Best AV receivers 2024: the top home cinema amplifiers we've tested

Best AV receiver: Quick menu

Chances are, if you're building a home cinema setup, you're going to want proper cinematic sound - which is why you've invested in a home surround sound speaker system (we assume). To drive that package, you're going to need an AV receiver, but which one should you get?

We're here to answer that question, as we've collected four of our favourite options, all offering five-star performance at different price points. Before jumping head-first into the world of AVRs, it's important that you identify what your system requires. 

For example, is it a Dolby Atmos package with dedicated height channels? If so, you'll need a receiver that supports 5.1.2 channels, or if you have surround-backs as well, then you'll need one capable of handling 7.1.2 channels. 

Some speaker packages also lend themselves to certain AVRs better too. For example, a package that tends to sound slightly leaner may require some extra oomph from a more powerful and warmer-sounding amp, while a richer, more laid-back set of speakers could be paired with a more enthusiastic amplifier to introduce some energy. 

Whichever option you pick from this list, you can rest assured knowing that you've got one that's been thoroughly tested and approved by our reviews team. 

While we have recently reviewed the Pioneer VSA-LX805 and JBL Synthesis SDR-38, neither AVR is featured on this list for their own reasons. The Pioneer provided impressively large-scale sound and a thorough feature set, but it lacked sonic subtlety which inevitably held it back from true greatness. The JBL, on the other hand, was awarded five stars thanks to its stellar sound quality and upgraded port selection, but we weren't a fan of the major price increase.  

The quick list

Best overall AV receiver

Sony’s new home cinema amplifier is worth the wait


Channels: 7.1
Audio formats: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, IMAX Enhanced, Sony 360 Reality Audio
Connectivity: 2 x HDMI out (1 x eARC), 6 x HDMI in, optical, USB, wi-fi, ethernet, Bluetooth
Streaming: AirPlay 2, Spotify, Chromecast Built In, Works with Sonos, Bluetooth
Dimensions: 16 x 43 x 33 cm (13" x 17" x 8")
Weight: 10kg (22lbs)

Reasons to buy

Spacious presentation
Precise and detailed sound
Impressive dynamics

Reasons to avoid

Some rivals are better equipped
Set up is more involved than some

Sony is finally back in the AV amp game with the TA-AN1000 home cinema amplifier. It's been over five years since the Japanese tech giant graced us with its serial Award-winning STR-DN1080 AV receiver which took home Product of the Year in 2017 and 2018 (the year in which it also entered into our Hall of Fame), and it held a firm place on our Awards lists until 2020.

So surely a new AV amp from Sony is a cause for celebration? While this certainly is the case with the new TA-AN1000, we first find ourselves confronted with some awkward questions. Although it looks almost identical to the DN1080, why is it double the price?

Also, why does the US have an extensive AVR range consisting of five new models while the UK only gets this one model after we’ve waited so patiently for nearly six years? Finally, does the AN1000 live up to its lauded predecessor? While we can’t answer the first two questions, we can shed light on the third, and thankfully it's good news.

Sony has caught lightning in a bottle once again, with the TA-AN1000 sparking the same magic as STR-DN1080 but at a higher price point. Its crisp, precise and punchy sound strikes a nearly perfect balance, and it elevates every movie and song we throw at it. This amplifier ticks all our boxes, with a sleek design, good feature set and outstanding performance, making it so easy to recommend. If you’re looking at buying an amp at this level, then the Sony TA-AN1000 is a no-brainer.

