Downhomedigital Receivers Best High-End AV receiver

Top-class receivers are the pinnacle of video and audio technology. So many functions, all potential decoders, enormous force, and the most audiophile sound – all of this must be understood to obtain the best equipment for you. And when the question of choosing the best High-End receiver arises, then there is no way to proceed without comprehensive counsel.

As a result, I conducted many tests on exceptional models in the top segment in order to examine critical characteristics in detail, evaluate the audio performance and sound quality, and compare them with each other. So let’s first have a look at our dealings

How I tested high-end home theater receivers

Since high-end home theater receivers are pretty complex devices, testing should cover the maximum areas. And to test the surrounding sound, I chose the Inception movie. However, for the test of musical capabilities, a whole list of diverse music was selected that will help evaluate all the nuances of sound.

  • Johnny Cash – Hurt – Spotify
  • Radiohead – The National Anthem (CD player)
  • Led Zeppelin – Ramble On (CD player)
  • Roy Orbison — Ride Away (CD player)
  • Mahler – Symphony No.2 (CD player)
  • Jacky Terrasson – Reach (CD player)
  • Mark Nauseef – With Space in Mind (CD player)

And the most suitable equipment was also selected:

  • 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

Best high-end AV receiver Comparison Table

High-End receivers Channels Power output HDMI in/out Bluetooth/Wi-Fi
Marantz SR8015best 11.2 receiver 11.2 140W/8 Ohm, 175W/6 Ohm 8/3 yes/yes Review
Denon AVR-X8500Hbest 13.2 receiver 13.2 150W/8 Ohm, 190W/6 Ohm 8/3 yes/yes Review
Yamaha CX-A5200 11.2 N/A 7/3 yes/yes Review

Best 11.2 Receiver Reviews

Marantz SR8015 – best 11-channel receiver

Marantz SR8015 - best 11-channel receiver

Let’s begin the best High-End receivers testing with the Marantz SR8015. The Marantz SR8015, like the entire top series for this brand, is meant to generate a genuinely ultimate home theater sound.

This model consists of eleven channels, 140W/8 Ohm and 175W/6 Ohm. Moreover, the unit has 13.2-channel processing in surround decoder mode. Such significant power is similar to the direct competitor – Denon AVR-X6700H but with a more powerful amplifier.

Marantz SR8015 back view

This device operates with a fascinating tract structure based on HDAM modules and AKM AK4458, the 32-bit DAC. That is similar to Yamaha CX-A5200, where I noticed the High-End home theater processor – ESS SABER PRO Premier. However, the SR8015 was improved in sound by the HDAM modules.

Furthermore, the SR8015 is compatible with many modern DPSs, including Dolby Atmos and DTS: X and Dolby Atmos and DTS Virtual: X ceiling speaker virtualization technology. As you know, such a decoder set is essential for High-End AV receivers, as was mentioned before. I also encourage you to pay attention to the existence of some features from a box: IMAX Enhanced and Auro-3D.

And I’d like to highlight this in addition – the SR8015 features the most recent HDMI technology and a dedicated input for HDMI 8K offers HDR10+ compatibility and 8K/60Hz, 4K/120Hz video streams.

Marantz SR8015 photo

I started our test with the Inception movie. The model produced a fantastic, clear, and understandable sound. The dynamics of sound and detail were flawless. These nuances allowed me to sense the natural influence of presence. Thanks to the percentage dynamics, the impacts may also be felt physically. For example, the bass might be a bit more intense.

And in testing musical features. Again, I felt an audiophile sound quality. I experienced a spatial perception that was realistic. However, again, there were some decreases in the low-frequency bands.

And after testing, I can confidently call this model the best 11.2 receiver. The Marantz SR8015 is a system that simultaneously saturates audio and home theater enthusiasts. It also ensures that players get the newest technology on a modern platform that has no restrictions over the years due to low-latency gaming mode, and eARC allows the high-resolution audio to be sent from screen to receiver when additional sources are accessible over 8K.

