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Best AV Receivers Under 500 Dollars

Fortunately, today’s audio and video equipment market is developing very quickly, so finding the best AV receiver under 500 dollars won’t be a problem. Moreover, such a category of devices is no less inferior to advanced models packed with numerous extras and can perfectly cater to the needs of average users.

The most reputable receiver manufacturers release many excellent units yearly without crossing the threshold of 500 bucks. I’m deep into this subject and am ready to name receivers in this price range that you should look at. The main thing to keep in mind while choosing a suitable variant is to determine what features play a major role in your particular case. I listed my personal favorites that are great value for money.The most important tips on choosing the right receiver

The most important tips on choosing the right receiver

How many channels do you need

The majority of users are interested in the number of channels that a particular AV receiver boasts. Although many people do not understand the meaning of numbers and think that a larger value means it is necessarily better. So let’s get into the details.

Considering that, mind that every AV receiver provides a typical set for 5.1 surround speakers with six active channels. One is placed in the center, two on the front side, two surround speakers on the left and right, and a subwoofer. It is the most commonly used and is a pretty good configuration, which may satisfy most of the average user’s needs.

In turn, a 7.1-channel AV receiver can, among other things, reproduce sound through the rear speaker, which gives a more spacious effect as if enveloping the whole room. Also, mind that streaming services have a 7.1-channel soundtrack feature. Therefore, a 7.1-channel unit will help you create an enhanced sound with high quality and more spaciousness.

How much power do you need

Understanding a power potential is vital for the proper use and reasonable consumption of the very watts that are allocated to each channel. If you wonder how much power will be enough, there are some good ways to figure it out.

In fact, the nominal power indicated by the manufacturer is a very vain way to understand the receiver’s loudness potential. Unfortunately, a large number of watts does not always mean good sounding of the receiver, so treat this with understanding.

Yes, it’s sad that the consumer rarely knows the exact power readings of the AV receiver under 500 (in this case). Usually, this number varies. The only thing that can somehow save is to assess the approximate power of the device by the size of its constituent parts. Usually, large receivers have a large transformer. Through the value judgment of the internal components, you can at least roughly understand the real level of power you can expect from a device.

What kinds of inputs and outputs do you need

Each person uses the receiver in completely different ways. So you can experiment and try to connect completely different devices to it, like subwoofers, speakers, projectors, etc. Fortunately, receivers always have numerous inputs and outputs, making them very convenient to use, so let’s look at them.

I’d like to tell you about HDMI – the most significant and mainstream connector in the world. It will help you do plenty of things like connecting both Blu-ray and Extended Ultra HD Blu-ray, PlayStation and Xbox, media streamers, and more. Typically, receivers have about four or five HDMI inputs and at least one output. However, this already depends on the specific model.

Availability of USB is always a huge advantage on many devices. Therefore, in AV receivers, it is also only welcomed because it allows you to play any music from a flash drive or other devices that are compatible with USB devices. Also, 99% of all receivers support Internet connection via an Ethernet cable to the device through the provided port.

Well, I definitely want to mention coaxial and optical types of connections. With their help, connect audio from DVD players, Blu-ray, and 4K Ultra HD TV.

AVR under $500

Extra features

Additional features have always been a tremendous advantage, especially regarding receivers. Thanks to the additional features provided by the manufacturer, you can greatly facilitate usage and not waste extra time on certain processes.

For example, if the receiver can be connected via Bluetooth, this is wonderful because many additional devices can be connected wirelessly, which is very convenient.

Wi-Fi connection is a guaranteed plus because you immediately have the opportunity to listen to music from such popular services as Apple Music, SoundCloud, Spotify, and so on. Accordingly, the possibility of listening online greatly simplifies your work and saves your time.

And, of course, Wireless multi-room music, with which you can “liven up” your home with music or podcasts with just one remote control or mobile application. This feature is highly valued among users as it saves time and requires less effort to prevent the unneeded hassle.

What to expect from an AV receiver under $500

Some people get too carried away with expensive receivers, totally disregarding the range of more affordable yet rather powerful counterparts. That is a poor thing to do considering the variety of great AV receivers priced for less than 500 bucks. Usually, such devices are fitted with all the must-have features to ensure flawless operation and excellent playback.

When studying budget-friendly receivers, I noticed some differences explaining such a cost, but they aren’t crucial. First off, buying a low-priced device, you get a unit without bells and whistles. This may include 4K capabilities, Dolby Atmos, wireless connection, auto-calibration, or a Zone 2 feature. Though it seems tempting to get such options, not all users need them on a regular basis. Secondly, budgetary receivers have a lower power output. The standard value ranges from 120W to lower points.