Read the full review: Sony TA-AN1000

Best budget AV receiver

Denon's entry-level model with new specs and a spacious new sound


Channels: 7.1
Audio formats: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X
Video support: 8K/60Hz, 4K/120Hz, HDR (HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, HLG)
Connectivity: 2 x HDMI out (1 x eARC), 6 x HDMI in, optical, USB, wi-fi, ethernet, Bluetooth
Streaming: AirPlay 2, HEOS, Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, Bluetooth, Roon Tested
Dimensions: 17 x 43 x 34 cm (9.3" x 13" x 17")
Weight: 10kg (21lbs)

Reasons to buy

Excellent connectivity
Authoritative but spacious sound
User-friendly full-screen interface

Reasons to avoid

Appearance needs a refresh
Some might crave more bass weight
More expensive than previous model

The winner of the entry-level AVR price category in the 2022 What Hi-Fi? awards, the AVR-X2800H is one of the most affordable models in Denon's premium X range, sporting seven channels of amplification and 7.1ch of processing. It can be configured to drive a 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos or DTS:X system. But those without vertical channels can take advantage of its onboard DTS Virtual:X and Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization technologies.

Despite being an entry-level amp, the HDMI board on the AVR-X2800H has been upgraded from its predecessor to include three HDMI 2.1 ports capable of 8K@60Hz or 4K@120Hz video pass-through at up to 40Gbps. The three remaining HDMI 2.0 ports have a bandwidth of 18Gbps, but all inputs boast 4:4:4 chroma sub-sampling and compatibility with various HDR codecs, including HDR10, HDR10+Dolby Vision and Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG).

Gamers are well looked after, with VRRQFTALLM and FRL (Frame Rate Link) on board for a smoother playing experience. Elsewhere there’s also 8K upscaling offered on all inputs and eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) to supply uncompressed audio via a single HDMI cable.

Released in 2022, the AVR-X2800H has had a sonic retune and offers users a more responsive, coherent and spacious sound than some of the brand's older models. It retains Denon’s signature authoritative weight but refines and balances it with a bolder top end that can do better justice to both music and movies. Its onboard room calibration software and modernised full-screen interface make it relatively easy to use and well-equipped.

While the Denon AVR-X2800H is an excellent choice, especially at its more reasonable price point compared to other entries on this list, it's worth pointing out that the performance gains offered by the Sony TA-AN1000 are worth forking out that little bit extra for if you can afford it.

Read the full review: Denon AVR-X2800H

Best high-end AV receiver

Simply sublime home cinema sound


Channels: 16
Audio formats: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, IMAX Enhanced
Video support: 8K/60Hz, 4K/120Hz, HDR (HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, HLG)
Connectivity: 3 x HDMI out (eARC), 7 x HDMI in, optical, USB, wi-fi, ethernet, Bluetooth
Streaming: AirPlay 2, Spotify, Tidal, Roon Ready, Google Chromecast built-in, aptX HD, Free MusicLife, supports MQA
Dimensions: 17 x 43 x 43 cm (6.7" x 17" x 17")
Weight: 18kg (40lbs)

Reasons to buy

Sleek build with colour display
Clean open sound
HDMI 2.1 connectivity

Reasons to avoid

Only seven amplified channels
Dirac Bass control costs extra

The AVR31 sits at the top of Arcam's four-strong 2022 range, and is an equivalent premium model to the What Hi-Fi? award-winning (but now discontinued) Synthesis SDR35 from sister brand, JBL. Like JBL, Arcam only offers seven channels of amplification across the board, but with up to 16 channels of decoding, the AVR31 is capable of processing audio for systems up to 9.1.6 and is well-placed to be enhanced with the addition of a separate power amplifier.

The seven channels of power on board the AVR31 are Class G, a variation of A/B amplification that uses voltage rail switching to help maximise the amplifier's efficiency. This is the only AV receiver in Arcam’s new line-up that benefits from class-G to deliver a claimed 100W per channel with all channels driven, as well as an over-engineered toroidal transformer to help reduce noise. 

It offers wide-ranging audio format decoding, including Dolby AtmosDTS:XIMAX Enhanced and Auro-3D, as well as Dolby Virtual Height, DTS Neural:X and DTS Virtual:X for systems without height speakers. Support and a basic licence for Dirac Live’s advanced room correction software is included along with a calibration microphone.

