Downhomedigital Receivers Best Budget Home Theater Receivers

Do you feel like upgrading your current home theater system to get that cinema-like experience without leaving your home? Many people decide on buying an AV receiver and that is a smart thing to do. While manufacturers produce numerous high-end devices with a plethora of bells and whistles, I decided to focus on more affordable options to help buyers choose the best budget AV receiver. Such a device can unite all your video and audio sources into one central hub without making you bankrupt.

So, what capabilities can such low-priced receivers add to your speakers? In what way do they affect the quality of the sound? I have delved into the world of such equipment, defined the features that differentiate long-lasting receivers from poor-quality devices, and shared recommendations on choosing a decent yet affordable AV receiver.

Read the review till the end and you are sure to find a fitting model.

What I paid attention to when picked budget AV receivers

When I got down to selecting devices for my test, I was bewildered by how extensive the niche of entry-level AV receivers is. There are so many options that inexperienced users can easily get lost. To write an in-depth review, I defined the most important criteria. You can see them below.

Receiver power

Things here can get confusing because the info specified on the box rarely coincides with reality. Undoubtedly, you want a powerful receiver that can bring your speakers to the notch, but you need to be very attentive. Some time ago, I bumped into an excellent receiver, and the manufacturer promised that this unit outputs 200 watts per channel. That was amazing, and I was about to buy it, but then I had a closer look at the specs. It was written in fine print that such power value was possible only if you connect a single receiver to it and play slow melodies in a quiet environment. That seemed like a total disappointment but became a great experience.

Don’t get too carried away with this parameter. I highly recommend being skeptical about declared power outputs. If you see an AV receiver for music that boasts 125W/channel, divide that by two, and you’ll get an actual figure in case you plan to connect a pair of speakers and feed fully-frequency signals.

A good rule of thumb is to define the amount of required power by measuring your room and learning the characteristics of your speakers. These are two key factors that determine how powerful a receiver you should invest in.

Amplifier channels

A decent AV receiver offers at least a standard 5.1 surround sound setup. In this case, you get enough channels for connecting center, left-front, right-front, left-surround, and right-surround speakers, and one woofer. Of course, by adding this receiver to your home theater system, you will get a significantly fuller sound.

If you strive to create a fully immersive environment to enjoy every tone shift, you need an AV receiver with Dolby Atmos. In this case, we are talking about a 7.1-channel unit as the minimum. It allows attaching 2 more rear speakers that bring a perceptible upgrade to your system.

Most models in my review are 5.2-channel receivers that perfectly cope with typical tasks you throw at them. I also selected one 7.2-channel receiver (Sony STR-DH790) for those users who aim at mimicking the feel you get while visiting a full-featured cinema.

Things are pretty straightforward when it comes to the number of channels. The more you get, the deeper and more powerful sound you’ll hear, thanks to more speakers scattered across the place.

budget AV receivers

HDMI and other connections

The best budget AV receiver with HDMI inputs can easily handle audio and video signals that come from different connected devices. While pondering on how many HDMI ports you need, consider what equipment you are going to pair it with. This can be a TV, a CD player, a turntable, a media streamer, a Blu-ray player, PlayStation, and Xbox. However, the list can be longer. Of course, having one spare connector is an excellent future-proofing move.

If you are mainly interested in transmitting an audio signal, make sure your receiver is fitted with the appropriate input. The most common options are RCA (red & white) and optical ports. The latter implies using optical cables that convert an audio signal into pulses of light and deliver it to a receiver. Optical cables stay on par with HDMI inputs in terms of sound quality, and they seriously surpass RCA cables in this regard. Just make sure these cables aren’t tangled; otherwise, the light path will be blocked. Optical cables are unmatched if you need to transmit a signal over long distances because they don’t suffer from electromagnetic or radio frequency interference.

Another reliable alternative is coaxial cables, but they aren’t as popular as RCA and optical counterparts. Anyway, such cables brag about simplicity in use and a long service life thanks to the durable construction. They are suitable for transferring medium-capacity data.

RCA cables are easy to recognize. These are red and white wires that transmit an audio signal without degrading its quality. If you want to connect a record player, you are likely to use RCA cables.

Another handy port is AUX input. Actually, it is a must if you need to connect a smartphone or a table, which is a frequent thing nowadays. AUX inputs are identical to 3.5mm ports on gadgets, and they come to the rescue when a wireless connection isn’t an option.

