The 7 Best High-End Home Theater Receivers to Buy in 2017
The Home Theater Receiver (sometimes referred to as an AV or Surround Sound Receiver) is the heart of a home theater system, providing centralized connection and control. High end Home Theater Receivers also provide extensive audio and video switching and processing, and most also provide network connectivity and custom control capabilities. Check out my list of high end home theater receiver favorites in the $1,300 and up price range.
1 Best Overall: Onkyo TX-RZ1100 9.2 Channel Home Theater Receiver
Onkyo offers a wide range of home theater receivers in all price ranges, but their RZ-series takes everything up a notch with the TX-RZ1100 with regards to features, performance, and price. First off, the RZ1100 is THX Select2 Plus certified. This means that Onkyo has optimized the receiver for use in rooms up to 2,000 cubic feet size, and where seat-to-screen viewing distance is about 10-to-12 feet.
The core audio features of the RZ-1100 include a built-in 9.2 channel configuration (can be expanded to 11.2 channels via addition of external amplifiers), with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio decoding capability (DTS:X is added added via free firmware update).
In terms of connectivity, the TX-RZ1100 supports both HDMI 2.0a specification (which provides HDR (High Dynamic Range) pass-through and HDCP 2.2 copy-protection (HDCP 2.2 provides secure access for 4K streaming and other applicable content passing, such as the Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc format through 5 of the receiver’s 8 HDMI inputs).
In addition, two independent HDMI outputs are provided, which allows two separate HDMI sources to be displayed on two different TVs. Via HDMI, 1080p, 4K, HDR, Wide Color Gamut, and 3D pass-through, as well as analog-to-HDMI video conversion, and both 1080p and 4K upscaling are provided.
The TX-RZ1100 also includes network connectivity (via Ethernet or WiFi), and both local and internet streaming options via Bluetooth, Pandora, Spotify, TIDAL, and more.
Another bonus is the inclusion for FireConnect Multi-room audio which allows the RZ1100 to sent any audio source (both analog and digital) to selected wireless speakers (speakers forthcoming).
For added flexibility, the RZ1100 also provides multi-zone functionality such as powered and line outputs for a Zone 2 configuration, as well as preamp line output for a Zone 3 option (the preamp output options required external amplifiers).
If you are looking for a home theater receiver that has you covered for audio, video, and internet streaming – definitely check out the Onkyo TX-RZ1100. Buy from Amazon »
2 Best Connectivity: Marantz SR7011 9.2 Channel Network Home Theater Receiver
If you are looking for a high-end home theater receiver that looks as good as it sounds, and also packs in more than you would expect, the Marantz SR7011 might just the ticket.
Behind its uniquely stylish front panel, the SR7011 packs it in, starting with 9 built-in amplifiers that can deliver as much as 125 wpc. In addition, there are two subwoofer outputs and via two additional preamp outputs that can be used in combination with two additional external amplifiers, expanding the SR7011 to 11.2 channels.
The SR7011 also incorporates the latest surround sound decoding and processing formats such as Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro 3D Audio. (DTS:X and Auro 3D require firmware updates).
To make speaker setup easier, the SR7011 also includes the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction system.
For video, this receiver is 3D, 4K, HDR pass through compatible, as well as providing up to 4K upscaling.
The SR7011 has more connection options that some might need – but it is always good to have more than not enough as you grow your system. 8 HDMI inputs are provided as well as three HDMI outputs. HDMI outputs 1 and 2 output the same signal, but the third output can send a different HDMI source signal to a Zone 2 setup (Zone 2 and Zone 3 audio preamp outputs also included). Additional connection features that are included are a set of both 5.1/7.1 channel analog audio inputs and preamp outputs, as well as a dedicated phono turntable input.
The SR7011 also provides a USB port, DLNA (access to content stored on network connected PCs and media servers), and internet access to music streaming services, such as Pandora, TIDAL, Amazon Prime Music, Sirius/XM, and TuneIN internet radio. Apple AirPlay and Bluetooth compatibility is also provided, so you can stream music from either your iPhone or Android smartphone.
One added bonus is the incorporation of the Denon HEOS wireless multi-room audio streaming. HEOS allows the SR7011 to stream audio from your own local music library and streaming music services to compatible HEOS wireless speaker products that can be placed around the house.
Note: Denon and Marantz are sister companies of D&M Holdings
The home theater receiver and HEOS functions can be easily controlled via the Marantz 2016 AVR Remote App for iOS and Android (standard wireless remote is also included). Buy from Amazon »
3 Best Audio Processing: Yamaha AVENTAGE RX-A3060 Home Theater Receiver
The Yamaha Aventage RX-A3060 probably has all the features you will need in a home theater receiver for years to come.