There's a healthy connectivity spec too that will appeal to movie fans and gamers alike, with seven HDMI 2.1 inputs and three outputs. All of these HDMI ports can handle 8K video signals at 60fps and 4K at 120fps with support for VRRALLMDolby Vision and HDR10+. Users can also stream content wirelessly using Apple AirPlay 2Bluetooth aptX HDGoogle ChromecastSpotify ConnectRoon and Tidal Connect.

When casting to the AVR31, album artwork is displayed on the generous full-colour display. This, along with a sophisticated grey finish, tactile silver volume dial and uncluttered design, lends it a sophisticated appearance befitting of its spec and sound.

Sonically the AVR31 puts in a lustrous performance with a clean, controlled clarity that unearths nuance and depth in film soundtracks and music alike. If future-proofed features are equally as important to you as having the very best sound quality, and your pockets are deep enough, then the AVR31 is an ideal choice for your home cinema.

Read the full AVR31 review

How to choose the best AV receiver for you

AV receivers have many different monikers: AVR, surround sound amp, home theater receiver, Dolby Atmos receiver – but all these names refer to a multichannel amplifier that can decode surround sound information while also acting as a video and streaming hub for AV input sources and output devices. 

The home cinema amplifier is essentially the brains and power of any home theater system, and a high-quality model will ensure that your TV shows and films sound emphatic, detailed and dynamic and genuinely give you that immersive experience.

The most crucial thing to consider when buying an AVR is matching it to the size of your surround system and deciding whether to allow for expansion in the future. Plenty of AV receivers now include Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support for adding even more sound channels through the addition of height channel speakers. Sometimes, these channels can also be deployed as a second zone.

The number of HDMI inputs you need is another important factor. Most AVRs come with several HDMI inputs that can pass through 4K (and even 8K) and HDR video. Still, it's worth thinking about whether you'll benefit from the next-gen gaming specs of HDMI 2.1 or if you'll be using your home cinema primarily for film and TV, in which case, cheaper HDMI 2.0 ports will suffice.  

With so much to consider, setting up an AVR yourself can be daunting, but many companies include a microphone and automatic calibration system that only involves a 15-minute, step-by-step process. Others go even further and can be enhanced by third-party calibration software for more in-depth tweaking. Whether you're getting your AVR installed by a professional or going it alone, make sure that you're comfortable with the interface's user-friendliness.

Modern AVRs have become real home entertainment hubs and can bring a host of features such as Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay, multi-room streaming and DAB to your system, making it truly versatile and multi-functional. But most of all, the best AV receivers deliver brilliant, room-filling sound.

AV receiver FAQ

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

How much should I spend on a home theater receiver?

The size of the speaker system you have (or hope to expand to) will typically dictate the price point of the AV receiver that you consider, as brands will tend to decrease the number of channels with each step-down model. More expensive AVRs will have more power and be able to drive more speakers for larger Dolby Atmos and DTS:X set-ups or speakers in additional zones.

There is no hard and fast rule as to how much you should spend on each component in your surround sound system, but you’ll be doing your speakers a disservice if they cost 20 times the amount of your amplifier and vice versa. Usually, we’ll put a few pairing suggestions in our reviews, so that’s as good a place as any to get a broad idea of what will work, but as a rough rule of thumb, you should budget to spend around half as much on your amplifier as the cost of your speaker package. 

How many channels do I need?

Is Dolby Atmos/DTS:X worth it?

Most entry-level AVRs from the past two years offer at least seven channels of amplification which means they can handle a traditional 7.1 configuration compromising full range left, centre, right, side left, side right, rear left and rear right speakers as well as a subwoofer (the .1 represents processing for dedicated active subwoofer). Or, if a receiver supports Dolby Atmos (which most do), those seven channels can be rearranged into a 5.1.2 layout with the rear speakers swapped to be front height channels.

More premium amps can handle power up to 11 channels for 7.1.4 layouts, but if that's beyond the scope of your current set-up, remember that the number of channels an AVR can process, even with budget models, is usually greater than the number of amplified channels they provide. This means that if down the line you do want to add that extra pair of height speakers, you will have the option of adding a stereo amplifier to your existing system. 