Built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and streaming services

More and more users want to get a decent budget AV receiver with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi not to deal with cords while streaming content. Using Wi-Fi, you can instantly access streaming services, e.g., Spotify, Deezer, Tidal, and enjoy your favorite music in a high-quality. The best thing about Wi-Fi-capable receivers is that they are supplied with dedicated apps, which you can install on your smartphone/tablet and perform basic manipulations in no time. Just ensure you have good Wi-Fi coverage across your house.

Another handy wireless technology is Bluetooth. You can use it to initiate music playback from any paired device. The only pitfall here is that Bluetooth works within a limited space, unlike Wi-Fi.

If you are a loyal user of Apple devices, you can take advantage of the company’s proprietary technology called AirPlay. The latest version is AirPlay2, and it allows enjoying your favorite music and controls the playback by dint of several touches. Can you ask more?

4K and HDR formats

Chances are high you want a device capable of outputting 4K and HDR resolutions. This is a necessity rather than a whim nowadays, and there are solid options with such capabilities even among low-priced receivers.

The variety of 4K content is rapidly growing, so make sure you’ll get the best cheap AV receiver with 4K support to savor such movies. The same applies to HDR technology (High Dynamic Range), as it makes a plain picture so spectacular.

Thanks to HDR, you see images with expanded contrast, rich colors, and accurate details. If your TV supports HDR, but a receiver doesn’t – such a combo is useless. There are 3 HDR types – HDR10, DV (Dolby Vision), and HLG (under development). The most popular variant is HDR10, and it is frequently used by media development giants (e.g., Netflix). Dolby Vision also guarantees top-notch picture quality. By getting a receiver with HDR support, you stay on the safe side as you’ll be able to watch content that will be released in the nearest future.

How I tested budget home theater receivers

Striving to be as unbiased as possible, I gave all receivers a hard test drive. To evaluate how precisely they define sound details during video streaming, I watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Moreover, I listened to numerous tracks across multiple genres. I also checked different streaming services.

  • 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)

My toolbox consisted of the most accurate equipment:

  • CD player SACD 30n
  • Blu-ray player Sony UBP-X700
  • Speaker wire – AudioQuest Type-9
  • Speakers for movie – Klipsch RP-8060FA
  • Stereo speakers:
    • Klipsch RP-8060FA
    • KEF Q350
    • DALI OBERON 5
Our pick
Best Budget AV Receiver
Sony STR-DH790
Best Budget AV Receiver
Experience the same all-encompassing surround sound you get in movie theaters at home with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support. Plus, superior picture quality to match with 4K HDR pass-through.

Budget Home Theater Receivers Comparison Table

budget AV receivers Channels Power output HDMI in/out Bluetooth/Wi-Fi
Sony STR-DH790best overall (with Dolby Atmos) 7.2 145W/6 Ohm 4/1 yes/no Review
Yamaha RX-V385best under $300 5.1 70W/8 Ohm 4/1 yes/no Review
Denon AVR-S650H 5.2 75W/8 Ohm, 100W/6 Ohm 5/1 yes/yes Review

Best Budget AV Receiver Reviews

Sony STR-DH790 – best overall receiver with Dolby Atmos

Sony STR-DH790 front view

This receiver has many features to boast of, but the most appealing thing is its very moderate cost. It is the only 7-channel receiver in my test, but I was doubtful how well it is optimized to satisfy both movie lovers and audiophiles. The first praise-worthy feature is bi-amp, which means it is possible to get surround sound from a pair of rear/height speakers in Dolby Atmos and DTS: X format. I tested this feature, and everything worked just fine.

However, choosing this receiver, you need to agree to a compromise. First off, it requires speakers with a nominal impedance of at least 6 ohms, considering the power output of 90W/6 Ohms. Anything lower fails to work properly. Secondly, all channels except the front left and right use spring-loaded terminals rather than screw terminals, which drastically reduces the range of wires you can use for a connection. I was astonished by such a decision, but I believe it has a money-saving basis in it.

Sony STR-DH790 inputs and outputs

Using any of 4 HDMI inputs, you can enjoy signal quality up to 4K at 60 Hz. Unfortunately, there are no analog video outputs, but there are four analog audio inputs, coaxial & optical digital audio outs.

The lack of Wi-Fi was a disappointing surprise for me. However, there is Bluetooth, which saves the situation a bit.