This receiver is rated to deliver 150wpc (measured with 2-channels driven from 20Hz to 20kHz using an 8ohm speaker impedance load), and features extensive standard and high-definition Dolby and DTS audio decoding and processing options, including Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Yamaha’s own audio processing enhancements, as well as the addition of ESS Technology ES9016 and ES9006 SABRE Digital-to-Analog Audio Converters. The RX-A3060 also has two subwoofer outputs and preamp outputs for two additional two-channel zones. The RX-A3060 can also expand to up to an 11.2 channel main system configuration (or 7.1.4 for Dolby Atmos) via the addition of external amplifiers.
For video support, the RX-A3060 has eight 3D, HDR, and 4K-compatible HDMI inputs and dual HDMI outputs (one of which can be assigned to output an independent signal to a second Zone) along with 1080p and 4K upscaling. In addition, extensive video setting options are provided.
In addition to HDMI, there are also abundant analog video connections, as well as a comprehensive collection of analog and digital audio input and outputs (including a phono input for connecting a vinyl record turntable).
The RX-A3060 is also DLNA certified, which allows wired or wireless audio streaming from other devices, such as a PC or media server connected in a home network. Extra bonuses include Apple AirPlay, Wifi, Bluetooth, and Yamaha’s MusicCast.
As far as control goes, you can use the provided remote control, integrate the RX-A3060 into a custom installation control environment, or use a compatible iOS, Android, or Kindle Fire device. Buy from Amazon »
4 Best For Auro 3D Audio: Denon AVR-X4300H 9.2 Channel Home Theater Receiver
If you are looking for a high-end home theater receiver that can accommodate all the newer immersive surround sound formats in use, and a lot more, then check out the Denon AVR-X4300H .
To start off, the AVR-X4300H has 9 amplified channels built-in (with expansion to 11 channels via additional external amps). This provides a lot of speaker setup flexibility. Add 2 subwoofer outputs, and the latest surround sound decoding technology, including Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro 3D Audio (via paid firmware update), makes this receiver very tempting.
The AVR-X4300H is rated to deliver 125 watts-per-channel (measured from 20Hz-20kHz, 0.05% THD, at 8 ohms with 2-channels driven). What this means is that the AVR-X4300H has plenty of power for medium and large rooms with very low distortion levels.
Of course, setting up 9 or 11 channels worth of speakers can be quite intimidating, but the built-in Audyssey MultEQ XT32 automatic speaker setup system makes this task a lot easier by fine tuning the response of your speakers in relation to room acoustics and seating position.
In terms of video support, the AVR-X4300H is fully compatible with 3D, HDR, wide color gamut, HDCP 2.2, 4K UltraHD video signals, supported by 8 HDMI inputs and 3 outputs (one of which can be assigned to Zone 2). Both 1080p and 4K upscaling are provided if you need it.
Audio and video are certainly not the whole story as the AVR-X4300H provides extensive networking capabilities, which allows music streaming from compatible network-connected devices, such as PCs and media servers. In addition, built-in ethernet and WiFi connectivity also provides access to internet-based streaming services, such as Pandora, Spotify, and vTuner. Even Apple AirPlay compatibility is provided, so you can stream music from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch as well as from iTunes libraries.
Of course, you can always opt to stream music directly to the AVR-X4300H via most smartphones using Bluetooth. To top it all off, this receiver also incorporates both Zone 2 and 3 preamp outputs, and Denon’s HEOS wireless multi-room audio platform. This allows wireless streaming to HEOS-branded speakers in other locations around the house (or even outside) as long they are within range. All you need to do is download the HEOS app onto a compatible smartphone and tablet (and purchase one or more HEOS wireless speakers), and you are set to go. Buy from Amazon »
5 Best Amps: Pioneer Elite SC-LX701 Home Theater Receiver
The Pioneer Elite SC-LX701 is a great home theater receiver to consider. Starting with heavy duty construction and separate chassis for the preamp and amplifier circuits, the SC-LX701 incorporates powerful 135 watt-per-channel Pioneer D3 amplifiers, assignable 9.2 channel speaker configuration (expandable to 11.2 channels via connection of external amplifiers), extensive audio decoding (including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X) and processing (including Dolby Surround Upmixer and DTS Neural:X), network connectivity, internet radio, and custom installation control integration, this receiver has just about everything you need for your setup.
For video, the SC-LX701 provides 3D, HDR, and 4K resolution pass-through as well as 1080p to 4K Upscaling.
The SC-LX701 also has abundant connection options, including 8 HDMI inputs and 2 HDMI outputs (one of which can supply a separate HD feed to second Zone), as well as 11.2 channel preamp outputs. However, no 5.1/7.1 channel analog audio inputs or S-video connections are provided. On the other hand, the SC-LX701 includes preamp outputs for Zone 2 and Zone 3 operation as well as a dedicated phono/turntable input for vinyl record fans.