Anyway, such differences don’t mean that a receiver can’t cope with its primary task. Moreover, I believe that inexpensive receivers are a go-to choice for people who want to make their first sound surround system without going bankrupt.

How I picked and tested AVR under $500

It was a very responsible task for me to define the best receivers under $500, so I worked hard to understand what features they must have, how well they cope with playing audio in videos, and whether they are capable of delivering crisp sound while listening to music.

The first part of my test was dedicated to evaluating the surround sound capabilities of receivers while I was watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Then I proceed with listening to music on different resources:

  • Led Zeppelin – Ramble On – Spotify
  • Jacky Terrasson – Reach – Tidal
  • The Weeknd – The Hills – Deezer
  • Bob Marley & The Wailers – Turn Your Lights Down Low – (CD player)
  • Radiohead – The National Anthem – (CD player)
  • Arctic Monkeys – Do I Wanna Know – (CD player)
  • Mark Nauseef – With Space in Mind (CD player)
  • Mahler – Symphony No.2 (CD player)

I was armed with such equipment:

Our pick
Denon AVR-S660H
Denon AVR-S660H
Best AV Receiver Under $500
Designed for 4K or 8K setups, the AVR-S66OH delivers superior 3D audio home theater/gaming experiences and supports the latest HDMI specifications.

AV Receiver Under $500 Comparison Table

Name Channels Power output HDMI in/out Bluetooth/Wi-Fi Review
Denon AVR-S660H best overall 5.2 75W/8 Ohm, 100W/6 Ohm 6/1 yes/yes Review
Yamaha RX-V4A 5.2 80W/6 Ohm 4/1 yes/yes Review
Sony STR-DH790 7.2 90W/6 Ohm 6/2 yes/no Review
Onkyo TX-SR494 7.2 80W/8 Ohm 4/1 yes/no Review

Best AV Receiver Under $500 Reviews

Denon AVR-S660H – best overall

Denon AVR-S660H

I will start my review with the Denon S660H A/V receiver. I’ve put it first on my list because I think this model is the best AVR under $500. So now, let’s have a closer look at it and check my hypothesis.

This model supports 8K/60Hz resolution and has five power-current amplifiers with discrete elements that can handle even low impedance speaker systems. The claimed maximum power is 135 watts per channel (6 ohms). More precisely, the specifications are as follows: output power 75 watts per channel (8 ohms, 20Hz – 20kHz, THD: 0.08%, 2 channels active), 100 watts per channel (6 ohms, 1kHz, THD: 0.7%, 2 channels active), 135 watts per channel (6 ohms, 1kHz, THD: 1%, 1 channel active). You should agree that these figures are at a pretty good level.

The Denon AVR-S660H works with surround sound formats, including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. In addition, the Audyssey MultEQ system, augmented with Dynamic EQ and Dynamic Volume (volume optimization) technologies, calibrates the speakers connected to the AV receiver. This is another plus of the S660H and a confirmation of my hypothesis.

Denon AVR-S660H back

This model can also be used as a streamer with access to play audio content stored on local network media (computers/NAS servers) or external drives connected via a USB port. At that, Hi-Res audio files of WAV, ALAC, FLAC (up to 24 bits/192kHz), and DSD up to 5,6MHz can be played. Various online services are also available, including Tidal, TuneIn, Deezer, Spotify Connect, etc.

The Denon AVR-S660H has Bluetooth and dual-band Wi-Fi on board for improved reception. The AirPlay 2 protocol is supported, with the help of which there is a construction of a wireless multiroom system based on iOS devices. Moreover, the receiver is capable of working as part of the proprietary wireless ecosystem HEOS, which allows you to control with one program all the devices that are part of it, to which you can broadcast audio from tablets and smartphones, local networks, and streaming services. And this already shows the quite serious versatility of the S660H.

Denon AVR-S660H photo

The Denon AVR-S660H receiver has five HDMI inputs that support HDCP 2.3, 8K video, and HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision extended dynamic range video standards. The only HDMI output allows you to work with eARC. In addition, the model has an MM phono jack for connecting vinyl players, and five pairs of color-coded screw terminals are used to connect speakers.

To control the Denon AVR-S660H, you can use the personal voice assistants Google Assistant, Apple Siri, or Amazon Alexa in addition to the app or remote control. The intuitive Setup Assistant app is used to configure the receiver. Basically, I think that even if you are a novice, you won’t have any problems with the settings.

And now let’s put everything together. The receiver is versatile, powerful enough, and has many additional features in addition to the basic functions. Therefore, the Denon AVR-S660H takes a well-deserved first place on my list.