When I first switched the receiver on, I saw a list of modes – “Watch”, “Listen”, “Easy Setup”, “Sound Effect”, and “Speaker Setting”. Menus are very intuitive, so getting the device ready for work is super easy. I activated auto-calibration. This is a remarkably handy feature, which determines the size of speakers and the distance to them from the listening position, sets their level, and adjusts an equalizer. Amazing!

Sony STR-DH790 photo

As for audio quality, it was mind-boggling! I fully appreciated the beauty of the Atmos sounding and the realism of all sound effects. This way, the unit is slightly ahead of its direct rival – Denon AVR-S650H. While listening to music, I switched between all available modes, and the results were always incredible.

In general, this is the best budget AV receiver overall (plus Dolby Atmos support). It is packed with the most necessary features to ensure you get a truly immersive sound. Setup is intuitive; functioning is lag-free. I think the DH790 can even compete with more expensive receivers.

Key specs

  • Channels: 7.2
  • Power output: 90W/6 Ohm
  • HDMI inputs/outputs: 4/1
  • Video functions: 4K/60 Hz pass-through
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: yes/no
  • Streaming services: no
  • Suppots HDMI ARC, HDMI eARC, HDCP2.2, HDR10, Dolby Vision
  • Surround sound: DTS:X, Dolby Atmos

Pros

  • 4K pass-through is ideal
  • Amazing speaker calibration & handy eARC function
  • Decodes the newest audio formats such as Atmos
  • Solid sound levels and remarkable tone levels

Cons

  • Supports neither Bluetooth headphones nor Bluetooth speakers
  • Cumbersome navigation
  • No Wi-Fi connectivity

Yamaha RX-V385 – best under $300

Yamaha RX-V385 front view

Yamaha appeared long in 1887, and since then, it has become one of the most renowned manufacturers of audio equipment. With such a vast experience and solid reputation, I expected to see a state-of-the-art receiver from this brand.

Yamaha RX-V385 inputs

Yamaha RX-V385 is a great AV receiver with durable internal components and a robust design. It is designed to be a part of a 5.1 home-theater system offering a power output of 70 watts at 8 Ohms.

There is a proprietary YPAO instrument, which adjusts sound settings based on the current surrounding to deliver high-resolution audio. While testing the receiver, I simply attached a mic in listening mode with YPAO turned on, and got immediate customization. This is a very handy option, especially if you are a novice user and barely understand what is what.

Full compatibility with the latest HDMI standards deserves many complimentary words. It easily copes with 4K video streaming at 60 fps. Thanks to the eARC feature, I got a really rich sound while watching the movie. I felt as if I was taking part in the battle and traveling in the spaceship myself.

Yamaha RX-V385 photo

Activating the bi-amp connection, you get more control over the frequency ranges of speakers and independent amplifiers. It also helps eliminate interference between high and low frequencies, improves the sound reproduction of the front speakers, and provides them with power. I appreciated this feature while listening to songs no matter what streaming platform I chose.

To my mind, this is the best AV receiver under $300 if you don’t mind the absence of Dolby Atmos support. If that is a serious issue for you, opt for Sony STR-DH790. Anyway, the RX-V385 is a trustworthy receiver optimized to deliver high-quality sound during video sessions and audio playback. You won’t find ant frills here, but the available pack of functions is more than enough for average tasks.

Key specs

  • Channels: 5.1
  • Power output: 70W/8 Ohm
  • HDMI inputs/outputs: 4/1
  • Video functions: 4K/60 Hz pass-through, upscales HD video signals to 4K Ultra HD
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: yes/no
  • Streaming services: no
  • Suppots HDMI ARC, HDMI eARC, HDMI CEC, HDCP2.3, HDR10, Dolby Vision
  • Surround sound: DTS HD Master, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus

Pros

  • You can use on-screen menus to set things faster than from the panel
  • Tons of settings to configure individual speaker volume levels
  • Dolby and DTS surround sound decoding
  • Room optimization microphone, which calibrates the sound for any room

Cons

  • No dedicated input buttons on the remote
  • Lacks Zone 2 capability
  • Runs very warm in a very short period of time

Denon AVR-S650H

Denon AVR-S650H front view

Denon AVR-S650H is the “youngest” model of the “S” lineup. It is packed with the best features of the “X” series, including extensive networking capabilities, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi interfaces, Apple AirPlay 2, HEOS multi room, and eARC. In addition to in-depth control via a web interface or a mobile application, it brags about voice control capabilities (Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google Assistant). When I saw this receiver and looked through its specs, I couldn’t but give it a thorough test.