If all of the above isn’t enough for you – the SC-LX701, also has up-to-date networking and internet access features, such as DLNA and Windows 8.1/10 compatibility, Apple AirPlay and Internet Radio (Pandora, vTuner and more). Hi-Res audio playback can be accessed via network or USB connected devices – consult user manual for details on specific file compatibility via each option.
Also of interest is that the SC-LX701 is also compatible with Google Play streaming and FireConnect wireless multi-room audio, which will be added via forthcoming firmware update.
In addition to the provided remote, the SC-LX701 can also be controlled via iControlAV5 App for iOS and Android, and integrated into computer-controlled systems via its RS232 port.
Pioneer’s Elite receivers are easy to set up with its included MCACC room correction system. Buy from Amazon »
6 Best Speaker Setup System: Anthem MRX “20-Series” Home Theater Receivers
Although brands, such as Yamaha, Denon, and Onkyo are the most well-known makers of home theater receivers, there are other brands that cater to a more narrow high-end consumer base.
One of those brands is Anthem, which although known for its high-end audio component separates, such as power amplifiers and preamps, also makes an impressive line of the home theaters, referred to as the MRX-series.
The are three MRX models – 520, 720, and 1120.
All three receivers are HDMI 2.0a, 3D, 4K, HDR, and HDCP 2.2 compliant, and also incorporate 32-bit DACs (Digital-analog-converters) for optimum audio quality from any digital source, and Zone 2 operation capability.
For easy speaker setup, all of Anthem’s MRX Home Theater Receivers incorporate Anthem Room correction which provides accurate speaker setup using a special microphone and software that connects to a PC/Laptop. The PC, via wired or wireless connection, directs the receiver to output test tones that are then read and analyzed by the software. When completed the software sends all the speaker level information to the receiver, and also generates a graphical report than can be save and printed for future reference..
MRX 520 – Provides a 5.1 channel configuration with support for Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding. 7 HDMI inputs are provided. In addition an added bonus is that 2 HDMI outputs (parallel) are provided that allow the same video source to be displayed on two TVs, two video projectors, or a TV and video product at the same time.
MRX 720 – Additions include up to a 7.1 channel configuration (5.1.2 for Dolby Atmos), as well as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X surround sound audio decoding capability, as well as the incorporation of DTS Play-Fi, which includes access to several internet music streaming services, as well as music content stored on network-connected PCs or media servers, that you can stream from a compatible smartphone to the receiver..
MRX 1120 – The MRX 1120 has everything the 720 offers with the addition of 11 channels of amplification, allowing for up to 4 Dolby Atmos height channels, in addition to 7 traditional channels.
The suggested price for the MRX 520 is $1,399, MRX 720 is $2,499, and for the MRX 1120, $3,499 and are only available through authorized Anthem Brick and Mortar and Online Dealers and Installers – Anthem MRX Home Theater Receiver Product Page.
7 Best For Custom Installs: Integra DRX-4 and DRX-5 Home Theater Receivers
The Integra DRX-4 and DRX-5 are two THX Select Plus 2 Certified Home Theater Receiver entries from Integra, which is the custom install product division of Onkyo.
The custom control features available on these receivers include: Bi-Directional RS232 control ports, Bi-Directional control via Ethernet, IR sensor input/output, RIHD (Remote control via HDMI), and three 12 volt triggers.
What all this means is that the DRX-4 and DRX-5 can be used to control video projection screens, lighting, and other other components in a home theater setup, as well as being able to be integrated into a system that includes control via PCs and related devices.
The DRX-4 and DRX-5 also incorporate HDBaseT connectivity. HDBaseT provides an efficient and cost-effective way of connecting HDMI sourced audio, and network sources over a single CAT5e/6 cable, especially over long distances, making it practical for Multi-zone audio and video setups. Signals transferred via CAT5e/6 cable from these receivers can be converted back to HDMI via a converter box(es) on the receiving end.
In terms of audio and video, both receivers provide up to a 7.2 channel configuration, with 5.1.2 channel support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, as well as full pass-through capability for 3D, 4K, HDR, and Wide Color gamut video signals, and 1080p to 4K upscaling. Both receivers also feature wired and wireless network connectivity for access audio files from local devices as well as internet radio and several streaming music services.
Where the two receivers differ is that the DRX-4 has a stated power output of 110 wpc (2 channels driven, 8 ohms, 20-20kHZ, 0.08% THD), while the DRX-5 takes that up to 130 wpc using the same measuring standard. Also, the DRX-5 has more comprehensive audio processing, and although the DRX-4 features Zone 2 operation, the DRX-5 can handle up to 3 Audio Zones.
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