Key specs

  • Channels: 11.2
  • Power output: 140W/8 Ohm, 175W/6 Ohm
  • HDMI inputs/outputs: 8/3
  • Video functions: 8K/60 Hz, 4K/120 Hz pass-through, analog to HDMI video conversion, upscales video signals to HD and Ultra HD (up to 8K)
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: yes/yes
  • Streaming services: AirPlay2, Spotify, Pandora
  • Supports HDMI ARC, HDMI eARC, HDMI CEC, HDCP2.3, HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision
  • Surround sound: DTS:X, Dolby Atmos

Pros

  • Supports ALL surround decoders
  • 13.2 channel audiophile processor on-board

Cons

  • AudysseyEQ needs to go IP
  • Runs Hot

Denon AVR-X6700H

Denon AVR-X6700H front view

Then I’ll go on to one of the most potent receivers – Denon AVR-X6700H.

The unit contains an amplifier of 11 channels and dual subwoofer output with 140W/8 Ohm or 175W/6 Ohm per channel. Due to it, the AVR-X6700H can power a 7.2.4 speaker configuration.

However, the most exciting feature of X6700H in direct comparison with above -mentioned Marantz SR8015 is the DAC design. It consists of AL 32 (high definition filter), two dual SHARC chips, and DSP cores. Such design allows using Dolby Atmos and DTS: X more efficiently. Moreover, the unit has Dolby Atmos Height and DTS Virtual: X and even decodes Auro 3D tracks for ceiling speaker’s virtualization.

Denon AVR-X6700H back view

And then, I will consider a video path that meets all modern requirements. The Denon AVR-X6700H works with video streams of 8K/60 Hz or 4K/120 Hz. The receiver aims to modern next-generation video processing with Dolby Vision and HDR10 + technologies. Furthermore, the current HDCP 2.3 standard applies to all HDMI connections.

Additionally, it supports other streaming services, such as Spotify, Amazon Music HD, Tidal, and Deezer. I was even able to voice control the receiver using Google Assistant, Alexa, or Siri.

While watching the movie, I noticed good dynamics in this receiver. The sound is perceived as controlled, as well organized. The additional volume of bass in some scenes gets some hum in the room.

However, it helps to feel a complete and realistic reproduction of voices and, if necessary, is quite capable of shaking the room with its power. However, when listening to music, everything is a little different.

Denon AVR-X6700H photo

The sound is compelling. Denon is incredibly precise and sure about this power. And what produced significant discomfort was the bass favored balance of the sound stage. Although all voices and dialogs were well represented, too many low frequencies were observed.

You might even estimate the model’s audio capabilities due to PureDirect mode. The instrumental section of the songs feels just like a balanced whole. Instruments do not blend into cacophonies, but they are distinctly distinctive. In addition, the detail and expressive dynamics of the sound stage impressed me.

The Denon AVR-X6700H offers many options for both movie lovers and quality music lovers with gamers. The 8K contents will be available within five to 10 years of the top Hi-Fi receiver’s life and will have a solid power amplifier unit.

Key specs

  • Channels: 11.2
  • Power output: 140W/8 Ohm, 175W/6 Ohm
  • HDMI inputs/outputs: 8/3
  • Video functions: 4K/120 Hz, 8K/60 Hz pass-through, analog to HDMI video conversion, upscales video signals to HD and Ultra HD (up to 8K)
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: yes/yes
  • Streaming services: AirPlay2, Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, Tidal
  • Supports HDMI ARC, HDMI eARC, HDMI CEC, HDCP2.3, HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision
  • Surround sound: DTS:X, Dolby Atmos

Pros

  • Striking scope and persuasiveness
  • 8K support

Cons

  • Low frequencies are too pronounced

Yamaha CX-A5200

Yamaha CX-A5200 front view

The Yamaha CX-A5200 can deliver up to 170 watts at 6 ohms. For power supply, a large toroid transformer is utilized. I was surprised that the amplifier circuit is simultaneously wholly symmetric. On the various sides of the box, the right and left channels are distributed.

Yamaha CX-A5200 can provide 11-channel surround sound with full current DSP features. In addition, a unique feature of the Yamaha CX-A5200 over the Marantz SR8015 is the presence of a new exclusive Surround Ai algorithm. This software constantly assesses and modifies in real-time all sound field parameters.

Yamaha CX-A5200 back view

I found the highest segment level video circuit in this model. Yamaha CX-A5200 is compatible with all 3D and Ultra HD 4K systems, including high-level HDMI controllers. Upscaling is also achievable from all incoming resolutions to 2160p HDMI.