Key specs

  • Channels: 5.2.
  • Power output: 75W/8 Ohm, 100W/6 Ohm.
  • HDMI inputs/outputs: 6/1.
  • Video functions: 4K/60Hz, 4K/120Hz, 8K/60Hz pass-through, upscales HD video signals to 8K Ultra HD.
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: yes/yes.
  • Streaming services: AirPlay 2, Pandora, Spotify, Napster, SiriusXM, TIDAL, Deezer, Qobuz, Amazon Music.
  • Suppots: HDMI ARC, HDMI eARC, HDMI CEC, HDCP2.3, HDR10+, Dolby Vision.
  • Surround sound: DTS HD Master, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby ProLogic II.

Pros

  • 8K support.
  • Voice control.
  • HEOS multiroom.
  • Ability to connect a vinyl player.

Cons

  • Not supported Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

Yamaha RX-V4A

Yamaha RX-V4A

Manufacturers of electronic equipment highly rely on a recognizable design that allows a brand to be easily identified by buyers. This time, Yamaha decided to start from scratch. The RX-V4A AV receiver is designed with a new aesthetic in mind, and chances are high it will become Yamaha’s hallmark for years to come.

Yamaha is one of those manufacturers that makes an installation procedure as intuitive as possible. You can use the unit right after connecting the source (s), speakers, and other components. The audio calibration is carried out by a home YPAO system with the supplied small microphone. I decided to try this feature, and everything runs smoothly.

Yamaha RX-V4A back

With a relatively affordable cost, Yamaha RX-V4A can be used as a core for a modern and universal home theater system. It has a 5.2-channel configuration, which can be considered an ideal option for filling medium-sized rooms with powerful sound. With a nominal power output of 80 watts per 6Ohm channel, the device can perfectly work with floor speakers manufactured by famous brands. It showed great results paired with my speakers for movie and stereo speakers.

I started the test by listening to music and exploring different modes. In Pure Direct, which means without possible processing, rendering turns out to be rather dull, devoid of life. This is acceptable for background music but not for Hi-Fi audio. When I switched to Enhanced mode, there appeared basses, but not very distinct. Everything is centered, with a few point elements to the right and left of the soundstage, but nothing happens between the center and the ends. The Neo: 6 Music mode is most interesting because it effectively distributes music to all speakers without changing voices or placing the center too far forward.

Yamaha RX-V4A photo

When I tested the capabilities of this receiver for movies, I took advantage of YPAO sound calibration. The process was swift. Yamaha has measured the distances and levels in my studio correctly. Unlike many competing receivers, e.g., Sony STR-DH790, it has a good center channel setup. Besides, there is a special surround sound decoding mode. Thus, the audio in movies is accurate and crisp, so you can feel the shift from one scene to another.

Yamaha RX-V4A is a top home theater receiver under 500 dollars for those users who need an easy-to-use device that doesn’t require long setting up. Thanks to various modes, you can easily choose the one suitable for your current situation and enjoy good sound.

Key specs

  • Channels: 5.2.
  • Power output: 80W/6 Ohm.
  • HDMI inputs/outputs: 4/1.
  • Video functions: 4K/60Hz, 4K/120Hz, 8K/60Hz pass-through, upscales HD video signals to 4K Ultra HD.
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: yes/yes.
  • Streaming services: AirPlay2, Spotify, Pandora, MusicCast.
  • Supports HDMI ARC, HDMI eARC, HDMI CEC, HDCP2.3, HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision.
  • Surround sound: DTS HD Master, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus.

Pros

  • Great presets for music and movies & DSP effect.
  • Immense configuration options.
  • You can control the volume of each individual speaker.

Cons

  • Doesn’t support DTS: X and Dolby Atmos.
  • Pitifully weak if you want to play rock or symphony orchestras.

Sony STR-DH790

Sony STR-DH790

Sony is known for producing electronics aimed at people with different financial capabilities, and I decided to take a closer look at the DH790 low-cost 4K receiver. This is a 7.2-channel with the power output of 90 watts per channel (6 Ohms). It doesn’t matter when you will locate the unit and what equipment you’ll pair it with – it works seamlessly with the speakers and accurately emulates the surround sound.

The model has 4 HDMI inputs that support signal quality up to 4K at up to 60Hz, HLG, and Dolby Vision. The DH790 lacks analog video outputs, but there are four analog audio inputs, coaxial and optical digital audio outputs. Of course, this is a serious shortcoming considering that Denon AVR-S750H and Yamaha RX-V4A offer more, but this set of ports is sufficient for small and medium-sized systems. Actually, that was enough for my test.

Sony STR-DH790 back

Another peculiarity you need to take into consideration is the absence of Zone 2 and Wi-Fi connection. If that is crucial for you, opt for the leader of this review. Fortunately, the manufacturer preserved Bluetooth, so you can still enjoy wireless streaming.

