter…
This is a system that has all the initial elements you need to start building a home theater system. It could be a receiver that you might buy to begin the process. Or it could be an upgrade to what you already have.
It has five channels that are independent of each other that will handle the speaker systems. That will allow you center, two rear, and left and right positions. You could also attach two subwoofers if you choose.
There is a wide range of inputs, Dolby Vision and 4K HDR passthrough. It has Bluetooth, which means you can also use it to play music from your devices. You can also set presets for up to thirty FM radio stations.
Automatic calibration is built-in. It will calculate the distance between the speakers and the listening position. It will then make adjustments to the crossover settings and the level of sound pressure accordingly. This ensures you get the theater standard surround sound experience.
This is a very compact unit and isn’t going to take up much space. It measures 14 by 5.25 by 11.75 inches and weighs just 15 pounds. Additionally, it has 5.2 channels with a rating of 145 watts per channel.
Most of what we have mentioned so far is common to many receivers.
So what makes this so special?
Well, if you are looking for a cost-effective system, this could be the one. At this price point, we doubt you will find anything better. For that reason alone, this must be considered as one of the Best AV Receivers Under $500 you can buy.
For those on a budget, this is an excellent system.
- A good starter system with everything you need to create your first home cinema system.
- Sony’s quality and reliability at a very attractive price point.
- Some may want a few more features.
4 Yamaha R-N303BL Stereo Receiver with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth & Phono – Most Durable AV Receiver Under $500
Yamaha themselves are not unknown in the audiovisual world. These days they might be better known as possibly the world’s leading instrument manufacturer.
This is a system that is priced competitively but is loaded with good features. It is also a system that is simple and easy to use. But there is one added feature you don’t see very often Yamaha has included as we will find out.
A variety of connections…
It has two channels, each having 100 watts of RMS output. It has a frequency response of 40Hz-20kHz. There is an impressive array of connections available that include Bluetooth, WiFi, wireless direct, and Airplay.
These connections allow you access to your music playlists. You can also connect up to music streaming sites as well as Sirius internet radio. There is an antenna for use with the radio channels.
Nice and compact…
It is a compact unit that measures 13.38 x 17.18 x 5.50 inches. It weighs only 16 pounds. The front fascia is not as cluttered with controls as some.
What is included is basic and easy to use. There is also a display screen for current operative information. The headphone socket is also located in the front, which makes it convenient to use.
Beauty in the basics…
This is a basic system, but it has plenty of good features. It may be a good place to start for someone building their first home cinema system.
But what makes this extra special?
As mentioned, this also has an extra feature; it has input jacks for using a turntable. That isn’t something you get very often with an AR receiver. And as it also has further inputs for a CD player, this unit also becomes a great music entertainment system.
There is also a preamp for the phono input, so the level of volume and quality will be good. That certainly is an added bonus worth considering.
- Lots of good features with a connection for a turntable.
- Yamaha quality and reliability at an attractive price.
- Some may require more sophisticated connection options.
5 Sony STR-DH790 7.2-ch Surround Sound Home Theater AV Receiver – Easiest to Use AV Receiver Under $500
Back to Sony again for another Home Cinema AV Receiver with a wealth of great features. But it is still set at a very realistic price point.
Of course, it carries many of the commonplace features. It is Bluetooth capable and can stream music and movies and play your own playlists.
It carries both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, which gives you a great multi-dimensional sound experience. The receiver also has an automatic calibration system to make any necessary adjustments.
All rooms are different, and to achieve the optimum performance, the system needs to adjust the sound. This will ensure that your home cinema system gives you the level of performance you expect.
Furthermore, there is a built-in system called S-Force Pro, which is a virtual surround sound experience. It will produce a similar experience but with the use of only two speakers.
Decent connectivity options…
This STR-DH790 receiver from Sony has excellent 4k quality and supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision. Controls on the front are understated and easy on the eye and do not clutter up the unit.
On the rear are four HDMI inputs and one output. Also, one optical, analog audio, and coaxial digital connections.
Not the most sophisticated of receivers, but at the price point, it is excellent value.
- Some good features built-in, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
- Attractive price point.
- Some may want a higher performance level.
6 Marantz M-CR611 Network CD Receiver – Best Premium AV Receiver Under $500
For over sixty years, Marantz has been manufacturing quality audio and visual equipment. Originally founded in New York, they moved their base to Japan, where they are still located.
This is a different type of receiver you might like to consider. Whereas many AV receivers are designed principally for home theater use. This receiver is what you might describe as an all-in-one.