Moreover, the CINEMA DSP HD3 is the most remarkable feature. This advanced video processor allows you to enable various modes of sound post-processing. Furthermore, the Amazon voice assistant control and Yamaha native multi-room audio technology are available in addition to the CX-A5200.

The unit offers robust networking features together with a sophisticated video portion. The audio signal can be a source of both Bluetooth equipment and devices linked through AirPlay. Also, I want to note that music for the most prominent streaming providers can be broadcast without any delays (Spotify, Deezer, Tidal, etc.).

Yamaha CX-A5200 photo

Testing showed the nature of the model’s sound. And it was realistic, with fantastic overload capabilities and significant effects. Moreover, with powerful bass and suitable high frequencies, the receiver creates a well-balanced surround sound stage. As a result, the unit makes a great sense of presence and scatters a whole ton of nuances and details.

The case is much the same with music. The sound is complete and detailed. Each frequency plays in its place. I do not lose any vocals or instrumental parts.

During testing, the receiver showed its best side, and I can conclude that this premium AV receiver is perfect for moviegoers. This is because the volumetric effects are beautifully detailed and processed. However, unfortunately, this receiver will not be able to enjoy 8K images.

Key specs

  • Channels: 11.2
  • Power output: N/A
  • HDMI inputs/outputs: 7/3
  • Video functions: 4K/60 Hz pass-through, video upconversion (up to 1080p and 4K) for analog and HDMI sources, upscales HD video signals to 4K Ultra HD
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: yes/yes
  • Streaming services: AirPlay2, Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, Tidal
  • Supports HDMI ARC, HDMI eARC, HDMI CEC, HDCP2.3, HDR10
  • Surround sound: DTS:X, Dolby Atmos

Pros

  • Wireless surround possible
  • ESS Tech DAC

Cons

  • Installation requires knowledge and insight
  • No 8K support

Best 13.2 Receiver Reviews

Denon AVR-X8500H – best 13-channel receiver

Denon AVR-X8500H - best 13-channel receiver

The media industry is overgrowing. And I suggest you consider one of the few 13 channel receivers – the Denon AVR-X8500H.

This model includes specially designed DHCT amplifiers rated at 150W/ 8 Ohm or 190W/6 Ohm per channel. And therefore, surround-orientated sound formats like Dolby Atmos or DTS allow high-quality, without any additional amplification. In addition, the AVR-X8500H also supports the Auro 3D decoder in 13.1 channel configuration, including overhead and vertical center channels.

Denon AVR-X8500H back view

The receiver supports 4K and 8K streams with a direct pass-through as far as visual output is concerned. This is what distinguishes it from its closest competitor Marantz AV8805 which does not have 8K support. In addition, the Denon AVR-X8500H also incorporates the newest HDCP 2.2 standards and the HLG for HDR pass.

With unlimited wireless Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay streaming, and wireless audio technologies, the AVR-X8500H may rapidly become a home networking center.

I could also use Amazon Alexa Voice Command to manage many tasks, including power on/off, volume, mute/unmute, play music/pause, switch external inputs, and play streaming services that I supported.

This receiver also has the following network attributes. The AVR-X8500H is part of the IN-Command Series of Custom Integration Compatible Series. It offers a number of features that provide enhanced control and compatibility with third-party and custom integration solutions. In addition, it has IP management capabilities to integrate with major third-party management devices and a Control4 SDDP certificate.

Denon AVR-X8500H photo

I suggest you get down to testing already. After testing a movie, I realized instantly that the receiver`s acoustic reactivity characterizes it. As a result, the effects of sound become clear and accurate. In particular, with the Dolby Atmos setup, the sensation of immersion and realism is heightened, where I could detect sounds traveling in different directions quite well.

The AVR-X8500H offers tremendous power with a broad, deep, and dramatic sound picture for music reproduction. And whatever the soundtrack, the receiver keeps control and almost creates no distortion, which wearies the hearing.

The Denon AVR-X8500 impressed me and combines a top-of-the-line surround sound decoder configuration with an excellent amplifier for true music connoisseurs. It has everything that makes it the best 13-channel home theatre receiver.

