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Best AV receivers for 2021

Our top home theater receivers from Yamaha, Denon, Marantz, and Sony

In this article: Our top home theater receiver picks for 2021, along with a few shopping and setup tips.

  1. Easiest to use — Yamaha RX-V4A
  2. Best for small spaces — Marantz NR1711
  3. Best for Dolby Atmos® — Denon AVR-X3700H
  4. Best budget receiver — Sony STR-DH790
  5. Best for music — Marantz SR5015
  6. Best for gaming — Yamaha RX-V6A
  7. Best all-around — Marantz SR8015

I spent the first half of my Crutchfield career as an advisor, helping our customers design audio/video systems. I'd hear back from folks after they hooked everything up. "Hey Kramer," they'd say, "My new surround sound system rocks!" I want to help you experience that same joy in your home.

What makes these receivers my favorites?

Below is a short list of my favorite home theater receivers for 2021. So what makes these models stand out?

My selections are based off of my listening experiences, customer feedback, and industry reviews. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it highlights some of the best options available.

Naturally, not every awesome receiver we carry is listed here. But my hope is that it gives you some solid footing as you plan out your new system. Let's dive in.

Yamaha RX-V4A 5.2-channel home theater receiver with Wi-Fi®, Bluetooth®, Apple AirPlay® 2, and Amazon Alexa compatibility

Easiest receiver to use — Yamaha RX-V4A

It might be hard to remember, but we haven't always been able to control A/V equipment from our phones. But now that we can, life sure is a lot simpler when it comes to using our gear.

Yamaha leads the way on this front with their value-packed RX-V4A. It combines an easy-to-use on-screen interface with an intuitive control app. Together, these make switching sources, changing volume, and picking songs quick and easy.

Despite the RX-V4A's modest price tag, it's actually loaded with features you'd expect from a more expensive model. On the video side it supports 4K and HDR-encoded content. And for music it uses Apple AirPlay® 2, Bluetooth®, and MusicCast for high-quality wireless streaming.


  • 5-channel amplifier
  • 80 watts per channel
  • HDMI connections: 4 in, 1 out
  • MusicCast wireless music streaming
Marantz NR1711 - 7.2-channel slimline home theater receiver with Wi-Fi®, Bluetooth®, Apple® AirPlay® 2, and Amazon Alexa compatibility

Best receiver for small spaces — Marantz NR1711

Large home theater receivers definitely have their place. But not every piece of furniture will accommodate them. Thankfully, there's a fantastic alternative if you're tight on space.

The 8K-compatible Marantz NR1711 features a slimline design, so it can fit into areas that conventional receivers can't. At just over 4" high, it's an excellent choice for use on a smallish shelf, or inside a slender A/V cabinet.

Use it to power a 7.2-channel home theater system. Or go with a conventional 5.1-channel setup, and power an additional pair of speakers in another room at the same time.


  • 7-channel amplifier
  • 50 watts per channel
  • HDMI connections: 6 in, 1 out
  • HEOS-Built in wireless music streaming
Denon AVR-X3700H 9.2-channel home theater receiver with Wi-Fi®, Bluetooth®, Apple AirPlay® 2, and Amazon Alexa compatibility

Best receiver for Dolby Atmos — Denon AVR-X3700H

The next upgrade to my home theater will be installing in-ceiling speakers for Dolby Atmos sound effects. Why? Because adding an additional plane or "layer" of sound adds sonic depth and realism to the listening experience. It's also a heck of a lot of fun!

Denon's AVR-X3700H does a bang-up job processing Atmos-encoded soundtracks. Use it to drive a 5.2.4-channel or 7.2.2-channel Dolby Atmos system, and get ultra-immersive sound effects above, beside, and in front of you — just like you would in an actual theater.

Helpful features for late-night listening and more

The AVR-X3700H has enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC), which lets you pass full-resolution soundtracks from your TV to the receiver. That's particularly helpful when you stream Atmos-encoded movies on Netflix from your TV.

And here's one of my favorite features. The 'X3700H supports Bluetooth transmission to headphones (think late-night movies or TV watching), which lets you listen long after everyone else has headed off to bed.


  • 9-channel amplifier
  • 105 watts per channel
  • HDMI connections: 7 in, 3 out
  • HEOS-Built in wireless music streaming
Sony STR-DH790 7.2-channel receiver with Bluetooth®, Dolby Atmos®, and DTS:XT

Best budget receiver — Sony STR-DH790

Having a sweet surround sound system doesn't have to set you back a ton of cash. Sony's STR-DH790 is a good choice for getting solid A/V performance out of a modest budget.

This receiver powers up to seven speakers at a time, so you can drive a 5.1.2-channel Dolby Atmos system with it. You can also play music wirelessly from your phone through Bluetooth.

Is this level receiver right for you?