We're big fans of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, and if it's within your budget, we'd certainly say it justifies the extra channels and speakers. However, if you're limited to 5.1 by space or budget, that's no bad thing, and there are some great options that can help you achieve a top-quality immersive system.

How many HDMI inputs do I need?

Is it worth paying more for HDMI 2.1?

Typically, home theater receivers sport at least seven HDMI inputs, which should cover the majority of a user's streaming sticks, consoles and Blu-ray players. If not though, more expensive models will sometimes offer one or two more, and if you'd like to hook up both a TV and a projector, make sure that there are at least two HDMI outputs.

HDMI 2.1 is the latest standard for HDMI connectivity, with a bandwidth of up to 48Gbps. It supports gaming features that PCs, PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles can take advantage of, such as 4K@120Hz gameplay, VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) , ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) QFT (Quick Frame Transport) and QMS (Quick Media Switching).

While most home cinema receivers from the past two years will have at least one HDMI 2.1 output with eARC, some entry-level models only offer HDMI 2.0 input ports. But, unless you are a gamer, for most people, HDMI 2.0 will meet all their film-watching needs as it supports 4K signals at up to 60 frames per second, which no movie source currently goes beyond. 

How many Watts per channel do I need?

Manufacturers will recommend an amplifier power rating range in a speaker's specifications, and as with impedance, it's a good idea to check that this lines up with the average, or RMS power output, of an AVR. Sometimes this figure will only be given in relation to when only 2 channels are driven as its a higher (and more impressive) number, but the key here is to make sure that they are comparable, else your speakers may be underpowered and struggle to provide sufficient, impactful volume, or overdriven which may cause distortion and damage to speakers at high levels.

Do I need to impendence match my speakers to an AVR?

It's unlikely that you'll come across a AVR that won't be up to the task of driving a domestic speaker system or that will cause damage through incompatibility but it's still a good idea to check the specifications to try and get a good match. 

Most home cinema speakers will have an average impedance of 4 -8 Ohms which will be listed by the manufacturer in its specifications under 'nominal impendence'. This figure should ideally sit within the impendence range that an amplifier supports, because if a speaker has a particularly low impedance that an AVR is not designed to handle, it could potentially overload the power supply and cause damage.

Do I need room calibration software?

Some brands, such as Yamaha and Denon, include a step-by-step room calibration set-up and microphone with all their AVRs that will measure the response of your speakers with your room and apply an appropriate EQ that flattens any anomalies. 

Other brands, such as JBL and Arcam, offer third-party software Dirac with premium models, or as an optional upgrade for budget models.

If you purchase an AVR from a dealer that offers installation, calibration will likely be included. However, if you’re someone who likes fine-tuning or you’re likely to make changes to your set-up, it's important to bear in mind that you won't be able to make further adjustments.

However, optimization software is by no means essential, and you can still calibrate a system manually using a Sound Pressure Level (SPL) meter (there are now decent SPL apps that work fine if you've also got a good phone with a decent microphone, though a dedicated meter is still the way to go if possible) and a tape measure. Even budget AVRs include an internal test tone and options to assign speaker distances and levels. Those installing a home cinema in an unusually shaped space will benefit more from calibration software, but for typical usage, it's not vital.

For more advice, check out our guide on how to set up your home cinema speaker system.

What is the HDMI 2.1 bug and which AVRs are affected?

In 2020 several newly released gaming-friendly AV receivers were hit by a significant HDMI 2.1 bug that caused a black screen for users with next-gen consoles trying to play 4K games at 120Hz via an Xbox series X and Nvidia card. This problem may have only been an issue for a select group of users, but it was a significant blow for those who had eagerly purchased one of the latest and greatest AVRs for gaming set-up.

The glitch affects 2020-launched AV receivers from Denon, Marantz and Yamaha. We've listed the models below, but they all have one thing in common: the same HDMI 2.1 chip.

