The four best AV receivers of 2015

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Denon scoop the AV receiver Product of the Year gong, but with the AVR-X2200W, it has proved it’s well and truly back in fighting form.

For its £500 price tag, the 7.2ch X2200W pushes the boundaries of what we’ve come to expect from amps at this level. This includes support for both Atmos and DTS:X alongside generous connectivity and all the futureproofing you could wish for.

All eight HDMI inputs are HDCP 2.2 compliant, with plenty of legacy connections for older kit, plus Airplay, Bluetooth, DLNA and Spotify Connect on-board for wireless listening.

But it’s in the performance where it really won us over, with an insightful, detailed character that’s as precise as it is agile. There are weightier amps out there, but the Denon puts its emphasis on a well-balanced and refined presentation – no matter what setup you choose.

See all our What Hi-Fi? Awards 2015 winners

If your budget doesn’t quite stretch to £500, Yamaha’s RX-V379 is where you should be looking. You won’t get Atmos or any networking features, but Yamaha has included Bluetooth this year, plus there’s now HDCP 2.2 for supporting 4K Blu-ray.

Yamaha has won the Award at this level for a few years now and it’s easy to see why. The V379 offers a fun, muscular sound that throws sound around the room with accuracy and isn’t shy with dynamics. You’ll get plenty of detail for your money too, making this a perfect way to delve into home cinema for the first time.

Yamaha also picks up another Best Buy this year, but this time for its high-end Aventage range. The RX-A850 sits at the sweet spot of its five-strong line-up, balancing price, features and performance, and serving as the entry-level Atmos option for Yamaha this year.

As you’d expect, you won’t be at a loss for connections, with eight HDMI inputs (three of them HDCP 2.2 compatible) and a full range of legacy inputs, plus take your pick from Airplay, Bluetooth, DLNA and Spotify Connect for wireless playback.

The RX-A850 continues the Aventage range’s tradition of a powerful, immersive sound, but that’s not to say it’s all about muscle. It’s also capable of great subtlety, and really knows how to move sound around a room. Atmos works a treat too, the A850 is meticulous in its 360-degree effects placement.

For around £1000, that’s where your money is best spent, but if your budget can stretch a little higher, the Pioneer SC-LX59 is worthy of consideration.

For £1400, it’s certainly an amp for serious enthusiasts (you’ll be wanting to match it to a speaker package around £3000), but it comes with an impressive spec list to match.

9.2 channels with 11.2 pre-outs facilitate the full 7.2.4 at-home Atmos arrangement, while eight HDMI ins and three outs allow for almost any set up. As ever, legacy and other digital connections are extensively catered for and now Bluetooth and wi-fi are fully integrated to boot.

As for the performance – it’s a showstopper. 190w per channel ensure this is a seriously powerful amp, but it’s capable of plenty of subtlety too. Exciting, enthusiastic and wonderfully articulate, this is simply a superb investment for those with the budget to spend.

MORE: Awards 2015: Best home cinema amplifiers

See all our What Hi-Fi? Awards 2015 winners

Verity Burns

Verity is a freelance technology journalist and former Multimedia Editor at What Hi-Fi?. 

Having chalked up more than 15 years in the industry, she has covered the highs and lows across the breadth of consumer tech, sometimes travelling to the other side of the world to do so. With a specialism in audio and TV, however, it means she's managed to spend a lot of time watching films and listening to music in the name of "work".

You'll occasionally catch her on BBC Radio commenting on the latest tech news stories, and always find her in the living room, tweaking terrible TV settings at parties.