As you're shopping, make a list of features that are "must haves" for you. That way you'll know whether jumping up to the next-level model is worth it or not. Some features are more useful to some folks than others, like a second zone of audio, or a phono input for a turntable.

So what are you giving up by going with a budget-friendly model like the STR-DH790? Well, it doesn't have Wi-Fi, so you can't control it with an app. It also doesn't support wireless streaming through Apple AirPlay.

That said, the 'DH790 is surprisingly good for the money. And this receiver has enough power to drive most home theater speakers.


  • 7-channel amplifier
  • 90 watts per channel
  • HDMI connections: 4 in, 1 out
  • Bluetooth wireless music streaming
Marantz SR5015 7.2-channel home theater receiver with Dolby Atmos®, Wi-Fi®, Bluetooth®, Apple AirPlay® 2, and Amazon Alexa compatibility

Best receiver for music — Marantz SR5015

I have a Marantz-based home theater system, and am particularly fond of how it sounds in stereo. That's because Marantz is known for its rich, warm sound and precise stereo imaging, and that's exactly what you get from the SR5015.

This 7.2-channel receiver is a workhorse with movie soundtracks. But flip it to one of its stereo modes, and enjoy pristine playback of your favorite albums. That includes vinyl too, since this receiver has a built-in phono stage for a turntable.

HEOS Built-in gives you easy wireless streaming

The SR5015 uses Bluetooth and AirPlay 2 for music streaming. It also has "Heos built-in," which is Marantz's wireless music ecosystem (it's Denon's too, by the way).

Heos built-in lets you stream music from Pandora®, Spotify®, and other online music services while controlling everything from your phone.

You can also link the SR5015 to wireless HEOS Built-in speakers around your house for seamless multi-room music. My in-home review on Denon's Home series speakers offers a closer look at how it all works.


  • 7-channel amplifier
  • 100 watts per channel
  • HDMI connections: 6 in, 2 out
  • HEOS-Built in wireless music streaming
Yamaha RX-V6A - 7.2-channel home theater receiver with Dolby Atmos®, Wi-Fi®, Bluetooth®, Apple AirPlay® 2, and Amazon Alexa compatibility

Best for gaming — Yamaha RX-V6A

Video games can bring a great deal of joy to our lives, especially when played on a "next-gen" system like Sony's PlayStation® 5, or the Xbox Series X. That's where a receiver like Yamaha's RX-V6A shines.

Yamaha made sure the RX-V6A is compatible with the latest video technology. Each of its seven HDMI inputs supports 4K/60Hz out of the box. And a free future firmware update will enable support for 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz — the best resolution and frame rates currently available in a home theater receiver.

Advanced gaming features for smooth, lag-free play

The firmware update will also include several gaming-optimized video processing technologies for a smooth, lag-free gaming experience.

Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), Quick Media Switching (QMS), and Quick Frame Transport (QFT) reduce or eliminate lag and frame tearing. All of that adds up to an awesome gaming experience that looks and sounds incredible.


  • 7-channel amplifier
  • 100 watts per channel
  • HDMI connections: 7 in, 1 out
  • MusicCast wireless music streaming
Marantz SR8015 - 11.2-channel home theater receiver with Dolby Atmos®, Wi-Fi®, Bluetooth®, Apple AirPlay® 2, and Amazon Alexa compatibility

Best all-around receiver — Marantz SR8015

It's not easy to pick a "best" home theater receiver. That's because we're pretty selective with what we carry at Crutchfield. Each model we offer brings a unique mixture of features and value to the table.

With that in mind, I believe the best all-around receiver we currently sell is the Marantz SR8015.

As the flagship receiver in Marantz's lineup, it has every technology I look for — crystal-clear amplification, advanced audio/video processing, a huge power supply, an intuitive user interface, and superb wireless music streaming.

Marantz SR8015 power transformer

A high-performance power transformer helps the SR8015 deliver Marantz's signature sound.

A true "whole house" receiver

The SR8015 supports up to three zones of audio, and can drive 11 speakers at a time. You can focus all of its power on your surround sound system, or use some of it to play music in other spaces.

With 140 watts of power per channel, the SR8015 can drive bookshelf, floor-standing, and custom-integrated wall or ceiling speakers with authority.

Get the best sound possible in your room

This receiver uses Audyssey's MultEQ® XT32 auto setup and room calibration system to tailor its sound to your room's acoustics. I use MultEQ XT32 for my home theater, and have been impressed by how smooth and cohesive it makes my system sound.

On that note, if you go this direction, I recommend you spring for the optional Audyssey MultEQ Editor app (around $20). It lets you direct the speaker calibration process from your phone or tablet, instead of with the handheld remote control.

Audyssey MultEQ Editor App

I used Audyssey's MultEQ Editor app to calibrate my home theater, and highly recommend it for yours.

The app also unlocks additional Audyssey features that I have found well worth the money, like EQ curve adjustment, Midrange Compensation control, and the ability to save multiple calibration profiles.