The impacted AV receivers include: Marantz's SR range (SR5015, SR6015, SR7015 and SR8015), Denon's X-series range (AVR-X2700H, AVC-X3700H, AVC-X4700H, AVC-X6700H) and Yamaha's RX-V4A, RX-V6A, RX-A2A, TSR-400 and TSR-700.

Sound United, the parent company for Denon and Marantz, "work[ed] tirelessly" to address this long-running HDMI issue. Since it was identified, all Denon and Marantz flagship receivers manufactured after May 2021 are officially glitch-free. This is because the latest units are fitted with a new HDMI 2.1 chip that doesn’t suffer the same flaws.

But how do you ensure you get one of the newer, glitch-free home cinema amplifiers? Denon has tweaked the serial number of the new models: numbers that end with serial numbers from 70001 onwards should be bug-free, as they will have been manufactured after May 2021 and boast the upgraded HDMI 2.1 chip.

If you have bought or are considering buying one of the earlier affected models, it's not all doom and gloom. You can get hold of Sound United's external HDMI adaptor, which contains the new chip and corrects the bug. Simply fill out the form on the Denon or Marantz website to get one for free. 

Meanwhile, Yamaha's more recent flagship AVRs (RX-A4A, RX-A6A and RX-A8A) are unaffected by the HDMI 2.1 glitch and have received a number of firmware upgrades to enable additional HDMI 2.1 features.

Regarding its older, affected models, Yamaha began a hardware upgrade programme, beginning in Autumn 2021, to update the HDMI board on select 2020 AV receivers to allow 4K/120Hz signal transmission for Xbox Series X and NVIDIA RTX30 GPU-based devices.

Yamaha advises owners of the RX-V4A, RX-V6A, RX-A2A, TSR-400 and TSR-700 AV receivers to register their devices with Yamaha to ensure that they receive direct communications on the programme and a 24-month complimentary upgrade offer.

At the time of the upgrade programme launch, Yamaha stressed that the update should only be used by those who are intending on using their AVR with high frame rate streams for gaming through the Xbox and Nvidia cards as the amps can still pass through 4K/60Hz signals with compatible HDR formats such as HDR10 and Dolby Vision, meaning that they are more than capable of handling film and TV formats.

How we test AV receivers

We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London, Reading and Bath, where our team of experienced, in-house reviewers test the majority of hi-fi and AV kit that passes through our door.

Each AVR we test is paired with a reference level speaker package and is directly compared to the best in its price and features class – whether that's the current What Hi-Fi? award winner or a few of the latest models we've been impressed by in recent reviews. What Hi-Fi? is all about comparative testing, and we keep class-leading products in our stockrooms so we can easily compare new products to ones we know and love.

We are always impartial and do our best to make sure we're hearing every product at its very best, so we'll try plenty of different styles of films, and TV shows that show what each AVR is capable of with both advanced and standard audio formats. We'll check all the features on board, including music playback with a variety of genres and allow for plenty of listening time as well as running them in before we begin reviewing.

All review verdicts are agreed upon by the team rather than an individual reviewer to eliminate any personal preference and to make sure we're being as thorough as possible, too. There's no input from PR companies or our sales team when it comes to the verdict with What Hi-Fi? proud of having delivered honest, unbiased reviews for decades.

Tom Parsons

Tom Parsons has been writing about TV, AV and hi-fi products (not to mention plenty of other 'gadgets' and even cars) for over 15 years. He began his career as What Hi-Fi?'s Staff Writer and is now the TV and AV Editor. In between, he worked as Reviews Editor and then Deputy Editor at Stuff, and over the years has had his work featured in publications such as T3, The Telegraph and Louder. He's also appeared on BBC News, BBC World Service, BBC Radio 4 and Sky Swipe. In his spare time Tom is a runner and gamer.

With contributions from
  • lacuna
    Why is the 3600 still in this list?
  • TooOftenDrunk
    Very good question, also it's at a crazy price £2550.00!!!!