Key specs

  • Channels: 13.2
  • Power output: 150W/8 Ohm, 190W/6 Ohm
  • HDMI inputs/outputs: 8/3
  • Video functions: 4K/120 Hz pass-through, analog to HDMI video conversion, upscales video signals to HD and Ultra HD (up to 4K)
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: yes/yes
  • Streaming services: AirPlay2, Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, Tidal
  • Supports HDMI ARC, HDMI eARC, HDMI CEC, HDCP2.2, Dolby Vision
  • Surround sound: DTS:X, Dolby Atmos

Pros

  • Support for high definition video streams
  • Good musicality

Cons

  • No virtualization of Dolby ceiling speakers

Marantz AV8805

Marantz AV8805 front view

The AV8805 is a Dolby Atmos, DTS: X, Auro-3D-compatible model for outstanding immersive sound 13.2 to 7.1.6 or 9.1.4 setups. This sound is possible thanks to acoustic calibration, and Audyssey Platinum DSP Optimization delivers special equalization. Such 13.2 channel processing with 15.2 channels has one feature – XLR, which differs from the Denon AVR-X8500H. With this technique, longer cables may be used without interfering with the receiver.

The Marantz AV8805 is equipped with reference audio and video components. This device can accept feeds from several audio and video sources, enhancing its quality with advanced processing. The integrated video processor can digitize analog video streams or upgrade to 1080p or even UHD 4K modes for digital video strips.

Marantz AV8805 back view

This applies to all HDMI outputs. In addition, all are compatible with Ultra HD 4K/60Hz and HDR (Dolby Vision, HLG, HDR10). Thus, the receiver is compatible with Ultra HD Blu-ray discs as well as streaming services (Netflix, Amazon).

Like other receivers in this category, the Marantz AV8805 is fully compatible with the HEOS multi-room system. In addition, it supports music streaming through a variety of services: Spotify, TuneIn, JUKE, TIDAL, Napster, Deezer, Apple AirPlay, SoundCloud, and Amazon Prime Music.

And I was even able to control the essential functions of the receiver using the Amazon Alexa voice assistant. The receiver quickly perceived such a great option and was used as the primary control method without delays.

Marantz AV8805 photo

And as always, it came to the test. The receiver impressed me with its distinctive feature – to create a refined and neutral sound. However, with all this, he made a realistic sound stage. The volumetric space in which the effects moved was well defined.

The stereo sound was great, although I can’t call it perfect. I could hear solid highs and mids, and the sound was transparent without distortion, even at high volumes. The receiver could play dynamically even at lower signal levels, and I felt the precise and intense depth and spaciousness even when listening to music.

This is an outstanding premium receiver capable of creating a 13-channel sound system that supports all modern surround formats. As a result, it is a better choice for both home theater and audio room.

Key specs

  • Channels: 13.2
  • Power output: N/A
  • HDMI inputs/outputs: 8/3
  • Video functions: 4K/60 Hz pass-through, analog to HDMI video conversion, analog to HDMI scaling, HDMI to HDMI scaling
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: yes/yes
  • Streaming services: AirPlay2, Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, Tidal
  • Supports HDMI ARC, HDMI eARC, HDMI CEC, HDCP2.2, HDR10, Dolby Vision
  • Surround sound: DTS:X, Dolby Atmos

Pros

  • Availability of all possible surround decoders
  • Incredible dynamics and spaciousness even in stereo

Cons

  • It gets very hot during operation

Buyer’s guide

Key points to pay attention to when choosing a receiver

Extra сhannels explain

The number of channels directly depends on how wide the configuration you can afford. Having at your disposal a complete set of floor-standing speakers that work in the same sound environment with multiple pairs of ceiling speakers, you will be able to appreciate the surround sound effects fully.

9.2 or 11.2 systems are configurations where you can use all 11 or 13 channels of the listed receivers. It can also be configured 7.1.6 or 9.1.4. And if the receiver allows you, you can expand them by adding another subwoofer for even more immersion. The essence of this configuration is to add ceiling speakers to the already known and widespread 5.2 and 7.2 configurations.

Extra features of hi-end receivers

4K and 8K. What is the difference?