Bottom line: this receiver is a fantastic choice for the long haul

If you're making a long-term investment into your home theater system, the Marantz SR8015  is my pick for the best all-around receiver we carry. It has the latest HDMI features, loads of power, and the ability to fill even large rooms with fantastic surround sound.


  • 11-channel amplifier
  • 140 watts per channel
  • HDMI connections: 8 in, 3 out
  • HEOS-Built in wireless music streaming

Tips on choosing the right receiver

There are a few key factors to keep in mind when shopping for a new receiver. Questions like, "How many channels do I need?" and, "How many inputs and outputs should it have?" are important to consider.

Those topics and more are covered in our home theater receiver buying guide.

Get the most out of your new receiver

Once you've gotten your new receiver home, check out our setup tips to get the best sound possible from your system.

Free lifetime tech support is included with every Crutchfield purchase.

Jump into the conversation

If you have a question about a receiver you're considering — or want to pick my brain about anything in the article — leave a comment below.

I respond quickly, and if I don't know the answer I'll find someone here that does. Thanks for reading!

Last updated 10/29/2020
  • Michael Brown from Birmingham, Al

    Posted on 11/26/2020

    Is it possible to use some of the channels to bi-amp for your main speakers, instead of using them for surround or for other areas

    Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    on 11/30/2020

    Hi Michael, many of the home theater receivers we carry are bi-amp capable. Our Why bi-amp your speakers? article walks you through how it all works.
  • frans callebaut

    Posted on 10/29/2020

    hello, i would like to listen to dolby atmos (music and movies) through a headphone connected to the headphone output of the 3080, so before i buy a3080 i would like to know which headphone is the best for this purpose. best regards, frans callebaut

    Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    on 10/29/2020

    Hi Frans, the JVC XP-EXT1 is an excellent option for what you're looking to do. It supports up to 7.1.4-channel sound, including Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, and Dolby Atmos-encoded soundtracks.
  • David L Brumbaugh from ALACHUA

    Posted on 9/28/2020

    1. Where would the Marantz sr5015 fit in this list ? 2. Can I put dolby atmos rear surrounds in the wall for a small room installation ? (14 foot total from screen). Maybe with aim-able tweeters ?

    Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    on 9/29/2020

    Hi David, thanks for your questions. The SR5015 looks quite promising, and I'm looking forward to its release. I'll be updating this article with Marantz's latest models in mind in the near future, so stay tuned.

    As for your install, your Atmos channels should ideally be overhead (and ideally in front of your seats) to give you the sonic separation that they're designed to create. Your rear surrounds on the other hand can certainly go in-wall (mine are, and I love them).

    If you're installing the in-wall surround speakers six feet up the wall or higher, I'd mount them upside down, so that the tweeters are at the bottom of the frames. Then, aim them toward your seating position before you run your room EQ software.

    Thanks again for reaching out, and happy listening!
  • Henry Martinez from Atwater CA

    Posted on 9/14/2020

    Do any receivers have an iTunes (or Windows, foobar2000, etc.) type interface for playing music from a USB device? I have a Marantz NR1608 and the USB player is extremely limited and clunky to navigate. Also, as receivers seem to be audio video specific computing devices why can't iTunes-like players be uploaded by the user?

    Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    on 9/17/2020

    Hi Henry, thanks for your questions. I'm not away of anything akin to an iTunes interface. That said, I think that Yamaha has the best app-based receiver control platform available right now. I'd check out one of their MusicCast-enabled receivers as a better fit for what you're looking to do.
  • Gene Boerner from Bixby

    Posted on 8/27/2020

    The article praises the Anthem MRX 720 as having the best room correction capabilities with Dirac Live. But it doesn't, does it? The NAD does. (The Anthem has ARC) It also says the MRX 720 has 90 wpc. Isn't it really 140? it also says it has 7 HDMi in, 2 out. Isn't it really 8 in?

    Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    on 9/1/2020

    Hi Gene, you're absolutely right. Some wires got crossed, apparently. I've got a fix in place — thanks for the catch!
  • scott r bolema from muskegon heighMUSKEG

    Posted on 8/27/2020

    considering a yamha 3080 ..who has the best dacs in a 9.2 plz and ty

    Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    on 9/1/2020

    Hi Scott, the Yamaha RX-A3080 uses a state-of-the-art ESS 32-bit/384kHz Sabre Pro Premier DAC (ES9026PRO) for the seven main channels, and a ES9007A Sabre Premier for the presence channels. It's one of the best options available, and helps make music and movies sound incredible. I don't know that there's a "best" DAC per se, but Sabre is certainly in the conversation when it comes to home theater receivers.
  • Brent Brown Jr. from Stone Mountain, Ga

    Posted on 5/20/2020

    Good Article! When I begin upgrading, I'm coming to Crutchfield!