New life for old audio formats…
It has dual channels, with each having 60 watts of power. It has a dedicated CD tray and connections for an MP3 player. Also included is an AM/FM tuner. Plenty of music options and all giving you high-quality sound.
It has two optical inputs to connect to Blu-Ray or a DVD player. There is also a USB port for use with your smartphone or other compatible devices. Whilst connected, the devices will charge via the USB.
There are Bluetooth, WiFi, and Airplay connections. You can therefore stream your music or movies from your favorite sites.
Listen where you want…
You can set the speakers to operate in different rooms using multi-room connectivity. And there are volume controls built-in for each room.
Set up is easy and is best described as plug and play. Just connect up your audio source, and the receiver gives you that special Marantz sound. A sound that has been designed to give you exceptional surround capabilities in whatever environment it is used.
More expensive than most…
Although this has been a review about finding the Best AV Receivers under $500, the manufacturer’s price for this receiver is quite a bit over that. However, there may well be some deals around that bring it below the limit. If you can find one, then this is well worth consideration.
- Plenty of options for playing music and movies to a high-level.
- Multi-room use with independent volume controls.
- Might be quite expensive.
Best AV Receivers Under $500 Buying Guide
Bringing the cinema to the home…
Getting the right AV receiver is going to be the difference between being thrilled with the sound. Or sitting there wondering what all the fuss is about. But you need to know exactly what you want a receiver for.
For music only…
If you want to get a receiver for just playing music. Either from playlists or streamed, then you really want a stereo receiver. That is a different animal.
For home cinema…
For setting up or upgrading a home cinema system, you will need an AV receiver. This will give you the surround sound experience assuming you have the correct number and type of speakers.
For music and home cinema…
Yes, still the AV receiver. This will play both and to a very high level of reproduction, which is why we have been looking at AV receivers.
How many channels do you need?
One speaker equals one channel. If you have seven speakers, you will need a receiver with seven channels. It is, therefore, important to make sure you get enough channels for the speaker configuration you have or want to have.
Some thought to how many speakers you might end up with is also a consideration. If you have five speakers and go to seven, you will need a 7 channel receiver. Therefore it may be best to buy a 7 channel receiver even if you only have five speakers at the moment.
What about the future?
The future connections you may require is what we mean. Most give you access to online facilities to hook up smartphones and other devices. But what about if you want to use your turntable? You will need a dedicated phono input. Therefore, the more connection options, the better; no one knows what the future may hold?
Surround sound formats…
You’ve got a great picture on your screen. But are you getting the cinema sound? One way to ensure you do is with Dolby Atmos or the latest technology, DTS:X. These will give you the sound performance you will be looking for. Most Receivers come with both.
There are some other features like multi-room use if that is of interest.
What are the Best Brands?
If you are making up a list, then the usual ‘names’ will be on it. Which is the best will depend on the quality of each individual product. For instance, a top of the range Onkyo will be better than a cheaper Denon and vice versa. This will apply, of course, to all manufacturers.
But there are some names that you should definitely consider, such as Denon, Onkyo, Marantz, Sony, Yamaha, Pioneer, and NAD. World-class companies produce a quality product, as well as having good after-sales service and advice. They have been manufacturing these receivers for years. They know how to do it.
Is Onkyo better than Denon?
As mentioned, you need to compare like with like from both companies. It is no good comparing the top of the range from one to the bottom of the range in the other.
If you are talking about the receivers on this review list, that is a different thing. There is so little between them. Both excellent and producing great performance. If we had to choose, then we would say that the Denon is the one to go for, if only for its 185 watts per channel.
Is Denon better than Yamaha?
You always have to be careful when considering Yamaha because they excel at just about everything. And what they have produced from this review is a quality receiver at a great price.
But all things considered, including the relative price points, again Denon would get our vote. The extra features and performance level puts it a step higher on the ladder. Assuming it is in your budget, then Denon would be the one.
Need some speakers to go with your superb new AV Receiver?
Then check out our reviews of the Best Home Theater Speakers, the Best Speakers for Vinyl, the Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $500, the Best Floor Standing Speakers, the Best In Ceiling Speakers, and the Best Wireless TV Speakers currently on the market.
What are the Best AV Receivers Under $500?
There are plenty of options to choose from. Each having their own plus points and all made by world-class manufacturers.
When buying an AV receiver, we would be looking at performance rather than cost. Of course, you want to get your money’s worth. But in the price range, there is plenty of quality.
Whilst they are all worth considering for different reasons for us, it comes down to a straight choice. Onkyo or Denon. And for us, we would pick the…
An AV receiver that packs everything in that is needed and fantastic value for money considering the quality and the features.
Until next time, happy listening!