4K resolution has become standard on modern TVs. At the same time, manufacturers are actively promoting a higher-resolution – 8K.

8K is currently the highest definition television format. Let’s compare. The 4K resolution is 3840×2160 pixels, which corresponds to an image containing eight million pixels. The format is 8K with 7680×4320 pixels, giving a picture composed of a staggering 33 million pixels. That is, 8K is four times the resolution of 4K and 16 times the resolution of Full HD.

Consequently, an increase in the number of pixels, without a doubt, has a positive effect on the quality and detail of the picture, which is visually perceived better due to the increase in the pixel density.

What is HDR?

High Dynamic Range, aka HDR, this format provides a brighter image with high contrast between light and dark parts of the scene. Also, it uses a wide color gamut, which ultimately makes the video more realistic. For example, HDR movies look much better than the standard dynamic range due to higher brightness and chroma.

There are three main HDR formats used in receivers:

  • HDR10 is the most widely used HDR format. This format uses 10-bit color to reproduce a billion colors.
  • Dolby Vision uses 12-bit color to deliver 68 billion color shades! In addition, Dolby Vision has a theoretical brightness of up to 10,000 nits.
  • HDR10 + also uses dynamic metadata like Dolby Vision to improve contrast and color on a frame-by-frame basis. As a result, HDR10 + outperforms HDR10 in peak brightness up to 4000 nits. However, the depth of its color is the same, i.e., 10 bit.
Multi-channel audio formats. What to choose?

The magic of home theater comes a lot from the surround sound that the receiver creates. And for this, he needs specific decoders.

Dolby Atmos

A surround sound format that sounds each object of the audio signal separately and is linked to its spatial location. Receivers supporting this format immerse you as accurately as possible into the realism of the sound scenes taking place. If you have installed some surround speakers in standard home theater system configurations (5.1, 7.1, etc.), simply purchase an appropriate Dolby Atmos-enabled receiver and additional ceiling speakers.

DTS: X

Analogous to the object-spatial audio format of Dolby Atmos, and works with calculating the optimal distribution of sound output in the space of the cinema room. DTS: X also supports all 5.1 to 11.1 multi-channel audio configurations, with the option to gradually upgrade your existing system to additional speakers.

Auro 3D

This format, unlike competing Dolby Atmos and DTS: X, is not object-oriented but channel-by-channel. To achieve “enveloping sound” to two layers of speakers – the classic and the second, located at an angle of 30 degrees to the horizon, added a third, installed directly above the listener. The main difference from competitors is that a full-fledged hemisphere of sound surrounds the listener.

Multiroom: separate your audio spaces

If you need a full-fledged but utterly different sound in different parts of the house, let’s say – a home theater for noisy gatherings with popcorn in the hall and in the bedroom a stereo system under the ceiling to fall asleep to Chopin, you do not need several receivers. Top-end models are capable of serving two or more sets of speakers.

You can connect them with a wired method, use wireless connections, or even combine connection methods.

There are already quite a few wireless technologies for creating multiroom. This includes the well-known Bluetooth, Chromecast, and even Wi-Fi, in some exceptional cases. But the most tremendous success is enjoyed by technologies specially developed for these purposes: Sonos, HEOS, MusicCast.

How to add music to other rooms

Wired multi-room has already faded into the background. Now you no longer need to pull a bunch of wires from one room to another. Now all this has been replaced by wireless technologies without loss of sound quality and without the slightest delay.

It is possible to create multiple independent music spaces thanks to a multi-room audio system. And if the receiver supports image output to an additional zone, then you can even create another home theater zone.

Wireless multiroom systems work with proprietary technologies Sonos, HEOS, MusicCast. Such systems are as easy as possible to integrate into your home. You just need to link the speakers to your receiver. Unlike the Bluetooth system, the multiroom can be built up gradually. Such a system can consist of either one speaker or several pairs. You can start with the speaker and add more to suit your needs. Everything is limited only by the capabilities of the receiver.

Connection and setup are straightforward. Various manufacturers even produce whole multi-room kits that are already ready to use. You just need to connect them. First, you have to plug the speaker into the network and connect it to the receiver. Then follow the instructions on the OSD of the receiver to adjust the sound. And then all that remains is to place the speaker or speakers in the room where you want them to play.

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