Denon AVR-S650H inputs and outputs

The video technology of this cutie is terrific. The onboard HDMI switcher supports current video formats (4K/3D/HDR/HLG/Dolby Vision) and has CEC for Smart-TV. Gamers will adore this new product for its responsiveness, so it definitely offers more than other receivers in its price category.

Audiophiles will appreciate numerous sound-enhancing features. Primarily, Denon AVR-S650H supports Hi-Res, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS HD Master audio playback. In addition, the built-in DSPs provide tremendous equalizer customizations and filters for adjusting a separate speaker. Another highlight is Audyssey MultiEQ – an auto-calibration system for an external microphone.

Denon AVR-S650H photo

The analog interface is represented by two RCA line inputs and a separate connector for hooking up a turntable. Using available outputs, you can connect two subwoofers and five amplifiers. Each channel (there are 5 in total) can deliver power up to 100 watts/6 Ohm, and up to 75 watts in a stereo mode. I’m sure such value can please the most demandable users.

Denon AVR-S650H is a real masterpiece considering the price-quality ratio. It resembles Yamaha RX-V385 in terms of sounding capabilities but offers more features for customizable audio playback. I believe it is the best AV receiver under $400 designed to satisfy a broad range of buyers. If you want to get a powerful bass thanks to a 2-sub setup and smooth sound coverage, this is a superb option to try.

Key specs

  • Channels: 5.2
  • Power output: 75W/8 Ohm, 100W/6 Ohm
  • HDMI inputs/outputs: 5/1
  • Video functions: 4K/60 Hz pass-through
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: yes/yes
  • Streaming services: AirPlay2, Spotify, Pandora
  • Suppots HDMI ARC, HDMI eARC, HDMI CEC, HDCP2.3, HDR10, Dolby Vision
  • Surround sound: DTS HD Master, Dolby TrueHD

Pros

  • Has plenty of power for large listening spaces
  • Streams numerous music services and Internet radio with ease
  • Phono input for hooking up a turntable
  • Separate controls for bass, treble, and balance

Cons

  • Doesn’t support a Zone 2
  • Plastic body looks very fragile
  • Gets hots under minimum load and makes strange clicks at startup

Sony STR-DH590

Sony STR-DH590 front view

The manufacturer claims that by adding Sony STR-DH590 to your home theater system, you will be able to up your media consumption experience and enjoy great sound even in the most distant corners. Is that the truth?

In general, this 5.2-channel AV receiver offers 4K HDR pass-through, Custom Surround Sound, and Dolby Vision, so the picture quality is off the charts. Thanks to Bluetooth and various inputs, I managed to build a robust system using a CD player/Blu-ray player and different speakers. Both wired and wireless connections work flawlessly.

Sony STR-DH590 inputs and outputs

While watching the movie, I was amazed by High Dynamic Range (HDR). Images were sharper, more vibrant, with detailed dark and light areas. This model supports the latest HDR standards such as HDR 10, HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma), and Dolby Vision, so it much resembles its older brother (Sony STR-DH790) in this regard.

Thanks to the S-Force PRO Front Surround technology, the receiver creates virtual surround sound with just two speakers. My studio isn’t large, but the function worked flawlessly, even in such an environment. Another perk aimed at enhancing sound is Digital Cinematic Auto-Calibration Function (DCAC), which optimizes the sound based on your location in relation to the speakers. That’s gorgeous!

Sony STR-DH590 photo

The power output with 6 Ohm speakers is 90 watts per channel. That is enough for creating a medium-sized home-theater system.

Considering the range of features and the price, I can confidently call Sony STR-DH590 an investment-worthy 4K AV receiver. It has a sleek design and different helpful functions that help minimize distortion and deliver clear sound. If you want to give your home theater a second life, this receiver is an excellent variant for the task.