At the first launch, I saw a clear on-screen menu with 5 basic modes. That’s a decent newbie-friendly move, as finding a proper mode for your current activity is a breeze. First, I chose the “Watch” mode to understand whether it can produce a great home theater sound. It seemed that the sound was slightly muffled, so I used an integrated auto-calibration to fix it. After the process was over, I returned to the movie and heard a genuine surround sound.

Sony STR-DH790 photo

While listening to songs, I switched to the “Listen” mode. Thus, I could effortlessly listen to music from different sources, and the system sounded great with all genres. I like that basses were well pronounced, though most budget-friendly models can hardly cope with such a load.

In general, this is a well-designed surround sound receiver that is equally efficient while watching movies and listening to music. Thanks to 5 integrated modes and auto-calibration, you can easily adjust this receiver to your house without time-consuming manipulations. I think this is an excellent receiver under 500 for novice users.

Key specs

  • Channels: 7.2.
  • Power output: 90W/6 Ohm.
  • HDMI inputs/outputs: 6/2.
  • Video functions: 4K/60Hz pass-through.
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: yes/no.
  • Streaming services: no.
  • Supports HDMI ARC, HDMI eARC, HDCP2.2, HDR10, Dolby Vision.
  • Surround sound: DTS:X, Dolby Atmos.

Pros

  • 4K pass-through is ideal.
  • You can adjust any of the speaker levels with the amp button right on the display.
  • Decodes the newer audio formats such as ATMOS.

Cons

  • Doesn’t support HDCP2.3.
  • No built-in Wi-Fi and streaming services.

Onkyo TX-SR494

Onkyo TX-SR494

If you are looking for the centerpiece of your home theater system, I highly recommend considering this budgetary receiver. Onkyo TX-SR494 has a seven-channel configuration and is supplied with discrete power amplifiers capable of delivering 80 watts / 8 Ohms per channel.

The AV receiver has four HDMI inputs and one output, capable of transmitting 4K UHD signals. The manufacturer decided to abandon the component video inputs and outputs, which simplified the placement of connectors on the rear panel. The device also has three analog and two digital inputs.

Onkyo TX-SR494 back

The model comes with decoders for all popular surround sound formats, including Dolby Atmos and DTS: X. Moreover, you can take advantage of Dolby Atmos Height Virtualizer and DTS Virtual: X modes to enjoy encompassing sound without adding ceiling speakers to your setup. For automatic surround sound quality, the TX-SR494 is equipped with AccuEQ technology with extensions for subwoofer and 3D formats.

While watching the movie, I felt the advantages of such surround sound-focus the manufacturer sticks to. The sound transition from scene to scene was smooth and gradual, without abrupt highs and lows. However, sometimes dialogs merge with surround noise, so catching separate words may be difficult.

Onkyo TX-SR494 photo

As for audio playback, the receiver lags behind its competitors. I understand that it is initially designed for a home-theater system, so it is strange to expect much if you are after authentic stereo sound. Though it didn’t show outstanding results when I was streaming from Deezer, Spotify, and other platforms, I reckon the quality of audio and the overall functionality fully correspond to the price asked.

Shopping for a good AV receiver, don’t skip this model straight away. Being designed with surround sound in mind, it can become a reliable component of your home theater system. Of course, it isn’t so efficient when listening to music, but that is the compromise you need to settle for.

Key specs

  • Channels: 7.2.
  • Power output: 80W/8 Ohm.
  • HDMI inputs/outputs: 4/1.
  • Video functions: 4K/60Hz pass-through, upscales HD video signals to 4K Ultra HD.
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: yes/no.
  • Streaming services: no.
  • Supports HDMI ARC, HDMI CEC, HDCP2.3, HDR10, Dolby Vision.
  • Surround sound: DTS:X, Dolby Atmos.

Pros

  • Awesome sound and impressive HDR enhancement.
  • AccuEQ Room Calibration works flawlessly.
  • Has an audio select button to select my onboard sound card or graphics card.

Cons

  • Doesn’t support HDMI eARC.
  • No built-in Wi-Fi and streaming services.

FAQ

Which brand of AV receiver is most reliable?

There is no definite answer to this question. Many receiver manufacturers can boast of reliable devices. It all depends on the specific model.

Dolby Atmos and DTS: X: do I need them?

This depends on what you are using your home theater system for. If you are primarily watching movies, then you will likely want to invest in a receiver that supports one of these formats. However, if you are mostly listening to music, then you may not need these features.

Do more expensive receivers sound better?

Not necessarily. It depends on the receiver model.

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About Frederick Douglass
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