    Same could also be asked about the Sony model as this doesn't seem to be available anywhere.
  • lacuna said:
    Why is the 3600 still in this list?
    Golden oldy I presume.
  • lacuna
    gel said:
    Golden oldy I presume.

    More like a lazy copy and paste of the 2019 article I suspect
  • lacuna said:
    More like a lazy copy and paste of the 2019 article I suspect
    Still available to buy, even if it’s B stock:
  • toymotor
    Not one Marantz in this list. I can understand they are a bit pricey but having had Sony and Denon in the past, with my SR1705 I now know what immersive sound is as well as proper bass.
  • simontompkins
    I normally like What HIFi reviews but this one troubled me. Is an Arcam AVR31 six times better pound for pound than a Denon AVC-X3700H. The Arcam is higher on the list so presumably What HiFi thinks it better, so what does better mean? As I doubt its six times better, I think it just means it sounds better.
    The problem with that of course is how many people sit there going "I could spend 999 but hey the one higher on the list is better so I'll spend 6249. Normally, I get a sense on the reviews that bangs per buck is taken into account, I really don't with this list.
    Also, the information is very badly collated. I'm no expert but it seems to me that there are some key features such as HDMI type, number of speakers it can handle and watts per channel. That could easily be put into a simple table and would make comparison a lot easier.
    Also, in an article on What HiFi you say "As a general rule of thumb, we'd suggest spending around double the cost of your surround sound amp on a standard 5.1 speaker set-up." so are you saying that with the Arcam you should spend twelve grand on speakers?
    How about the Wharfedale DX 2 that you have had as a top choice for speakers? You can get them for 400, so how does that factor into comments about the relationship between speakers and an AVR.
    On the subject of speakers, I'm mystified by the watt rating and the relationship between wattage and speakers - maybe I should do more digging but it would be really good if a table of AVRs had a list of suitable speakers. You have written about a great test environment but I'm not sure we're getting the full benefit in the reviews. For example, you have the capability to match some AVRs with different speakers and staff who no doubt listen to a lot of systems, so how about a table with a subjective listening column, so that when someone listens to one set next to another they report how many times better the sound is (subjectively) than another set. So for example one AVR and speaker set up would be judged twice as good as another system but four times the price. I'm not sure how that would work and if its practical but otherwise the consumer is rather left to ask a local shop to set up systems and hear the difference.
    I'd also like (in a table) the ideal room size for a product. There's a neat website at: has a tool for deciding of you really need an Arc or Beam Gen 2 based on room size.
    Further, given the price difference between arc and beam, the price difference could be spent on the extra Sonos rear speakers, important for those on a budget. I know the review page is on AVRs but just wanted to note that room size could be factored into a review page.

    Some sense of what speaker setups for different types of room would be much appreciated. For example, I live in a ground floor flat that about 4 m x 5m - in my use I'd like the effects of Dolby Atmos but I don't want a system that is going to annoy the neighbours. that's a very different scenario to a detached house with a large room.
    On the subject, I'd really like an article that tests if as Dolby Atmos sound travels through ceilings it creates too much noise for those living above. I'm also nervous about a subwoofer, does the bass travel significantly to annoy the neighbours. Plenty of people live in flats that may be put off by putting in wall and ceiling speakers because of the neighbours. that being said I'd happily spend more on a full Dolby Atmos system if wouldn't be oppressive to the neighbours. I wonder how many other people are put off by the same thing.

    I hope the thoughts above have been constructive, my apologies for any technical inaccuracies, I'm an amateur in this area.

    Thank you for your reviews and hope the above has been of interest.
  • JR75
    Still hawking the JBL SDR-35. About a year ago that was updated to a JBL SDR-38 that fixes the shortcomings of the 35, but you rarely ever mention it. And where are the Anthem receivers? Arguably some of the best AV receivers on the market. I read What Hi-Fi all the time, but i really wonder about some of your reviews.