Key specs

  • Channels: 5.2
  • Power output: 90W/6 Ohm
  • HDMI inputs/outputs: 4/1
  • Video functions: 4K/60 Hz pass-through
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: yes/no
  • Streaming services: no
  • Suppots HDCP2.2, HDR10, Dolby Vision
  • Surround sound: DTS HD Master, Dolby Digital

Pros

  • Makes speakers sparkle with clarity and crispness
  • Clear robust highs and potent bass
  • Neat back panel layout makes for a very easy setup
  • Lots of sound configuration

Cons

  • Slightly confusing controls & menus
  • Poor ventilation system
  • Has no automatic protection feature and simply shuts off at high volume levels

Denon AVR-S540BT

Denon AVR-S540BT front view

This is another great 5.2-channel AV receiver with many interesting features. It supports Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG technologies and allows for 4K upscaling to turn your room into a cinema-like environment. You can take full advantage of 4K/60Hz HDMI inputs with HDCP 2.2 support. Besides, there is a USB port for connecting your smart devices and listening to music without sound drops.

If you like wireless connection methods, the receiver offers Bluetooth features. I tested both wired and wireless connections and have nothing to complain about.

Denon AVR-S540BT inputs and outputs

Unlike more advanced receivers, this unit is extremely easy to set up, as there are no confusing settings. I activated the on-screen setup assistant and just followed the guidelines to make the unit work as I needed. What I appreciate is the dedicated equalizer that adjusts the sound based on the parameters of the current environment. So, if you plan to take this receiver from one place to another, it will deliver beautiful sound in every surrounding.

Denon AVR-S540BT photo

Denon AVR-S540BT outputs 70 watts when paired with 8 Ohms speakers and 90 watts in a 6-Ohm speaker setup. While listening to music, I liked that sound was truly powerful and encompassing regardless of where I stood.

Hardly can you find a better pick for this money. Everything is moderate in this receiver, but that is enough for average users. The AVR-S540BT is fitted with all must-have features without draining your pocket. I believe this model can become a great addition to any home theater, so check it out.

Key specs

  • Channels: 5.2
  • Power output: 70W/8 Ohm, 90W/6 Ohm
  • HDMI inputs/outputs: 5/1
  • Video functions: 4K/60 Hz pass-through
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: yes/no
  • Streaming services: no
  • Suppots HDMI ARC, HDMI CEC, HDCP2.2, HDR10, Dolby Vision
  • Surround sound: DTS HD Master, Dolby TrueHD

Pros

  • Setup is extremely easy
  • Sound quality is great at low volume and even when cranking the volume up a notch or two
  • Clear and powerful sound in all corners of a room
  • It shines at switching the UHP signals

Cons

  • Remote volume controls leave much to be desired
  • No Wi-Fi
  • You can’t rename assigned inputs

Onkyo TX-SR393

Onkyo TX-SR393 front view

Onkyo TX-SR393 is the successor to the SR-373, so I was curious how the developer has improved the newer version. The first thing that intrigued me is that this model is the most affordable product in its lineup. I noticed that it has an updated design, and now the device looks more attractive. Another alteration is the set of connectors. Now there is no USB port on the front, as the manufacturer moved it to the rear panel. I don’t think this is a very serious redesign step, but why not.

Onkyo TX-SR393 inputs and outputs

The most compelling features of this 5-channel receiver are Dolby Atmos Height Virtualiser and DTS Virtual: X. These technologies create a 3D sound field without using real height speakers. Sounds fantastic, and it actually is. I checked how well these technologies worked and was pleased with the result.

The TX-SR393 is equipped with four HDMI inputs and one output, capable of transmitting 4K UHD signals, including Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG. There are no component video inputs and outputs. The device also has three analog and two digital inputs.

Onkyo TX-SR393 photo

The model is fitted with AccuEQ Room Calibration, which is a rarity among receivers in this price category. Another pleasant surprise is decoders for HD surround sound formats and high-quality modern DACs from Burr-Brown. The power output is 80W/8Ohm.

Summing up, I can say that Onkyo TX-SR393 is an entry-level AV receiver that has a bunch of cool features. It works with all the latest audio and video technologies and offers decent audio quality at a reasonable cost. It is ideal for people who want to have a full-featured home theater system without spending thousands of dollars.

Key specs

  • Channels: 5.2
  • Power output: 80W/8 Ohm
  • HDMI inputs/outputs: 4/1
  • Video functions: 4K/60 Hz pass-through, upscales HD video signals to 4K Ultra HD
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: yes/no
  • Streaming services: no
  • Suppots HDMI ARC, HDMI eARC, HDMI CEC, HDCP2.3, HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision
  • Surround sound: DTS:X, Dolby Atmos

Pros

  • Nice sleek design
  • Sounds very full and clear
  • Intuitive setup thanks to dedicated menus
  • Flawless Bluetooth connectivity

Cons

  • No Wi-Fi & Internet tuner
  • No way to connect Zone B and Zone A to different sources
  • Lacks input for a turntable

Buyer’s guide

Difference between cheap and expensive AV receivers

Trying to find the best budget home theater receiver, you probably want to know what you sacrifice, keeping more advanced options aside. That’s a really serious question, and there is much to think about.

Primarily, you need to understand that low-cost receivers are made of less durable materials if compared to their top-tier counterparts. Though this is a nice move to reduce the price of a unit, does it have any negative consequences? Let’s find out.

The first thing that catches an eye while comparing budgetary and expensive receivers is their design. Starting with a chassis that is more durable in high-priced devices and ending with a fancy styling – the choice is apparent here. Besides, high-end receivers also have a better ventilation system and temperature controls. That is truly important if you plan to use a receiver for many hours in a row.

Another aspect to keep in mind is the number and variety of wired & wireless inputs. No wonder expensive AVRs offer many of these, allowing you to connect all the needed equipment for a pleasurable audio experience. As for the wireless connection, both categories of receivers can be supplied with voice control assistants.

As for an output section, advanced models have separate channel outs for connecting a dedicated power amp, which results in a clearer and more powerful sound. Moreover, they brag about more speaker channel support, which means you will hear fully immersive audio.

I also want to focus on the DSP section, which is responsible for decoding surround sound formats. Though this element is available in both types of receivers, those with a higher price tag are usually capable of decoding more formats.

The quality of the sound you get in your room depends a lot on the calibration mechanism of a receiver. Hi-Fi models are fitted with sophisticated calibration software (Dirac or Audyssey), while some budget-friendly devices may come with less efficient analogs. Besides, manufacturers embed more sound adjustment options in expensive receivers, which entails additional production expenses that are further reflected in the price.

All in all, I won’t make a mistake saying that expensive AV receivers sound better than low-cost analogs. However, it doesn’t mean that budgetary models are absolutely useless. Though they can’t produce as immersive and crisp sound as high-end units, they can easily cater to the needs of average users, who don’t need those powerful basses and encompassing audio.

Do I need a second subwoofer in my home theater system?

There are many receivers designed for 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound setup, but more and more users adapt these models to their needs by complementing them with a second subwoofer. What is the main goal behind such a decision?

Since sound waves don’t move smoothly in a room but bounce off objects and surfaces, you can’t expect to get the same-quality bass across space. This seems frustrating for audiophiles, so they try to even out the “distribution of basses” so that they are equal in every corner.

If you feel like relocating your single woofer to find an ideal spot, you can try to do that, but it is impossible to define it. A more effective way of filling the room with clear bass without peaks and dips is to use the second subwoofer.

When you spend money on a high-quality 5.2 or 7.2 AV receiver, you get a better sound quality with loud basses across the space whether you watch movies, listen to a new album of your favorite band, or play action-packed games.

AVR for home

Do I need Dolby Atmos in a budget receiver?

Dolby Atmos is a surround-sound technology that appeared in the market of audio equipment in 2012. It was primarily used in cinemas but later was adjusted to satisfy home-theater owners. It aims at boosting the capabilities of surround-sound systems by locating surround channels overhead. In other words, in addition to the standard speaker arrangement (along walls), the Dolby Atmos system implies that there are separate speakers that are built into the ceiling, so viewers will be inside a dome of sound.

As for large Dolby Atmos cinemas, the total number of speakers that guarantee immersive sound reaches 400 items. Of course, this is too many for a standard home, but manufacturers offer more space-saving variants for improved audio quality in smaller environments:

  • You can upgrade the setup with 2-4 ceiling speakers.
  • It is possible to install add-on speaker modules.
  • Buy genuine Atmos speakers

Once you add the Dolby Atmos component to your setup, you will get a precise calibration, so sounds and voices are placed at exact points in the soundfield instead of being scattered across channels. Every speaker in such a system has its peculiar discrete feed, which means you get new front-, surround-, and ceiling-mounted channels.

Some people think that attaching standard speakers to the ceiling will create the same effect as you get with Dolby Atmos technology. But the main thing here is not the location of speakers, but how sound is encoded. With Dolby Atmos, you get the most lifelike sound experience to date.

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